If I were in New York City right now, I’d have big, 4/20 plans for getting legally high on regular weed, as is my right. But seeing as though I’ll be at my parent’s house in Texas on this year’s holiday, my plan is to log off work promptly at 6 p.m. EST, pop on my Crocs, ride my bike to the big park nearby, and cruise into a gorgeous evening on a nice, baby high from a delta-8 cookie I bought from one of those ubiquitous CBD stores.
This may sound illegal, especially given Texas’s profoundly bummer attitude regarding legalization. But delta 8 is a new(ish) commodity on the cannabis market, and is (mostly) legal in states where regular THC, or delta 9, is still illegal. In states like Texas, where marijuana is illegal but hemp is not, delta 8, which is manufactured from hemp-derived CBD, slips through the cracks of legality, and is somewhat readily available at shops that sell CBD.
Delta 8, which is most commonly sold as an edible, is extremely similar to what we think of as typical THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the main ingredient in cannabis); the only chemical difference is the location of a certain double bond. The effects are also super similar, the main difference being that the high from delta 8 is a little less intense, and reportedly gives you more energy than a typical delta-9 high. As my editor, Casey Johnston, AKA VICE’s resident Swole Woman, recently wrote, delta 8 is “effectively a baby version of regular THC,” and the resulting high is a baby high.
“You have a drug that essentially gets you high, but is fully legal,” Lukas Gilkey, chief executive of Austin’s Hometown Hero CBD, previously told the New York Times, adding that the number of people coming to delta 8 lately is “staggering.” Another source told the Times that delta 8 is currently “the fastest growing segment” of hemp-derived products.
Delta 8’s popularity boomed (and was made possible) thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp farming and distribution in almost every state. While the FDA’s final Hemp Rule addresses max limits for delta 9, there was no further regulation given to delta 8, leaving it, federally speaking, exactly in the same position as it’s been since 2018. Delta 8 is a “loophole” only insofar as it’s totally legal, per the Farm Bill.
Now, of course, the legal weed industry is lobbying to get delta 8 shut down. According to a report published earlier this week in the Chicago Sun-Times, pro-pot state legislators in Illinois are introducing legislation that would require “Delta 8, CBD and other unchecked cannabinoids to be tested and labeled”; since they aren’t proactively regulated, it’s very easy to market a product as containing these substances without having anything actually in them.. Some third-party labs have recently begun testing delta-8 products and checking them for proper extracts, so the best way to know whether a product is legit is to check the company’s website for its lab results.
Ultimately delta 8 sounds like the ideal drug for sliding into what I hope will be an amazing, vaxxed-up summer, and I’m stoked to give it a whirl. If it meets all my expectations, I’ll be rolling up my baggy shorts and spending long, semi-high afternoons in the park with friends all summer long.
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