Delta-8 THC is one of the newest cannabis-derived products that took the country by storm. As one of the many chemical compounds found in the plant, you can expect it to have beneficial effects on the human body. Many states have access to delta-8, given the lack of legislation tackling this cannabinoid specifically.
However, will you be able to access it if you live in or are visiting Virginia? More and more favorable legislations have been implemented and are still being processed regarding cannabis and cannabinoids Here’s what you need to know about what exactly this cannabinoid is and if it is legal in Virginia.
What is Delta-8?
When talking about the legality of delta-8 in Virginia and the United States, the first thing we need to discuss is the true nature of this cannabinoid. As a phytocannabinoid, it is given that it comes from the cannabis plant, as opposed to endocannabinoids that are produced in the human body. The thing is, there are hundreds of cannabinoids in the said plant, so what exactly is delta-8?
The most important characteristic of this compound is it is a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Yep, we are talking about the type of cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects. However, we need to back up a bit and clarify that delta-8 THC is not the same THC that most people refer to when bringing up the stereotypical effects of marijuana.
What you need to understand is that the term THC is a set of cannabinoids that contain the same types of atoms but are arranged in different ways. These are also called isomers. So, delta-8 is a THC isomer, just like delta 6, 6a, 7, 10, 9 (11), and 11. All these chemical compounds are THC isomers because they are made up of the same atoms but are organized differently.
This gives each isomer some differences and some similarities. Particularly, they are observed to have similar effects but at different intensities or potencies.
Delta-8 naturally occurs in the cannabis plant in small amounts. However, it can also be converted from cannabidiol and delta-9 to create synthetic delta-8 THC.
Delta-8 vs Delta-9
So, what do people refer to when they mention the stereotypical effects of marijuana? They are talking about the properties of delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two primary cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The mainstream media and the majority of the public refer to delta-9 as THC only.
Given that delta-8 and delta-9 are isomers, you can expect similarities in terms of effects. According to consumers, delta-8 offers more or less the same effects as delta-9, except it is milder. If you consume products containing this isomer, you can expect euphoric and relaxing effects. It is also associated with pain relief.
This is why delta-8 products are preferred by many especially those looking for the type of high offered by marijuana, but at a less potent level.
Aside from delta-8, another isomer is getting the attention of cannabis consumers: delta-10. Compared to delta-8, delta-10 is seen as the milder alternative. This means that you can expect similar effects as delta-8 and -9, but at the lowest level among the three isomers.
Legal Considerations Surrounding Delta-8
Delta-8 is in a gray area when it comes to legality. You should remember that this isomer is a relatively new discovery and its popularity is still on the rise. So, you can expect that most legislation tackling cannabis has failed to provide particular provisions that directly talk about delta-8 THC.
The lack of laws that mention this isomer opened a lot of opportunities for players in the cannabis industry to push the legality of delta-8. Let’s talk about some of the most significant laws when it comes to determining whether this cannabinoid is legal and should be accessible.
On the federal level, you do not need to look further than the 2018 Farm Bill, now called the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (AIA). This law has made hemp (scientific name: Cannabis sativa L.) legal given that the crops and by-products contain the legal amount of delta-9.
Plants that contain 0.3% or less delta-9 THC and high amounts of CBD are considered hemp. Meanwhile, plants and parts of the plant that contain more than 0.3% of delta-9 THC are considered marijuana.
The federal document published by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) called the Implementation of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 specified that cannabidiol is no longer listed in the DEA’s schedule of controlled substances.
Delta-8 producers and lawyers consider this a win for the isomer because most of the delta-8 extracts are converted from hemp-derived CBD.
Particularly, the Implementation of the AIA explains that the 2018 Farm Bill changed the definition of tetrahydrocannabinols, which “[exempted] tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp (as defined under section 16390 of Title 7).”
This serves as a legal loophole, which companies and their attorneys use to argue that such products are technically legal on the federal level. Given the citation above, players in the cannabis industry assert that delta-8 THC produced from hemp-derived CBD is legal.
However, the federal document referred to above explicitly notes that the implementation of the AIA does not affect the scheduling status of tetrahydrocannabinols (THCs).
According to the same document, “The AIA does not impact the control status of synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols (for Controlled Substance Code Number 7370) because the statutory definition of ‘hemp’ is limited to materials that are derived from the plant Cannabis sativa L.”
An interpretation of this passage can suggest that only naturally occurring delta-8 THC in hemp is considered legal, which means that converting delta-8 from hemp-derived CBD is not exempted. Take note that the conversion process results in synthetic delta-8.
This angle is further supported by a part within the same document saying, “All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances.“
The given statements are cited by both sides to push the technical legality or illegality of delta-8.
Can You Access Delta-8 in Virginia?
Given the technical arguments by both sides, you might be wondering which side Virginia falls into. What you need to remember is the fact that state laws can affect whether or not a product is considered legal within a state.
This is how more than 18 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use despite its status as a schedule I drug on the federal level. Most states that fully legalized adult-use marijuana also welcome delta-8 THC.
Virginia is one of the most progressive states when it comes to tackling marijuana. It legalized medical marijuana back in 2017 and expanded the program in 2018. Then, it decriminalized simple marijuana possession last year. Now, the state has legalized adult-use marijuana with regulations. Come 2023, businesses will be able to apply for a license and they can start selling products by 2024.
With this timeline, you know when and what to expect legal marijuana in the state. However, this does not mention delta-8. In fact, The Industrial Hemp and marijuana-related sections on the official Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website do not mention the isomer at all. The same is true for the Virginia Legislative Information System’s which does not turn up any info on delta-8.
With the lack of state legislation against delta-8, many are taking it as a green light for accessing the isomer in Virginia.
Delta-8 Consumer Safety and Side Effects
As mentioned, delta-8 is associated with milder versions of the effects of delta-9 THC. This makes it an attractive alternative to actual marijuana, especially for those looking for an option that is more potent than CBD but is less strong than delta-9.
What you need to remember is that because delta-8 and -9 are isomers, they bear similar side effects including red eyes, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, coordination issues, slow reaction time, anxiety, and memory issues. You can expect less potent side effects.
Knowing this is just half of the battle, though. You need to remember that the lack of legislation surrounding delta-8 means that it does not have regulations that control it. This means that no rules dictate how delta-8 products should be labeled, for example.
Consumers may be at risk of purchasing and taking in items that are not purely composed of the isomer. Experts are concerned that aside from delta-8, the items may also contain delta-8 and delta-10, which may not be declared on the label. Lack of regulations about labeling can also affect the accuracy of delta-8 amounts in the product.
Scientists also have reservations about delta-8 because a lot of these products are synthesized in a laboratory. Remember, it exists naturally in the plant in small amounts, which means that other cannabinoids need to be converted into delta-8 to produce a substantial amount.
This process of conversion involves strong catalysts and may not be cleanly executed by some producers. Poor execution can leave other unnecessary chemical compounds in the final product, posing a safety risk to consumers.
Another important thing to know about delta-8 THC is that no clear information regarding drug testing and THC isomers. Many experts suggest that because delta-9 and its isomers share the same atoms, they are bound to be detected by drug tests. Moreover, a report submitted to the Virginia General Assembly and Governor of Virginia noted that federal laws do not allow for delta-8 testing.
Alternatives to Delta-8 THC in Virginia
If you are hesitant about accessing delta-8 THC for legal and/or safety reasons, you might want to check out options that have proven track records and are tightly regulated for safe consumption. Here are some of your choices.
Those who are looking for less potent products should check out CBD products. This cannabinoid has been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as having medicinal value. Because of this, it is no longer a controlled substance, so it is widely available in Virginia.
You can get this cannabinoid in different forms such as vape pens, oils, ointments, gummies, and capsules. If you want to explore more products, you can also look at CBD-infused shampoos, lotions, soaps, and skincare items.
This cannabinoid is known for its medicinal effects such as stress relief, pain relief, anti-inflammation, mood enhancement, energy boost, and cognition improvement. Just make sure to get products that are within the legal threshold, particularly those that only have 0.3% delta-9 or lower.
If you are looking for a more potent option than CBD, you might want to think about getting delta-9 THC, now that marijuana is legal in the state. Like CBD, you have a lot of options because it is being incorporated in many products out there.
You just need to remember to use it responsibly. Refrain from consuming such products before drug tests or operating heavy machinery. You should also be aware of differences in effects and reaction times when consuming edibles and topicals.
Remember that edibles can take more time to take effect, but they can be stronger and last longer. Topicals can have more immediate effects on the area they are applied to.
Various Marijuana Strains
If you are into inhaling cannabis, you should take a look at available marijuana strains. This is the best choice for adventurous consumers, especially as more and more strains are being developed each year. This option can satisfy not only your endocannabinoid system but also your pallet and olfactory sense.
Different strains offer different flavors and aromas, so if you want to explore, this is the right choice for you. These strains also offer varying effects. Those that contain more CBD can offer a more cerebral or brain high, while those that contain more THC provide a body high.
Delta-8 THC can be a promising alternative to CBD and delta-9. Given the accessibility and legal considerations surrounding this isomer, you can make informed decisions on whether or not you want to try these products. Should you want to wait before trying it out, you can take a pick in some of the delta-8 alternatives given above.