A Tennessee-based cannabis edibles company has emerged and has been gaining rapid success in Dickson County, reported the Tennessean. Southern Sugar Leaf produces and sells delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Southern Sugar Leaf has been selling various infused items such as gummies and sweet treats. One of its best-selling products is the “triple threat” composed of a chocolate candy bar, pretzels, peanut butter, and caramel. “A lot of love” to all its products and are made meticulously, making it difficult to keep up with the rising demand.
Its products are sold across the country. According to its owners, the goal is “to be here forever” to support the community and the country.
The company, named after the sugar leaf trimmings from cannabis during harvest season, has only been around since December 2020. President Brook Spicer and husband Chris Yates established Southern Sugar Leaf after the pandemic negatively impacted their livelihood.
“We’re really grateful to Dickson, because without the support of the people here, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we’re doing,” said Yates.
Delta-8 THC is an isomer of the delta-9 THC (most commonly referred to as simply THC), one of the primary cannabinoids in the cannabis plant mostly associated with its psychoactive effects. Isomers are chemical compounds composed of the same atoms but in different configurations.
Cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), as well as delta-8 and delta-9 THCs, can be derived from marijuana and hemp, both are varieties of the cannabis plant that are high in THC but low in CBD and high in CBD but low in THC, respectively. The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (AIA, also called the 2018 Farm Bill) defines hemp as plants containing only 0.3% of delta-9 THC or less.
The delta-8 isomer can be organically extracted from the plant or synthetically produced in a laboratory from delta-9. Because they are isomers, delta-8 THC is known to produce similar effects as delta-9, but at lower potencies.
For individuals wondering if the isomer is legal, Yates clarified that the 2018 Farm Bill failed to tackled delta-8 THC, making it federally legal. The owners made it a point to comply with laws surrounding cannabis to protect the brand and its consumers.
Yates acknowledged that THC may have adverse effects. He said, “There is a point at which THC can hurt you. That’s why I’m a firm believer in regulations. I think that they should exist. Safety is the priority.”
To ensure that their products are safe for adult consumption, the owners see to it that their products are properly labeled with components and instructions. Consumers can also visit the company’s website to view certificates of analysis from third-party evaluators to indicate potency and any contaminant that might remain in the final product.
In other states, local officials are looking at the possibility of legalizing marijuana because of its potential for revenue and job generation, among other benefits.
The owners are positive about the contributions of their company to the state. According to Yates, “I feel like this is a good thing for the State of Tennessee. I can do so much. They could use this as a model. The writing is on the wall; legalization is eventually going to happen. We can use it as an opportunity to show the state how this can benefit them, how it can benefit the community.”
Southern Sugar Leaf is also intent on giving back to the community by participating in different initiatives such as donating to relief efforts for flood victims.
What the Laws Say About THCs
Federal law fails to specifically mention delta-8 THC, given that it is a fairly new development in the cannabis community. Many business owners and participants of the community take this as a signal that there are no legislations that make delta-8 illegal.
However, it is important to note that while the Tennessean article noted that delta-8 THC is “a type of hemp that is federally classified as legal,” federal documents state otherwise.
A list of controlled substances from the Drug Enforcement Agency noted that all tetrahydrocannabinols are considered Schedule I drugs. Moreover, a federal document tackling the implementation of the AIA states that this law does not affect the schedule of synthetically-derived tetrahydrocannabinols.
The document noted, “All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain Schedule I controlled substances.” Schedule I substances include LSD and heroin and are considered harmful without recognized medicinal value.
What can create a substantial difference between the legality and illegality of delta-8 is state legislation. Many states are yet to pass laws tackling delta-8 in particular. Sources say that Tennessee allows delta-8 THC so long as it is hemp-derived, which means that the product cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.
The other primary component in cannabis, CBD, is generally considered legal in the United States unless indicated by particular state laws. Cannabidiol is no longer a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. It was formerly in Schedule I, then moved to Schedule V. It is federally legal to consume today.
Meanwhile, Tennessee could be getting closer to having an expanded CBD law, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. In June this year, a medical cannabis bill passed its first Senate committee hearing but failed its second, leading the legislature to approve further research on the matter. It also agreed on expanding its current laws on CBD, which are considered “ineffective.”
Currently, Tennessee is one of the 14 states that are yet to legalize medical marijuana despite having 81% of its voters supporting it. The state is also one of 18 states that still impose criminal charges on simple possession, which is still punishable with jail time. Decriminalization is yet to be tackled by the state legislature.
What the state lacks is a strong ballot initiative that can help bolster medical cannabis and its legalization. However, voters do not have the ability to initiate such changes in laws because Tennessee does not have a voter initiate process, giving only elected legislators the ability to change legislation.