Safety & Compliance

The Delta-9 Exception

Written by Robert Hammell

Thanks to a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill, Delta-9 (D9) THC products are now legally available, with certain limitations.

The 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized and regulated the cultivation, production, and sale of hemp-based CBD products, left a lot of ambiguity about cannabis legalization. With the passage of this bill into law, Delta-8 THC, a hemp-derived sister chemical to Delta-9 THC with a lesser intoxicating effect, exploded onto the market. But the Farm Bill also left a small loophole that cannabis manufacturers can now take advantage of.


The Farm Bill Omission

While the 2018 Farm Bill opened the door for hemp-based products, it also allowed for D9 to be permitted only in quantities less than 0.3 percent. As a point of reference, a non-alcoholic beer has 0.4 percent alcohol by volume. This makes the beer effectively non-alcoholic when you consider how many you’d need to drink to become inebriated.

But D9 THC is different. Depending on the person, an average dose of D9 THC ranges from 2.5-10mgs. An edible — typically a gummy or a chocolate — that is four grams in size may contain 12mgs of D9 THC based on the Farm Bill’s standard. To put that into perspective, an average grape weighs seven grams, which is far more digestible than endless  cans of non-alcoholic beer.


Product Availability

Obviously, in states that have legalized recreational cannabis consumption, this is not an issue. For states that have not done so, this creates a loophole to sell D9 products legally. Depending on the state, most D9 edibles with less than 0.3 percent D9 THC are treated as hemp products, and are regulated by the same standards as CBD or D8 products. Meaning, some states have strict controls, others may only allow them in medical cannabis dispensaries, and others allow for a relaxed attitude based on this legal gray area.

One example is Florida, where more than 20 grams of cannabis is considered a felony and is punishable by a $5000 fine and three years in prison. D9 gummies are now reportedly available in packages that contain 100mgs of D9 THC in multiple licensed businesses across the state. Additionally, numerous online providers claim to be able to ship products across the country, but may limit the sale to certain states based on their local enforcement. Understanding local enforcement standards may determine availability in various locations across the country.


Safety Concerns

The first thing to note is that while all of these products may be considered legal under this Farm Bill loophole, none of them have been approved by the FDA for recreational consumption. This is important to consider, especially with any kind of intoxicant. Additionally, the nature of edible absorption into the bloodstream also may put the consumer at risk. Edibles are processed through the liver and may take 40-120 minutes to have an effect, an effect that is also quite potent.

This means that consumers may put themselves at risk of overindulging and overconsuming D9 products to the point of physical illness. Edibles also take a lot longer to metabolize, and any unpleasant sicknesses potentially could last several hours, depending on the individual.

About the author

Robert Hammell