Is Delta 8-THC Legal in California?

By | last updated November 26, 2021

Evidence Based 3

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Delta-8-THC is restricted in California. It’s not clear if it’s completely illegal or regulated but the law appears to prohibit hemp-derived products with more than 0.3% of any type of THC.

Here’s how it works.

California Delta 8 THC Laws

On October 6, 2021, Bill AB-45 was signed into law. The bill legalized the use of CBD in dietary supplements, foods, beverages, and cosmetics. It was a big win for CBD companies.

However, the bill also appears to close the loophole that made hemp-derived delta-8 THC legal.

First, the bill redefined THC to include delta-8 and other forms of THC:

Any tetrahydrocannabinol, including, but not limited to, Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and Delta-10-tetrahydrocannabinol, however derived, except that the department may exclude one or more isomers of tetrahydrocannabinol from this definition under subdivision.

California Bill AB-45

At first glance, it looks like California wants to regulate delta-8 THC the same way as regular delta-9 THC, which means it will only be available from licensed dispensaries.

However, the bill also states that hemp products can only be sold as long as:

The industrial hemp raw extract, in its final form, does not exceed THC concentration of an amount determined allowable by the department in regulation, or the mass of the industrial hemp extract used in the final form product does not exceed a THC concentration of 0.3 percent.

California Bill AB-45

In other words, hemp products can contain no more than 0.3% of any form of THC (or an amount determined by the state’s regulatory bodies). This essentially makes hemp-derived delta-8 THC products illegal.

It’s not clear if California intends to make delta-8 illegal completely or regulate it like adult-use cannabis.

What is Delta 8 THC?

Delta-8-THC stands for delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s a type of THC, the intoxicating compound in cannabis.

Delta-8 is a minor cannabinoid. It gets produced naturally in cannabis plants but only in trace amounts. This is why D8 is synthesized from hemp-derived CBD instead.

Delta-8-THC is similar to delta-9 THC. They have similar effects because their molecular structure is almost identical. That means delta-8 can get you high, cause euphoria, and other effects typically associated with THC and cannabis (1).

But delta-8 is only about 66% as strong as delta-9 THC, so it’s less likely to cause side effects.

Why Delta 8 THC is Federally Legal

Delta-8-THC is federally legal because of a loophole. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived products, restricting them to no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC.

But the bill doesn’t say anything about delta-8 THC. Since it’s possible to make delta-8 from hemp-derived CBD, that effectively makes it legal.

States Where Delta-8 THC is Illegal

Each state can choose to make its own laws regarding delta-8-THC. Having effects similar to regular THC is why some states are choosing to ban or regulate Delta 8.

Delta-8-THC is currently illegal in 14 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Utah.

The Future of Delta 8 THC in California

Delta-8 THC is restricted in California. For now, it looks like hemp-derived delta-8 products are illegal in California but we don’t know for sure.

We can expect to see more statements from the California state government in the coming months that will hopefully clear up the situation.

It’s possible that the state may choose to add delta-8 to the existing framework for adult-use cannabis. That would mean you’ll only be able to buy delta-8 products from a licensed dispensary.


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