Even when Synthesised from Legal Hemp, The DEA Classifies the Novel Cannabinoids Delta-8 and -9 Thco as Schedule I Substances!

Two cannabinoids that have recently emerged in state markets are illegal controlled substances because they do not conform to the federal definition of legal hemp, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Last year, attorney Rod Kight contacted the federal agency to find out if delta-8 THC-O and delta-9 THC-O were illegal, and he followed up on that inquiry earlier this month.

They “do not occur naturally in the cannabis plant and can only be obtained synthetically,” the DEA wrote in a response letter released on Monday, arguing that the two cannabinoids in question “do not fall under the definition of hemp.”

The letter from the head of the DEA’s Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, Terrence L. Boos, stated, “Delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO are tetrahydrocannabinol having similar chemical structures and pharmacological activity to those contained in the cannabis plant.”

In an online essay published on Monday, Kight addressed the DEA’s letter, stating, “while I do not usually agree with the DEA’s stance on cannabis topics, I concur with this conclusion and, honestly, am not shocked.” I’ve been saying this for a time now.

For some time now, I’ve been worried about the spread of THC acetate ester (THCO). According to his previous statements, “I have long believed that THCO is a restricted substance under federal law.” The hemp plant does not produce THCO on its own, but it is synthesized from cannabinoids. This compound was synthesized in a lab and cannot be found in the hemp plant in the wild.

Since the 2018 Farm Bill approved hemp with up to 0.3% delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis, there has been much uncertainty within the cannabis sector. The market for both natural and synthetic cannabis has grown in response to the reform’s implementation.

Delta-8 THC is one of the most well-known new cannabinoids; it is synthesized from CBD and also exists naturally in very small amounts in the cannabis plant. Unlike CBD, the product does cause intoxication, hence several states have moved to regulate it.

When derived from the plant and not synthesized, delta-8 THC compounds are not considered restricted substances, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Meanwhile, a federal appeals court ruled last year that delta-8 is not controlled due to the fact that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) only explicitly speaks to the natural delta-9 THC, and federal statute defines hemp as “any part” of the cannabis plant including “all derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids” that contain less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC by weight.

What About THC-O?

Research conducted by the DEA has determined that THC-O, unlike delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC, does not occur naturally. This substance is illegal on a national level because it can only be manufactured through synthetic techniques.

Partner at Vicente Sederberg law firm Michelle Bodian told Marijuana Moment that the DEA’s position “requires a cannabinoid-by-cannabinoid analysis,” adding that the agency’s statement today “adds one more layer of analysis to the already crowded patchwork of questions that must be answered to determine whether a hemp product is lawful.”

Bodian noted that while the DEA’s most recent statement didn’t address the legality of all novel cannabinoids generated from hemp, it did make it clear that the DEA considers Delta-9 THCO and Delta-8 THCO to be banned narcotics.

So that the business is not left with a hodgepodge of law, regulation, policy, and now letter statements, “hopefully there is congressional action to resolve the legality of all hemp-derived cannabinoids”

(Vicente Sederberg makes a recurring donation to support Marijuana Moment’s efforts on Patreon.)

THC-O has gained a lot of popularity in the past year, and users say it’s one of the most potent cannabinoids available. Concerns regarding its safety profile have been voiced in a number of studies, and groups like NORML have warned against the use of lesser-known, unregulated cannabinoids.

DEA Classifies Novel Cannabinoids Delta-8 And -9 THCO As Controlled Substances, Even When Synthesized From Legal Hemp

If the federal prohibition on marijuana were abolished and individuals were given the opportunity to utilize natural cannabis products, advocates argue that the regulatory patchwork and consequent consumer and market uncertainty would be efficiently handled, especially in areas where marijuana remains illegal.

To preserve public health and safety, “psychoactive cannabinoids need to be controlled appropriately,” said Aaron Smith, CEO of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), in an interview with Marijuana Moment. Only by ending federal prohibition, enacting reasonable federal restrictions, and letting state cannabis laws continue to function nationwide will this goal be achieved.

The FDA, for its part, has been trying to gather more information to fill in the gaps in the evidence about the safety of cannabis-derived products.

CBD has been the subject of repeated calls for administrative action from lawmakers, advocates, and stakeholders, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last month that it would not be creating rules to allow the marketing of CBD as dietary supplements or food items, leaving the massive industry without regulations.

A few days prior to the announcement, the government issued advice that outlines the methodology and special concerns for scientists when working with hemp and marijuana, which will be used in the development of medications derived from cannabis.

Since Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the newly elected chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, has stated his intention to confront FDA over their failure to enact regulations for hemp-derived products like CBD, the agency’s emphasis on working with Congress to address the issue legislatively comes at a particularly opportune time.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf in September, Representatives Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) questioned the lack of regulations for CBD for such uses.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has lately taken credit for assisting a state agency in cracking down on a company selling delta-8 THC candies that they claim are related to “severe adverse outcomes.”


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