Washington State LCB says no Delta-8 THC in state-licensed pot shops

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) announced today that state-licensed processors are currently prohibited from converting cannabidiol (CBD) to the mildly psychoactive delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8 THC). LCB Enforcement and Education Division Director, Chandra Brady clarified via email bulletin to Washington Cannabis industry members that, “delta-8 THC and synthetic equivalents are Schedule 1 controlled substances. Under current law, marijuana license holders are not allowed to produce or process delta-8 THC.” The bulletin further clarified that “marijuana licensees may not buy or sell hemp-derived delta-8 THC. Engaging in this activity is a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (RCW 69.50.401).”

Delta-8 THC is at very least, an interesting commodity. It is fully legal for individuals to purchase through processors and retailers outside Washington’s state-licensed system by virtue of the 2018 Farm Bill. That means anyone (adults 21+) can follow a link to shop a store physically located in any state, and have products delivered right to their door. (Some shown below)

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In addition to individuals, retailers not within the LCB-controlled system, such as CBD-only shops and neighborhood convenience stores, apparently may engage in hemp-based commerce as permitted by the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp-derived CBD products are currently available in respected drug stores and family retailers, both physically and online.

Delta-9 THC Delta-8 THC
Above: Delta-9 THC (green background) depicting a carbon-carbon double bond that starts at the delta-9 position, and Delta-8 THC (white background; CC by SA 3.0 below), which is nearly identical, but with the double bond beginning at the delta-8 position.

Some industry professionals have suggested, however, that any conversion of CBD to delta-8 THC is also prohibited under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, because the CSA classifies delta-8 THC as a mimic of delta-9 THC, a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The 2018 Farm Bill created a Catch-22 by stating specifically that all products classified as hemp-derived were fully legal.

In Washington state, businesses in the legal Cannabis system (I-502) are prohibited from producing, buying or selling delta-8 THC and competing with Hemp businesses. The result is I-502 licensees may not cash-in on delta-8 THC’s consumer craze fueled by all the Hemp industry buzz.

The Bright Side for Washington Cannabis Licensees:

Hemp-derived delta-8 THC products may have found their way into closed markets like Washington state, and may be available in drug stores, online and in neighborhood convenience stores. But only I-502 licensees may produce, process or sell Cannabis products (those containing more than 0.3 % delta-9 THC) in Washington. Only they have the right to do business in Washington’s high-THC recreational Cannabis market.

This article examines the legal issues faced by Washington state Cannabis businesses and does not discuss preparation, composition, or potential health issues related to delta-8 THC.

Delta-8 THC structural image by Robin Leclercq, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. Image available at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Delta-8-THC.jpg

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