The federal legalization of hemp through the 2018 Farm Bill removed restrictions on a wide range of molecules produced by the cannabis plant—including, a new court ruling says, the psychoactive cannabinoid delta-8 THC.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wrote in an opinion published Thursday that products containing delta-8 THC are generally legal because federal law defines hemp as “any part of” the cannabis plant, including “all derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids,” that contains less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC by weight. The law, the court said in the 3-0 ruling, “is silent with regard to delta-8 THC.”
Delta-9 THC often referred to simply as THC, is the most abundant psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis and remains federally illegal, classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. By contrast, Delta-8 THC typically occurs in only trace amounts in the cannabis plant.
However, current cultivation and manufacturing techniques allow for so-called minor cannabinoids to be concentrated from hemp plants and refined into consumer products. And delta-8 THC products have surged in popularity in recent years, especially in states where cannabis remains illegal.
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