Delta 8 THC is a marijuana and hemp compound that has similarities with delta 9 THC. Delta 9 is famed for causing an intoxicating high and is available in abundance in most cannabis strains. Although delta 8 can also result in a high, it is approximately half as potent as D9. Also, both hemp and marijuana plants contain extremely small amounts of D8. Indeed, companies looking to extract the compound must use special equipment.
Most people are aware that delta 9 THC remains illegal under federal law. However, things are not as clear-cut with delta 8. It is a similar story when it comes to state laws. We know that medical marijuana is legal in dozens of states, with recreational legality also increasing. Yet, some states don’t have specific delta 8 laws.
This is why we have created a series of guides looking at the legality of delta 8 THC in different states. Today it is the turn of North Carolina.
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Delta 8 North Carolina: State Law vs. Federal Law
Until recently, most states didn’t consider whether their laws permitted delta 8 THC. After all, it is only available in minuscule quantities in the hemp and marijuana plant. However, D8 has suddenly become extremely popular. As it causes intoxication, many states have been forced to act to implement new laws. It is a similar story at a federal level.
Delta 8 THC: Federal Law
There is no room for interpretation when it comes to the legality of delta 9 THC. The FDA clearly states that the cannabinoid is illegal on a federal level. However, delta 8 falls into a gray area right now.
Technically speaking, delta 8 IS federally legal for now; but there are caveats. For example, delta 8 derived from marijuana remains illegal because the plant itself is illegal. Yet you can legally extract D8 from industrial hemp if the plant contains a maximum of 0.3% D9! This is mainly due to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the growth of hemp with no more than 0.3% THC. In this instance, ‘THC’ specifically relates to delta 9.
However, you can’t extract the cannabinoid from hemp-derived CBD. That involves a chemical process, which is outlawed by the DEA. Unfortunately for manufacturers, this is precisely what they do to extract the delta 8.
The Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act’s definition of marijuana. It also removed ‘tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp’ from the CSA’s definition of THC. However, as we discuss in the next section, the DEA recently created a new rule which could outlaw D8 from hemp.
In a nutshell, then, federal law doesn’t specifically prohibit delta 8 extracted from hemp legally grown under the rules of the 2018 Farm Bill. Unfortunately for D8 sellers and enthusiasts, this state of affairs is unlikely to last.
It seems incredibly likely that deltas will soon become regulated as intoxicants. If and when this happens, it will result in many D8 sellers leaving the market due to the strict demands placed on the intoxicant market.
Meanwhile, a growing number of states are acting and have begun closing loopholes.
Delta 8 THC: State Law
The net is quickly tightening on the D8 market. States are reacting quickly to the booming market via the following:
- Contemplating measures to outright ban delta 8 products.
- Introducing potency limits on D8 items.
- Limiting market access as much as possible.
At present, the following 15 states have either restricted the sale of D8 or banned it entirely:
- New York
- Rhode Island
New York is one of the most recent additions to this list. Here are another six states that are considering regulatory clarifications and complete bans:
- North Dakota
In many states, the main problem with delta 8 is that it IS NOT classified similarly to delta 9. This means it isn’t subject to the same safety requirements or oversight.
You’ll notice that North Carolina isn’t on either list. That’s because the state has yet to implement any laws relating to D8 restrictions or prohibition. Right now, NC state law permits the use of D8, though that isn’t guaranteed to last.
DEA Rules About Delta 8 in NC
At present, the supposition is that Delta 8 extracted from hemp is legal federally. However, the DEA threw a spanner in the works on August 21, 2020. It issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR), which bore the title: “Implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.” According to this new rule, the DEA plans to classify D8 THC derived from chemical conversion or other synthetic means as illegal.
The rule came into action with immediate effect! D8 sellers were immediately gripped with fear because if the cannabinoid became a federally illegal substance, it would wipe out countless companies. However, the IFR did NOT prohibit the extraction of cannabinoids from hemp. It also didn’t make delta 8 THC illegal. Instead, it modified the definitions of certain terms.
What Does This Mean for Delta 8 in North Carolina?
The IFR is relevant to NC because the state doesn’t have any protocols outlawing D8. Sellers and buyers of delta 8 in North Carolina should note the following, however:
- Naturally occurring THCs in hemp aren’t controlled substances as long as they are not accompanied by more than 0.3% delta 9 THC.
- Any cannabinoid product with a D9 content of over 0.3% becomes a controlled substance.
- Synthetically derived THCs are all controlled substances regardless of their D9 content. The D8 removed from hemp-derived CBD is classified as ‘synthetic.’
- Work in Progress Hemp Extract (WIPHE) is outlawed because it contains more than 0.3% THC. The fact it isn’t intended for human consumption is irrelevant.
For more information on the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, you must go to Senate Bill 352 – Second Edition. It states that all cannabinoids, derivatives, and isomers of hemp are legal. This includes all tetrahydrocannabinols besides delta 9 THC. This is great news for D8 sellers and their customers.
Yet, companies that produce or sell D8 products require a permit to produce or sell THC as a controlled substance. At least, that’s according to the president of the U.S. Hemp Authority, Marielle Weintraub. She asserts that the right path for the legal production and sale of delta 8 is via a state-licensed adult recreational or MMJ operator.
Weintraub also stated that hemp operators producing D8 would not be permitted to certify their products through the Hemp Authority.
At present, confusion reigns among sellers and customers. It is also a poorly regulated industry, which means buyer beware!
How to Use Delta 8 Legally & Safely in North Carolina
First and foremost, please ensure that the delta 8 THC you buy in NC is derived from hemp. It is also essential that you purchase from a seller that provides a third-party lab report with the product. As well as confirming the D8 and D9 content, this Certificate of Analysis (COA) also shows whether the product is free from pesticides, chemicals, and other contaminants.
Also, don’t purchase delta 8 from any vendor unless they:
- Can prove they cultivate their industrial hemp legally, and it contains a maximum of 0.3% THC.
- Use a manufacturing facility that is compliant with Good Manufacturing Practice regulations.
- Sell products that comply with NC state laws regarding ingredients, manufacturing, advertising, and labeling.
- Limit D8 concentration to relatively low serving sizes. At present, research is ongoing, but we don’t have a definitive answer on what a ‘safe’ amount of delta 8 is.
- Are honest when advertising their products. Don’t use any brand that claims the product will get you high and help ‘treat,’ ‘cure,’ or ‘diagnose’ any medical condition.
- Only sell to customers aged 21+.
If a brand doesn’t adhere to the above, you have to wonder what else they are hiding.
Also, it is best to steer clear of delta 8 products you see in convenience stores and gas stations in North Carolina. Highly-rated brands such as Premium Jane tend to sell their products online.
Final Thoughts About Whether Delta 8 THC Is Legal in NC
The growing popularity of delta 8 THC could result in it becoming illegal! While it isn’t as potent as D9, the fact it causes intoxication has caused dozens of states to scramble in a bid to outlaw it. North Carolina is NOT one of these states. For now, at least, delta 8 THC is legal in NC. However, the cannabinoid must come from industrial hemp that doesn’t contain more than 0.3%.
On a federal level, hemp-derived delta 8 THC remains legal as long as there is minimal delta 9 in the plant. Unfortunately for delta 8 brands, this state of affairs is unlikely to last much longer. There is a clamor for the DEA to crack down on the sale of the cannabinoid. Eventually, it will heed those calls, which will cause a devastating blow to a fledgling industry.