Delta 8 THC products sound too good to be true. Can something like Delta-8-THC, which gives you a cannabis high, be legal in North Carolina, a state where cannabis is still banned?
Delta-8-THC is legal in North Carolina. The North Carolina General Assembly has not introduced any legislation concerning Delta 8. Therefore, the federal law, which does not prohibit delta 8, takes precedence. This has more to do with a lack of legal clarity than lawmakers carving out an exception for Delta 8.
Sounds simple enough – if only it were! Current delta 8 laws are clouded in uncertainty and open for interpretation. Join me as I go down the legal rabbit hole and cover all you need to know about the legal status of Delta-8-THC in North Carolina.
Is Delta 8 Legal in North Carolina? (State Law)
As of August 2022, delta 8 is legal in North Carolina. Several states have moved to ban Delta 8, and others are considering implementing restrictions, but none of this is happening yet in NC.
Let’s start with the basics. When North Carolina implemented Senate Bill 315 to legalize hemp products, they used the exact wording as federal lawmakers. All hemp “derivatives, cannabinoids, acids, salts, isomers, and salts of isomers” were legalized as part of Senate Bill 315, except for THC. Good news for Delta 8. There’s another critical section in Senate Bill 315. It states that tetrahydrocannabinol remains a Schedule VI controlled substance, except for tetrahydrocannabinol in hemp products or hemp extracts. This means that all types of THC found naturally in hemp products are legal in North Carolina, with the caveat that these hemp products must have less than 0.3% THC. But with no limitations on delta 8 (or delta 10), hemp-based products rich in delta 8 are just fine!
If you want to know whether Delta 10 is better than Delta 8, click the link here.
Delta 8 And the Federal Law
When drawing up the law on hemp, federal lawmakers were so zoned in on restricting THC they forgot all about other cannabinoids with psychoactive properties. Thankfully for us, savvy legal hemp companies were quick to capitalize on their mistake.
Per federal law, delta 8 is legal everywhere in the United States, including in North Carolina, providing it is extracted from hemp and not marijuana. The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill) legalized all hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% delta-9-THC, removing them from the Schedule 1 list of banned substances. Marijuana products with more than 0.3% THC remain prohibited at the federal level. But delta 8 was not mentioned anywhere in the Farm Bill, the main text, or the list of restricted substances. Delta 8 manufacturers spotted this and pounced. Of course, the law’s intention was clearly to stop the emergence of psychoactive “hemp” products. However, this oversight has created a gray area for Delta 8 products nationwide.
And it’s not just Delta 8 making a mark. Psychoactive Delta 10 and THCV products have also popped up of late, capitalizing on the same legal loophole.
Does an Interim Final Rule affect North Carolina?
Things get a little more complex. In 2020, the United States Federal Register published an Interim Final Rule (IFR) titled “Implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.” This set alarm bells ringing in the Delta 8 community, and fears of a coming crackdown loomed. Any consequences from the IFR would inevitably affect Delta 8 in North Carolina, as the state doesn’t have any relevant laws. But if the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) idea was to outlaw Delta 8, the report has not had its intended effect.
Here’s the critical part: “All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain Schedule 1 controlled substances.” Delta 8 naturally occurs in hemp but is only in useless minuscule quantities. Manufacturers produce Delta 8 by submerging CBD-isolate in hydrochloric acid and toluene. Sure, that’s not a natural process, but it’s not necessarily synthetic or illegal. When I see the term ‘synthetic cannabinoids,’ substances like spice (or K2) spring to mind. Spice is a shredded plant product coated in synthetic cannabinoids cooked up from start to finish in a lab.
Delta 8 certainly doesn’t fit the classic ‘synthetic cannabinoid’ description. It doesn’t pose these risks, and unlike spice, delta 8 is a naturally occurring substance. In addition, the CBD isolate used in the delta 8 manufacturing process does have a natural origin. Delta 8 is not some lab-engineered monster compound. But the DEA could argue differently. Ultimately, manufacturing delta 8 products involves a critical chemical process in a laboratory with CBD-isolate and hydrochloric acid. The DEA could decide this meets the definition of synthetic, despite both CBD-isolate and delta 8 having natural origins. If the DEA does go down this route, delta 8 would become a Schedule 1 drug overnight, putting it alongside heroin as one of America’s most restricted drugs.
The History of Delta 8 in North Carolina
Delta 8 has a short and sweet history in North Carolina, with products emerging in the state following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. So far, lawmakers haven’t taken any steps to ban it, and the DEA hasn’t struck a death blow. Technically, since delta-8 is naturally occurring in the cannabis plant, it has a much older history. North Carolinian cannabis users would have legally consumed tiny amounts of Delta 8 up until the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Delta 8 was then categorized as a Schedule 1 drug as part of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, where it stayed until the 2018 Farm Bill was passed. But it wasn’t until the Farm Bill that Delta 8’s existence started to matter.
Fast forward to 2022, and Delta 8 is massively famous in North Carolina, where marijuana laws are very restrictive. The state is yet even to pass a medical marijuana bill so that you can forget about recreational pot. For weed lovers in NC, the arrival of Delta 8 has been nothing short of a miracle!
Legality of Selling Delta 8 THC in North Carolina
Delta 8 vendors are operating in North Carolina with confidence. Many sellers already had a successful CBD business and have used Delta 8 to expand their selection. You can walk into a brick-and-mortar store and buy some, or purchase online and have it shipped to you in North Carolina without breaking any laws. However, I strongly advise steering clear of gas stations for your Delta 8 needs. There have been stories of gas stations selling untested and potentially dangerous Delta 8 products.
Think back to the vaping epidemic a couple of years ago, when people were getting ill and even dying from untested vape juice products containing vitamin E acetate. You cannot be too careful. In an unregulated history like hemp and delta 8, you must scrutinize every brand. With no regulatory body to enforce standards, cowboy companies using dodgy ingredients and sketchy manufacturing processes are sadly all too common. This burdens honest brands and vendors to show their products are legit. Any Delta 8 company worth its salt will happily go along with third-party testing requirements. If they refuse or something feels off, that is a big red flag, and you should avoid them.
When buying Delta 8 in North Carolina, stay within the law and only buy hemp-based products. Delta-8 products extracted from a marijuana source or products that contain more than 0.3% THC are illegal. Legitimate vendors, such as the one I use, CBD Genesis, ensure all their products are third-party tested, safe, and legal, with less than 0.3% THC.
What Does The Future Look Like For Delta 8 in North Carolina?
Undoubtedly, Delta 8 faces an uncertain legal future in North Carolina. Hemp legalization was not meant to legalize an array of obscure, mind-altering compounds through the back door. But that’s precisely what it has done. Right now, weed is essentially legal in the Tar Heel State.
At the federal level, delta 8 currently exists in a gray area. Nothing is stopping the DEA from clarifying the wording further. If that did happen, it would likely be bad news for Delta 8 in North Carolina and beyond. State lawmakers could take action to ban the manufacturing, sale, possession, and consumption of Delta 8 products. In states like North Carolina, where marijuana remains prohibited, lawmakers could move to clamp down on what is effectively a legal marijuana industry operating in their state.
This is perhaps more likely in NC since weed is still entirely banned. Counties and cities in North Carolina also can enforce restrictions in their respective jurisdictions. But this is all theory. Nothing suggests an impending crackdown yet, although since some states have already banned Delta 9 and Delta 8, others could be tempted to follow. Even so, there is no guarantee they will be successful. In May 2022, a state bill that would have outlawed Delta 8 in Texas was changed, keeping the substance legal.