From a standing start, delta 8 THC (delta 8) products have become wildly popular in just a few short years. But with lawmakers and regulators starting to take notice, just what is the legal status of delta 8 in South Carolina?
Delta 8 is legal in South Carolina. The federal government legalized hemp products, including delta 8 as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. South Carolina has not introduced any legislation since to ban delta 8. However, delta 8 vendors in the Palmetto State are experiencing issues with law enforcement.
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Honestly, delta 8 law is complex, confusing, and at times vague – it is not easy to know where you stand. I’m here to simplify matters and give you some much-needed clarity on the delta 8 situation in South Carolina. We have lots of grounds to cover, so let’s get started!
Delta 8 THC State Law in South Carolina
You would think that a state like South Carolina – where medical and recreational marijuana is banned and weed possession remains criminalized – would come down hard on psychoactive delta 8.
Especially since more than a dozen states have already banned it. But delta 8 is legal, and lawmakers have not yet to introduce any legislation to outlaw it.
South Carolina legalized industrial hemp cultivation in 2014. Current SC hemp legislation matches that in the federal government’s 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill).
In a nutshell: hemp is legal in South Carolina, providing delta-9-THC levels do not exceed 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
For South Carolina specifically, the key wording is located in South Carolina House Bill 3449. The bill defines hemp as “all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers” found in the Cannabis sativa L. plant, with “the federally defined level for hemp” (0.3%).
That is all the law says, with no reference to delta 8 anywhere. This legislation means that increasingly common delta 10 products are also legal in South Carolina.
Delta 8 THC Federal Law
With South Carolina not introducing its own laws concerning hemp, federal law takes center stage. The 2018 Farm Bill sought to clarify the legal landscape for hemp-based products, with a focus on non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) products.
But lawmakers perhaps failed to consider the consequences of giving free rein to all cannabinoids except for THC. That’s no surprise, as hardly anyone had ever heard of delta 8 until a few years ago.
Delta 8 is naturally occurring in hemp and marijuana, but in such small quantities (less than 1%) that few ever thought it mattered.
The Farm Bill changed all that, with companies spotting a legal gap for delta 8 and wasting little time in filling it.
Soon enough, delta 8 edibles, vape cartridges, concentrates, and more were popping up across the US and online. Word quickly spread, and now the delta 8 industry is booming.
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Let’s be clear: this was never the intention of the Farm Bill. Delta 8 is so closely related to THC and produces a very similar “high”.
THC itself and marijuana products with more than 0.3% THC is still classified in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 drug – the most restrictive category. So, will the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) move to close this legal loophole?
2020 Interim Final Rule
Quite possibly. An Interim Final Rule (IFR) was published in 2020, as the DEA moved to address uncertainties about the 2018 Farm Bill. The IFR is very relevant to South Carolina, which has so far followed the federal government to the letter on hemp.
But if anything, the IFR just added to the confusion on the DEA’s views about delta 8. It all comes down to what the DEA means by “synthetic cannabinoids.”
The threat of a crackdown looms large over the delta 8 industry, and the IFR sent many companies into a panic. This was the crucial sentence: “All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain Schedule 1 substances.” But is delta 8 synthetic?
We know that delta 8 is naturally occurring in legal hemp. The issue is that delta 8 products are not made with basic hemp extracts. Natural levels of delta 8 are so low in hemp, that to make straight from hemp would be extremely inefficient and outrageously expensive.
Instead, delta 8 is made using CBD-isolate, in a laboratory. Manufacturers dunk highly refined CBD-isolate into a mixture of hydrochloric acid and toluene, and the end result is delta 8.
Nobody could reasonably argue that this is a 100% natural process, but that doesn’t automatically make it synthetic. A truly synthetic cannabinoid would be spice (K2), which is made from scratch in a laboratory. Spice products are notorious.
While sold as a cheaper alternative to marijuana, the synthetic cannabinoids in spice are much stronger and more addictive than natural THC. People have even died taking spice. When drawing up the IFR, that may have been what the DEA was really bothered about.
It’s hard to tell what the DEA actually thinks and what action they will take, if any, going forward. Delta 8 was in a gray area before the IFR and it’s in an even grayer one now!
It’s not fully natural, but it’s not synthetic, either. The CBD-isolate used to make delta 8 is sourced naturally and legally, and delta 8 itself is also natural.
The crazy thing is that if the DEA does deem delta 8 a synthetic cannabinoid at some stage, it would immediately become a Schedule 1 drug. Delta 8 products that possibly millions are enjoying around the US would be considered as dangerous as heroin and meth.
Legality of Selling Delta 8 THC in South Carolina
After some early worries with the IFR, vendors have continued selling delta 8 products in legal states, including in South Carolina.
People residing in SC can buy products online and have them shipped to their door, or purchase them from brick-and-mortar stores. Many companies that were already selling CBD have started stocking delta 8.
However, even though delta 8 is legal in South Carolina, there have been incidents with vendors getting hassled by law enforcement.
Take the story of Robert Oggenfuss in Clinton, South Carolina. He was selling delta 8 products in his vape shop until the police seized $5000 worth of goods in a raid.
Oggenfuss claimed his products were legal with less than 0.3% THC, and the lab reports backed him up. Maybe the police made a genuine mistake, or perhaps more likely they want to scare other vendors off from selling delta 8 products.
It’s not clear if Oggenfuss got his stuff back, but per WMBF News, Clinton police are intending to seize other delta 8 products on sale in the area.
Buying delta 8 safely in South Carolina
Are you in South Carolina, but unsure about the best way to purchase delta 8? I have some tips for you.
Brick-and-mortar stores are sometimes okay, with specialized stores such as vape shops usually pretty reliable. But these stores have rent, employees, and other bills to pay, which inevitably means that you will be paying more for your products.
In addition, not all stores will have third-party lab reports available, leaving you in the dark about product safety. Gas stations and head shops are problematic in this regard.
The hemp and delta 8 industries are unregulated, so you need to be careful. Back in 2019, dozens of people died from vaping illegitimate e-liquid products containing vitamin E acetate.
The genuine delta 8 companies go the extra mile to prove they are legit by getting all products third-party tested. These checks confirm products are safe and free from heavy metals, and that they are sufficiently potent and legal.
An online vendor like CBD Genesis has you covered for delta 8. All products are lab-tested, and as an online business with fewer costs, they offer fantastic value!
History of Delta 8 in South Carolina
Delta 8 has a fairly brief history in South Carolina. Sure, delta 8 has presumably been around for as long as marijuana. Therefore, you could say that delta 8 was legal in SC until the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, made a Schedule 1 drug in 1970, before being legalized by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.
That, in practical terms, is when delta 8 first came onto the radar of South Carolinians. Delta 8 legalization has created a growing market, albeit an uncertain one.
In recent years, people have indeed been able to manufacture, sell, possess, and consume delta 8 products in South Carolina. However, the unpredictability of law enforcement could be putting vendors off.
Delta 8 Future Outlook in South Carolina
As it does throughout the United States, delta 8 faces a challenging future in South Carolina. The industry’s emergence has not gone unnoticed, and crackdowns are happening – even though they shouldn’t be.
But while Clinton police are pushing a strict line, lawmakers have not had anything to say. Maybe lawmakers are still asleep to delta 8. It’s odd, though. You would think that a state still criminalizing marijuana possession in 2021 would be hot on anything to do with marijuana.
Several states have laws banning delta 8, and others, including Texas, could soon follow. If a movement to ban delta 8 starts sweeping the nation, there is no chance that South Carolina would be a defiant hold-out.
Until then, the delta 8 industry will continue in the state. If it becomes more difficult to sell products in stores, consumers will just move online.
Any DEA action on delta 8 will have an impact on South Carolina. The debate rages on about whether it’s a synthetic substance or not and additional clarification could come at any time.
Delta 8 is getting more newsworthy, and the media is starting to pick up on this so-called legal weed. The bigger delta 8 becomes, the more pressure there will be on the DEA to clarify its legal status.
I think it’s a long shot in the near future, but marijuana legalization could also happen at the federal level within a few years. Considering South Carolina’s ultra-regressive stance on marijuana, it’s highly likely that the federal government will beat them to legalization.
That would be bad news for delta 8 products, as they would be rendered obsolete in a legal marijuana market.
Nobody knows where delta 8 is headed in South Carolina. The current signs aren’t good, with threats to the industry at both the state and federal level. But for now, threats are all they are.
Dedicated manufacturers and sellers will make sure that delta 8 lovers can keep getting their hit.
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