Delta-8 THC: What is it, and is it Legal in Minnesota
We assume you wouldn’t be here reading this if you weren’t interested in possibly getting a Minnesota Marijuana Card. Likewise, if you’re looking up information about marijuana online, we assume you’ve heard at least something about delta-8.
And what you’ve probably heard is all kinds of grand claims about the benefits of what some are calling “marijuana light.” The market is being flooded by new products from unknown manufacturers, and as a result some sobering facts have sometimes been drowned out by promotional ballyhoo.
If you’re only interested in the bottom line, yes, delta-8 is legal in Minnesota, at least for now, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to stay legal, or that you should necessarily use it if it does.
Buyer Beware: You Don’t Always Get What You Pay for with Delta-8.
For reasons we’ll get into, delta-8 is legal only because it fell through a regulatory loophole that landed it in what one expert describes as a “gray area,” a spot between regulations. That not only means it is sort-of-legal, for now, to sell delta-8, but it also means that products labeled delta-8 often aren’t what they claim to be.
We’re going to get into the legality of delta-8 shortly, but perhaps more important than the question of “Is it legal?” is the question of “Is is safe?”
And the answer is we don’t know, not only because delta-8 has undergone very little in the way of scientific examination, but because delta-8 is so unregulated that consumers don’t always know what they’re getting when they buy a product claiming to be delta-8.
Lack of Regulation Leads to Labeling That’s Lacking
KMSP Fox9, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Fox affiliate, found that most labels on delta-8 products said little about what the products ingredients were or what medical value they offered.
In speaking with Cody Wiberg, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, KMSP learned that those labelling omissions probably aren’t accidental.
"If there is no advertising and nothing on the label, it is harder for regulators to prove intent," Wiberg said.
"For those of us who put our trust in evidence and evidence-based solutions, this is a nightmare," said Dr. George Weiblen of the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences.
Dr. Stephen Dahmer, medical director of one of two marijuana growing companies currently licensed in Minnesota, also expressed concern over misleadingly labeled delta-8 products.
"It is buyer beware," Dr. Dahmer said. "We don’t know what we’re getting, and we don’t know what may be included."
Dr. Dahmer also cautioned against putting too much faith in any one cannabinoid rather than the entire marijuana plant. Like many experts, he believes cannabis is most beneficial when all of the cannabinoids are consumed, allowing them to work together in what has been called the "entourage effect."
Finally, Dahmer also expressed concern about contamination and solvents that might be in products whose labels offer little to no information.
The Results are in, and They Aren’t Good
KMSP purchased two products in the course of their investigation, some delta-8 oil and some delta-8 flower, and sent them to a lab for testing.
Based on the results, Dr. Weiblen of the University of Minnesota concluded that the delta-8 flower was probably regular, old-fashioned marijuana, but with a spraying of delta-8 oil. Dr. Weiblen calls this “spiked” marijuana, and while it may not be harmful, it also may be harmful, given how little is known about delta-8’s long-term effects. Regardless, the product wasn’t what the label claimed it was.
Furthermore, the bud contained just under the legal limit for delta-9, but also contained a high amount of THCA. THCA is a cannabis compound that converts to THC when smoked, and it’s this total potential THC level - the amount of actual THC with the potential amount of THC upon smoking, that is supposed to be used to determine THC levels for medical marijuana in Minnesota.
In other words, the product was more delta-9 than delta-8, and it contained more THC than the law allows. That may seem like a feature and not a bug to some consumers, but regardless, once again the product wasn’t what the label claimed it was.
And those delta-8 gummies? They were a little closer to truth in advertising, with .6 percent delta-8 and “negligible quantities” of delta 9, THCA, and CBD.
And this isn’t just a local problem. According to Bloomberg News, The U.S. Cannabis Council tested 16 delta-8 products purchased from retailers across the country, and found only one of them had a legal level of THC, and that on average they had more than 10 times the legal limit. Several of the samples also exceeded legal limits on metals such as copper, chromium, and nickel.
How Can They Get Away with That?
Delta-8 THC remains legal at the Federal level and in most states, because it is not marijuana, despite their similarities, and it is derived from a product that is legal at the Federal level.
However, at least five states have taken steps to regulate delta-8, Popular Science reports, and many inside the cannabis industry suspect that the Federal government may get in on the act. As Popular Science says, delta-8 is, “for the moment, in a legal gray area.”
That gray area started when the Federal government changed how it approaches hemp. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, Congress removed hemp from the list of controlled substances and placed its regulation under the Food and Drug Administration. This essentially legalized hemp products with less than .3% THC content, essentially legalizing CBD derived from hemp as well.
When Bloomberg News asked the FDA to comment on the proliferation of (supposedly) delta-8 products, the agency referred them to the DEA. When they asked the DEA to comment, that agency declined to go into details, saying they’re “currently in the rule-making process regarding how the [Hemp Farming Act has been implemented].”
But the DEA has already commented on delta-8 on at least one occasion. In 2020 the agency said that they considered delta-8 illegal, and marijuana industry insiders say that sources tell them the DEA is closely watching the delta-8 product boom.
So delta-8 may or may not actually be legal because of the loophole between regulating industrial hemp and products that can be derived from that hemp, but even if delta-8 is legal, it may not be for long.
And legal or not, when you buy a delta-8 product, it may not be safe, and it may not even be delta-8.
So You Could Use Delta-8, but Should You Use Delta-8?
Yes, delta-8 is legal in Minnesota, but does that mean you should use it?
First, as KSMP’s reporting showed, delta-8 is unregulated, and as a result there is often little assurance of quality control in its production or the accuracy of the labels on delta-8 products.
And as Popular Science warned, there has been very little in the way of scientific evidence to show that delta-8 is beneficial or even not harmful. They recommend waiting until more research has been conducted, or at the very least only purchasing delta-8 products that can certify they have been tested and verified by an independent laboratory.
Or, Popular Science concluded, “If you’re in a state that has legalized marijuana, you should buy delta-8 through a licensed store. (Or you could just buy marijuana. Your call.)”
Until Science and the Law Have Spoken on Delta-8, You Could Just Buy Marijuana
Fortunately for you, you live in Minnesota, where you can buy THC in its natural form, with the peace of mind of knowing that you’re using a tested, proven medicine under a doctor’s care.
Or at least you can if you have a Minnesota Marijuana Card.
Reserve an evaluation with one of our compassionate, knowledgeable doctors today, and we’ll make an appointment for you just as soon as we’re cleared to do so. Not only that, but you’ll save $25 off the cost of the evaluation!