In a recently revealed email, the DEA is looking to consider Delta-8 THC products federally illegal if they are synthesized from CBD.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is pondering how to handle Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products. An attorney recently discovered an email from a top official that discussed the DEA’s views on Delta-8 THC (1). The email mentioned that the agency is against Delta-8 THC when it is synthesized from cannabidiol (CBD) and consider it federally illegal.
Delta-8 THC has exploded in popularity in the cannabis industry. It has been considered to be an intoxicating cannabinoid because if its naturally extracted derivatives similar to CBD which has led it to being the focus of several lawsuits battling state policies that have banned it. Shane Pennington, an attorney, previously posted on his Substack “On Drugs” that while he was looking over the various lawasuits, he discovered a 2021 letter from DEA Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section Chief Terrence Boos that mentioned the DEA’s interpretation of the cannabinoid.
“Arriving at delta-8-THC by a chemical reaction starting from CBD makes the delta-8-THC synthetic and therefore, not exempted by the [Agriculture Improvement Act],” Boos wrote, referring back to the 2018 Farm Bill, that federally legalized hemp (1). “Any quantity of delta-8-THC obtained by chemical means is a controlled substance.”
The DEA held their 2023 Supply Chain Conference in May 2023 and stated that synthetic cannabinoids were banned. Boos added that the agency is working on establishing a final ruling on the cannabinoids to formally clarify the policy which was recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services (1).
In February 2023, Boos informed an attorney that minor cannabinoids delta-8 THC-O and delta-9 THC-O were illegal due to the fact that they are only able to be produced synthetically and not naturally.
Even with the DEA’s opinions on synthetic cannabinoids, there still exists a strong market for products like delta-8 THC. Various states have followed by banning the cannabinoid, among others, in their states. The Food and Drug Administration has mostly sent warning letters to companies that were labeled ‘problematic’. Without a formal policy, there is no enforcement or regulation of delta-8 THC and other cannabinoid products.