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The world of legal cannabis and the products made from it is expanding.  More and more states are jumping on the medical, and sometimes recreational, marijuana bandwagon - but not every state has decided to climb aboard just yet.  In those states, people who want to experience the therapeutical effects of Tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive component of cannabis, also referred to as THC) have found an inventive work-around called Delta-8.

Delta-8 is pot's weaker cousin

You may have heard people referring to Delta-8 as "weed lite" or "diet pot," and that's not entirely incorrect.  The "high" that folks get when they consume regular marijuana is the result of Delta-9 THC effects on the brain.  The effects of Delta-8 (which very similar, molecularly speaking) are reportedly very comparable to those of Delta-9, just not as potent.

According to the marijuana experts at Leafly.com:

The similarities between the two cannabinoids lie in their chemical structures and their names. THC’s scientific name is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-9 THC, or just delta-9. Delta-8 is short for delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC can cause effects similar to regular delta-9 THC—but they will be much less potent

Many in Texas believed that Delta-8 was technically legal

Since Delta-8 products weren't specifically called out in the law making the sale and possession of marijuana against the law, a lot of people believed that it was perfectly legal to use it.  After an arrest in College Station earlier this month, Texas authorities are making their stance on Delta-8 crystal clear.

Delta-8 has been illegal in Texas since January of this year

The whole confusion stems from the newly-legal status of hemp.  Hemp is a non-psychoactive relative of cannabis that is currently being legally farmed in Texas and Louisiana.  The federal government made hemp legal to farm and process to make products like plastic and fabrics back in 2018, but the wording of in the 2018 Farm Bill defined hemp as the "cannabis L. sativa plant that has less than .3% THC."  Since the THC mentioned in that phrase traditionally meant Delta-9 THC, the assumption was that Delta-8 was in the clear.  Texas officials noticed this discrepancy and made sure to close it in January.

The commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Service, John Hellerstedt, had sole discretion in the decision to either allow Delta-8 to be legal or to lump it in with the rest of the decidedly illegal marijuana.  He chose the latter.

A woman in College Station found out the hard way that having Delta-8 is a felony

On October 3rd, an unnamed woman in College Station was arrested for the possession of Delta-8  - a felony according to Texas law.  The really confusing part is that Delta-8 is sold over the counter at stores all over the Lone Star State.

Texas has made the illegality of Delta-8 clear on their official website

After the arrest, officials decided to end the confusion by updating the official Texas Department of Health website - which reads:

All other forms of THC, including Delta-8 in any concentration and Delta-9 exceeding 0.3%, are considered Schedule I controlled substance

The penalty for those convicted of Delta-8 possession is up to a two-year prison sentence as well as up to $10,000 in fines.

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