Retailers Should Avoid Delta-8 THC For Now in Iowa

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the availability of consumable hemp products now that the retail registration portal is open.  One of the more frequent questions we have been fielding concern the legal status of delta-8 THC in Iowa.

Hemp is defined under state law to include “any part” of the plant of the genus cannabis and all “derivatives,” “extracts” and “cannabinoids” with a maximum delta-9 THC concentration of 0.30 percent.  So it would appear that delta-8 THC, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in hemp, would be legal to sell over the counter here, right?

Not so fast.

The amount of delta-8 THC naturally occurring in hemp is about 1000 times less than delta-9 THC (or 0.0003 percent).  As a result, commercially available delta-8 THC is probably derived through the chemical conversion of CBD, which is abundantly found in hemp.  That would make delta-8 THC a derivative under Iowa law, but could be interpreted as a synthetically produced cannabinoid under federal law.

Why is that important?

The DEA maintains authority over any cannabinoid that is “synthetically derived.”  Delta-8 THC could also be treated as a controlled substance analogue because of its similarity with delta-9 THC.  Either way, it remains classified as a federal schedule I controlled substance.

Furthermore, the USDA recently published its final hemp rule.  The rule interprets the 2018 Farm Bill to only mandate delta-9 THC levels in hemp.  It leaves out delta-8 THC altogether from regulation.  That is set to take effect today, March 22, 2021.

The cannabis compliance attorneys at GRL Law believe there is a risk in marketing and selling delta-8 THC that is synthesized from CBD.  Retailers risk being charged with felony marijuana and tax stamp violations under state law for selling chemically derived delta-8 THC.  The risk of federal intervention cannot be ruled out either.  Better to wait and see how this plays out with the Department of Inspections and Appeals.

Of course, delta-8 THC that is naturally derived from hemp would not face the same scrutiny.  That should be marketable as a consumable hemp product.

In the meantime, you can count on GRL to bring you regular updates on matters affecting the retail sale of CBD and delta-8 THC.

GRL Law.  We know hemp.