The CBD industry could be in for some major changes, if the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has its way. The DEA is considering a number of changes to current federal drug control laws, which could lead to the ban of nearly all delta-8 THC products and dramatically impact the ever-growing $5 billion CBD industry,
The potential changes came up at a
The Delta-8 THC Dilemma
The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the definition of “marijuana” in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which effectively legalized CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids. Ever since, products with hemp-derived THC have become increasingly popular, especially in states without recreational cannabis laws and regulations.
Lawmakers and law enforcement have pushed back against psychoactive cannabinoids like delta-8. Some states haven’t waited for federal oversight: A total of 14 have banned delta-8 THC altogether, extending to in-state retailers and online sales.
Opponents believe that the production and sale of psychoactive, hemp-derived cannabinoid products goes against the intent of Congress when it legalized hemp. Specifically, they attest that production of these cannabinoids takes advantage of a loophole. The new limit is meant to close that gap; 0.1% is also the same THC limit found in Epidiolex, the sole FDA-approved CBD pharmaceutical.
The presentation also indicated that federal drug laws would include synthetically manufactured cannabinoids, which would cover delta-8 THC and a number of other intoxicating, hemp-derived cannabinoids and make them controlled substances.
Even so, it’s still unclear how heavily the DEA would enforce these changes or how it plans to reschedule delta-8 and other synthetic cannabinoids.
A Lower THC Limit for Hemp, Big Change for CBD as a Whole
Cannabis attorney Shane Pennington told MJBizDaily that these changes would ban nearly every delta-8 THC product on the market and drastically transform the CBD market if enacted.
Federal agencies have mostly avoided tackling the issue of psychoactive, hemp-derived cannabinoids. The CSA doesn’t mention delta-8 and federal law doesn’t define a “synthetic cannabinoid.” The FDA also announced it would decline to regulate CBD and passed the responsibility onto Congress in January.
Whether or not the DEA follows through, the hemp industry is set to potentially receive a shake up regardless with the 2023 Farm Bill, due later this year. Congress could use the renewal to address intoxicating cannabinoids, moving to regulate or ban them. Hemp industry professionals have conversely advocated for more leniency, with hopes that the bill’s renewal could up hemp’s THC limit to 1%.
This would match other countries, like Thailand, Uruguay, Switzerland and Australia, which have set the highest highest national benchmarks for hemp at 1% by dry weight. Costa Rica, which just legalized hemp and medical cannabis last year, also has a 1% THC limit for hemp plants.
Navigating THC Limits as a Hemp Grower
It’s worth noting that even today’s 0.3% THC limit can be hard for some hemp growers to manage.
Cannovia CEO Brian Baum told
“The plants are closely monitored and as they approach or even exceed 0.3% [THC], immediate steps are taken, such as reducing nutrient levels, to bring the THC levels back to the regulated tolerances,” Baum said. “Testing is key at every stage of growing, harvesting, extracting and final product.”
Some state regulations are even more brutal, with some states giving agricultural authorities the authority to order a grower to burn their entire crop, should a random test show THC higher than 0.3%.