North Carolinians want to know: is Delta 8 THC legal in NC?
Yes, it is lawful to purchase, use, possess, sell, and produce Delta 8 products within the state of North Carolina. Many states in the U.S. have legalized weed, making it easy to pick up marijuana from your local dispensary, but North Carolina is not one of them. Perhaps that’s why THC enthusiasts across the state are excited about Delta 8. The latest cannabis trend to hit the market, Delta 8 THC offers a high like weed.
Since traditional marijuana is not legal in North Carolina, you may be curious about how legal THC is possible. We break down what Delta 8 is, how it differs from marijuana, and its legal status in the Tar Heel State.
What Is Delta 8?
Delta 8 THC is a cannabinoid that occurs naturally at low levels in the cannabis plant. Harvesting the plants for Delta 8 is cost-prohibitive, so Delta 8 is typically derived from cannabidiol (CBD) using a synthetic process. Users enjoy that Delta 8 offers them a pleasant and energizing high with minimal to no side effects. The THC in marijuana is associated with paranoia, anxiety, sleep issues, laziness, addiction, and couch lock, but Delta 8 THC users say they do not experience these adverse effects.
There may even be some medicinal effects. Delta 8 enthusiasts say it helps them:
- Improve focus and mental clarity
- Relieve pain
- Reduce nausea
- Boost appetite
- Stop vomiting during cancer treatments
The National Cancer Institute states that Delta 8 can help stimulate appetite and relieve nausea, and it has neuroprotective properties. More research is needed to understand the health benefits of Delta 8.
The lack of research on Delta 8 has not stopped it from becoming the fastest growing trend in the cannabis world. You can find Delta 8 everywhere, from dispensaries to gas stations.
How Is Delta 8 THC Different from Delta 9 THC?
Traditional marijuana contains Delta 9 THC, the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects or “high” that you experience. Delta 8 THC has a different chemical structure than Delta 9. Both THCs are composed of a carbon chain, and each contains a double bond. Delta 8’s bond occurs on the eighth carbon, while Delta 9’s is on the ninth. This slight difference in their molecular structure accounts for the significant difference in the intensity of their effects.
People call Delta 8 “diet weed” or “weed light” because it has comparable effects without the harshness. Delta 8 has about half the potency of marijuana. The similarities between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THCs have driven Delta 8’s popularity, especially in states where Delta 9 is still illegal or limited to medical use.
For some, the appeal of Delta 8 is how different it is from traditional marijuana, especially now that marijuana strains seem to be getting stronger. Not everyone loves the psychoactive effects of a highly potent strain. For some users, a selling point of Delta 8 THC is that it provides a less intense, milder high.
Delta 8 products may contain some Delta 9 THC, but the manufacturer must limit the D9 THC content to less than 0.3% to comply with federal law.
How Is Delta 8 Created?
Delta 8 is naturally present in cannabis plants. It occurs at such low levels that harvesting it is too expensive. Instead, manufacturers make Delta 8 from an isomerization process that has been around for decades. During this process, Delta 8 is derived from CBD. The chemist performing the isomerization process must remove any harmful byproducts that may result. Additionally, the process can result in levels of Delta 9 THC that exceed federal limits, and the chemist must remove excess D9 to create a legal product.
There is minimal oversight over this young industry, and the market is flooded with products made by disreputable companies. They may not take steps to ensure a safe product. However, it is possible to find premium, high-quality products made by companies that prioritize quality control.
Is Delta 8 THC Legal in North Carolina?
Yes, as we have discussed, Delta 8 THC is legal in North Carolina. Any Delta 8 products sold in the state must comply with federal law. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cannabinoids or hemp-derived products in the U.S. After the enactment of the Farm Bill, North Carolina passed Senate Bill 352. This bill amended the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act by excluding hemp-derived THC from the list of controlled substances and made Delta 8 THC legal under state law. Currently, there are no laws in the works to ban or curb the use of Delta 8 in North Carolina.
While Delta 8 is legal in North Carolina, drug tests cannot distinguish between Delta 8 and Delta 9. That means that you will test positive for THC if you take a drug screen after smoking Delta 8.
What’s the Future of Delta 8 THC in North Carolina?
While Delta 8 is legal in North Carolina, its future remains up in the air. Two camps have emerged in the battle over Delta 8 THC’s legality. Some think that Delta 8 THC is considered a hemp-derived substance and, because of the 2018 Farm Bill, does not fall under the definition of marijuana. On the other hand, there are those, including the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), who think that it is no different than Delta 9 THC. In its Interim Final Rule, the DEA indicated that it might consider Delta 8 THC a Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The DEA cannot overrule Congress, but the DEA’s understanding of the substance and the growing number of states reigning in its use has some wondering about the future of this newly popular form of THC.
Detractors of legal Delta 8 THC say that lawmakers passed this legislation without an awareness of synthetic hemp products like Delta 8. Organizations working to close this loophole say that the law was not created with the intent of providing people with a legal way to enjoy the psychoactive effects of THC. Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the US Hemp Roundtable, a coalition of businesses that promotes safe hemp products and was influential in writing the 2018 Farm Bill, advocates for this point of view. Miller says, “We knew that products that were less than three percent weren’t going to get you high.” He adds: “None of us at the time were aware of Delta 8. People have been using this loophole to try and sell intoxicating Delta 8 and claiming that it is hemp. That’s the kind of loophole we are trying to quash.”
It remains unclear which side will prevail. No legislation is currently planned in North Carolina to limit Delta 8 THC. However, the U.S. Roundtable is working with state legislators to allow the North Carolina Department of Agriculture to regulate hemp products. It remains unclear what the nature of this regulation would be. North Carolina could follow the eleven states that have banned Delta 8 THC, or the popular form of THC could continue to enjoy its current legal status.
How Do I Find Safe and Legal Delta 8 THC Products?
No one knows what the future holds for Delta 8 THC products. The federal loophole could be closed, or states could enact legislation ranging from limiting the places where Delta 8 THC is sold to outlawing it entirely. In the meantime, look for brands that take extra steps to ensure that you get safe, legal Delta 8 THC products. The lack of legal oversight means you need to find companies that provide you with Delta 8 you can trust every time.
You have probably seen Delta 8 products everywhere. You can even add some to your latte at certain coffee shops. It is easy to purchase on impulse. Purchasing Delta 8 without doing your research can have consequences. If the company does not remove the harmful chemicals that can occur during the isomerization process, ingesting the product can be dangerous. Additionally, you may be in possession of an illegal product if the company does not remove excess Delta 9 THC.
Whether you are interested in the health benefits or simply want a fun, mild high, the last thing you need to worry about when you enjoy Delta 8 products is their safety. You can save yourself the unnecessary worry by doing your research in advance and only purchasing products from companies that:
- Use USA-grown hemp
- Follow current Good Manufacturing Practices
- Remove harmful byproducts
- Delta 9 THC Level Limited to 0.3%
- Work with independent labs to verify contents of all products
- Make the Certificates of Analysis (COA) from third-party labs easily accessible
With a bit of extra work, you can enjoy safe, legal Delta 8 products while the lawyers and legislators sort out what the future holds for Delta 8.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing contained herein shall be construed as legal advice. In order to determine whether you can safely purchase and possess Delta 8 products in your state or jurisdiction, you must consult with an attorney or review the applicable laws and regulations in your state or jurisdiction.