Is Delta-8 marijuana? And if not, why are Kansas stores pulling it from shelves? | Turn 420
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Delta 8 Thc

Is Delta-8 marijuana? And if not, why are Kansas stores pulling it from shelves?



(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Kansas’ attorney general recently handed down a legal opinion that cannabis products containing a substance called Delta-8 THC is illegal to possess or sell in the state. That’s causing concern for Johnson County retailers, who have until March 20 to get these products off the shelves before facing potential criminal penalties.

Sellers and customers argue that the mildly psychoactive compound is used to aid sleep and ease pain, not to get high, and that it should exist outside of laws regulating marijuana. But Johnson County District Attorney Stephen M. Howe called the substance a “hallucinogenic drug” in a press release on Tuesday, Feb. 22, arguing that it “cannot be sold to the public.”

Here’s a closer look at the substance causing this controversy.

What is Delta-8 THC?

You’ve probably heard of THC before: That’s the substance in cannabis that causes the “high,” with symptoms including impaired motor skills, decreased anxiety, a distorted sense of time and other cognitive effects. But there are actually multiple types of THC, each with varying effects on the body and brain.

The THC most people are familiar with is called Delta-9 THC. This compound is most commonly found in traditional marijuana, while Delta-8 THC is a similar compound found in hemp.

This distinction has caused legal confusion in Kansas: Cannabis-based products are illegal in the state, with an exception for hemp-based products like CBD oil. Howe is arguing that Delta-8 doesn’t fit within this exception.

What effect does Delta-8 THC have on its users?

Delta-8 THC is a lot milder than Delta-9 THC, leading some to argue that it’s a safe substance to use and sell. It produces a lot of the same side effects as “traditional” THC, including memory lapses, loss of coordination, dry mouth and red eyes. However, it’s less commonly used as a recreational drug because its effects are more subtle than those of the Delta-9 THC in marijuana.

“It’s not to get stoned, it’s to help sleep better, it’s to help manage anxiety, it’s to help mitigate pain,” one anonymous Johnson County business owner told the Shawnee Mission Post.

What Kansas laws govern Delta-8 THC?

The Kansas Commercial Industrial Hemp Act of 2018 made it legal to grow and sell certain hemp products in Kansas. To do so, growers needed to be licensed by the state Department of Agriculture. Many sellers took this to mean that Delta-8 THC, which comes from hemp, was also legal.

However, some regulators argued that Delta-8 THC can produce a “high,” making it subject to more government scrutiny. State Attorney General Derek Schmidt decided in December that Delta-8 counts as a controlled substance, writing that it has “approximately 50-75% of the psychotropic potency of Delta-9 THC.”

Now, the state has clarified that products containing Delta-8 need to have under 0.3% of THC. It also has to be derived from industrial hemp, not homegrown or unregulated hemp.

“We have a duty to ensure that unlawful products are not being sold to consumers and that these substances go through proper vetting processes,” Howe’s office wrote.

What about Missouri?

Delta-8 products are legal to purchase in Missouri even without a medical marijuana license, just like other CBD products. The state’s marijuana laws do not regulate Delta-8.

Do you have more questions about marijuana laws in Kansas or Missouri? Ask us at or with the form below.

This story was originally published February 24, 2022 5:00 AM.

Natalie Wallington is a reporter on the Star’s service desk covering government programs, community resources, COVID-19 data and environmental action among other topics. Her journalism work has previously appeared in the Washington Post, Audubon Magazine, Popular Science, VICE News, and elsewhere.

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