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“It really came out of nowhere. It’s not based on science, it’s not based on a real threat to Texans.

Through Kevin reynolds, The Texas Tribune

Three years after federal law removed the marijuana extract known as delta-8 THC from the national list of controlled substances, Texas health officials put it on its own list of illegal drugs, sending shockwaves through the growing CBD retail industry across the state and making the substance, in essence, illegal.

Christine Perez, who runs the popular Austin CBD Lazydaze + Coffeeshop store, had no idea about the change until she saw the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) opinion on the agency’s website on October 15.

“I was very confused, along with a bunch of other companies. It’s like, ‘What’s going on?’ Said Perez. “I really don’t know why [the state] would try to ban it, or the moment of it. We haven’t heard from the state about it.

It was easy to miss.

As reported by the Dallas Morning News this week, the state health agency published a notice in the rule change publication, the Texas Register. The advisory said Delta-8 remained a controlled drug in Texas. The federal government and states may differ on what a controlled substance is by maintaining separate lists. Still, the rumor failed to let CBD stores know that anything that contained the substance, like candy or tincture oil, would be illegal to sell in Texas.

It has become the flagship of many Texas dispensaries, as users say it produced the “high” effect of marijuana. The variant became popular after the Farm Bill of 2018 changed the definition of “licit marijuana extract” and included any extract containing less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), including delta-8. THC is the psychoactive active ingredient in marijuana, responsible for the user’s high.

Delta-8 was considered legalized in Texas almost two years after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed Bill 1325 legalize any hemp product containing less than 0.3 percent THC.

But last week, the DSHS announced that it had classified delta-8 as a Schedule I controlled substance, a category reserved for drugs that have no accepted medical use, such as heroin and LSD. .

This is not the first time that this debate over whether or not delta-8 was a controlled substance in Texas has taken place. As the DMN previously reported, Stephen Pahl, the Texas Department of Health’s associate commissioner for consumer protection, informed lawmakers during this year’s regular legislative session that state law allows the commissioner of the DSHS, John Hellerstedt, to oppose federal drug programs, including Delta-8. Lawmakers had considered a bill making delta-8 illegal, but it did not move forward after health officials informed them that it had already been listed as a state-controlled substance.

From a state perspective, last week’s announcement was just a clarification.

“The DSHS has posted the clarification below on our website in response to recent inquiries from hemp growers who said there was confusion in the industry over what was allowed in consumable hemp products.” , said Lara Anton, spokesperson for DSHS.

But to retailers, the advice seemed arbitrary and unfair.

“It really came out of nowhere. It’s not based on science, it’s not based on a real threat to Texans, ”said Rick Trojan III, board member of the Hemp Industries Association. “This is all confusing for everyone involved. Looks like DSHS doesn’t even understand why they know what they’re doing.

Trojan said he hadn’t heard from any confused “hemp grower” about the law.

Until this notice a week ago, several stores claimed that the state had done nothing to inform them that the Delta-8 was illegal.

Lit Smoke & Vape, a CBD store in Allen, has said it won’t stop selling delta-8 until it’s forced to do so.

Other stores, like Your CBD in Mesquite, were unaware of the new guidelines when asked by the Texas Tribune. An hour later, the company pulled the delta-8 off the shelves.

“It’s still on our shelves until it’s legally decided it’s illegal,” said a Lit Smoke & Vape official. “These people have no authority over the law. So until the law declares it to be illegal, no, we will continue to sell it. They tried to ban CBD two years ago and they were sued and it failed. So it’s going to happen again. “

Last May, the Texas legislature attempted to make Delta-8 illegal, but the show failed.

Several companies, including CBD American Shaman, have pledged to take legal action against the state.

In the meantime, many companies are wondering how the state will apply the new guidelines.

“The DSHS can take enforcement action against licensees who sell consumable hemp products containing controlled substances. The DSHS does not regulate the possession of controlled substances, ”said a spokesperson for the DSHS.

Still, Trojan believes the application will be difficult.

“I’ve heard that some sheriffs won’t enforce the law. I’ve heard that stores will be able to sell what they have, ”Trojan said.

This article originally appeared in the Texas Tribune.

The Texas Tribune is a non-partisan, member-backed newsroom that educates and engages Texans about state politics and politics.

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Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lawson.

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