Delta-8 THC grows in popularity, as questions surround legality

NOW: Delta-8 THC grows in popularity, as questions surround legality

Owning a smoke shop has been a crash course in Indiana drug law, for Glass Roots Mishawaka owner Aaron Wyatt.

“It comes down to that fine line of knowing how to correct a customer,” Wyatt said.

It’s why Wyatt won’t sell to a customer asking for a, “bong”. But he can sell someone a “water pipe”.

“I cannot carry out a purchase if they’re using the wrong terminology,” Wyatt said.

It’s just some of the legal-ese Glass Roots and other smoke shops navigate. One of the finer lines Waytt walks, is one of his increasingly popular products; Delta-8 THC.

Northwest Indiana is surrounded by Illinois and Michigan, where medical and recreational weed is legal. In Indiana, where having any amount of marijuana could cost up to 6 months in prison, Delta-8 THC is an alternative.

“It is very much growing and it is high in demand,” Wyatt said.

It looks like weed, it will get you high, and will make you fail a drug test. But because it comes from hemp, shops like Glass Roots are selling it throughout the Hoosier State.

Delta-8 THC, which comes from hemp, is a milder high than Delta-9 THC found in marijuana. Delta-8 is naturally found in such small quantities that regular hemp won’t get you high. But manufacturers have found a way to isolate Delta-8, put it through a laboratory process, then sell hemp products with a similar (though less potent) effect as weed. This is different from “Spice” or synthetic marijuana.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp products, but never specifically mentions Delta-8. The lack of clarity has caused the hemp industry to treat Delta-8 as a legal loophole; effectively legalized, even where weed is outlawed.

A spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency tells ABC57 the DEA considers Delta-8 an illegal, controlled substance. The DEA also considers marijuana to be illegal, despite what states like Illinois and Michigan have legislated. When ABC57 asked local law enforcement in Michiana about Delta-8, some departments hadn’t heard of it and couldn’t offer a legal opinion, others said it hadn’t been an issue, or they deferred to legal experts.

At Glass Roots Mishawaka, Delta-8 is becoming one of the more popular products, sold right next to CBD for pets. To Wyatt, it shows even in a state where marijuana is illegal, and new hemp products are being questioned, prohibition has already started to end in Indiana.

“As a community… we’re going to receive a push,” Wyatt said. “But it's up to us to push back.”

Some states have outright banned Delta-8 to clear up any confusion. Indiana has not.

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