With the passage of Texas House Bill 1325 in 2019, local law enforcement have had to deal with widespread confusion over whether local vape and smoke shops can legally sell Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-8. Recent injunctions and appeals have also added to the already complicated legal situation.
On Oct. 15, the Department of State Health Services, or DHSH, updated its website which labeled all concentrations of delta-8 to be considered a Schedule I controlled substance. On Nov. 8, state district court Judge Jan Soifer granted a temporary injunction that many have interpreted as once again allowing the sale of delta-8. On the following Wednesday, Nov. 10, the DHSH filed an appeal that returns delta-8 to the controlled substances list.
Delta-8 has similar yet milder effects to delta-9, the more widespread psychoactive compound found in cannabis.
According to Chemical and Engineering News, the only difference between the two compounds is the location of a double bond between two carbons.
House Bill 1325, which some have interpreted as legalizing delta-8, states the concentrates of delta-9 THC cannot exceed 0.3 percent, but it does not specifically mention delta-8 by name.
“‘Hemp’ means the plant Cannabis stativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds of the plant and all derivatives, extracts cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts and salts of isomers, weather growing or not, with a Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis,” the bill reads.
College Station Police Department Public Information Officer Tristen Lopez said the public hasn’t been upholding the law.
“Apparently there has been some confusion in the industry, so one of the things we’re working on is to educate the Bryan-College Station community on what the law is,” Lopez said.
Lopez said local law enforcement is mainly concerned with what is and is not illegal.
“When you look at the health and safety code for possession of a controlled substance penalty group two, Tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] is listed under there, which includes delta-8, delta-10, [or others],” Lopez said. “They have been listed for at least the last 15 years, if not much longer than that.”
Lopez also said that House Bill 1325 had no impact on the health and safety code Section 481.121, which lists the possession of marijuana as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the quantity.
“Even with this judge's ruling, it is my opinion, at least from my understanding in all this, is that what is being litigated right now … is the Texas Department of State Health Services’ ability to classify delta-8 THC as a Schedule I drug,” Lopez said. “In my opinion it's still illegal currently and if you’re found in possession of delta-8 THC products you can be arrested for a [Class 4 felony] offense in the State of Texas.”
An anonymous anthropology senior said delta-8 should not be considered a Schedule I drug.
“Especially because tobacco and alcohol are legal, I think that delta-8 is way less dangerous than both of those things, and weed as a whole has significantly less [negative] health effects than either of them,” the student said.
They also believe marijuana in general should not even be classified with other Schedule I drugs like LSD, Phencyclidine, or PCP, and crack cocaine.
“I think if we took the time to actually examine the effects of weed and compare them to other Schedule [I] drugs, we’d find that they’re nowhere near similar,” the student said.
The student said they believe the state government is biased when it comes to legalizing marijuana in any form.
“I feel like a lot of it has to do with the fact that most law makers probably don’t have much experience with weed and so they don’t understand it, yet they’re making laws about it,” the student said.