Texas became one of many states to step in and ban Delta-8 THC earlier this year, arguing the popular hemp-based compound nicknamed “diet weed” should be regulated similar to Delta-9 THC found in marijuana.
But a district court judge in the state capital of Austin reversed the Delta-8 ban on Tuesday, contending authorities may have stepped in too early and acted without legal authority.
Taking it to the courts
The ruling from State District Judge Jan Soifer comes on the heels of a lawsuit from CBD business Hometown Hero, whose owner Eric Beal said complies with Texas’ House Bill 1325 from 2019. The law states that consumer hemp products with less than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC are legal in Texas, but makes no reference to Delta-8.
Yet seemingly going against HB 1325, the Texas Department of State Health Services says on its Consumable Hemp Program guidance page that any concentration of Delta-8 is illegal.
Reached for comment Wednesday, Beal said Delta-8 sales “pretty much single handedly” saved his CBD company from going out of business during the pandemic. Though federal authorities legalize hemp and CBD sales in the 2018 Farm Bill, Uncle Sam has not provided financial or COVID-inspired Paycheck Protection Program loan assistance to such businesses.
“We were really close to going under,” Beal said, “and we feel there’s legal grounds for keeping Delta-8 available to customers.”
Getting it back on shelves
Attorneys for Hometown Hero sued the health services department on October 22, claiming the company only found out about the Delta-8 ban after the department updated its website to include the new rules. Nobody called or notified any CBD business owners about the decision, the lawsuit claims.
Almost overnight, store owners had to get rid of their Delta-8 products. With Tuesday’s ruling, they’re rushing to restock their shelves.
Alex Abdul, who runs Mary Jane’s CBD Dispensary, told KENS 5 in San Antonio that the industry is struggling to keep up with the overnight surge in demand.
“Right now in Texas, everybody is trying to find Delta-8 products,” Abdul said, referring to both consumers and CBD store owners.
The temporary relief will last until a full trial, set for January 2022, determines whether Texas regulators acted legally when they banned Delta-8. If the trial goes in favor of the health department, Delta-8 could be permanently outlawed.