A stand that sold delta-8 THC hemp ignited controversy at St. Louis’ historic Soulard Farmers Market in the heart of Soulard near downtown. Adding to the issue, the bud was sold in large amounts, which drew more attention. Reportedly the delta-8 THC hemp was sold loosely in bins and a sign allegedly read, “10lbs. for $5,000.”
The Bud Man’s stand at the farmers market was named as the culprit, but the herb isn’t what spectators think it is. Delta-8 THC smokable hemp is practically indistinguishable from high potency cannabis, found at medical cannabis dispensaries throughout Missouri, but is generally regulated very differently. The “Bud Man’s” products fall into the legal CBD category, according to officials with the City of St. Louis.
The City of St. Louis Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry oversees Soulard Market. The department was fully aware of the CBD products being sold, but not delta-8 THC. A representative said that they checked beforehand to ensure that the stand didn’t sell any controlled substances.
“Our department reviewed this particular vendor’s prior request & we worked directly with legal counsel to ensure the necessary compliance with state law guidelines,” Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Greg Hayes said in a statement. “We also created an addendum provision regarding the sale of CBD products. The vendor had provided the city with a notarized document that all products at this particular stand were tested and within the legal parameters. The vendor’s request did not include any Delta 8 products.”
While it’s common to see CBD products and hemp oil products at farmers markets across the country, delta-8 products that resemble smokable cannabis are a different story.
The legality of delta-8 THC products is often disputed. Only cannabis with over 0.3% delta-9 THC on a dry-weight basis qualifies as cannabis which is a schedule 1 drug under federal law. But delta-9 THC is the only isomer of THC listed, and delta-8 products are not considered a controlled substance under the DEA, as reported by Kight Law.
Farmers Market organizers were not amused. Fox 2 News reports that the stand will not be allowed back at the market until further notice.
While delta-8 THC may be considered legal under some definitions, the compound is also highly criticized—inside and out of the cannabis community—due to the way the compound is extracted from hemp.
Workers from licensed medical cannabis dispensaries, like Missouri Wild Alchemy based in O’Fallon, Missouri, say the Soulard stand will just cause even more confusion.
“Certainly seeing it in tubs like that on the side of the highway could seem a little concerning to us who are trying to serve the community with lab-tested, quality THC,” said Alexandria Hitchcock of Missouri Wild.
Even within the community, delta-8 THC products are controversial, since the compound is converted from CBD using a lab process. The conversion of CBD to delta-8 THC involves “refluxing” CBD in an organic solvent, with an acid that serves as a catalyst.
That said, delta-8 THC can be found in an array of hemp-derived products all over including gummies, cartridges, oils and so on. It is also commonly smoked as hemp flower. For now, adult-use cannabis hasn’t been legalized in the state. Only medical cannabis is regulated in a safe manner.
A Missouri lawmaker introduced a comprehensive bill to legalize recreational cannabis last February. The Cannabis Freedom Act, or House Bill 2704, was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives by Representative Ron Hicks, a Republican from St. Charles. The bill would legalize cannabis for adult-use, regulate recreational cannabis commerce and expunge convictions for past cannabis-related offenses.