Friends Don’t Let Friends Jump Through Loopholes

It’s time to take a stand against gas station weed.

How We Got Here

If you woke up from a decades-long coma or were dropped onto Earth by aliens, you’d be forgiven for assuming that weed is legal in the United States. It seems like every gas station, corner store, and smoke shop from Miami to Montana is ready to get you some kind of stoned whenever you’d like. Gummies, vapes, pre-rolls, it’s all there with neon weed leaves in the window. 

Of course, cannabis is not legal in the United States. Despite plenty of regulated and taxed state-legal weed sales, the plant is still a Schedule I narcotic in the eyes of the federal government. Hemp, on the other hand, is so legal that you can run it through chemical extractions to synthesize minor cannabinoids, turn it into oil and spray it all over gummies, and hemp pre-rolls and pack it into vape carts and sell it anywhere you want.

Delta 8, Delta 10, HHC, THC-O, THCP, and the rest of the hemp weed pretenders have popped up everywhere for one simple reason: people like to get high and they’ll often take the most convenient and cheapest route to that elevated destination. But as we look forward to a time when weed – real weed – will be legal nationwide, we should already be establishing norms for cannabis that push back firmly against the products of hemp bill loopholes, no matter their legal status.

When the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law it legalized hemp – defined as any cannabis plant or product that tests at levels lower than 0.3% Delta 9 THC – and set the stage for the eruption of the CBD market. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but CBD edibles, mints, salves, ice creams, lattes, and bottled water were everywhere for a couple of years, advertised as a super supplement that could do everything to make you feel better…except get you high. That was a problem. People got tired of paying $20 for a pint of CBD ice cream or $12 for a CBD latte that didn’t get them high. They wanted to get high.

No worries, the loopholes in the Farm Bill are big enough to fit a Mac truck, it could certainly accommodate a little intoxication. So the hemp green rushers with thousands of acres of plants and vats of CBD extract started getting creative, remixing the CBD with solvents, converting the chemical makeup through isomerization, and spitting out chemical cousins of THC. Delta 8, HHC, THC-0, THCP, the list goes on. They get you high and they’re below the 0.3% THC legal limit, problem solved.


Why Gas Station Weed Sucks

With convenience retailers across the country already used to hawking CBD in every form factor imaginable, the switch to hemp-derived was seamless. And while you, dear High Times reader, likely know better and prefer real weed derived from real weed, there are plenty of people who see weed leaf packaging and the letters THC at the register and see no difference. 

Not only are these minor cannabinoid products synthetically derived from industrial hemp, but they are done so with no oversight, regulation, or consumer protections. From contaminations in the production process to mislabeled products that contain much less or much more cannabinoids than advertised, there is no telling what you’re actually getting when you buy hemp-derived cannabis products. Those certificates of authenticity and lab reports that you can find online? Those are really easy to fake. 

As we’ve seen with synthetic weed aka spice, vitamin e-tainted vape carts, and bogus psilocybin chocolates, if the only goal is to get you high as cheaply and conveniently as possible, bad actors will thrive. 

In an interview with Chemical & Engineering News, Christopher Hudalla, president and chief scientific officer at analytical testing firm ProVerde Laboratories said that after thousands of tests of products labeled as Delta-8 he was horrified at “consumers being used as guinea pigs.”

“My concern is that we have no idea what these products are,” Hudalla said. “So far, I have not seen one that I would consider a legitimate delta-8-THC product, there’s some delta-8 in there, but there’s very frequently up to 30 [chromatographic] peaks that I can’t identify.”


Stoners Have to Stand Up For Real Weed

We have arrived at a point in American culture where it is socially acceptable to sell intoxicating products labeled as weed on gas station counters, and so as real weed continues to legalize state-by-state and eventually nationwide, it will be on the cannabis culture to push back, not only to make sure our fellow consumers are safe, but also to make sure that real weed growers and sellers – legal and illegal alike – can continue to survive in the changing industry.

From stoners to cannabis brands and figures in the culture to pro-legalization lawmakers, we need an all-hands-on-deck push back against loophole weed. Make sure your once in a blue moon smoker friends know the difference, make sure your parents know the difference, make sure your customers know the difference, and no matter how economically appealing it may be to jump at the bag of money, don’t put your weed brand’s logos on Delta 8 vapes to cash in at corner stores. 

Cannabis has always been about more than just getting high – especially when the one note high from Delta 8 is unreliable and simply not the same – it’s about exploring the plant’s expressions through terpenes, cannabinoids, and the people that make it possible. 

Buying real weed is easier and cheaper than ever before. There are delivery services in every major city, not to mention some form of legal dispensary, unregulated bud boutique, or good old fashioned weed dealer open in every zip code in the country – handing any part of the market over to faceless edible and vape companies turning industrial hemp CBD extract into unrecognizable synthetic cannabinoids doesn’t do anyone any good.

Mids, exotics, outdoor, deps, indoor, new strains, old strains, brick weed full of seeds and stems – we deserve a weed industry, culture, and public reputation that centers the plant and rejects Delta 8 and its frankenstein synthetic cannabinoid cousins. 

1 comment
  1. SPOT ON

    What a sad irony it is that ILLEGAL weed is for the most part safer than (sort of) LEGAL ‘hemp’ derived concoctions. That said illegal weed too has no regulations and so might contain toxic added fungicides, heavy metals from crappy fertilizers or soil and might be loaded with dangerous (but natural) fungi that can kill (ironically why so many growers decide to add toxic synthetic fungicides into their grows).

    The FDA might have made some crappy decisions in the past and have to abide by some crappy laws/rules, but the one thing that federal legalisation will undeniably bring (even if to only schedule 3) is quality standards and their enforcement.

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