Apr 20, 2023 - News

Explained: Delta-8 THC in Texas

Illustration of a pattern of marijuana leaves filling the state of Texas.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Delta-8 THC might be legal in Texas for now, but its ultimate fate is still up in the air.

Catch up quick: Delta-8 THC is sold in smoke shops, CBD stores and convenience stops all over Texas.

Driving the news: Delta-8 has had quite the legal journey since the Texas Department of State Health Services placed it on the state's list of controlled substances in 2021 — essentially making anyone who sold or possessed the substance a criminal, despite its previously being legal under the state's 2018 Farm Bill. That bill legalized small amounts of hemp-derived THC in certain consumable products, like edibles, vapes and traditional bud.

Why it matters: Delta-8's popularity isn't just for those seeking a recreational high. Veterans with PTSD and those living with chronic pain turn to the substance for relief.

  • Without delta-8 THC on the market, those with chronic pain don't have much recourse since that condition doesn't qualify them for the state's Compassionate Use Program.

Yes, but: In the days after it was placed on the controlled substance list in 2021, a group of veterans, manufacturers and retailers sued the state to take it off the list.

  • A judge immediately signed an injunction temporarily removing it from the list, but its ultimate fate has yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, some — including teenagers — are being jailed on felony charges for possessing the substance.

What we're watching: How the lawsuit will unfold. The Texas Attorney General's Office appealed the temporary injunction to the Texas Supreme Court, which remanded the question back to an appellate court.

  • Oral arguments are tentatively set for May 23, according to Jay Maguire, executive director of the Texas Hemp Federation.

The bottom line: If delta-8 THC is criminalized, Texans could face felony charges, jail time and fines up to $10,000 for selling or possessing products that contain it.


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