TEXAS — On Oct. 15, the Texas Department of State Health Services updated its website to state that delta-8 THC is illegal in Texas.
The move came as an unwelcome surprise to CBD store owners as well as delta-8 users across the state.
That sparked a lawsuit challenging the legality of the move by businesses that sell delta-8 products, including Austin’s Hometown Hero.
On Monday, Travis County district Judge Jan Soifer granted a temporary injunction against DSHS and its commissioner, John Hellerstedt, that will allow those hemp-derived products to be placed back on shelves for the time being. A trial is anticipated to start on Jan. 28, 2022.
“Plaintiffs have shown a probable right to declaratory and injunctive relief because Commissioner Hellerstedt’s action amending the definitions failed to meet the requirements found in in § 481.034 of the Texas Health & Safety Code, and DSHS’s rule as stated on its website concerning Delta-8 failed to comply with the rule making requirements found in the APA,” court documents state.
Delta-8 THC is regarded as a chemical cousin of marijuana’s main intoxicating ingredient, and as its popularity has soared, states have been reckoning with its legality.
The chemical is billed as producing a milder high than the better known delta-9 THC, and delta-8 is often marketed as being legal even where marijuana is not. That argument stems from the fact that most delta-8 is synthesized from CBD, a popular non-intoxicating chemical that’s prevalent in hemp, a form of cannabis that Congress legalized in 2018.
There are no hard-and-fast statistics on sales of delta-8, which is available in vapes, gummies and other forms. It has been the fastest-growing segment of the market for hemp chemicals for roughly the last year, after wholesale CBD prices plummeted amid oversupply and other issues, says Ian Laird of data analytics company Hemp Benchmarks.
The DSHS update came as a blow to Texas business owners. Spectrum News 1 recently spoke with Zachary Maxwell, the president of Texas Hemp Growers. At the time, he said that delta-8’s rising popularity was a boon to the state’s hemp industry.
"Delta-8 isn't made in grow rooms or on farms. It's actually synthesized in the labs that create the CBD oil that we're all familiar with. When those labs are able to sell more oil to the marketplace, it means they're more prone to buy from hemp farmers in this state," said Maxwell.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.