Federally legal CBD and THC? Really?

It’s really true. Both CBD and THC can be federally legal substances, we just have to follow the new rules very carefully.

By now everyone has heard of the 2018 Farm Bill also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 which legalized industrial hemp, however few people are well versed in the finite details of the new law.

On its face, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized “Hemp” grown by permit whose Δ9 THC content is below 0.03% on a dry weight basis. The law also established a system for showing such compliance through crop registration and much laboratory testing.

More importantly for us at Impel, the law also legalized all the other cannabinoids as long as they are derived from sources of hemp that were properly permitted and then shown to meet the original guideline. Most of the world paid attention to the obvious opportunity for cannabidiol (CBD) products. We immediately saw more including the potential for additional hemp derived Δ8-THC products.

The two molecules, Δ8 THC and Δ9 THC are virtually identical. The are in fact so similar that they share the same chemical formula, C21H30O2. The only difference is the placement of a single double bond between two neighboring carbon atoms. In illegal Δ9 THC, the double bond is in what is known through chemical nomenclature rules as “the 9th position” giving rise to its whole name, delta-9 tetrahydrocannibinol, (Δ9 THC). In a laboratory, using special instruments, we can detect where the double bond is, assuring us that the federally legal molecule is being used in production and not the prohibited arrangement.

Test your understanding.

Can you guess where the double bond occurs in in delta-8 tetra hydrdocannabinol? (Δ8 THC). If you said the 8th position you passed today’s chemistry lesson and you understand how hemp derived products even with high THC content can be legal. See the images below.

Δ8 THC below has a double bond (a) between the carbon atoms labeled 8 and 9. See below.


Δ9 THC has a double bond (a) between the carbon atoms labeled 9 and 10. See below.


Both molecules are THC but one is federally legalized by the Farm Bill, the other is not.

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