Delta-8 THC edibles offer legal high in Missouri

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Edibles infused with delta-8 THC, a legal cannabinoid, can be found at numerous shops in the St. Louis area. Delta-8 THC’s ready availability is good news for those looking to catch a buzz who are unable (or unwilling) to purchase medical or recreational marijuana as it becomes increasingly accessible. But what exactly is this new cannabis product, and how did it become so widespread?

In the past year or so, delta-8 THC – one of roughly 100 cannabinoids contained in cannabis – has gained popularity thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. The legislation legalized all cannabinoid products containing less than 0.3% delta-9 THC, the most well-known and studied chemical that produces psychoactive effects. Delta-9 THC is now legal medicinally in Missouri and recreationally in Illinois. Both cannabinoids can reduce anxiety, stress and pain while providing a sense of relaxation and, for some, euphoria. When consumed in edible form, effects of each take about an hour to kick in and can last anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, depending on dosage.

“Delta-8 and delta-9 THC are pretty similar,” said Dafna Revah, co-owner of CBD Kratom, which has over a dozen locations in the area. “Delta-8 provides psychoactive and psychotropic effects, but is said to be a less intense cousin with less of the negative side effects you sometimes have with delta-9, like nausea or paranoia.”

The strength of delta-8 is roughly one-third of that of delta-9, according to Revah. “If you typically need 5 milligrams of delta-9, you would want 15 milligrams of delta-8 to create a similar effect,” she explained.

The legality is a little murky, however. “It’s kind of a loophole, and some states are looking to regulate it like delta-9 THC,” Revah said.

Joshua Grigaitis, founder of Mighty Kind cannabis seltzers, said, “The science is moving faster than the law. There are a lot of fast-moving parts in the cannabis industry, and delta-8 is the grayest of the gray.” Although Grigaitis is not offering delta-8 in Mighty Kind products, he is manufacturing it for other brands, including Midwest Magic, a brand slated to hit the market in the next month or so with seltzers and a variety of edibles, including a bake-at-home brownie kit. While Mighty Kind products containing delta-9 THC are not currently available in the St. Louis market, the company is producing and distributing such products in Oklahoma.

According to Grigaitis, most products containing delta-9 THC have always also had delta-8, but labs have only recently begun to distinguish and separate the two. He explained that delta-8 products don’t technically have to include warning labels (for example, cautioning consumers against operating heavy machinery while under the influence or that they could fail a drug test). “It needs more attention in the world of education and proper labeling, so part of my delay if I do decide to use it in my brand is that I want to take all proper steps to make sure it’s safe,” he said.

Midwest Magic owner Ted Maritz decided to go the delta-8 and CBD route when he was unable to secure a highly coveted medical marijuana business license. “I think of [delta-8 THC] as a very social option for cannabis products,” Maritz said. “Sometimes, people feel that they can’t partake in social situations because they get in their head or it makes them tired, but [delta-8] is like a party cannabis – you get the same kind of euphoria without the drowsiness or anxiousness.”

Several stores in the area offer the cannabinoid in edibles like gummies, caramels and chocolates, as well as some topical and smoking products, in a variety of dosages. You can also often find delta-8 combined with CBD, another cannabinoid that’s purported to promote relaxation, among other benefits, without the psychoactive properties.

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