DEA Presents Emoji Explanations for ‘One Pill Can Kill’ Campaign

In a campaign to educate parents on the emoji conversations of their children in regards to drug use, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has created a legend for parental reference.

On December 16, the DEA held a press conference featuring DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, who reviewed the dangers of illegal drug use, especially on the nation’s youth. Specifically, as a part of the DEA’s “One Pill Can Kill” Campaign, the conference content reviewed a reference sheet of identifiable emoji compilations.

Entries include Oxycodone, Xanax, Percocet, Adderall, cocaine, meth, heroin, MDMA/mollies, cough syrup and mushrooms, as well as phrases that the DEA identifies as “drug dealer adverting that they sell/dealer,” “bomb ass shit,” “high potency,” “universal for drugs” and “large batch/amount,” according to the DEA’s breakdown. “Do you know the meaning behind certain emojis? Emojis were originally designed to represent an emotion, event or activity, but have recently taken on a language of their own,” the DEA writes. “Criminal organizations, including drug traffickers, have noticed and are using emojis to buy and sell counterfeit pills and other illicit drugs on social media and through e-commerce.”

The emoji combination for “marijuana” includes six characters that some might, or might not, consider applicable in translation (although it’s all about interpretation). “The reference guide is intended to give parents, caregivers and influencers a better sense of how this language is being used in conjunction with illegal drugs,” the DEA writes. “It is important to note, this list is not all-inclusive and the images contained below are a representative sample. Emojis, on their own, should not be indicative of illegal activity, but coupled with a change in behavior; change in appearance; or significant loss/increase in income should be a reason to start an important conversation. We understand initiating those conversations can be difficult so we have resources available at”

The DEA also provided a PowerPoint presentation regarding a variety of stats and information about black market drug sales and how to identify counterfeit pills. It also included a brief mention of which social platforms are most commonly used, referred to as “Cases involving criminal drug network activity on social media platforms,” the top three of which are SnapChat, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. The emojis for cannabis in the presentation differed slightly from the provided infographic.

Milgram wrote in her press conference statement the tragedy of youth deaths due to drug overdoses such as fentanyl produced by Mexican drug cartels. “What is equally troubling is that the cartels have harnessed the perfect drug delivery tool: social media… social media applications that are available on every smartphone in the United States. Eighty-five percent of all Americans have smartphones: that is about 280 million smartphones.”

Cannabis is only mentioned once in her statement, specifically in regards to the DEA illegal drug haul over the past few months. “In total, between September 29 and December 14 of this year, DEA seized over 8.4 million fake pills, over 5,400 pounds of methamphetamine, and hundreds of pounds each of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, often in the same places that we seized fentanyl. During this surge, DEA has arrested 776 people and seized 288 firearms connected to these drug seizures,” Milgram stated. She concludes the statement with a message urging citizens to “Know the dangers and accessibility of deadly drugs online.”

A recent report from the Mexico Defense Secretary state that Mexican cartels are beginning to shift from cannabis and opium production to that of synthetic drugs, partially due to the legal status of cannabis in many states in the US. Fentanyl is now the leading causes of death for Americans between ages 18-45, as according to 2019-2020 data collected from the CDC and presented by Families Against Fentanyl. More people died from fentanyl poisoning than suicide, COVID-19 and vehicle accidents.

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Oregon State Police Seize 500K Pounds of Illicit Cannabis

Oregon State Police seized roughly 500,000 pounds of cannabis as part of a sweeping bust last week, the latest illicit grow operation to uncovered by authorities in the southern part of the state.

The state police said that its Drug Enforcement Section for the southwest region of Oregon served a search warrant last Thursday in the community of White City, which is located in Jackson County.

The location targeted by the warrant “consisted of five industrial-sized warehouses zoned for commercial use,” the state police said.

“Over 100 individuals were initially detained, identified, interviewed and released. Several of the individuals were migrant workers living on-site in subpar living conditions without running water,” the organization explained in a Facebook post published over the weekend. 

The operation spanned more than two days, over the course of which “an epic amount of illegal, processed marijuana and a firearm were seized.”

“The DES Team’s conservative estimation on the amount of processed marijuana seized was approximately 500,000 lbs., which depending on where it would be exported to, has a conservative street value of somewhere around $500 million,” the state police said, adding that it remains “a very involved investigation and will be ongoing for several weeks,” and that it will release “more information when available.”

Such raids have become a common occurrence in Jackson County, where local officials last month declared a state of emergency over the illicit cannabis cultivation.

Oregon voters passed a ballot measure in 2014 legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults and establishing the framework for a regulated cannabis market, but unregulated production endures, particularly in the southern part of the state. 

Jackson County law enforcement officials served another search warrant last month that resulted in the destruction of 17,522 cannabis plants and about 3,900 pounds of harvested marijuana. And a separate bust last month in the southern Oregon county of Klamath led to an enormous haul in a 27,000-square-foot potato shed.

The Herald and News newspaper reported at the time that the large potato shed was “filled with marijuana in various stages of processing: drying in giant strands that stretched from the roof to the floor, buds pruned and stuffed into 40-pound bags, hundreds of those bags stacked against a wall and years of discarded marijuana waste in piles ready for disposal.”

The illicit activity has prompted Jackson County officials to call for help. 

In a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and other legislative leaders, Jackson County’s board of commissioners lobbied for assistance to law enforcement officials and regulators who they said were beleaguered by the amount of illicit marijuana activity.

The commissioners called the unregulated cultivation an “imminent threat to the public health and safety of our citizens from the illegal production of cannabis in our county.”

“Jackson County strongly requests your assistance to address this emergency,” the commissioners wrote in the letter.

One of the commissioners, Rick Dyer, said at a news conference last month that county law enforcement had reported a “59 percent increase in calls for service associated with the marijuana industry, including burglary, theft, assault, robbery and nuisance crimes.” 

The commissioners requested additional funds and even the deployment of National Guard troops to combat the illicit activity. The Oregon State Police said that last week’s 500,000 pound bust in White City “was assisted by the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET) of Josephine County, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Medford Office, the Basin Interagency Narcotics Team (BINET) of Klamath County, the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) of the Medford Police Department-Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson County Fire District No. 3.”

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DEA Letter – Delta 8 THC derived from hemp is not a controlled substance

The Delta 8 THC industry can breathe a little easier, so long as they are using hemp. In a recently obtained letter, the DEA clarified its position on hemp-derived Delta 8 THC. As long as the product is hemp-derived and doesn’t contain Delta 9 THC, it’s legal. Delta 8 THC made from hemp is legal […]

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Harry Aslinger and the War on Drugs: A History of Politicking and Racism

For decades, cannabis users have struggled with criminalization and stigma. However, not all of us know about Harry Aslinger, the War on Drugs, and how his politicking and racism are at the root of anti-drug policies globally. Harry Aslinger was a United States government official who served under one of the most repressive regimes in […]

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Bank of America Closes Cannabis Research Account

One of the nation’s most popularly used banks decided to close the account of one of the country’s DEA-approved cannabis and psychedelic research institutions.

The Bank of America suddenly closed the accounts of the Scottsdale Research Institute with very little notice or explanation last week. The Scottsdale Research Institution received a letter dated October 12, stating that the account would no longer be accessible in 21 days and fully closed within 30 days. The letter also states that the “this decision is final and won’t be reconsidered.”

Dr. Sue Sisley, a prominent, longtime researcher of medical cannabis (specifically for its efficacy as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder) is the President and Principal Investigator at the Scottsdale Research Institute. She posted on Twitter on October 15 about the situation. 

“Bank of America closes down account of Federally-licensed cannabis researcher. SRI conducts FDA approved controlled trials evaluating cannabis as medicine for treating pain/PTSD in military veterans & terminally ill patients this TRAGICALLY shuts down our research @BankofAmerica.” She also included a screenshot of an official document, entitled the Controlled Substance Registration Certificate, which was issued to the Scottsdale Research Institute by the DEA on June 29, 2021.

The Scottsdale Research Institute has federal permission to study both medical cannabis and psychedelic substances. Most recently, in May, the institute was one of three organizations who received approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to cultivate cannabis for research purposes. 

“Pending final approval, DEA has determined, based on currently available information, that a number of manufacturers’ applications to cultivate marijuana for research needs in the United States appears to be consistent with applicable legal standards and relevant laws,” the DEA wrote in its release. “DEA has, therefore, provided a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to these manufacturers as the next step in the approval process.”

Aside from its promising research results, Dr. Sisley and the Scottsdale Research Institute have also taken an active approach to push the industry toward legalization and descheduling cannabis. In Sisley vs. DEA, which was filed in May 2020, she alleged the Schedule I status of cannabis violated the constitution and that it should be descheduled. After a year and a half, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the petition. However, one of the presiding judges, Judge Paul J. Watford, stated that the DEA may eventually be forced to reconsider reclassification under the Controlled Substances Act in the near future. 

“I agree that the petitioners in this case failed to exhaust their administrative remedies and therefore join the court’s opinion dismissing their petition for review,” Watford wrote. “I write separately to note that, in an appropriate case, the Drug Enforcement Administration may well be obliged to initiate a reclassification proceeding for marijuana, given the strength of petitioners’ arguments that the agency has misinterpreted the controlling statute by concluding that marijuana ‘has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.’”

This is just the most recent example of the continuing problem that all cannabis businesses, in nearly every aspect of the industry, are having with banking solutions. On September 21, the U.S. House approved the SAFE Banking Act as a part of the defense spending bill, which is the fifth time that cannabis banking legislation has been approved in the House. Whether this provision is approved by the Senate remains to be seen.

Cannabis businesses continue to struggle with legitimate banking solutions. It remains an issue to witness not just a dispensary or cultivation company, but a federally approved organization, having its account closed without any previous warning or reasoning. For now, Dr. Sisley said in a statement to Marijuana Moment that the Scottsdale Research Institute will be moving to a new banking solution with a bank that is supportive of “scientific freedom.”

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Search for Marijuana on Amtrak Train Leads to Deadly Shooting in Arizona

A deadly shooting aboard an Amtrak train in Arizona on Monday occurred following a search for marijuana by law enforcement officers, according to court documents filed in the case. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Michael Garbo and a suspect only identified as D.T. were killed and two agents were wounded in the shooting at the Amtrak station in Tucson, Arizona on Monday morning.

A criminal complaint filed in the case in Arizona district court on Tuesday explains that agents boarded the train after it arrived at the station to search for drugs, contraband cash and weapons. Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, Train 2 was headed from New Orleans to Los Angeles, arriving in Tucson at 7:40 a.m.

The DEA agents and police officers with the Pima County Counter Narcotics Alliance were investigating a tip from Amtrak about a list of individuals traveling from Los Angeles to Texas. Agents observed two men on the list, D.T. and Devonte Okeith Mathis, sitting near each other on the train. 

Agents watched as Mathis moved three bags about three or four rows away from where the men were sitting before returning to his original seat, the criminal complaint alleges. When agents asked Mathis if the bags were his, he denied ownership, and the agents removed the bags from the train.

More than Five Pounds of Pot Found on Train

When agents opened the bags on the train platform, they found two packages of marijuana, including 2.39 kilograms (more than five pounds) of cannabis flower, 50 packs of marijuana edibles and other cannabis products. 

According to media reports, officers then reboarded the train and attempted to detain Mathis on the upper level of a double-decker train car. At that point, D.T. pulled out a handgun and began firing, striking the DEA agents. The gunman then ran downstairs and locked himself in the restroom on the first level of the train car as agents and police officers returned fire. The suspect was later discovered dead in the restroom.

The Tucson Police Department has told the Arizona Republic that the investigation into the shooting has been taken over by the FBI. Brooke Brennan, a spokesperson for the agency, said that the FBI is processing the scene of the shooting with the assistance of Tucson police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

DEA Agent Killed, Two Law Enforcement Officers Wounded in Shooting

Two other law enforcement officers were also injured in the shooting and taken to a hospital. A DEA special agent and a Tucson police officer working on the task force are both in stable condition, according to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, who also reported Garbo’s death.

“The DEA is deeply saddened to report that DEA Group Supervisor Michael G. Garbo died as a result of injuries sustained during the shooting,” Milgram said in a press release on Tuesday. “Group Supervisor Garbo joined DEA in 2005 and served honorably for more than 16 years as a Special Agent and Group Supervisor combating criminal drug traffickers from the Nogales corridor to Kabul, Afghanistan.”

At the time of the shooting, 137 passengers and 11 crew members were aboard the Sunset Limited, according to a report from CNN. No injuries were reported among the passengers and crew, according to Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams, and all were evacuated from the train.

“I just think it’s kind of incredible here there weren’t other people who were hurt, even though we’re completely so saddened by the loss of the officer,” Magnus said.

The Tucson Police Department wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that “yesterday’s horrific shooting impacted the Tucson community and law enforcement family across Arizona. We mourn the loss of a heroic DEA Agent and ask that you keep his family, friends and fellow agents in your hearts and prayers. We are also thankful for the Tucson community for their support. We are grateful and proud of our officers, who ran towards the sound of gunfire.”

Mathis is accused of possessing with the intent to distribute less than 50 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing marijuana, according to the court filing.

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DEA Seeks to Increase Quota of Cannabis and Psilocybin for Research Purposes

The DEA published a new document in the Federal Register on September 2 requesting an increase in production for certain Schedule I and Schedule II substances so that it can initiate more research studies. 

Titled “Proposed Adjustments to the Aggregate Production Quotas for Schedule I and II Controlled Substances and Assessment of Annual Needs for the List I Chemicals Ephedrine, Pseudoephedrine, and Phenylpropanolamine for 2021,” the article specifically includes some major changes for cannabis and psilocybin.

In the document’s section dedicated to explaining adjustments for 2021, it begins with mentioning the changes to cannabis and psilocybin. “DEA is proposing significant increases to the APQs of the schedule I substances psilocybin, psilocin, marihuana, and marihuana extract, which are directly related to increased interest by DEA registrants in the use of hallucinogenic controlled substances for research and clinical trial purposes,” the DEA writes

“DEA firmly believes in supporting regulated research of schedule I controlled substances. Therefore, the APQ increases reflect the need to fulfill research and development requirements in the production of new drug products, and the study of marijuana effects in particular, as necessary steps toward potential Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of new drug products.”

Among many scheduled substances listed in a chart, no changes were noted between the “established 2021 quotas” and “proposed revised 2021 quotas.” For the entries that did include a change, most were increased by only 30 grams, with a few exceptions. However, the listing for psilocybin received a proposed increase from 30 grams to 1,500 grams, and psilocyn received an increase from 50 grams to 1,000 grams. Likewise, “marihuana” received a bump from 1,500,000 grams to 2,000,000 grams, and the “marihuana extract” quota increased from 200,000 grams to 500,000 grams. 

The DEA does not go into detail regarding why it is suddenly so interested in studying psilocybin and psilocyn in large quantities, but the substance has received a good amount of attention over the past year. The state of Oregon will soon be voting on psilocybin legalization initiative called IP-34 this November. California residents will be voting on the California Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative 2022 in November as well. 

Canada is embracing psilocybin as medicine for four terminally ill patients. Many new studies are exploring the medical properties of the substance, and finding that it’s helpful in treating conditions like depression. Some states in the U.S. have lessened penalties for possession of psilocybin, and others have fully embraced it, such as Ann Arbor, Michigan making September “Entheogenic and Fungi Awareness Month.”

For cannabis, the ongoing restriction as a Schedule I substance will eventually come to an end. A  petition led by Dr. Sue Sisley, whose work on medical cannabis to treat conditions such as PTSD, sought to force the DEA to reschedule cannabis. While the case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was dismissed on August 30, 2021, Circuit Judge Paul Watford wrote a statement as a part of his ruling that cannabis reclassification could be a possibility in the future. 

“I agree that the petitioners in this case failed to exhaust their administrative remedies and therefore join the court’s opinion dismissing their petition for review,” Watford wrote. “I write separately to note that, in an appropriate case, the Drug Enforcement Administration may well be obliged to initiate a reclassification proceeding for marijuana, given the strength of petitioners’ arguments that the agency has misinterpreted the controlling statute by concluding that marijuana ‘has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.’”

Comments for the DEA’s most recent article can be submitted between now and October 4.

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CHAMPS Las Vegas 2021: Delta-8 and the DEA Raid Rumor

A significant portion of the cannabis industry is nomadic. Business conferences and trade shows fill vast convention halls with booths plugging brands. Eager pilgrims, fresh from cross-country flights or energy-drink fueled drives, wander from table to table, pockets bulging with business cards. Everyone is hoping to strike a deal at a hotel suite afterparty.

After the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the trade-show circuit, the rhythm of these show-and-hopefully-sell events appeared to be returning to normal last week with the CHAMPS Trade Show’s visit to Las Vegas. 

With its busy airport, abundant accommodations and myriad of other distractions, Vegas is the mecca for these gatherings, no matter what industry you’re in. And CHAMPS is a big one. While CHAMPS is considered a counterculture expo, it also appeals to the masses since products — primarily lifestyle accessories and ancillary goods — can be sold anywhere. Think pipes and vapes; think whatever you can find at a smoke shop, truck stop or novelty shop; think CBD supplements and smokable hemp. 

Tommy Chong was there, and so was Mike Tyson. Even Joe Exotic showed up — well, his brand did, since he’s in prison. According to TMZ, the brand was launching a cannabis seltzer called “Tiger Piss.” All extremely normal stuff for a cannabis tradeshow. But then this happened:

Starting Wednesday, July 28, breathless reports of a law-enforcement raid at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where CHAMPS had opened on July 27, started to fly around the internet, with the fires fanned by credulous Instagram accounts and unsourced blog posts.

“EXCLUSIVE,” blared, “Cannabis Trade Show Raided by the Feds.” A common source for this was @TheBlacklistxyz, a popular Instagram aggregator — which went even further, reporting that  in addition to the DEA, the FBI was there too — a wild, nonsensical twist picked up in turn by TheWeedBlog.

It’s been a long time since federal cops staged a major raid on the legal cannabis industry. A DEA raid would be huge news. But for some reason, no major media outlet had picked it up — and in an era saturated with smartphones, nobody had managed to snap even a blurry photo of the “raid.” 

Meanwhile, elsewhere on social media, there was a grinning Tommy Chong and a steely-eyed Iron Mike, carrying on as normal. If this was a raid, it was the chillest raid in history. What was going on?

Artist booths at the CHAMPS trade show in Las Vegas.

New Rules Arriving Fast and Furious

As it quickly turned out, not a single one of the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies was present — not the FBI, DEA, FCC or the FAA. Most of the accounts that posted otherwise quietly removed or edited their posts. 

But this isn’t to say there wasn’t lawbreaking afoot at CHAMPS. 

On June 4, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law Senate Bill 49, which outlaws “synthetic cannabinoids from being produced, sold or offered for sale” in the state. This includes Delta-8 THC, a less powerful cousin to the Delta-9 THC found in cannabis. 

Over the past year, Delta-8 has exploded in popularity, since it can be easily procured from hemp-derived CBD, and with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, it was deemed legal under federal law since it’s a hemp product. (This would be why reports of a DEA or FBI raid, at a show that did not welcome Delta-9 THC products, made no sense.) However, state law is not federal law — and anyone following SB49 would know that Nevada now bans Delta-8 THC. That meant the legal landscape for CHAMPS — and any other cannabis trade show in Las Vegas — had shifted, creating potential for significant disruption for any would-be vendors in the Delta-8 space.

But it wasn’t until July 17, about ten days before CHAMPS’s doors opened, that show vendors — some of whom paid around $3,200 each for one of the show’s 1,500 tables — received an URGENT email from organizers. 

The night before, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) informed CHAMPS that SB49 was indeed in effect. No vendor at CHAMPS would be allowed to sell or even advertise anything Delta-8-related — not so much as a brochure saying Delta-8 would be available somewhere else. Even mentioning Delta-8 was problematic.

“While we know this may be disappointing to you, we are required to abide by the decision made from the state and the LVCVA,” the email stated. “We hereby ask that you make absolutely sure that all displays you have, including logos, merchandise or any other visual imagery does not promote Delta-7, Delta-8 or Delta-10 products, as you will be fined and then removed from the show by the authorities.”

But that wasn’t the only federally legal product banned at CHAMPS.

CBD Edibles Banned

On July 23, attendees received another email with more rules. Anything edible with CBD in it was also banned. You could hand out all the CBD lotion, vaping oil or flower you wanted, but “No food and beverage containing any CBD will be permitted to be distributed anywhere on the convention grounds” due to rules set by Centerplate, the company contracted by LVCVA to provide concessions at the convention center. The email invited vendors with any outstanding questions to a Zoom meeting later that day. Additionally, upon check-in, all vendors were notified both verbally and in writing about the updated rules.

Despite at least four email notifications, as well as a personal phone call to everyone that CHAMPS believed to have Delta-8 products, not everyone heeded the memo. 

On the morning of July 28, the show’s second day, vendors received yet another message — this time instructing vendors that they “MUST be at the Convention Center today, no later than 10 a.m. to discuss issues.”

The day prior, someone from the LVCVA had been offered “both a D8 product and a CBD food product,” CHAMPS President Jeff Hirschfield told Cannabis Now. CHAMPS was not informed of which vendor gave out the samples, but CHAMPS staffers did ask two vendors to leave that failed to follow numerous requests to clean up and adhere to all guidelines, Hirschfield said. This delayed the show’s opening until 12 p.m., one hour later than scheduled.  

That 10 a.m. meeting “to discuss issues” had somehow morphed into a “DEA and FBI raid” by the time weed Instagram was done playing a game of telephone. 

Representatives from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority did not return several telephone and email messages seeking comment. 

Hirschfield had nothing but kind words to say about LVCVA — after all, the Delta-8 ban wasn’t their idea. Some vendors, however, were less than impressed — and figure they’ll be dropping Las Vegas from their trade-show tour itinerary.

What’s the Point?

“CHAMPS was extremely transparent — you could not have any kind of Delta-8 products at the show,” said Shawn Honaker, the owner of Yeti Farms, a Colorado-based manufacturer of Delta-8 gummies

Honaker was in Las Vegas to find new distributors — whom he had to woo, somehow, without being able to offer any product or even any brochures saying he had a product. He’d made 70,000 non-medicated gummies to put into 7,000 packages, he said. By the time LVCVA passed on the bad news to CHAMPS, it was too late for Delta-8 vendors to find a plan B. 

“Part of my gig is handing stuff out,” he said. “I called CHAMPS, and I said, ‘What am I supposed to do, just have my business cards and lanyards there?’”

“This is a gummy I can buy at a gas station. And they’re treating it like it’s a kilo of cocaine,” he said, adding that the new Nevada ban on Delta-8 made the legal landscape… a little weird, and not at all conducive to a successful big-tent cannabis industry” trade show.

“I can sell all the kratom and all the nitrous whip-its I want. And I cannot give away a single, unmedicated, sugar gummy,” he added. With that law, “What’s the point of the show?” he asked. “At the end of the day, it’s a black eye on the Las Vegas cannabis scene. I won’t be investing any more money on Nevada cannabis and hemp shows.”

Hirschfield disputed that analysis, pointing out that Las Vegas’s only shortcoming (aside from the ban on CBD food and beverage) is with Delta-8 THC. All Delta-8 vendors were offered half price booths in Atlantic City or any other state CHAMPS is in, providing Delta-8 is legal in that state, he added.  

The next CHAMPS show is later this summer in Atlantic City, New Jersey where, for now, Delta-8 THC is legal. As it stands, cannabis trade shows will have to stick to the familiar when visiting Las Vegas: Tommy Chong products and autographs, Joe Exotic’s Tiger Piss, and Mike Tyson’s latest blunt wrap collab.  

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The US Government Secretly Illegalized Delta-8 THC

If you’ve been following along, you already know that delta-8 THC has been creating a bit of a legal conundrum in the United States, with lots of ideas about it flying from every corner, but very little to back anything up officially. A recent article published a story that got very little coverage, but which makes things clear (even if the article writers got it wrong). The US federal government added delta-8 THC to its list of Controlled Substances, quietly, but officially, illegalizing it.

Editor’s Note: Delta-8 THC may have been added to the DEA’s Controlled Substances list, however, the federal government has not enforced this change, yet. As a result, Delta-8 is still available for sale, and should be for quite some time. This is great for you if you’re looking to buy anything delta-8 related. The government can take a long time to respond, and this means you still get access to your favorite delta-8 THC products.

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A little backstory

For those following along, you already know. However, if you haven’t been, here’s a little backstory on the whole fiasco, and how the US government is dealing with delta-8 THC. First and foremost, what is the stuff?

Delta-8 is a naturally occurring isomer and analogue of delta-9 THC, the THC generally associated with the cannabis plant. Its an isomer because it has the exact same chemical structure, but with a slightly different configuration of atoms, and its an analogue because it’s structurally and functionally almost identical to delta-9. By naturally occurring, it means delta-8 can be seen in nature. This is because, when delta-9 comes into contact with oxygen, it oxidizes, or loses electrons, to form a more stable compound.

This more stable compound is nearly identical except for one thing, the placement of a double carbon bond. In delta-9 THC it sits on the 9th carbon atom in the chain, in delta-8, on the 8th. The reason delta-8 became a topic of conversation is due to the 2018 US Farm Bill, and a perceived loophole to sell legal THC. The Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of hemp, and production of hemp products, so long as THC levels (specifically delta-9 and its precursor THCA), do not exceed more than .3% in dry weight from the original plant. It was later clarified that this .3% has to be maintained all throughout processing, with any elevated level constituting a break with the law. It applies to the final product as well.

cannabis plants

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While the law technically defines the THC as delta-9 THC, this doesn’t preclude delta-8. And the reason for that, is that delta-8 THC is an analogue of delta-9, and analogues were never covered under the definition of ‘hemp’. Analogues are federally illegal if they are analogues of a federally illegal drug, due to the 1986 Controlled Substances Analogue Act. Delta-9 is illegalized as a Schedule I drug according to the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, and between the two laws, delta-8 is included.

The other thing specifically not covered under the definition of ‘hemp’ is synthetics, and this is the other issue with the delta-8 loophole. Delta-8 does occur naturally, but it oxidizes so slowly from delta-9, that in order to use it for products, it must be processed with human help. This means it’s not simply being extracted, but actually synthesized to a degree, and that effects the definition of what’s going on.

If human processing help constitutes creating a synthetic, then delta-8 can’t be legal. If it being able to occur naturally in nature maintains it as non-synthetic, then this would not apply. The main issue with counting it as a synthetic, is that then it calls into question the safety of processing methods, which without a structure of regulation, leaves consumers at the mercy of producers who want to make a buck. No one is saying that delta-8 itself is dangerous, and in fact, everything (except possible processing techniques) points to it being one of the better versions of cannabis.

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US government response to delta-8 on the state level

Confusion has abounded on this since the US government came out with the Farm Bill, which brought delta-8 to light. First the government put out the DEA Interim Final Rule, followed by the USDA Final Rule, neither of which clarified if human processing help constitutes a synthetic, but both repeating that synthetics remain schedule I illegal substances, regardless of the definition of hemp.

Local governments have been more willing to make bigger statements. So far, 13 states have made laws to ban delta-8 THC: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont. The reason cited by state governments, is that delta-8 must be synthesized. They go on to talk about how this creates danger, exemplified by Colorado’s Health Department, which made this statement, backing up the idea of delta-8 as a synthetic:

“…chemically modifying or converting any naturally occurring cannabinoids from industrial hemp is non-compliant with the statutory definition of ‘industrial hemp product’… Insufficient evidence exists to determine whether or not any toxic or otherwise harmful substances are produced during these reactions and may remain in the regulated industrial hemp products ingested or applied/used by consumers… Therefore, these tetrahydrocannabinol isomers are not allowed in food, dietary supplements or cosmetics.”

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US drug laws
Did the US Government Secretly Illegalized Delta-8 THC?

US federal government response to delta-8

It feels like the US federal government didn’t do anything, or at least, not anything that made a lot of headlines. The DEA and USDA didn’t give a definition for what constitutes synthetic, only reiterating that synthetics are illegal. It also made no official move to ban, or back up a ban, of the compound. Not arresting producers or suppliers, not stopping businesses, and not rounding up and arresting buyers. In that way, the US federal government has done absolutely nothing about it. Which is probably why individual states have.

But the government DID do something, and it wasn’t a small something. A recent article (one of two to mention it at all) reported how the DEA updated its Orange Book on May 10th to include delta-8 THC under Controlled Substances, as a different name for tetrahydrocannabinols. Tetrahydrocannabinols are illegal, as per the laws and regulations mentioned previously.

What is the ‘Orange Book’, and what does this all mean? The Orange Book, officially known as Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, is a publication put out by the FDA (not the DEA) which identifies products based on safety and effectiveness, with FDA approval. It also has therapeutic equivalence evaluations for generic drugs, and patent lists for drugs. What it doesn’t have, is a controlled substances list, or any mention of delta-8 THC. The Controlled Substances list is under the DEA, but it has never been identified as the ‘Orange Book’.


To Wholesalers: Delta-8 THC might be a Controlled Substance now, but the government will likely take some time to respond. And that means, if you’re looking to stock your shop with the best delta-8 products, we’re happy to get them to you. Best to take advantage of our great Delta 8 wholesale deals now, and get the delta-8 products you need before the government puts its foot down.

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What does it mean?

What the article writer did get right (amongst a large amount of misinformation), is that the name ‘delta-8 THC’ now resides on page 17 of the DEA’s Controlled Substances list as another name for tetrahydrocannabinols, regulated by Criminal Code 7370, ending any discussion about legality. As a note, the criminal code only uses the word ‘tetrahydrocannabinols’, however the Controlled Substances list, which also references relevant criminal codes, has the updated terms that can count for tetrahydrocannabinols. The article writer who wrote about this, seems to be extremely confused about the two separate publications by the two separate government agencies, applying details about the Orange Book, unnecessarily to the Controlled Substances list.

The Orange Book, for example, is not law, but merely advice to drug prescribers. The Controlled Substances list is law. By confusing the two, the author made it sound like the addition of delta-8 THC to the Controlled Substances list, is only advice, when in fact, it is law. Whether this was done out of misunderstanding, or for any other reason is hard to say. What isn’t hard to say, is that the US federal government made delta-8 THC illegal.

I can’t verify the date delta-8 was added – as no official statement was made. It might have happened sometime in April, as referenced by this article a month ago, which looks to be the first mention of the update. (The update can be seen in the May Department of Justice List of Scheduling Actions, Controlled Substances, Regulated Chemicals, where it shows up on pages: 8, 10 and 17.) The article I just mentioned, was written by the same lawyer who was quoted in the first article I sourced on the topic. To be clear, this lawyer also confused the FDA and the DEA, and suggested that the Controlled Substances list isn’t law, and that producers and vendors aren’t committing a federal crime. To me, this is very dangerous reporting. The real question now, why was it done so quietly?

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This took place last month, and until I checked the lists myself, I didn’t know. No announcement was made, no press statement, and no articles written about it, other than the two I sourced, which got all the information wrong. Was it kept quiet because the US government doesn’t plan to do anything about it? Or are there about to be some arrests made? It has now become a prosecutable crime to make delta-8 or sell it, as delta-8 is now a Schedule I controlled substance. The fact it was done so quietly, with such bad reporting, is unfortunate, but it doesn’t change certain things.

Cannabis is going in the direction of complete legality. It’s also incredibly expensive to fight drug wars. And this particular drug issue doesn’t have a death count to spur on the public. It would likely be a losing battle to go after the whole industry, but that doesn’t mean that isolated producers and vendors won’t feel the burn. It remains to be seen how the US government will handle this, but it already started it in a strange way, by adding to the Controlled Substances list, while making absolutely no public announcement about it. Interested, or cynical, parties should check the attached links to verify this for themselves.


Not all news makes it to the news. And not all news stories are written well. For whatever reason the US government illegalized delta-8 THC without saying anything, or that two news stories appeared with very obviously wrong information about it, it looks like the truth of it will take some time to make the rounds. But, at least there is finally an answer to a question that has caused much confusion.

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By adding delta-8 THC to the Controlled Substances list (check page 17), as an alternate name for tetrahydrocannabinols, the US government put delta-8 THC under regulation of criminal code 7370, making delta-8 fall in line with delta-9 THC, being 100% federally illegal, except for that which fits under the definition of hemp. If someone has a question or concern about this information, please check the attached Controlled Substances list, criminal code 7370, and the other legal documentation attached for verification.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.


To Wholesalers: Delta-8 THC might be a Controlled Substance now, but the government will likely take some time to respond. And that means, if you’re looking to stock your shop with the best delta-8 products, we’re happy to get them to you. Best to take advantage of our great Delta 8 wholesale deals now, and get the delta-8 products you need before the government puts its foot down.

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