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DEA States that Delta-9-THCO, Delta-8-THCO Are Not Hemp

A recent letter reveals that the DEA doesn’t view delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO as hemp, and instead are considered to be controlled substances.


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In an email response sent to Rod Kight of Kight Law Office PC on Feb. 13, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated that because delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO are synthetic and are not found naturally in cannabis, they do not count as hemp, and are therefore controlled substances.

Kight’s letter was originally sent in August 2022 (and a follow-up email sent last week on Feb. 7) with a request for the status of THC acetate ester (THCO) under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Terrence L. Boos, Chief Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section Diversion Control Division penned the response, and clarified the agency’s stance on delta products. “The only substances of which the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is aware of the THC acetate ester are delta-9-THCO (delta-9-THC acetate ester) and delta-8-THCO (delta-8-THC acetate ester),” Boos said. “The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reviewed the CSA and its implementing regulations with regard to the control status of these substances.”

Boos explained that the CSA classifies “tetrahydrocannabinols,” or THC, as “naturally contained in a plant of the genus Cannabis (cannabis plant), as well as synthetic equivalents of the substances contained in the cannabis plant and/or synthetic substances, derivatives, and their isomers with similar chemical structure and pharmacological activity to those substances contained in the plant.”

Because of this definition, neither delta-9-THCO or delta-8-THCO are considered to be hemp by the DEA. “Delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO do not occur naturally in the cannabis plant and can only be obtained synthetically, and therefore do not fall under the definition of hemp,” wrote Boos.

He added that delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO have “similar chemical structures and pharmacological activities to those contained in the cannabis plant,” and thus meet the definition of “tetrahydrocannabinols,” which the agency classifies in Schedule I. He also included the molecular structure of delta-9-THCO and delta-8-THCO for reference at the end of the letter.

In a written statement from Michelle Bodian, a partner at Vicente Sederberg, Bodian explained what this news could mean for the industry. “While the latest statement from DEA does not clarify the legal status of all novel hemp derived cannabinoids, it does clarify that DEA believes Delta-9THCO and Delta-8THCO are controlled s