A letter written in 2021 by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Drug & Chemical Evaluation Section Chief Terrence Boos has revealed that DEA considers delta-8 THC, when synthesized from CBD, to be federally illegal. The letter was revealed late last week by attorney Shane Pennington via his “On Drugs” Substack.

“Arriving at delta-8-THC by a chemical reaction starting from CBD makes the delta-8-THC synthetic and therefore, not exempted by the [Agriculture Improvement Act]. Any quantity of delta-8-THC obtained by chemical means is a controlled substance.” — Boos, via the “On Drugs” Substack

The Agriculture Improvement Act, better known as the 2018 Farm Bill, allowed states to implement their own hemp programs. Since then, companies selling hemp-derived cannabinoids have sprung up around the country, but some have gone even further in synthesizing the hemp-based cannabinoids — which are generally nonintoxicating — into more psychoactive cannabinoids such as delta-8 or even delta-9 THC.

The letter puts plainly what many experts have suspected for months — DEA communicated during a May 4 conference presentation that the agency supported adding all synthetic cannabinoids that contain THC, including hemp-derived delta-8 THC, to the list of federally controlled substances. Additionally, in February, Boos wrote to another attorney that minor cannabinoids including delta-8 THC-0 and delta-9 THC-0 are illegal because they can only be synthesized and do not appear in nature, Marijuana Moment reports.

Notably, delta-8 THC does appear naturally in cannabis plants but only in trace amounts, but the vast majority of consumer delta-8 products are made using delta-8 THC that was synthesized from hemp-derived CBD.

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