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DEA Says Delta-8 THC-O is ILLEGAL (But Ketum Products are Still Legal)

Billy Carlyle March 6, 2023 0 comments
DEA Says Delta-8 THC-O is ILLEGAL

In recent years, forms of THC like Delta-8 THC, have become increasingly popular throughout the country. While they aren’t legal in every state, according to the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized the production of hemp, many cannabinoid compounds found in the plant became federally legal. 

The types of THC derivatives available for consumers have evolved over the last 5 years and one of the options you may have seen at your local smoke shop or online is THC-O. The DEA recently issued a statement regarding the legality of THC-O that may change your recreational or medicinal plans. 

DEA Release Statement on THC-O Legality 

On February 13, 2023, the DEA released a response letter that claimed delta-8 and delta-9 THC-O were currently illegal. Not only that, but they claimed these substances had always been illegal under existing law. 

That’s because the Farm Bill passed by Congres in 2018 legalized hemp products of up to .3% delta-9 THC and provided exceptions to classify cannabis. This made hemp legal while cannabis containing higher amounts of the notorious substance remained illegal. This opened up a market for alternative cannabinoids as long as they were derived naturally from low-THC hemp. 

This is where the confusion occurs. Delta-8 is legal as long as it is naturally derived from cannabis plants that have .3% or less delta-9. However, these substances are also synthetically derived and created to create THC-O forms. 

The DEA’s letter clarifies that because these THC-O forms of THC do not naturally occur within the cannabis plant, they are not protected under the current laws. They explain that these classifications do not “fall under the legal definition” of hemp. This statement also clarifies that all synthetic cannabinoids with intoxicating effects are illegal, including HHC. 

What Does This Mean For Delta-8 and Other Cannabinoid Users?

Well, it could mean a lot and it could mean very little. While it’s never a good thing for cannabis users when the DEA starts poking around, the THC-O forms are not exceptionally common. The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals already ruled that Delta-8 is legal under the existing law. 

That means that you can still possess and purchase delta-8 THC products as long as they are legal under your state’s laws (double check because several states have banned these products). Therefore, new laws would have to be passed for these wonderful hemp options to lose their legal status. 

However, if you prefer THC-O forms, then you may have to pay a little closer attention through the coming weeks. It’s unclear if, and if so how, this statement will change anything regarding the THC-O products on the market. Over time, we expect these products to disappear and be replaced by fully legal cannabis alternatives. However, we don’t know if the DEA plans to enforce these laws on a wide scale or not. 

Delta-8 vs Delta-8 THC-O Effects

Both Delta-8 and Delta-8 THC-O offer psychoactive effects similar to the always-popular, traditional Delta-9 THC. However, there are some differences. 

In general, THC-O types are more powerful and typically used for recreational purposes. They are also more likely to cause some unpleasant side effects like anxiety, rapid heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, and slow reaction times. 

Some studies even suggest that Delta-8 THC-0 is more powerful than Delta-9 THC, found in federally illegal marijuana plants. In fact, some of these studies claim that it could be as much as 3 times the strength!

In addition, THC-O is typically pretty expensive as far as cannabis products go and, now, it is clear that it’s also an illegal option that could land you in some legal trouble if caught. Plus, there’s always a chance that your supplier will stop selling it to avoid legal ramifications and other consequences. 

On the other hand, Delta-8 is considered milder and more medicinal. While it can certainly be recreational, especially with highly potent forms of D8, many users report effects that are comfortable with less worry and racing thoughts sometimes associated with all psychoactive cannabinoids. 

Both forms can come in many different varieties from tasty Delta-8 gummies to flower, drinks to tinctures, and everything in between. Yep, that means you can eat, drink, and smoke your way to a better day! 


So, while the DEA did recently release a statement clarifying that THC-O was, in fact, illegal, it doesn’t technically change anything. Sure, if you prefer THC-O, then you may need to be careful and see if they start shutting down suppliers, but there are plenty of alternatives with Delta-8, Delta-10, and other substiatutes. Check out our fantastic selection to get your 100% federally legal benefits today! 

Author avatar

Billy Carlyle

Billy Carlyle is an alumnus of UNCW, obtaining an MFA in creative writing. In his nook and cranny of the writing community, he explores the intricacies of plant pharmacology and its botanical research, writing predominantly for the cannabis, medical marijuana, CBD, and kratom industries.

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