Is Delta 8 Legal In Florida?

Written by:Julian Stroleny PortraitJulian Stroleny

Marijuana has always been a hot topic amongst proponents for legalizing its use and those who strongly oppose it. Many believe that since marijuana is a Class I substance, there should be no debate as to its legality. With ever-changing laws, different states across the U.S. have decriminalized the use of marijuana products, further adding fuel to the debate fire of marijuana’s legality.

In several South Florida counties, it is common to see individuals smoking a joint in public or buying marijuana using a medical cannabis card. CBD can be easily found in many forms in local drug stores and online. 

The active ingredient of cannabis is THC, and in recent years, it has become very popular for recreational and medical use. Differences in chemical makeup and form produce different effects on users that can range from the calming effect of CBD to a euphoric effect from marijuana, known as delta-9 THC. In between delta-9 THC and CBD falls a relatively new product known as delta-8 THC. 

Delta-8 is a synthetic derivative of industrial hemp that can be a mind-altering substance. 

Since its widespread popularization across the country, delta-8 has piqued the interest of Florida residents despite the recent classification of delta-8 THC as a controlled substance on the federal level. 

Our Florida criminal defense attorney explains how delta-8 is different from a chemical and legal perspective and its effects on the body. If you need legal counsel regarding criminal charges for marijuana use or possession, contact our firm today for assistance.

What is Delta-8?

Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring compounds found in hemp and cannabis plants. These plants are from the same species, with the main difference being the tetrahydrocannabinol levels, also known as THC.

How Is Weed Different From Delta-8 THC

Products with delta-8 generally have lesser psychoactive effects on the body than delta-9 THC, which is the cannabinoid that gives “regular” weed its well-known high. 

Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of cannabis plants. The weed you can purchase in dispensaries is from marijuana plants, while delta-8 THC and CBD come from the hemp plant. 

Delta-8 THC has similar effects on the body as delta-9 THC, such as increased appetite and a relaxed mood.

From a chemical perspective, delta-8 and delta-9 THC are isomers, meaning a molecule of delta-8 and one of delta-9 THC each have 31 hydrogen atoms, 21 carbon atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms, but they occur in different configurations.

How Cannabis and Delta-8 Affect the Body

It is important to understand how cannabinoids interact with the human body and cause their effects. There are two primary types of cannabinoid receptors in the human body:

  • CB1 receptors are found throughout the body, including the brain
  • CB2 receptors are primarily in the immune and gastrointestinal systems but can also be found in the brain

The spinal cord and brain are part of the central nervous system, which contains the CB1 receptor. 

To have an effect on the brain, a cannabinoid molecule has to interact with the CB1 receptor. THC cannabinoids interact with the CB1 receptor, while the cannabinoids with no mind-altering effects primarily interact with the CB2 receptors located in the peripheral nervous system.

When delta-8 cannabinoids enter the body, they can interact with the CB1 receptors and modulate activity in the endocannabinoid system.

Florida Cannabis Laws And Delta-8

Currently, Florida treats delta-8 just like every other hemp-derived product, such as tote bags and sandals made out of hemp. 

You can visit a number of Florida gas stations and CBD shops to purchase delta-8 edibles and can even order it at hookah bars as if it were typical tobacco. Florida has proposed categorizing delta-8 as a dietary supplement to regulate it as one, but this has yet to occur and leaves delta-8 in a legal gray area.

Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol Declared a Controlled Substance By The DEA

In early 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration put out a statement saying delta-8 THC is considered a controlled substance. 

The DEA will no longer consider delta-8 to be a hemp or hemp extract product since it only naturally occurs in hemp in trace amounts. Therefore, the DEA has decided that delta-8 is a synthetic drug. 

Florida’s next steps regarding the legal status of delta-8 remain to be seen. Cannabis is considered a Schedule I controlled substance by federal law, meaning that there are no federally acknowledged medical uses for cannabis. 

States that have completely legalized the recreational use of cannabis or have set up medical marijuana or hemp dispensary programs have done so at the state law level.

Can You Fail a Drug Test After Using Delta-8?

Delta-8 THC is derived from hemp, but like CBD, it has a chemical composition very similar to the THC cannabinoid delta-9, which gives marijuana users an elated feeling.

According to Quest Diagnostics,  a drug test can potentially pick up delta-8. Many factors will decide if you are able to consume delta-8 prior to taking a drug test or other third-party lab testing. 

These factors can include how often you consume delta-8, physical characteristics such as your weight, and the length of time between your drug test and the last consumption of delta-8 THC.

How Long Does Delta-8 Stay In Your System?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), delta-8 stays in the body but the duration depends on factors such as regular consumption, body weight, method of use, and the body’s metabolism. THC can be detected between two and 30 days based on these factors.

Occasional consumers of delta-8 products could have the substance detected for 2 to 5 days, and regular users could have it detectable for 15 days or more. Those with a higher body fat percentage could have it linger for 30 days or longer.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

Cannabis laws are ever-changing, creating confusion for users and law enforcement officials. Possessing or using cannabis, a cannabis-like, or hemp product that you had assumed was legal could potentially get you into legal trouble. 

If law enforcement is on your case about legal cannabis or a cannabis-like substance, such as delta-8 or CBD, your best option is to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

While there are many defenses to a criminal charge in court, “I did not know it was illegal” will not work as a legal defense for using controlled substances. 

A Florida drug criminal defense attorney can assist you if you are dealing with criminal charges for the distribution or possession of cannabis products. Contact Stroleny Law: Criminal Defense Attorney, using our online form to get connected with legal representation to discuss the details of your criminal case.

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