Need help understanding hemp, Delta-9? Delta-8? Delta-10? Get answers here. . .

Need help understanding hemp, Delta-9? Delta-8? Delta-10? Get answers here. . .

By Emily Garcia Emily Garcia

Feb 29, 2024

As South Carolina works through regulation of the emerging hemp industry and the presence of the psychoactive chemical THC in products, manufacturers and retailers have found themselves in a fog of legal uncertainty.

The terminology used to describe both hemp and hemp products, like seltzers and gummies, can be complicated. Here are the answers to common questions and misconceptions.

  1. What is hemp? 
  2. What's Delta-9? Is that diferent than Delta-8 and Delta-10?
  3. Are Delta-8 and Delta-9 legal?
  4. Who is regulating this stuff? 
  5. What's the diference between hemp seed oil and full-spectrum hemp oil?
  6. Can hemp seltzers get you high?

What is hemp?

"Hemp" is the term used to describe cannabis plants with small amounts of THC. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces a "high" or euphoric feeling. All hemp is cannabis, but not all cannabis is hemp. In order to meet the federal de nition for hemp, the cannabis plant must have less than . percent Delta- THC on a dry weight basis. A "dry weight basis," as de ned by federal law, means that the percentage of THC in cannabis must be measured by weight after moisture has been removed from the substance. If the cannabis plant has more than . percent Delta- THC, it is considered marijuana — which is illegal in South Carolina.

Hemp, however, was legalized nationwide by the  farm bill.

What's Delta-9? Is that diferent than Delta-8 and Delta-10?

SC regulators pull back on hard-line stance against THC hemp seltzers. Delta-9 is the most common form of THC found in cannabis. The name "Delta-" refers to its chemical structure. Delta-8 and Delta-10 are other, less common, forms of THC. The chemical diference between Delta-9, Delta-8 and Delta- 10 THC is the position of a double bond on the chain of carbon atoms they all have. These minor diferences cause them to exert diferent levels of psychoactive effects, according to an article published by two pathology professors at the University of South Carolina.

Are Delta-8 and Delta-10 legal?

It depends on who you ask. Federal law mentions Delta- in its de nition of legal hemp. The language from the bill states that hemp is Cannabis sativa L. and “any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers,” with no more than a . percent concentration of THC.

The law doesn't mention other forms of THC, like Delta- 8 or Delta-9, by name. However, hemp advocates say they are implicitly legal because Delta-8 and Delta-9 are naturally occurring cannabinoids. Courts around the country have sided with this argument, including the th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said in that the "plain and unambiguous text" of the farm bill supports the legality of Delta- products.

Law enforcement agencies in South Carolina have taken an emphatically different response. In , the state Attorney General's O ce sent a letter to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) letting them know they believe Delta- would be illegal — though there is a need for legislative clarity. More recently, the 13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins put hemp businesses on notice that "if it gets you high, it's illegal in South Carolina." Greenville County's multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement unit sent a letter out to businesses warning that products containing Delta-8 and Delta-10 are prohibited. This issue has yet to play out in South Carolina's court system.

Who is regulating this stuff?

The state Department of Agriculture oversees the hemp farming program. As part of that program, the SCDA administers farming, handling and processing permits. In order to farm hemp in South Carolina, you must be at least 18 years of age, not have been convicted of a controlled substance felony in the past 10 years and pay a $1,000, permit fee. Before hemp can be harvested, it must be tested for and contain less than .3% percent Delta-9. After passing the test, farmers have 30 days to harvest their crop.

When hemp hits the market as infused food and beverages, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has regulatory authority. DHEC runs the state's manufactured food and beverages program. Their power extends over everything from manufacturing permits to labeling requirements.

The department also controls which hemp-derived ingredients are all allowed in food and drink, these include hemp seeds, hemp seed oil and full-spectrum hemp oil. Recently, the department found itself at the center of controversy over strongly worded guidance warning manufacturers not to tell consumers that their hemp products contain THC.

The department has since walked back this stance in a Feb. 22nd update. On July 1 2024 all of DHEC's duties for the manufactured food program will be transferred to SCDA.

What's the difference between hemp seed oil and full-spectrum hemp oil? Hemp seed oil comes from the hemp seed, which does not contain THC. In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that hemp seed and its derivatives were generally recognized as safe.

"Consumption of these hemp seed-derived ingredients is not capable of making consumers 'high,'" the FDA wrote. Full-spectrum hemp oil and full-spectrum hemp extract are derived from the whole plant, which means it can contain THC, CBD and other cannabinoids. Full-spectrum products have not received the "generally recognized as safe" designation from the FDA, but they are permitted food and beverage ingredients in South Carolina.

Can hemp seltzers get you high?

Hemp-infused seltzers that are advertised as containing THC, Delta- or CBD, are often made with full-spectrum hemp extract. This information can be gleaned by looking at a product's certi cate of analysis. Most companies keep this information on their website.

Consumption of products that contain full-spectrum oil or extract can produce a "high" or euphoric feeling, but it depends on the person and the product. Since the Delta-9 THC content is limited to less than .3 percent by weight, heavier products can contain higher amounts of THC.

Allison Justice, founder of the Cannabis Research Coalition, said it's important consumers know what they're buying because there are federally compliant products on the market that can produce a high. "Right now, we can formulate a product — whether it's a tincture or a drink — that is under .3 percent THC but it would still get you high," Justice said.



Emily Garcia is a business reporter in The Post and Courier's Greenville newsroom covering business developments across the Upstate. When she's not writing, she's reading a good book or trying out a new recipe.





Older Post Newer Post