Why Is Delta-8 THC Illegal in Colorado?

Colorado state lawmakers recently banned hemp-derived delta-8 THC amid growing concerns over its safety.

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Ali Mans Cornwell

My educational background is a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in English & Creative Writing. I have been writing about CBD and cannabis since 2018. Aside from my work at...

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Colorado state lawmakers recently declared delta-8 synthetically derived and categorized it as a controlled substance under state law, citing safety concerns. This means the purchase, use, possession, sale, distribution, and production of delta-8 THC products is prohibited across the state. Colorado now joins 18 other US states banning, restricting, or regulating delta-8. 

However, natural levels of delta-8 THC present in hemp and marijuana are permitted in Colorado since no chemical synthesis converting it from CBD or delta-9 takes place.


  • Under state law, the use, possession, sale, and distribution of hemp delta-8 THC is illegal in Colorado
  • You cannot purchase hemp delta-8 online or in physical retail stores, however, marijuana-derived delta-8 remains legal
  • Delta-10 THC is also illegal in Colorado

Legislation regarding delta-8 THC ban in Colorado

Hemp-derived delta-8 THC hasn’t always been prohibited in the state of Colorado. The passing of Senate Bill 19-220 (SB. 19-220) in 2019 legalized hemp and all hemp-derived compounds in line with the federal Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill). Legalized hemp compounds included delta-8 and delta-10 THC. 

However, in May 2021, Colorado’s Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) and the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) issued a notice stating that “chemically modifying or converting any naturally occurring cannabinoids from industrial hemp is non-compliant with the statutory definition of ‘industrial hemp product’”. 

Legal notice from Colorado authorities about ban of delta-8 THC

Since hemp-derived delta-8 THC is chemically synthesized from CBD isolate, Colorado considers it a controlled substance under Colorado state law, as outlined in Senate Bill 14-184 and Title 18 Criminal Code, Article 18 (Uniform Controlled Substances Act 2013). This is in direct conflict with the 2018 Farm Bill. 

The notice also says insufficient evidence exists to determine whether or not the chemical synthesis of CBD to delta-8 produces toxic or harmful byproducts. As a result, delta-8 and other THC isomers are not allowed in food, dietary supplements, or cosmetics.

Federal pressure, the DEA, and delta-8 THC

The federal government and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) took notice of delta-8 in 2020. The DEA issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) attempting to verify delta-8’s legality across the US, questioning whether it should be listed as a synthetic controlled substance on the federal level. 

As a result, several U.S. states have preemptively restricted or prohibited delta-8

What are the penalties for delta-8 possession in Colorado?

Possession of delta-8, delta-10, or any other Schedule I or Schedule II substances in small quantities was defelonized in March 2020 after the passing of Colorado House Bill 19-1263

If caught with 3 ounces or less of delta-8 or delta-10 in Colorado, it’s classed as a level 2 drug misdemeanor typically punishable by probation, treatment, or community service. An arrest will likely not occur if the quantity is below 3 ounces, but you might still get a warning or a small fine. 

Is marijuana legalized in Colorado?

Yes. Medical and recreational marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado. 

Marijuana flower with Colorado landscape background

Medical marijuana was legalized with restrictions in 2000 after Amendment 20 (Medical Use of Marijuana Act) was passed and added to Colorado’s constitution. This act allowed patients possession of no more than two ounces of medical marijuana for medical conditions such as cancer, seizures, severe pain, and glaucoma. 

Recreational marijuana was legalized with limitations for adults over the age of 21 following the enactment of Colorado Amendment 64 in 2012. 

Is delta-8 THC derived from marijuana legal in Colorado?

Yes. Delta-8 THC derived from marijuana is legal in Colorado, provided it’s sourced naturally and not synthesized from CBD. 

Related: Delta-9 vs. Delta-8 THC: What’s the Difference?

Buying delta-8 THC in Colorado is banned

Delta-8 THC tincture product

You cannot purchase any hemp-derived delta-8 THC products in the state of Colorado. No online delta-8 vendors or in-store CBD dispensaries, head shops, or vape stores are permitted to stock or sell delta-8 in any form. 

Can you travel to Colorado with delta-8 THC

We recommend not traveling into Colorado with delta-8 products in your possession. If stopped and searched by state border patrol or law enforcement officers, you could be fined for carrying delta-8 THC (depending on the quantity). 

Is delta-10 THC legal in Colorado? 

No. Like delta-8, delta-10 THC is illegal in Colorado. This means you cannot purchase, use, possess, sell, distribute, import, or manufacture delta-10 THC products within the state.

Why is delta-10 THC illegal in Colorado?

Delta-10 is illegal in Colorado for the same reason delta-8 is. State regulators view delta-10 as a synthetic compound since it’s converted from crude CBD isolate via a structural isomerization process using biochemicals. 

Is CBD legal in Colorado? 

Yes. Hemp-derived CBD is legal in Colorado under state and federal law. You can purchase, use, possess, sell, distribute, and produce hemp-derived CBD products within the state. For CBD to be legal under federal law, it must be derived from Farm Bill compliant hemp plants carrying no more than 0.3% THC. 

However, if the hemp plants carry above 0.3% THC, they’re automatically categorized as marijuana, which is legal in Colorado under state law but not federal law. This means you can purchase, use, and possess marijuana-derived CBD products freely without prosecution.

Upcoming legislation in CO that could change delta-8’s legality 

Unfortunately, there’s currently no upcoming legislation that could change delta-8 or delta-10’s legal status in Colorado. For now, delta-8 and delta-10 remain illegal across the state despite uproar from the hemp community. 

The future for delta-8 THC in Colorado 

For now, delta-8 THC is banned in Colorado and we can’t see that changing anytime soon, especially with the federal government and DEA closing in and attempting to federally ban delta-8 across all 50 US states. 

If you want to get your delta-8 THC fix, we suggest traveling to delta-8 friendly states such as Wyoming, New Mexico, or Kansas.

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