Delta-8 THC Is a Controlled Substance in Washington D.C.

Delta-8 THC can’t be sold as hemp in Washington D.C. (but it is anyway).

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson is the senior editor at CBD Oracle, and has been covering science, vaping and cannabis for over 10 years. He has a MS in Theoretical Physics from Uppsala...

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Fact checked byNeil Willner

Fact checked by

Neil Willner

Neil M. Willner is an experienced cannabis attorney at Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld LLC and co-chair of the firm's Cannabis Group. He focuses his practice on the cannabis industry and...

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Delta-8 THC products sold at a Weed World store near Washington D.C.
Photo: CBD Oracle
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Washington D.C.’s marijuana law is a bit of a mess, and its hemp law is non-existent, so delta-8 THC isn’t really legal in the district.

D.C. legalized marijuana in 2015, but thanks to a political move from Congress, it was never able to set up a system of regulated sales and is left with a “gray market” built around “gifting” marijuana alongside a token “purchase” of something else.

With no law at all for hemp, the situation for delta-8 is less clear and even more confusing, with district law listing delta-8 THC as a controlled substance but stores selling it anyway. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Delta-8 THC is not legal to sell in Washington D.C., but it is sold anyway.

Washington D.C. doesn’t have a hemp law, and even CBD is technically “cannabis” in the district. Things are even more complicated because marijuana is legal to possess in the district but not to sell (after a rider made it impossible to set up regulated sales). This has led to a “gifting” economy, where stores “sell” other products with a free “gift” of marijuana, which is essentially unregulated, and a purposefully-permissive medical marijuana program where you can self certify if you’re over 21

With that all said, delta-8 THC is likely illegal in DC. It is listed by name in the district’s controlled substances list (section § 48–902.04(6)(A)(xxi)) and with no definition of “hemp” that could be exempted, it cannot be sold as hemp. In DC law (section § 48–901.02(3)), “cannabis” is either “marijuana” (leaves, stems, seeds and flowers) or “hashish” (cannabis resin and its compounds and derivatives), and it’s unclear where exactly delta-8 THC would fit (or if it would at all).

Deputy Attorney General Brian K. Flowers addressed this issue with regards to CBD and pointed out that it would likely depend on whether the CBD came from the flowers and leaves or the resin. Delta-8 THC could be classed in the same way as the CBD it is derived from, but it’s debatable whether the “isomerization” of the CBD would exclude it from the definition of cannabis altogether. This confusion contrasts with the clear listing of delta-8 as a controlled substance, which likely takes precedence. 

Overall, this means delta-8 THC is considered a controlled substance in the district. However, as with the approach to cannabis described above, there is little control of the market and delta-8 THC is still sold.

RELATED: Where Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A State-by-State Guide

Can You Buy Delta-8 THC Products in Washington D.C.? 

Despite D.C. law banning delta-8 THC, it is sold in the district anyway. Given the “gray market” aspects of the marijuana industry, it’s unclear if delta-8 THC is sold in marijuana “gifting” stores in DC. 

Are There Age Restrictions on Delta-8 THC Products? 

Delta-8 THC is not really legal in Washington D.C., so from a strictly legal perspective there are no age limits. However, with a gray market sales system for marijuana limited to adults aged 21 or over and a norm in the industry, stores generally only sell to adults aged 21 or over. However, this is not a legal requirement, with no regulations in place for either marijuana or hemp. 

Closing Thoughts: The Future for Delta-8 in Washington D.C. 

The future for delta-8 THC in Washington D.C. is tied up with the future of marijuana in the district. Possession of marijuana has been legal in D.C. since 2015, but there is still no system in place for legal sales. Lawmakers are attempting to bring the “gifting” stores into the permissive medical marijuana system to get control of the market, but it’s unclear how exactly this will play out. 

For delta-8 THC specifically, it’s likely that the current situation will continue for some time. The 2023 Farm Bill may make some relevant changes, but Washington D.C. doesn’t have a hemp law and likely won’t create one in the future either.