Why Is Delta 8 Illegal In Colorado?

Shefali Sinha
Why Is Delta 8 Illegal In Colorado

Delta 8’s popularity is increasing, and with that, the legal chaos regarding the compound is also escalating. Recently, Colorado state lawmakers have classified Delta 8 as a controlled substance.

After this declaration, the state has joined the 18 other states that have banned this compound. Since Delta 8 is now illegal in Colorado, there is a restriction on its production, sale, distribution, purchase, and possession.

Colorado’s lawmakers passed a bill in May 2022 that limited the sales of the delta-8 products. Besides that, they also created a task force that has to research more about the harmful effects of the compound.

What Is Delta-8?

Delta-8 THC, also known as delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a minor cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is chemically similar to the more well-known delta-9 THC, which is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. The main difference between delta-8 and delta-9 THC is the placement of a double bond in their chemical structures.

Delta-8 THC has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential effects, which are reported to be less potent than delta-9 THC. Users describe delta-8 THC as providing a milder psychoactive experience, with less anxiety and paranoia compared to delta-9 THC. It may also offer a more clear-headed and focused high, making it appealing to some individuals.

Colorado still permits the use of hemp-derived plant cannabis sativa products that contain natural levels of delta-8 THC. So, delta-8 THC products are currently banned in Colorado because they contain unidentifiable byproducts. These byproducts are present in the products due to chemical conversion. The following laws are the main reasons for the illegality of Delta 8 in Colorado:

Colorado State Law Regarding Prohibition Of Delta-8

After the introduction of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp products and hemp-derived products were legalized, which includes Delta-8 THC flower buds, vapes, and many more. Colorado passed the senate bill 19-220 (S.B. 19-220), after the Federal Agricultural Movement Act, which legalized hemp compounds there. 


However, later the CDPHE along with the collaboration of the State’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) proposed an act. They declared that cannabinoids that contain substances with chemical modification do not come under the category of industrial hemp products.


Colorado has another act named the Uniform Controlled Substances Act 2013, which prohibits uncontrolled substances. According to Colorado Senate Bill 14-184 and Title Criminal Code, delta-8 THC is chemically derived from hemp. Thus it is against the 2018 Farm Bill.


The Colorado Health Department and MED issued another notice and stated that insufficient evidence exists. There was no evidence to determine if delta-8 THC substances contained toxic compounds after the chemical modification of CBD. 


These techniques to convert naturally occurring cannabinoids from industrial hemp plants are not in compliance with the statutory definition of industrial hemp products. Since there is a lack of studies, delta-8 THC and other chemically synthesized THC isomers are not safe to use. Thus, they shouldn’t be allowed in food, cosmetics, and dietary supplements.

DEA Rules Regarding Delta-8 In Colorado

The most confusing thing about delta-8 THC is that it isn’t federally illegal. However, it is legal to use any hemp or hemp-derived THC isomers or product that contains less than 0.3% THC. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Federal Government issued an IFR (Interim Final Rule) regarding this in 2020.

According to the DEA, delta-8 is a controlled substance if it is created from hemp-derived CBD and not taken naturally from plants. The IFR also states that all naturally occurring cannabinoids or THCs are not controlled substances. In fact, synthetically derived THCs come under the category of controlled substances, hence the ban on these synthetic substances.

Federal Law which Gets Superseded by State Law

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, made a significant exception for hemp. It defined hemp as cannabis containing less than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight. The Farm Bill legalized the cultivation, production, and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products, including CBD, at the federal level.

However, it’s important to note that individual states have the authority to impose additional restrictions or regulations on hemp and its derivatives. Despite federal prohibition, individual states have the authority to enact their own laws regarding cannabis.
Since Colorado state law has decided to ban the use of Delta 8 in any form and state laws can overpower federal laws, therefore, delta 9 is banned in Colorado.

Are There Any Penalties For Possessing Delta-8 In Colorado?

If you have 3 ounces or less of delta-8 THC in Colorado, you are punishable as it is a level 2 drug misdemeanor. However, you won’t be arrested, but you’ll get a fine or receive a warning. There might be serious actions against you if you possess delta-8 THC of more than 3 ounces.

To possess delta 8 THC of more than 3 ounces is considered a level 1 drug misdemeanor. If someone is convicted of a level 1 drug misdemeanor, they will be punished by a sentence of 180 days in jail or 2 years probation. The Colorado House Bill 19-1263 describes the offense level for the possession of a controlled substance.

Is Marijuana And Delta-8 THC Derived From Marijuana Legal In Colorado?

Medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado. According to the Amendment 20 (Medical Use of Marijuana Act) bill, these substances are legal in Colorado.

The state passed this bill in 2000, and since then, patients can use medical marijuana for treating seizures, cancer, chronic pains, and glaucoma. However, the amount of marijuana concentrate should be equal to or less than 2 ounces. 


Two years later, recreational marijuana products including THC gummies, and cartridges were also legalized but prohibited for people under 21. The Colorado Amendment 64 Act states the use of recreational marijuana. 

Besides that, delta-8 THC derived from marijuana is legal. However, only those products are legal that are naturally sourced and not chemically modifying forms of CBD.

Buying And Traveling With Delta-8 THC In Colorado

Buying delta-8 products is illegal in Colorado. Plus, no one can sell delta-8 online or at shops, dispensaries, pharmacies, or stores even if they are dietary supplements. Apart from that, it is better not to travel with delta-8 THC products in Colorado because if you’ve checked the way, you’ll have to face the penalty 1.

Is CBD Legal In Colorado?

Yes, according to federal and state law, CBD is legal in Colorado (Farm Bill 2018). However, for CBD to be legal, it should contain less than 0.3% THC and should be derived from federally compliant hemp plants.

If the hemp extracts have more than 0.3% THC, they are not hemp anymore and are called marijuana. Marijuana is legal in a few states but is not legal according to federal law.

What Is The Future Of Delta 8 THC In Colorado?

Currently, delta-8 and delta-10 THC are illegal in Colorado, and there is no upcoming legislation that could lift the ban. Since this is a recent bill that declares delta-8 THC illegal in Colorado, we don’t see any notable legislative changes regarding it soon. 

Not only this, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and federal government are making attempts to declare Delta-8 THC illegal in all the states across the U.S. at a federal level.

However, if you want to know more about
how much weed can you fly with? You can refer to this article and find out the insights of traveling with such substances.

If right now you want to buy, sell, keep, or use delta-8 THC, we suggest that you first travel to any other state that has this compound legal. For instance, you can move to New Mexico, Kansas, or Wyoming, where delta-8 THC is still legal.

Delta-8 THC derived from hemp is also legal by federal law in South Carolina so you can consider buying it from any South Carolina hemp manufacturer. However, make sure you don’t travel with it to any state that bans delta-8. 

Conclusion: Why Is Delta-8 Illegal In Colorado?

Delta-8 THC is illegal in Colorado, and other states are also in line to ban this intoxicating cannabinoid.

This compound is illegal in Colorado because it is chemically synthesized from CBD, which results in the addition of toxic or harmful substances in the final delta-8 THC products.


Deriving delta-8 THC from CBD is the main issue as it is a chemical process that is harmful and illegal according to the DEA. This can prove to be a low for the hemp industries association and CBD industry as buying and selling delta-8 THC is illegal across the state.

However, naturally sourced delta 8 THC or the one extracted directly from the hemp plant (not hemp-derived CBD) is still federally legal. 

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