Kristina Etter   |   February 17, 2022

Dear Hemp: It’s Not About the Competition

No, the regulated marijuana industry is in no way threatened by the rise of Delta-8 THC. However, many are perplexed by it.
Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology and IoT in agriculture. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for cannabis as the Editorial Director for Cannabis Tech.

Here in the cannabis industry, we think it's cute that the hemp industry thinks we don’t like Delta-8 THC because it poses as competition for the legally regulated THC market.

Now, I don’t want to step out of turn and speak for the entire industry, but I think I can speak for a fairly large sector of the industry that has a much different perspective about Delta-8. One that’s more about honoring our heritage and protecting our consumers than it is about any competition.

Respect Your Roots

See, when our forefathers started this fight to legalize a plant, they did so because the chemical concoctions offered by the pharmaceutical industry were often doing more damage than good. People like Dennis Peron knew they could offer people a better way. Sure, people like to get high – but this was deeper than that – our industry was going to reshape perspectives on euphoria, enlightenment, and health.

After all, it was the pioneers of the cannabis industry that started the ball rolling in our favor. Compassionate care and patients' rights led the charge to end prohibition for us all… cannabis and hemp.

Now, we're helplessly watching as the hemp industry, one that we helped push to legality, turns to the dark side. The way we see it, you're no different than big pharma - producing man-made imitations to skirt the regulations only to capitalize on intoxication with little to no concern for consumer safety – and we’re ashamed.

Learn from Previous Mistakes

We see the hemp industry making the same mistakes our young industry made in the early days of legalization. No, we're not perfect, but we've evolved enough to know that in unregulated markets, people -- especially the greedy ones -- can and will bastardize anything in the name of the almighty dollar. And we had high hopes that you had learned from our errors.

Just as Spider-Man taught us, with great power comes great responsibility. There is great power nestled in this herb's leaves, flowers, and trichomes, and it demands our respect. Unfortunately, we’ve proven, self-regulation simply doesn’t work, because not everyone has the same level of integrity.

Ask the industry leaders who remember the days before pesticide testing was mandatory – but we’ve nearly eliminated Eagle 20 use in the legal market now. Ask Ricardo Baca about journalists uncovering pesticides, residual chemicals, and contaminants in concentrates in Colorado in 2015. Look up the effects of inhaling mold spores into your lungs. Look at the drama caused by illicit vape cartridges in 2019 – and then ask why we’re such a heavily regulated industry.

We must remember, the industry isn't just about edibles, tinctures, and lotions – the lungs are a delicate organ. They don't benefit from digestion, stomach acids, or liver filtration. No… everything you inhale into your lungs goes straight into your lungs.

We are a heavily regulated industry because we've learned that where there are ways to cut corners, someone will – there's simply more temptation and greed than integrity in this world. And, as much as we want to believe there is still some shred of humanity, another story comes along to remind us that profit always wins.

Sure, people smoked unregulated cannabis for decades. People are still smoking unregulated, untested cannabis today. But the use of chemical pesticides peaked in the early 80s and has remained at relatively high levels since then.

Image source: Pesticide Use in U.S.  Agriculture: 21 Selected Crops,  1960-2008

The overall levels of contaminants in our environment are at an all-time high - and we know that hemp absorbs contaminants from its environment. Introduce chemical reactions, unknown compounds, and questionable lab practices; it's a recipe for disaster.

So now let’s look at what the lab reports are telling us about these products:

  • Report: 100% of Delta-8 products tested by this lab were contaminated
  • Report: Thousands of Delta-8 THC Products Contaminated
  • Report: Concern over unstudied compounds in Delta-8

Numerous labs have been jumping up and down, waving their arms, and trying to get the attention of regulators because there are so many unknowns, so many contaminants, and so many hazards in these products they are concerned for consumers.

Banking on Unassuming Consumers

Many people don’t understand the potential health hazards – some simply don’t care. We only need to look at the rampant meth problem to realize there’s a demographic that doesn’t care what’s in a substance as long as it gets them high. However, many consumers are becoming more conscientious about what they put in their bodies.

And unfortunately, few Delta-8 producers want to educate their consumers about Delta-8 production – for this reason. They’ll lose customers. So, following the Purdue family model, they keep quiet, keep selling products, and keep collecting those paychecks. What happens 10 years from now when someone develops cancer from something they inhaled today? Will they be able to come back and prove it was that product? Doubtful, and shady producers are betting on it – especially while the market is hot.

Yes, there are producers who are taking the necessary precautions and safety standards. But until it’s easier for the consumer to discern the good from the bad, it’s like playing Russian Roulette.

The legality and availability in cannabis-starved non-legal states is the only thing driving the Delta-8 market. It’s not like we’re seeing hordes of consumers in legal states flocking to buy Delta-8 products. In fact, ask consumers why they buy Delta-8, and a large portion of them will reply – "Because I can." There’s also a large population of buyers who believe just because it's professionally packaged and for sale on a retail shelf, then it must meet some sort of quality standard.

We can agree the process has taken far too long, legislation is taking far too long, and yes, we are taxed far too steep in the legal marijuana industry. These are certainly areas that we need to work on, but we're not about to cut corners and bypass consumer safety in the pursuit of a buck.

No, the cannabis industry isn’t worried that consumers will suddenly favor chemically derived Delta-8 over the natural plant – it’s what our industry was founded on. And we aren’t jealous of your lack of regulations; we’re appalled by it.

No, we see you, and frankly, we're just trying to distance ourselves. Because when one of your poorly-made, untested, unregulated products causes someone to get seriously ill or worse… it will be a black eye for us all.

 

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