The other delta variant: Delta 9 THC products gain popularity thanks to legal loophole

Products containing delta 9 THC are hitting store shelves thanks to a legal loophole that dictates how much high-inducing THC a product may contain without being subject to medical cannabis regulations.

"Loopholes are great," said Carlos Hermida, who runs the Chillum Glass Gallery and Hemp Dispensary in Ybor City.

He recently stocked his shelves with delta 9 products. Delta 9 contains the chemical in cannabis that gets the user high, so how are those products legal to sell outside of a medical marijuana dispensary?

"It is basically a math problem," Hermida said.

And here's how it adds up:

Delta 9 THC is derived from the hemp plant, not marijuana, which contains 0.3% or less of delta 9 THC on a dry weight basis.  

That complies with the 2018 federal Farm Bill, which set standards for how much THC can be in a product that is sold in a dispensary.

Delta 9 THC is infused into larger size gummies and other edibles, making it technically legal to sell. 

"People like Delta 9 THC. It is the component in cannabis that they're used to," Hermida said.

Luke Niforatos, the executive vice president for SAM, or Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said loopholes like this can be dangerous.

"Industries selling addictive drugs will stop at nothing to get their drugs out there with as little regulation as possible," he explained.

Niforatos' group opposes the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. 

"This is something lawmakers need to take a hard look at and if it is not against the law now they need to close that loophole because it is dangerous. These kids are going to get into these products, they don’t know what's in these products," Niforatos said. 

Nevertheless, expect products containing Delta 9 THC to start popping up on more store shelves.