Smoke shops have found the loophole to sell teens legal weed. Here’s how.

A quirk of Federal legislating has opened the doors for smoke shops to sell a form of cannabis – though not the conventional type – to kids.

A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that 11 percent of 12th graders have used delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, known as delta-8, which is legal for all ages in some areas.

Delta-8 comes from hemp found in cannabis plants, and its effects are still being studied.


The big picture: Delta-8 likely has similar effects to delta-9 THC, the primary THC component that makes people feel “high” from marijuana. The popularity of delta-8 among teens is attributed to its accessibility as there is no federal minimum age requirement for purchase, and it can be ordered online or obtained from gas stations.

  • The legality of delta-8 for teens may have slipped under the radar due to the focus on regulating delta-9 THC, and it became legal through the Farm Bill that legalized manufacturing of hemp forms of the cannabis plant.
  • Further research and studies on delta-8’s rate of use and effects are deemed important for future understanding and policy-making in the cannabis market.

What they’re saying: “Delta-8 is chemically synthesized, and what has been happening recently is that companies have been synthesizing delta-8 THC and putting it in a number of different types of consumable products like gummies and in vapes,” said Adam Leventhal, the author of the study.

  • “Eleven percent is a lot of people — that’s at least one or two students in every average-sized high school class who may be using delta-8. We don’t know enough about these drugs, but we see that they are already extremely accessible to teens,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
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