You've probably heard of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active compound in cannabis, and CBD, the non-intoxicating relative of THC, but there's a new psychoactive chemical compound in town: Delta 8.
Delta 8 is the legal "little brother" which exhibits lower psychotropic potency than the commonly known THC, Delta 9. Most smoke shops and gas stations in the Austin area have been carrying the revolutionary new product for anywhere from six months to a year, to immense success.
Green Herbal Care owner Oz Millman said his store originally started out selling just CBD but adding Delta 8 to the shelves earlier this year has changed the direction of the business.
"When we started selling Delta 8, immediately after like two or three months, the majority of the sales became Delta 8—like 90%," Millman said. "CBD is way less popular than before, I guess more people like to get high."
How is it legal?
When the 2018 Farm Bill passed through Congress, it legalized all parts of the hemp plant and its hundreds of compounds for the creation of products under 0.3% THC. Products sold with more than 0.3% Delta 9 or the much less common Delta 10 are still prohibited.
Delta 8 occurs naturally in hemp in very small amounts, around 1%, and is extracted from the plant. Delta 8 is usually extracted and converted through a chemical process from CBD since it is so scarce. "It's the same in nature but in a bigger amount, so it's not something synthetic," Millman said. "You get a lot of the health benefits of CBD."
After two years of legality, you can find Delta 8 in most smoke shops, gas stations and sometimes even grocery stores. It is sold in a wide variety of forms: pre-rolls, flower (pieces of the plant itself), gummies, vapes, candy, capsules and tinctures.
What makes Delta 8 popular?
Green Herbal Care, 5601 Brodie Lane, sells an array of Delta 8 and CBD products. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
In part, because it's a legal way to get high, Millman said, but Delta 8 also has antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and has neuroprotective properties according to the Mayo Clinic and dispensary Delta 8 Austin. The "high" users get from Delta 8 often results in less paranoia and you can get it in the same forms as Delta 9 THC.
"A lot of people prefer it because they don't get the bad side effects of Delta 9," Millman said. "The great thing about it is it's completely legal and people can order it online."
After hearing about Delta 8 from a friend, 23-year-old Logan Wolfgang said she prefers smoking it to THC because it gives her a baseline calm and doesn't set off her schizophrenia.
"Delta 8 is just so much easier to access and it's cheap and legal," Wolfgang said. "I'm less worried about getting caught with it."
Self-proclaimed "pothead" Rich M., a local bar manager who asked his last name not be used because of the stigma around marijuana, has been smoking weed for around 20 years and has tried Delta 8 a few times. Lately, he said he's been drinking sodas that contain Delta 8 mixed with pre-workout, which he says help him focus on menial tasks. Rich says he has a lot of friends who enjoy Delta 8 but he hasn't been fully converted.
"All my friends are potheads but I think I'm the only one that still reliably uses my THC vape," Rich said. "The problem with Delta 8 is the sodas have been anywhere from like 'I barely feel it,' to like 'I am high for like hours.'"
What are the risks?
Rich and Millman see one main problem with Delta 8 that could potentially be solved by full legalization: lack of regulation.
Transparency is a problem, according to Millman, who said, unfortunately, it falls on the customer to be careful who to source Delta 8 from. Some products could be contaminated or contain heavy metals and on top of that, there is no age restriction to buy it, though Millman chooses to sell it only to people 21 and older.
Both parties are hoping for legalization, which they say would ideally make it safer to buy, consume and use reliably. Rich isn't too worried about it being bad for him, though he said he doesn't like the uncertainty. For now, he said he's going to stick to what he knows and take a break from Delta 8.
"I'm all for legal legalization, or decriminalization of everything—I think that it's crazy that it's not here," Rich said. "Having it legalized and regulated is like a good thing but they're not going to touch this with a 10-foot pole unless they just make it illegal, so it's just going to continue to exist in this limbo."
Wolfgang says she did her research and hopes for legalization, but as far as she's concerned, it's better than smoking cigarettes or regular flower.
"I would quicker smoke Delta 8 more than I would smoke spice," Wolfgang said. "The ease of access, how it seems better than synthetic weed and things like that. I think that it'll probably stick around for a bit, especially while it keeps being legal and typical weed (isn't)."
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The Food and Drug Administration will consider Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine application for emergency use authorization in 5-to-11-year-olds on Tuesday. The vaccine will likely be available to kids starting next week.
With 2.9 million Texas children in this age group, state health officials say this is a "big factor" in reducing the virality of COVID. At a Monday press conference, the Texas Department of State Health Services released info on the rollout efforts of the vaccine for children.
Here are some of the answers to your questions.
When and where will it be available?St. David's Healthcare staff unpack the first few shipments of its initial supply of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.(St. David's Healthcare)
Assuming the FDA approves this version of the Pfizer vaccine this week, vaccines will start shipping out almost immediately with the first vaccines for children likely available next week.
DSHS has already put in an order of vaccines under the federal government's "pre-order prior to launch" program.
COVID vaccine providers will begin receiving those first shipments 1-5 days after the approval. After Monday night, DSHS will have put in three different orders for vaccines. The second shipment will arrive 3-7 days after approval and the third shipment will take place 5-9 days after the approval.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 to discuss best practices for administration, allowing for the first shots to be administered after.
The state will be allocated 1.3 million doses across 814 providers in 120 counties. Individual county allocations have not been released but each county got to send a request for how many doses they may need. Federal retail pharmacies, such as H-E-B and Walgreens, are getting their own shipments.
The health department advises using its vaccine finder tool to find the nearest vaccine provider near you.
How is this version of the vaccine different than the first one?Abbott says COVID vaccine to be available to other groups by end of March
The COVID vaccine for 5-11-year-olds is one-third of the dosage of the current vaccine available to those 12 years of age and older.
It is being identified as the orange cap vaccine, unlike the current purple cap. The purple cap vaccine cannot be administered to younger kids, according to the state health department.
And like the current vaccine, it is 95% effective. The first and second doses are the same and will be advised to be taken 21 days apart.
What are the side effects for children?
During clinical trials, it was reported that some kids in this age group felt pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches.
The data submitted to the FDA shows no serious complications, such as cases of myocarditis inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis, inflammation of the outer lining of the heart—rare complications that have been reported among young boys and men receiving the vaccine in other trials.
How will this affect herd immunity?
With so many children across the state, DSHS said "we need to have as many people vaccinated as possible."
State health officials said the herd immunity threshold is still being looked into, but with 3 million children soon to be able to get the vaccine, it will be a big factor in reducing the viral load in the state.
"Until we're able to add all the children, we'll see a bigger wave in stamping down the pandemic," DSHS' Imelda Garcia said during the conference.
Of those 12 and older, 72% are fully vaccinated in Travis County as of Monday.
I'm not sure if my child needs this vaccine. Why should I have them get it?
DSHS says this vaccine is important for young kids because it will protect the older population and others around them as well as themselves. The department says to ask experts and doctors questions if you are hesitant so you can be confident with your decision.
Tesla is officially in with the big guns.
After Hertz Global Holdings Inc. placed an order of 100,000 Teslas—the biggest single electric car purchase ever—Tesla officially hit the $1 trillion market cap for the first time.
The trillion-dollar club has some big names, including Apple, Facebook and Amazon. With the purchase, Tesla's stock shot up to more than $1,045 a share by midday Monday, a new record after topping $900 a share just a day earlier.
The $4.2 billion deal is the biggest purchase of electric vehicles to date. Hertz said it will use the Teslas to round out their fleet of electric rental cars by 2022 just months after filing for bankruptcy protection.
The news came just days after Tesla followed its leader, CEO Elon Musk, and relocated its headquarters to Austin. Austin's Giga Texas plant, which is currently finishing construction, is set to begin producing Cybertruck models at the end of 2022 and will begin "volume production" by 2023, Musk said in the meeting.
Musk celebrated the stock market victory on Twitter.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 25, 2021
Shortly after moving to Austin, Tesla saw its best quarter yet with Q3 revenue coming in at $13.76 billion—up from $8.77 billion this time last year. It was the electric car companies' ninth straight profitable quarter.
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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
While Northwest Arkansas isn't exactly looking to be a breakfast taco-loving, live music-having tech hub, it is branding itself as the Austin of yesteryear. And who better to come to the quickly-growing paradise than Austinites themselves?
OZ Brands is the latest NW Arkansas organization to entice Austin residents to pack up and make the move. The company, which is named after the area's Ozark Mountains, promotes travel, trails and art within the region and is owned by Runway, a NW Arkansas business investment group. Runway is headed by Walmart founder Sam Walton's grandsons, Steuart and Tom Walton.
Oz is targeting Austinites with the "One Way Out" giveaway, a program that will give at least 10 Austinites a one-way Allegiant ticket from Austin to the Northwest Arkansas National Airport.
"Fall is the perfect time to visit and explore the natural beauty of the Ozarks," the program's website reads. "Why just one way, because once you're here, you won't want to leave!"
Why swap cosmopolitan Austin for NW Arkansas' forest-filled hideaway? Just like other local programs including the Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce and the NW Arkansas Council, OZ Brands is looking to capitalize on priced-out Austinites who may not be pleased with the region's unprecedented growth.
"It's okay, Austin, we get it. You're tired of the tourists, the traffic, the hassle," the website says, escalating to an all-caps message reading, "YOU NEED A BREAK, AND WE ARE HERE TO GIVE IT TO YOU."
OZ is far from the first program to offer financial incentives to move to the area. Ads for Greater Bentonville began cropping up on the feeds of Austinites weeks ago as they promoted their annual tech summit, while the NW Arkansas Council rolled out similar ads. Instead of "Austin City Limits," the organizations promised "Bentonville City Limitless." If you "wish you'd bought in Austin 10 years ago," the Council promises that the area is perfect for you.
The Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce and NW Arkansas Council have both made moves to bring Austinites to the region. (Greater Bentonville)
Like similar programs in the past, One Way Out "is an opportunity for Austinites who no longer feel at home in their own city to see for themselves the value and qualities of Northwest Arkansas ... It's for those living in the Texas city who feel the growing pains of Austin expanding beyond its limits," the company said in a press release.
The region has recently experienced substantial growth, moving to fourth on the U.S. News and World Report's list of 150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2021-2022 and enjoying an influx of businesses, tech workers and startups tired of the West Coast's crowds and priciness. And with a great arts and culture scene, a lower cost of living and even a financial incentive to move to the area, talents like film producer Kristin Mann decided it was time to swap Austin for sunnier skies in Arkansas.
"I love (Austin) how it is now, don't get me wrong, but I've always fantasized about what it might have been like before it really exploded," Mann said. "And I feel like that's similar here...There's something really unique about this town, and it feels like there's something really exciting happening here."
The contest ends Oct. 29 and is open to anyone 18 and older that lives within 50 miles of Austin. Winners must book their trip within four months of the competition and finish the trip by May 1, 2022.
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