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)."
- First hemp vodka in Texas makes its way to Austin - austonia ›
- Travis County approves first Texas Hemp Harvest Festival - austonia ›
- Willie Nelson to host cannabis convention for 88th birthday - austonia ›
- As Texas makes Delta 8 illegal, some Austin sellers are filing lawsuits and still selling it - austonia ›
- Delta-8 retailers rejoice after temporary injunction - austonia ›
- Austin voters could officially decriminalize marijuana in May election - austonia ›
- Texas THC: What you can legally get in Austin this 4/20 - austonia ›
The Texas Senate Democratic Caucus is urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call an emergency special legislative session to consider a variety of gun restrictions and safety measures in the wake of a mass school shooting in Uvalde that left 19 children and two adults dead this week.
In a letter released Saturday morning, all 13 Senate Democrats demanded lawmakers pass legislation that raises the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 years old. The Uvalde gunman was 18 and had purchased two AR-style rifles which he used in the attack.
The caucus is also calling for universal background checks for all firearm sales, “red flag” laws that allow a judge to temporarily remove firearms from people who are considered an imminent threat to themselves or others, a “cooling off period” for the purchase of a firearm and regulations on high capacity magazines for citizens.
“Texas has suffered more mass shootings over the past decade than any other state. In Sutherland Springs, 26 people died. At Santa Fe High School outside Houston, 10 people died. In El Paso, 23 people died at a Walmart. Seven people died in Midland-Odessa,” the letter reads. “After each of these mass killings, you have held press conferences and roundtables promising things would change. After the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, those broken promises have never rung more hollow. The time to take real action is now.”
Such laws are unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has a track record of favoring legislation that loosens gun restrictions. Only the governor has the power to call lawmakers back into a special session for emergency work.
Asked about a special session at a Friday press conference in Uvalde, Abbott said “all options are on the table” adding that he believed laws would ultimately be passed to address this week’s horrors. However, he suggested laws would be more tailored toward addressing mental health, rather than gun control.
“You can expect robust discussion and my hope is laws are passed, that I will sign, addressing health care in this state,” he said, “That status quo is unacceptable. This crime is unacceptable. We’re not going to be here and do nothing about it.”
He resisted the idea of increasing the age to purchase a firearm, saying that since Texas became a state, 18-year-olds have been able to buy a gun.
He also dismissed universal background checks saying existing background check policies did not prevent the Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs shootings, which both happened while he has been in office.
“If everyone wants to seize upon a particular strategy and say that’s the golden strategy right there, look at what happened in the Santa Fe shooting,” he said. “A background check had no relevance because the shooter took the gun from his parents…Anyone who suggests we should focus on background checks as opposed to mental health, I suggest is mistaken.”
Since the massacre at Robb Elementary School, the governor’s comments about potential solutions have centered around increasing mental health services, rather than restricting access to firearms.
This story has been edited for length.
- Help for Uvalde: Aid for families after the school shooting - austonia ›
- Manor, Georgetown, Round Rock schools face threats following ... ›
- Uvalde Shooting - austonia ›
- PHOTOS: Community mourns Uvalde shooting victims in vigil at ... ›
- Beto O'Rourke confronts Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at Uvalde press ... ›
- 14 elementary school students, 1 teacher killed in Uvalde shooting ... ›
- Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey calls for action following ... ›
- Police charge 15 year old in 6th Street mass shooting - austonia ›
Designs for stations along Project Connect’s Blue Line were presented this week, giving a detailed look at what part of the rail system extending from downtown to the airport could look like.
The planned stations that have gotten the latest focus include Waterfront, Travis Heights and Lakeshore stations past Lady Bird Lake.
At the Waterfront station, the preliminary design aims to prevent visual obstructions and save on costs. This is accomplished by a transit guideway that will lower from the bridge to a level station.
Heading onto East Riverside Drive, the light rail faces a curve requiring a slow down to about 10 miles per hour.
The Travis Heights station could involve relocating a pedestrian crosswalk zone at Alameda Drive to Blunn Creek. Since light rails can't effectively operate on a steep grade, this allows the transit guideway to avoid that.
From there, the rail will extend to the Norwood Park area, and though it will reach along the right-of-way zone, the park will be able to remain open.
A view of the Blue Line by Lady Bird Lake. (Project Connect)
The line involves some coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation. That's because the department is working on an intersection that will have to be built before the phasing of the section of the Blue Line involving an I-35 crossing.
When it comes to the safety of cyclists and walkers, design ideas include a pedestrian hybrid beacon by East Bouldin Creek that would provide a protected signal to cross. And for the intersection TxDOT is carrying out, Project Connect is working with them on pedestrian access across the intersection. It could involve shared use paths along the street and crossings beneath it.
This summer, the public can expect 30% of design and cost estimates to be released. Though the project was $7.1 billion when voters approved it in November 2020, the latest estimates factoring in inflation and supply chain constraints show it could ultimately be upwards of $10 billion.
- Austin faces rocky road in hiking taxes for Project Connect - austonia ›
- City launches $65M in Project Connect anti-displacement plan ... ›
- CapMetro CEO switches to role in D.C. as Project Connect moves ... ›
- Project Connect doubles cost of Orange, Blue lines - austonia ›
- With Project Connect in the works, what place do EVs serve ... ›
- 5 ways Project Connect is moving forward in Austin - austonia ›
- Federal Transit Administration awards $750K for Project Connect ... ›
- Project Connect begins scoping phase, officially hitting the road ... ›
- Austonia answers: How feasible is the $7.1B Project Connect price ... ›
- The pros and cons of Austin's $7.1B transit plan Project Connect ›