Is Delta 8 THC Legal in California?

Unclear - If Delta 8 THC is Legal in California

The legality of Delta-8 THC in California is nuanced and has evolved over time. According to the most current information, Delta-8 THC, a cannabinoid derived from hemp, is in a somewhat complex legal situation within the state.

Assembly Bill (AB) 45, which came into effect in California, has had significant implications for the legality of hemp-derived substances, including Delta-8 THC. The bill redefines THC to include Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 THC, suggesting a regulatory approach that aligns with that of delta-9 THC (the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis). This redefinition indicates an intent to regulate Delta-8 THC similarly to recreational cannabis, meaning it might only be legally available from licensed dispensaries. The law stipulates that hemp products can only be sold if they contain no more than 0.3% of any form of THC, effectively placing restrictions on hemp-derived Delta-8 THC products​.

However, there's a contrasting perspective that suggests Delta-8 THC, when derived from legal hemp, is legal in California. This viewpoint is based on the state's legislation, which has clarified that hemp products are an exception to the Controlled Substances list, indicating that Delta-8 THC products, if made from legal hemp by a licensed grower, are presumed to be legal. This perspective emphasizes the importance of ensuring that Delta-8 products are derived from hemp with a THC concentration of no more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, as defined by the California Industrial Hemp Law Division​.

It's essential to note that while there is an argument for the legality of Delta-8 THC derived from legal hemp, the state's regulatory framework may still impose limitations on the sale and distribution of such products. Consumers and retailers need to be aware of the evolving legal landscape and ensure compliance with state laws and regulations.

Given the conflicting interpretations, it's advisable for individuals interested in purchasing or selling Delta-8 THC products in California to proceed with caution and stay informed about the latest state regulations and legal interpretations.

Legal Status of Delta 8 THC in California

The legal status of Delta-8 THC in California is influenced by a combination of federal and state laws, notably the 2018 Farm Bill at the federal level and California's Assembly Bill (AB) 45 at the state level.

Federal Perspective: 2018 Farm Bill

  • 2018 Farm Bill: Federally, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived products, defining legal hemp as cannabis with a delta-9 THC concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. This legislation doesn't explicitly mention Delta-8 THC, which has led to its federal legality due to it being derived from hemp, provided the delta-9 THC threshold is not exceeded.

State Perspective: California's AB 45

  • AB 45 (California Assembly Bill 45): This bill, which went into effect in California, aimed to regulate hemp-derived products within the state. Key provisions from AB 45 relevant to the discussion include:
    • The redefinition of THC to encompass all isomers, including Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 THC, indicating an intent to regulate all forms of THC under a similar framework.
    • The requirement that hemp products must not contain more than 0.3% of any THC form to be legally sold in the state. This regulation effectively places restrictions on the sale of hemp-derived Delta-8 THC products unless they meet this THC concentration threshold​.

Legal Interpretations and Actions

The interpretation of these laws suggests a dual perspective on the legality of Delta-8 THC in California:

  • On one hand, the state's redefinition of THC to include Delta-8 and other isomers, along with restrictions on THC content, implies a regulatory approach that could limit Delta-8 THC sales to licensed dispensaries.
  • On the other hand, specific clarifications in California's legislation, notably the exemption of hemp products from the Controlled Substances list, suggest that Delta-8 THC derived from legal hemp could be considered legal, provided it is made from legal hemp by a licensed grower and meets the THC concentration limits​.

Current Practical Considerations

The practical application of these laws has led to a situation where:

  • Delta-8 THC products might still be found in some retail locations (such as smoke shops) within California, despite the legal ambiguity and potential restrictions on their sale and distribution.
  • Consumers and retailers are advised to ensure that any Delta-8 THC products comply with both federal and state regulations, specifically concerning their derivation from hemp and THC content.


Given the evolving legal landscape and potential for varied interpretation of these laws, stakeholders (consumers, retailers, manufacturers) in the Delta-8 THC market in California should remain vigilant. They should ensure compliance with the latest regulations and legal interpretations to navigate this complex area effectively. For those involved in the sale or consumption of Delta-8 THC products, staying informed about updates to state legislation and regulatory guidance is crucial to ensure legal compliance.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice or any statements regarding the status of any laws. The information, content, and materials present on this site are for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any specific purpose. Laws vary across different states and are subject to change. Therefore, information on this website might not reflect the most recent legal or other developments. Read our full legal disclaimer HERE.