Public Notice: Are You a Felon?

Delta-8 products are now considered Schedule 1 narcotics; plus: boards and commissions evicted from City Hall


DO NOT BUY! As of Friday afternoon, it's now a felony offense to possess these products! (Art by Zeke Barbaro)

In a very quiet move last Friday, the Texas Department of State Health Services posted an update on their Consumable Hemp Program page redefining popular and heretofore legal Delta-8 THC products ("all other forms of THC, including Delta-8 in any concentration and Delta-9 exceeding 0.3%") as Schedule 1 controlled substances – possession of which is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. So, yeah, those tasty Maple Brown Sugar tinctures that we had marketed online under the "Chronic" brand until yesterday – hope it all got shipped out, because it's now a felony to be in possession of it.

Briefly, Delta-8 is one of a class of products – including chemical variants of the Delta-9 THC found in marijuana – that was effectively made legal by the federal 2018 Farm Bill and has flourished since, especially in states like Texas where regular old pot remains illegal. And as federal drug agencies have chosen not to step into the role of regulating these products, at least 14 states have gone ahead and banned them, in apparent violation of that Farm Bill. (For a fun read on this, see "How Mitch McCon­nell Accidentally Created an Unregu­lated THC Market," published this week on fivethirtyeight.com.) And now Texas has joined in, making felons out of untold thousands of citizens – "despite two bills with language banning the sale of D-8 failing to pass in the most recent Texas legislative session, despite the 2018 Hemp bill declaring that all hemp and hemp derived cannabinol products are legal, despite the objections of many Texans, and despite their lack of authority to make decisions like that and enforce them," wrote Carlos Elizondo, one of the founders of local CBD startup Heem, in a plaint to us this morning.

Meanwhile, enjoy the Texas Hemp Harvest Fest this Saturday (see Jessi Cape's story); this turn of events should make for some interesting discussions there.

ZAP: Don't Kick Us Out of City Hall

On Tuesday night, the city's Zoning and Platting Commission approved a resolution pushing back on a recently released plan to move its public meetings – along with those of 14 other city boards and commissions – out of City Hall and into the new Permitting and Development Center at Highland. A move had been rumored, but commissioners only received official notice via a memo emailed shortly before their Tuesday meeting.

The ZAP reso outlined a number of reasons to stay put, most notably reduced public access and security concerns at the PDC. Seven high-frequency bus routes currently serve City Hall, including both MetroRapid lines, while the PDC is served by just two high-frequency routes and the MetroRail Red Line, making it more difficult for those who rely on public transit to attend meetings. In addition, transit stops at Highland are significantly more distant from the PDC than those at City Hall, forcing commissioners and the public to traverse dark parking lots after late-night meetings in an area far less populated than Downtown. Nor is the massive Highland parking garage noticeably secured, as is its City Hall counterpart.

Commissioners also cited the lack of metal detectors at the PDC, a definite cause for unease as public discourse becomes increasingly fraught (thank you, Mr. Zucker­berg). But reduced public access was the chief concern voiced by ZAP, which approved the resolution with one abstention.

City management's stated reason for the move is to create a one-stop shop with all land development services under one roof. But as the reso points out, ZAP's support staff doesn't work at the PDC, so operationally it makes little sense to move them. While the memo all but had "done deal" stamped on it, the earliest moving date isn't until February, so there are still a few months to bat this thing around. Stay tuned.

Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors, and other useful grist to nbarbaro at austinchronicle.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Public Notice, Delta-8 THC, Texas Department of State Health Services, Consumable Hemp Program, cannabis, marijuana, Austin Zoning and Platting Commission, City Hall, Texas Hemp Fest

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