Delta-8 THC is a federally legal way to get high. But now, Virginia’s attorney general is cracking down on Delta-8 THC sales citing health concerns for children. That leaves some of the state’s hemp businesses looking to move out and some are taking their jobs with them.
Some residents of Hillsville, in Carroll County, Virginia, call the town “land wealthy, but limited in income.” Travis Wagoner, who grew up there, hoped to turn things around. He began growing one of the oldest crops known: hemp. He opened a shop specializing in hemp products, Virginia Cultivars.
“We went from having 17 employees working 50 hours a week to less than 10 employees working 30 hours a week,” said Wagoner.
An acre of hemp, nestled in the hill country is where Virginia Cultivars’ products start. Hemp is known for its extremely low levels of THC, a compound that produces a high. Wagoner chemically alters the hemp to create a new form of THC known as Delta-8, which is stronger and legal under the 2018 Federal Farm Bill.
The Delta-8 is infused into products, such as edibles, intended for adults. But now, it’s made its way into copycat items, from unknown manufacturers, that look like popularly branded candies and snacks.
Hemp farmers across Tennessee are having to destroy their hemp crop that tested over the new federal THC limit.
The USDA made a ruling in 2021 that all hemp must have a total THC level of 0.3%. Before that decision, hemp farmers needed to keep the levels of Delta-9 THC below 0.3%. The new rules apply to numerous other compounds in the plant.
According to the Department of Agriculture, 42% of crops are being found non-compliant with the requirement.
About half the crop at Nashland Farms, a Middle Tennessee hemp operation, was found to be over the limit. The farm grows hemp for its CBD.
Seth Fuller, co-owner of Nashland Farms, said it means many thousands of dollars lost.
Is there anything hemp can’t do? A year after hemp became legal to grow in the United States, we’ve seen its power to make better clothing, better buildings and better medicine.
Now, there’s something else hemp appears to be better at – making batteries.
Most auto batteries today are made from lithium-ion, an expensive, quickly disappearing material.
A team of American and Canadian researchers have developed a battery that could be used in cars and power tools using hemp bast fiber – the inner bark of the plant that usually ends up in landfill.
They “cooked” the woody pulp and processed them into carbon nanosheets, which they used to build supercapacitors “on a par with or better than graphene” – the industry gold standard.
Graphene is a synthetic carbon material lighter than foil yet bulletproof, but it is prohibitively expensive to make.
“People ask me: why hemp? I say, why not?” inventor David Mitlin tells the BBC.
“We’re making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price – and we’re doing it with waste.”
Mitlin, a professor of chemical engineering at Clarkson University in New York, first published a description of his team’s battery in the journal ACS Nano in 2014.