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In the News: Nevada Delta-8 Updates & DEA Raid Rumors

Did the DEA actually raid the CHAMPS trade show? Plus, the ever-changing legal status of Delta-8 and other isomers. Read on for details.

If you pay even the slightest attention to cannabis news, you’ve likely heard the rumor about DEA agents raiding the Las Vegas CHAMPS trade show last month. While some sources claimed federal agents were on-site because of unauthorized Delta-8 THC products, the real story is far less dramatic. 

No federal agents were present, there WAS Delta-8 controversy, but mainly just lots of confusion. To be totally honest - it’s hard to blame anyone for being confused. 

The ever-changing legal status of THC and its various isomers leaves many manufacturers and consumers in a constant state of worry and confusion. While the popularity of Delta-8 and other isomers is exciting, it’s no wonder manufacturers are constantly looking over their shoulders. 

Read on to learn what really happened at the CHAMPS trade show and get the latest updates on cannabis legality in Nevada. 

Reading Time - 5.5 min


In the News: Nevada Delta-8 Updates & DEA Raid Rumors

On-the-go? Here’s the short and sweet of what really went down...

  • Delta-8 is an isomer of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or Delta-9). While its effects are similar to THC, it’s not as potent or psychoactive.
  • While hemp-derived Delta-8 is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, some state laws are banning this isomer - even in states where THC is legal.
  • At the Las Vegas CHAMPS trade show this July, attendees were informed that Senate Bill 49 effectively outlawed Delta-8 and that attendees would not be permitted to sell, advertise, or even discuss Delta-8 products. 
  • Despite efforts to inform attendees and explain the consequences of ignoring these rules (a fine and removal from the event), a vendor offered a Delta-8 product to an LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) official.
  • While the exact vendor is unknown, staff members did remove two vendors from the show. The next morning, vendors attended a meeting to discuss these issues, and, consequently, the show opened one hour later than scheduled. 
  • Gossip from social media and clickbait blog posts fueled the flames around rumors that DEA and FBI agents had raided the event looking for Delta-8. Fortunately, that’s not what happened.
  • However, this does shed light on the confusion caused by opposing state and federal laws. 
  • Currently, Nevada has legalized both recreational and medicinal Delta-9 THC products. However, SB49 effectively makes Delta-8 products illegal in Nevada.

What is Delta-8?

Delta-8 is one of the many isomers of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or Delta-9). While it has the same chemical formula as THC, the arrangement of its atoms is slightly different. They both have a double bond, but the difference in their location causes Delta-8 to bind with the endocannabinoid system differently. That’s why Delta-8 has slightly different properties as well. 

For example, Delta-8 is roughly half as psychoactive as Delta-9. So, while you’ll experience some of the same effects, they won’t be nearly as powerful. However, Delta-8 products that have been infused with terpenes can still harness the Entourage Effect. This enables manufacturers to fine-tune the aroma, flavor, and effects consumers experience with Delta-8 products.

Delta-8 can also be extracted from both cannabis and hemp, meaning it’s sometimes legal in states where Delta-9 isn’t legal. The keyword there, however, is “sometimes.”

For both legal and financial reasons, most of the Delta-8 products manufactured today are hemp-derived. That SHOULD make it federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. Consumers in states where THC is illegal are quick to purchase Delta-8 products. While they’re not as potent, there’s a high demand from consumers looking for legal options. That’s definitely been the case for business owners in notoriously conservative states like Kansas.   

However, while the hype around isomers like Delta-8 (and even Delta-10 and Delta-7) is legit, some states have been quick to revise cannabis laws in light of these compounds. This is where the legality of Delta-8 becomes confusing, as seen at the recent CHAMPS trade show in Las Vegas this July.

What REALLY Happened at the CHAMPS Trade Show?

CHAMPS describes itself as a “premier counter-culture, business-to-business trade expo serving the smoke shop industry.” Their annual trade show circuit spans several cities and exhibitors showcase a seriously massive collection of merchandise. There’s even a glassblowing competition where elite glassblowers can compete for cash, prizes, and - of course - bragging rights. So, what exactly happened in Las Vegas?

Other than Joe Exotic’s brand exhibiting a cannabis seltzer called “Tiger Piss?” Not much out of the ordinary. 

However, roughly ten days before the Las Vegas trade show commenced, vendors were sent an urgent email from CHAMPS organizers in regard to Senate Bill 49. Signed into law on June 4th, SB49 outlaws, “synthetic cannabinoids from being produced, sold or offered for sale” within the state of Nevada.

The LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) had contacted CHAMPS informing them of the full ramifications of SB49. Under the new senate bill, CHAMPS vendors wouldn’t be allowed to sell or advertise Delta-8 products. Supposedly, even discussing Delta-8 could create legal issues. The email communication CHAMPS sent out provided these details, enforcement policies, and a warning that those who did not abide by these rules would receive a fine and be removed from the show.

Additionally, another email was sent informing attendees that CBD edibles were also banned. Vendors were given opportunities to ask questions beforehand, and they were again informed of these changes both verbally and in writing when they officially checked in. 

Unfortunately, not everyone followed the new guidelines. On July 27th, a vendor offered an LVCVA official both a Delta-8 and CBD product. While the exact vendor is unknown, staff members did remove two vendors from the show. The next morning, vendors were asked to attend a meeting to discuss these issues, and, consequently, the show opened one hour later than scheduled. 

Is Delta-8 Legal in Nevada?

Not anymore. 

Did the DEA really raid the CHAMPS trade show looking for Delta-8 products? Not even close.

While there were various reports of DEA or FBI agents “raiding” the event, Delta-8 is federally legal as long as it’s hemp-derived. So, it really wouldn’t make sense for federal agents to show up. The rumors, however, quickly grew out of control between social media gossip and clickbait blog posts.

The real issue is the disconnect between state and federal law. For Nevada, federally legal Delta-8 is now illegal under SB49. While CHAMPS was incredibly transparent with attendees, it still caused a major disruption for Delta-8 manufacturers and distributors at the event. 

Considering that Delta-9 products are legal both medicinally and recreationally in Nevada, this creates additional confusion for manufacturers, business owners, and consumers. Plus, the cannabis trade shows in Nevada won’t be able to attract Delta-8 business anymore.  


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