Another high-profile Texas hemp retailer has petitioned the court for a temporary restraining order that would stall enforcement of the state’s ban on delta-8 THC.
Houston-based smoke shop Vape City, a chain with more than 75 retail locations, filed suit in the Travis County District Court this week, according to the Houston Chronicle. The company’s attorney requested a temporary restraining order and removal of delta-8 THC from the state's list of Schedule I controlled substances.
A Travis County District Judge recently denied a similar request from another hemp company, Hometown Hero. That request for a temporary restraining order was dismissed October 22, but a more formal hearing on Hometown Hero’s request for an injunction against the state’s prohibition of delta-8 THC is scheduled for Nov. 5.
Both Vape City’s and Hometown Hero’s lawsuits are in response to an Oct. 15 update from the Texas Department of State Health Services announcing it had added delta-8 THC to the state’s list of Schedule I controlled substances. The commissioner of the state’s health department said lawmakers didn’t need to impose a ban on delta-8 because it’s THC, which is broadly illegal in the state except for trace amounts of delta-9 THC allowed in hemp products.
Both Vape City’s and Hometown Hero’s lawsuits are in response to an Oct. 15 update from the Texas Department of State Health Services announcing it had added delta-8 THC to the state’s list of Schedule I controlled substances.
Before that date, retailers had been selling delta-8 products under the assumption that they were legal. The federal 2018 Farm Bill placed its limit of 0.3% on only the dominant psychoactive constituent in cannabis: delta-9 THC.
Vape City's CEO, Ali Sheikhani, told the Chronicle that after the judge’s Oct. 22 ruling Vape City had pulled millions of dollars of inventory from its shelves and cut hours for more than 500 employees across the state, anticipating lost revenue from delta-8 products.
"I don't know what we're going to do with this millions and millions worth of inventory," Sheikhani told the Chronicle. "I have no idea. [...] Right now, Vape City is all panic. People don't know if we sell it. We took all the Delta 8 products out. They're confused. What are we going to tell customers?"
The company is also concerned about criminal charges to the business or customers.
"Basically, they’re criminals overnight for having these products,” Sheikhani's lawyer, Michelle Donovan, told the Chronicle.
"Right now, Vape City is all panic. People don't know if we sell it. We took all the Delta 8 products out. They're confused. What are we going to tell customers?"
— Ali Sheikhani, Vape City CEO, as quoted in the Houston Chronicle
The owner and founder of Hometown Hero, Lukas Gilkey, had encouraged other Texas-based hemp retailers to file temporary restraining orders.
“I’m proud to see other people pushing TROs through, ” he said in a video posted Tuesday. “In all honesty, I wish there were a thousand TROs going through. I know for sure we’d get at least one of these things approved. Right now our legal team is giving guidance to anybody who wants to put a TRO through.”
Hometown Hero has set its sights on the Nov. 5 hearing for a temporary injunction. If granted, it would stop the state from enforcing the ban on delta-8 at least temporarily, possibly allowing hemp retailers to sell their existing delta-8 inventory and make a more orderly transition.
Vape City was waiting on a hearing date, the Chronicle reported. Attorney Donovan's arguments focus on the ban's harm Texas businesses, a very real impact she hopes will inform the judge's decision.