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According to Shopify’s Hemp and Hemp-derived products policy–no. However, until recently, countless Delta-8 brands have seamlessly sold federally legal cannabinoid products, including Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCOa, and HHC, through their Shopify stores. Now, it seems the party might be coming to an end for many of these online cannabinoid stores.
According to cannabis industry social media buzz**, Shopify is shutting down Delta-8 websites without warning for breaking their compliance rules. Below we review exactly what Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC are, how they differ from Delta-9 THC, and the challenges online retailers face selling CBD and hemp-derived products on Shopify.
Delta-8 THC is a naturally occurring minor cannabinoid in hemp and cannabis plants. Delta-8 is also a THC isomer, which means it contains almost the exact chemical structure as the federally illicit Delta-9 THC, with a slight molecular difference. Delta-8 has a double bond on the 8th carbon chain, and Delta-9 has a double bond on the 9th carbon chain.
Delta-8 appears in such trace quantities, however, that it’s prohibitive to extract enough from the plant for commercial use. That’s why most Delta-8 brands create the product by extracting hemp-derived CBD first.
Delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid that manufacturers produce from hemp-derived CBD. How does it work? First, companies extract CBD using various methods (like CO2 extraction or hydrocarbon extraction). Then, they use a blend of acids and solvents to chemically convert CBD into Delta-8. Ah, the powers of science.
So, CBD is critical in Delta-8 THC production, but the two compounds could not be any more different in structure, effects, or properties. Delta-8 is psychoactive, while CBD is not. That’s why Shopify typically allows CBD companies to operate more freely than Delta-8.
However, Shopify isn’t welcoming just any CBD and Hemp products either. There are limitations even within those product groupings, So be sure to read Shopify’s guide to selling CBD posted in their merchant Help Center.
Unlike CBD, Delta-8 THC is psychoactive, producing an “altered” feeling. At the same time, Delta-8 is not as potent as its famous stigmatized, sister cannabinoid, Delta-9 THC. Users report mild euphoria without the paranoia and sedative effects they occasionally experience from high-Delta-9 strains.
Everyone’s Delta-8 THC experience is different, but people typically report feeling clear-headed. This allows them to take advantage of the psychotropic effects while functioning throughout the day
Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC, and Delta-10 THC are closely related compounds on a molecular level. Delta-9 THC has a double electron bond on the ninth atom in its carbon chain, Delta-8 has a double bond on the eighth atom, and Delta-10’s double bond appears on–you guessed it–the tenth atom.
You might be thinking to yourself. ‘Wait, I assumed there was only one THC. Where did all these Deltas come from?’
It turns out, the THC you knew and loved was Delta-9 all along. Hemp and cannabis have always contained several naturally occurring THC isomers, but you never heard about the others because Delta-9 is by far the most prevalent, potent, and concentrated. Additionally, Delta-9 is the only THC isomer specifically deemed federally illegal.
People use “relaxed, high, and energized” to clearly distinguish Delta-8, Delta-10, and Delta-9’s effects. The truth is, the differences aren’t so cut and dry. Everyone’s endocannabinoid system, body chemistry, hormones, and tolerance levels affect the experience. However, these words help paint a picture of how you might feel.
The federal government established rules surrounding hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill. In short, it legalized commercial hemp, which it defined as cannabis containing less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC, as well as hemp-derived compounds.
Immediately after the bill passed, the FDA issued a warning to CBD companies that it had the power to regulate ingestible CBD products, and that it would swiftly take action against companies that made any unapproved therapeutic claims.
As hemp-derived compounds, Delta-8 and Delta-10 are federally LEGAL, technically. However, Congress is seeking to change that. Recently Congress proposed the Hemp Advancement Act of 2022 to include Delta-8 and Delta-10 in the definition of total THC.
In the meantime, 19 states are ahead of federal regulators. These states have either restricted or outright banned Delta-8. Additionally, Colorado and New York banned Delta-10 as well.
Despite FDA hesitation, the Advancement Act of 2022, multi-state bans, online Delta-8, and Delta-10 shops continue shipping products across 50 state lines. In their defense, Delta-8 and Delta-10 are naturally occurring hemp compounds made from hemp-derived CBD. And the fact is that hemp and hemp-derived products are 100% federally legal today if they contain less than .03% Delta9- THC.
Shopify’s compliance page initially seems to agree with the federal designation. In the first few paragraphs, Shopify states that merchants can sell hemp and hemp-derived products through the platform as long as they comply with local laws and regulations.
Read on a little further, and it says: “If you're a US merchant and you want to sell hemp and hemp-derived products that contain CBD, then you'll need to review and submit the Attestation for the Sale of Hemp and Hemp-Derived Products.” In other words, you need to apply to sell CBD on Shopify, you’ll need to comply with their rules, and you might get approved. The “rules” include requirements like disabling SMS notifications to your customers.
Among other things, CBD brands with Shopify accounts must attest that:
Recently, a CBD Business Success Facebook group member posted a screenshot of a redacted email. The email indicated that Shopify shut down a Delta-8 store with no warning for non-compliance.
Like any business, Shopify would theoretically love to scoop up the enormous amount of Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC revenue. After all, Delta-8 THC is one of the cannabis industry’s fastest-growing products. You’ve got to imagine that as a gigantic multinational e-commerce company, Shopify is keenly aware of the risks.
Shopify knows it will be one of the first organizations to face government penalties if it doesn’t comply, so Shopify will always err on the side of caution. When weighing the cost-benefit analysis, it makes more sense for Shopify to lose merchant business than risk getting shut down or fined.
CBD companies can typically sell CBD products online if they adhere to the FDA’s position on dietary supplements, food, and cosmetics that contain hemp or hemp-derived products. However, the FDA has warned several CBD merchants for making illegal claims, and those companies risk getting shut down.
Delta-8 and Delta-10 companies may get away with selling products on Shopify for some time through high-risk payment gateway providers. In the end, they’re all playing with fire because Shopify has made it clear they won’t support these hemp-derived compounds, despite being federally legal.
Imagine you worked hard to build a Delta-8 business. You’re selling a high-quality, laboratory-tested product. You’ve built up organic traffic to your site through hard work, clever marketing, and public relations. After countless hours, you’re finally seeing the reward for your efforts–sales!
Then one day, you wake up to a Shopify email announcing you can no longer collect payments. Adding insult to injury, you have no recourse; no human you can call to rectify the matter.
That’s it. Overnight, while you were sleeping, you lost your business, your customers, and your income. That’s precisely what seems to be happening today. Shopify is telling non-compliant Delta-8 sellers that they can no longer take orders through the platform, and the matter is not up for debate.
Paypal and Stripe might even be worse options. Notably, PayPal has been shutting down CBD merchant accounts for years and has stricter policies than other online payment systems.
While Paypal’s “Acceptable Use Policy” doesn’t state hemp or CBD by name, its policy does prohibit sales that “violate any law,” which includes “certain controlled substances or other products that present a risk to consumer safety. Plus, Paypal’s Alternative Payment Methods Agreement (APM) explicitly prohibits CBD and hemp product sales. APMs include Apple Pay, debit cards, and real-time bank transfers.
Stripe makes its stance abundantly clear: No marijuana, CBD, or hemp sales of any kind are allowed. That includes topicals, lotions, oils, flower, or even hemp services like CBD-based oil massages.
Stripe also makes its reasons explicit: “We understand that your business may be legal, but for now, due to various reasons including requirements that apply to Stripe as a payment processor, requirements from our financial partners, and the potential risk exposure to Stripe, we're currently not able to work with certain industries.”
Unlike PayPal, Square allows CBD sales under certain conditions. CBD merchants must first sign up for Square’s CBD program and submit required documents, including business information, item descriptions, and laboratory reports. In its policy, Square indicates that laboratory tests must prove the product contains less than 0.3% THC, which it specifies as Delta-9.
Theoretically, this means Delta-8 and Delta-10 companies can operate freely after they submit laboratory proof that their products are federally compliant. Once approved, CBD merchants must pay additional fees on the standard cut Square takes for non-hemp products.
While Square may allow CBD and Deta-8 sales in principle, not every merchant will pass the application phase or want to pay the extra fees. If that applies to your brand, you may want to look elsewhere (although you’ll probably have to fork over some fees regardless). Stripe recommends PaymentCloud for CBD companies due to its high-risk tolerance, comparatively low rates, high approvals, and easy setup.
However, PaymentCloud doesn’t appear to extend those same courtesies to compliant Delta-8 merchants.
Another CBD processing option is PayKings, which states that it can recover your CBD merchant account, even after PayPal, Square, or Stripe shut you down while also providing complete payment solutions.
So, the good news is that if you sell high-quality CBD products with less than 0.3% THC (of any kind), you should be able to sell products online. You might not have every payment processor available to you, but PayKings, PaymentCloud, Square, and Shopify technically allow it for qualified merchants.
WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress websites that works like Shopify Payments. Like Shopify, WordPress also explicitly bans CBD and Delta-8 sales. However, unlike Shopify, WordPress appears to be a safer option for hemp merchants (at least according to Delta-8 merchant feedback on community forums).
Even before the Delta-8 craze, high-risk payment processors regularly shut down CBD merchant accounts. Those that could afford steep processing costs took their CBD businesses to high-risk payment processors for support. However, when Delta-8 and Delta-10 became popular, even high-risk CBD payment processors wouldn’t take the gamble.
Enter payment gateway companies.
Payment Gateway companies work by directly authorizing payments and then securely transmitting online payment data to processors (like Paypal, Stripe, Shopify, and WooCommerce). Despite the legal risks, companies like Organic Payment Gateways and Pay Diverse claimed they could help websites sell Delta-8 and Delta-10 on Shopify.
In fact, Organic Payment Gateways went so far as to say: “By choosing OrganicPaymentGateways.com, you’ll be able to sell Delta-8 and Delta-10 cannabinols on your Shopify site without fear, without hassle.”
Organic Payment Gateways also issued a similar press release for WooCommerce Payment processing. According to the company, “WooCommerce's flexibility and open-source nature make it a natural choice for CBD, and now also for Delta-8 and Delta-10”According to the organization, they see a 50% higher demand for Shopify CBD websites compared to WooCommerce. However, as Shopify cracks down on more businesses, that may soon change.
The E-commerce world is an uncertain place for CBD companies and downright risky for Delta-8 and Delta-10 companies. Still, hemp brands still have options, particularly if they’re willing to shop around and succumb to extra fees from high-risk processors.
The bottom line here is that the hemp-derived product must be federally compliant, regardless. Even Organic Payment Gateways requires brands to submit a Certificate of Analysis from a certified third-party laboratory-like ACS to be eligible. So if you’re looking for a secure way to sell high-quality CBD and Delta-8 products online, contact ACS Laboratory for precision testing, compliant COAs, and rapid test results.
**ACS Laboratory cannot independently confirm that Shopify is shutting down websites nor confirm which brands have been affected.