Delta-8-THC has been in the headlines lately, but for Austin, Texas-based Hometown Hero CBD, the hemp-derived cannabinoid has been a staple since 2020.

Co-founder Lewis Hamer said the company’s customers — particularly veterans — asked for delta-8-THC products, which are now among Hometown Hero CBD’s top sellers.

Cannabis Products Insider recently spoke to Hamer about Hometown Hero CBD’s experience with delta-8-THC, the cannabinoid’s complex legal environment and the interest of the company’s customers.

CPI: Just to get a little background, when did you begin as a company? How many employees does Hometown Hero CBD have?

LH: We started in 2015, and at this current moment, we have about 50 employees. We have about 30 in Austin, and we also have a distribution center up in Oklahoma that employs about 20 as well.

CPI: When did Hometown Hero CBD start introducing delta-8 products?

LH: We started selling delta-8 back in mid-2020. HB 1325 passed in 2019 here in the state of Texas. We started selling CBD products. From there, we started having customers ask us about delta-8, and as soon as we vetted it, spent a lot of time with lawyers, and internal discussions, and making sure it was the right product for us, we ended up launching it, and the rest was history, as they say.

CPI: What kind of products does Hometown Hero have available that use delta-8-THC?

LH: It’s mostly edibles — everything from gummies to rice crispy treats and sour belts — all sorts of stuff. By far, the most popular products that we do are the gummies. That makes up the bulk of our sales.

CPI: What was your main interest in offering products with delta-8?

LH: It was just demand — pure and simple. We just had tons of customers asking for it, and we felt like it would be a good ancillary product that has now become a primary product for us.

CPI: Have your customers provided any anecdotes for what they use delta-8 for?

LH: People use it for a lot of different reasons — everything from going out and having a good time with friends to getting a better night’s sleep. We do hear from a lot of people — especially veterans — who use it as a replacement for prescription medications. We visited the Texas VFW at the end of 2022. The stories that we heard from the veterans there about how they were taking nine medications, and they were able to reduce to one or two because of the delta-8 products — it’s unreal.

CPI: Are there particular SKUs that are particularly popular among your customers?

LH: The live rosin products are very popular. I think the main reason why is because it is a limited ingredient, naturally extracted product. It has the effect from the live natural terpenes as well. It offers a different experience to the normal cannabis user.

CPI: Does Hometown Hero CBD do its own extraction? Or does it have an ingredient partner?

LH: We do have an ingredient partner. We are very close with them. They have some farms here in Texas where they actually cultivate the hemp, and then they do the extraction. All the hemp-derived cannabinoids that we use in our products are grown and extracted here in Texas.

CP: There are some concerns over byproducts in delta-8 products. Can you describe the process that your process uses in extraction?

LH: We do full-panel testing for all of our products — pesticides, heavy metal, microbes, mycotoxins, residual solvents, foreign materials. A lot of the byproduct stuff is put out there by the marijuana industry about hemp-derived cannabinoids. The full panel testing — we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on it, and it’s a very clear and concise way that shows us exactly what’s in our products.”

CPI: There are a lot of legal concerns around delta-8. You mentioned consulting with lawyers. Can you describe the position that makes Hometown Hero CBD comfortable in playing in this space?

LH: Most of the states that are having issues with the legality of delta-8 right now are states that have recreational marijuana legalized. We’re very well positioned here in the state of Texas and across the country to fight any unreasonable regulations on hemp-derived cannabis products. As more people understand what’s going on with the hemp-derived cannabis space in general, we do start seeing the tide moving in the right direction. More states are trying to add common sense regulations and not outright ban delta-8. Delta-8 is a federally legal product, and it’s nice to see states are now confirming that and trying to work with us as an industry for reasonable regulations instead of outright bans.

CPI: In terms of shipping, where are Hometown Hero CBD’s products available?

LH: We’re available in most states. We do ship to most states where there isn’t an  outright ban on delta-8.

CPI: Going forward, what would you like to see happen within Texas or even the country as a whole?

LH: We want reasonable regulations on the hemp market. We want to foster a healthy, competitive market without so much burden that it puts small hemp producers and small businesses out of business. Most small businesses in the hemp space are owned and run by minorities, women, veterans, and according to the Small Business Administration, small businesses make up two of every three jobs generated in the past 25 years. We’re not trying to nudge anybody out. Competition makes things better, cheaper (and there are) more options, more innovation. We want to see that grow and continue.

CPI: Do you have any predictions about what will happen with delta-18, HHC or THC-O?

LH: It’s probably going to continue down the same path as delta-8. There are hundreds of cannabinoids in cannabis, and with everything that has been going on, and the pace of the market and innovation, we’re just going to continue to see more products on the market that are tailored to specific needs on things.”

CPI: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

LH: Hemp-derived cannabinoids are federally legal, and they do deserve reasonable and rational regulations allowing the industry to innovate and grow. All the research right now that is done in cannabis is because of hemp. It’s just so restrictive for universities or independent research labs to do anything with marijuana because of its federal illegality. We’re seeing all the innovation and research being done in the hemp space.