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We sat down with the co-founder of TribeTokes, Degelis Pilla, to talk shop, Delta 8 and licensing in this exclusive interview. TribeTokes is one of the OG brands of New York, positioned at the center of the NYC cannabis scene. 

Tell us the “elevator pitch” on TribeTokes.

TribeTokes is “Built By Girls, Powered By Plants.” We started in 2016 when we noticed a need in the market for a “clean” vaping line that allows consumers to vape safely, and have since leveraged these same principles to create gummies, skincare and pain topicals as well. 

Delta 8 is a bit controversial in the cannabis world. Can you talk about that?

Absolutely…When Delta 8 first started to catch on, we were very skeptical and had some major questions. We are in the wellness space, so it’s definitely important to us to not sell anything that could be harmful or sketchy! There are 2 main reasons why D8 is controversial: How it’s made, and that it’s competing with the regulated Delta 9 THC market. 

How it’s made: Delta 8 is found naturally in very trace amounts in the plant, so the Delta 8 in mainstream products is converted from CBD. This requires a chemical conversion –  so plant purists are never going to be a fan of these products. From a brand perspective, the most important thing for us to do is test for residual solvents – there is a possibility that chemicals from the conversion process can be leftover if not manufactured correctly, but Delta 8 is generally safe if the solvents are removed (the same is true for nearly all extracts on the market except for those that are solventless). 

There is nothing wrong with the conversion of a cannabinoid generally – many cannabinoids go through natural chemical conversions switching from one cannabinoid to another (if you let D9 THC sit for too long, it can turn into CBN, and every time you light up a joint you’re triggering a conversion from THCa to Delta 9 THC). The real issue is responsibly removing the ingredients used in the conversion when performed in a lab.  Anytime there’s a mad rush to make a product, some people will act ethically, and others might get sloppy. So we went through a 6 month process of interviewing and sampling different Delta 8 suppliers to make sure we had the ultimate comfort level with the materials we are using to create our products. We require lab tests including residual solvents from these suppliers; we then create custom vape formulations using D8, other cannabinoids, and terpene profiles derived from the plant to create unique full spectrum products. Finally, we retest our end products again. 

Ok, got it – that makes sense. Let’s talk about the second controversial point – competition with license holders.

Delta 8 is different from Delta 9, but it does create a high / feeling of euphoria, so it’s competing directly with Delta 9 products. Proponents of free markets have applauded the hemp industry for finding a loophole to create a more accessible product. But, this doesn’t seem fair to state-level license holders who had to spend millions on licensing and regulatory hurdles to get up and running. Since it’s coming from CBD, the cost of Delta 8 is lower, because CBD prices have plummeted due to so much supply coming online (there was a bit of a CBD gold rush after the farm bill legalized it in 2018, so a lot of farmers switched their crops over to hemp and overestimated demand). Medical and adult use producers can’t compete with D8 prices. 

On the other hand, the Delta 8 movement has helped U.S. hemp farmers and the CBD supply chain tremendously, allowing them to clear a glut of hemp flower and CBD isolate that they may not have been able to move otherwise. So certain organizations that support the hemp supply chain are in favor of Delta 8, where some organizations that support THC license holders are against it. 

So where do you stand?

Our brand mission is to help people to feel great and live their best lives – so if we can do that safely and without breaking the law, we’re going to. We generally understand both sides though – it’s become a bit complicated. We want the hemp industry to thrive, and have chosen to create premium Delta 8 products for our online customers in states where it’s legal –  but we’re also investing a tremendous amount of our time and savings into a New York adult use processing license. So we’re uniquely on both sides of that argument. 

So what’s all the rage – what are the benefits of Delta 8?

The main benefits of Delta 8 are pricing, accessibility and its effects. 

First is pricing – because of high regulatory costs and state taxes, the price of legal cannabis in many markets is extremely expensive, and not covered by health insurance. In California for example, a customer may pay anywhere from 23% to 38% in tax – it’s insane. Delta 8 is less expensive in the first place, and then is not heavily taxed like THC is. In addition to being more affordable, Delta 8 can be purchased online – in most states, where it is not banned on the state level – and delivered to your doorstep, even if purchased from out of state. 

As far as its effects, many consumers actually prefer Delta 8 instead of Delta 9, because its effects are not so intense. Some report that from Delta 8 vapes they feel euphoria / relaxation but without the couchlock, with more of an uplifting high. We have also heard anecdotally that with Delta 8 gummies, people sleep well but don’t have the grogginess the next morning that they might feel from Delta 9 edibles. That is important for people who need to get up early and be on point for work etc.

The greatest benefit I’ve experienced from Delta 8 personally is getting a more sound sleep / sleeping through the night without waking up as many times. I take ½ of a gummy every night 1 hour before I want to go to bed to wind down. 

Sounds delightful. Any parting words?

Yes! No matter what you choose to consume – CBD, Delta 8, Delta 9 – buy from a trusted source that lab tests its products. Do not purchase at gas stations. Sketchy players in ANY industry – food, vitamins – can add ingredients that aren’t that great for you to save a buck – it’s not just cannabis! So consume responsibly as you should with anything you are

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