The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have warned against the use of products containing delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Delta-8 THC is a natural isomer of the cannabis plant but is much less common (and less potent) than delta-9 THC, which is the psychoactive chemical most commonly associated with cannabis. But delta-8 is still psychoactive and modern hemp processors have determined methods for synthetically converting hemp-derived cannabinoids like CBD into delta-8 THC. And, because these companies are operating under the 2018 Farm Bill—which federally legalized industrial hemp and its derivatives—the products can be shipped nationwide, even to states that have not yet legalized cannabis.
First reported by Marijuana Moment, the agencies released documents on Tuesday covering the potential health risks of delta-8 THC and warning consumers against experimenting with such products. In the CDC’s Health Alert Network Health Advisory and the FDA’s “5 Things to Know About Delta-8 THC” fact sheet, the agencies argue that delta-8 THC hasn’t been properly researched.
“The health effects of delta-8 THC have not yet been researched extensively and are not well-understood. However, delta-8 THC is psychoactive and may have similar risks of impairment as delta-9 THC. As such, products that contain delta-8 THC but are labeled with only delta-9 THC content rather than with total THC content likely underestimate the psychoactive potential of these products for consumers.” — CDC Health Advisory excerpt
The agencies also highlight an uptick in “delta-8 THC-involved adverse events” including pediatric hospitalizations and calls to Poison Control as additional causes for concern.
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, aka delta-8 THC, is a psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis sativa plant, of which marijuana and hemp are two varieties. Delta-8 THC products haven’t been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use in any context. https://t.co/YI4yWhUeyn
— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) September 14, 2021
Meanwhile, a growing list of states including Colorado and Washington—the ground zero states for cannabis legalization—have banned delta-8 THC products from retail shelves. Additionally, a study in June found that more than half of commercially available delta-8 THC products contained illegal levels of delta-9 THC.
In an interview last month with HempGrower, renowned cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo suggested that the proliferation of such gray market, hemp-derived THC products was a byproduct of ongoing prohibition.
“If there were legalization of cannabis products with appropriate regulation, I don’t think any of this would be happening,” he said. “The continuation of prohibition has basically been a catalyst to this kind of development of products that people would like to think are legal but clearly are not.”
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