Editor’s note: This commentary is provided by the Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) of Florida A&M University.
What is Delta-8 THC and why is it under intense scrutiny in the regulated marijuana space?
You may have seen Delta-8 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) advertised as infused in edibles, vape inhalers, smokeable joints, and tinctures sold everywhere from online marketplaces to gas stations to smoke shops to convenience stores. Delta-8 can also be found in cannabis-related products carried at Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers throughout the state. Cannabis above 0.3% total THC is still a controlled substance as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is illegal under federal law.
The reason Delta-8 THC can be sold is because the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the 2018 farm bill, was written with broad definitions and rules regarding the legalization of hemp. The bill does not address Delta-8 THC and other variations.
Delta-8 THC can be chemically created from CBD (cannabidiol), which is the Delta-8 THC found in many of the previously mentioned products.
The Delta-8 THC manufacturing process “uses substances such as hydrocarbons and acids. They’re re-agents. These are solvents that are often found as contaminants in the products because the producer doesn’t utilize the steps to cleanse the final product from these re-agents and solvents,” explains Dr. Genester Wilson-King, a qualified medical marijuana physician and the vice president of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. In addition, there are other by-products that could be created in this chemical reaction that we don’t know about, she said.
Florida’s former director of cannabis, Holly Bell, says Delta-8 THC products are required to test for solvents, pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants, but that is as far as the state goes.
“I’m careful about using the word ‘synthetic,” Ms. Bell says. “How I describe this product is it’s chemically derived because they are putting a chemical on an organic compound to convert it into another organic compound, and that chemical is a solvent.”
To that point, Dr. Wilson-King offers this warning: “You don’t know what the other unknown by-products are and how they will affect your body every time you dose with Delta-8 THC. Are they carcinogens? Are they damaging various organs inside your body? We do not know.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adverse effects of Delta-8 THC ingestion reportedly include lethargy, hallucinations, vomiting, tremors, anxiety, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Ms. Bell says anyone using Delta-8 THC products for medicinal purposes, such as to help them sleep or curb anxieties, should consult with a qualified medical marijuana physician. The Florida Department of Health Office of Medical Marijuana Use lists more than 2,100 qualified physicians on its website, knowthefactsmmj.com.
She and Dr. Wilson-King also recommend checking the scannable QR code to review the certificate of analysis (COA) on any hemp and cannabis-based products.
“Make sure your COA has a date within the last six months to a year and that it is a full panel test, which they have to do, and that it’s covering all of the things, the solvents, the heavy metals, the pesticides,” says Ms. Bell.
Citing safety concerns, about a dozen states have banned Delta-8 THC.
Visit link below to watch MMERI’s Conversations on Cannabis Virtual Forum featuring Holly Bell and Dr. Genester Wilson-King talking about Delta-8 here. For more information on medical marijuana and to sign up for the MMERI newsletter, go to http://mmeri.famu.edu
Editor Note: YouTube link – https://youtu.be/ubrV-t_-xsY