Two of America’s leading public health agencies are warning about adverse effects likely caused by cannabinoid delta-8 THC, after poison control centres across the country reported a number of negative health events related to the substance.
This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public via statements on unregulated products containing delta-8 THC.
A number of states have started to ban the substance, as the substance has become a popular pick by sellers trying to skirt the rules in states that ban cannabis.
New CDC Health Alert: Cannabis products containing delta-8 THC may have unclear & incomplete labeling, leaving consumers at risk. Learn more: https://t.co/dhlQs5DWOp#delta8 #THC pic.twitter.com/7UUsOzjWmk
— CDC Injury Center (@CDCInjury) September 14, 2021
The FDA warned about how these products are not evaluated nor approved for human use while being marketed as being safe for public health, while the CDC reported cases where people thought they were consuming CBD products that contained psychoactive delta-8 THC instead.
“In addition, because testing methods for products like synthetically derived delta-8 THC are still being developed, delta-8 THC products may not be tested systematically for contaminants such as heavy metals, solvents, or pesticides that may have adverse health effects,” reads the warning from the CDC.
The agency reported intoxication by delta-8 THC could look similar to delta-9 THC, involving lethargy, sedation, slurred speech and low blood pressure among others.
Delta-8 products include vapes, smokable hemp sprayed with an extract, distillates, edibles and beverages.
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
The FDA said it’s received adverse event reports related to 22 patients who consumed products with delta-8 THC, where 14 went to the hospital for treatment. The majority of reports involved adverse events after eating edibles, such as hallucinations, vomiting and loss of consciousness.
National poison control centers received 661 cases of delta-8 THC product exposures between Jan. 1, 2018–July 31, 2021 — almost all of which happened this year. Among these exposures almost half (41 per cent) of exposures were unintentional, and 77 of these unintentional exposures were in youth under 18.
The FDA says variations in product content, labelling and potential misunderstanding of the psychoactive properties of delta-8 THC may lead to unexpected effects among users.
Less is known about the effects as delta-8 THC than its popular cousin delta-9 THC.
The substance is manufactured from hemp-derived CBD, which producers have used to skirt regulations in states where cannabis is illegal.
This year, heavy metal band GWAR debuted its own line of cannabis products that includes delta-8 THC gummies.
So far, 18 states have restricted or banned delta-8 THC, and another four states are currently reviewing it.