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What is Delta-8 and how did a loophole in federal marijuana law make it a popular product

The growing popularity of Delta-8 among cannabis consumers has raised significant concerns among authorities regarding potential health issues it may pose

Display of Delta-8 products
Display of Delta-8 products.National Capital Poison Center

Delta-8 products have gained significant attention in recent years, particularly in the cannabis and hemp industries. Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, often referred to as Delta-8 THC (or ∆8-THC), is a cannabinoid found in both marijuana and hemp plants, albeit in smaller quantities compared to Delta-9 THC, the compound primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

It’s important to note that the legality of Delta-8 products varies by location. While some states in the United States have explicitly legalized Delta-8 THC, others have banned or restricted its sale. Consumers should research and understand the laws in their area before purchasing or using Delta-8 products. Here’s an overview of Delta-8 and its legality in the U.S.

What is Delta-8?

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol or ∆8-THC is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It has psychoactive properties, which means it can cause a “high” in those who consume it. It is an isomer of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the compound commonly known as THC. Although its properties are similar to that of Delta-9, it would take more to achieve a comparable effect.

Does Delta-8 get me high?

Yes. Delta-8 has psychoactive and intoxicating effects similar to Delta-9-THC. The FDA has concerns that Delta-8 products likely expose consumers to higher levels of the substance than are naturally occurring in hemp cannabis raw extracts, which could result in adverse reactions.

How is Delta-8 made?

Delta-8 is naturally found in plants of the Cannabis genus; however, it can also be produced in an industrial or laboratory setting by exposing CBD to heat and acids. Some producers use solvents like methylene chloride, toluene, and hexane. Because of the possible use of these chemicals and other toxic chemical reagents during production, experts have raised concerns about the safety of these products.

Is Delta-8 legal in the U.S.?

The 2018 United States Farm Bill defines hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” Because of this designation, Delta-8 products experienced a rise in popularity, being sold in different types of retailers. However, there is uncertainty surrounding the federal classification of ∆8-THC, with some individuals holding the view that the October 2020 DEA Interim Final Rule, which dealt with “synthetics,” encompassed Delta-8 products and various hemp derivatives permitted under the Farm Bill. Delta-8-THC has not been evaluated or approved by the FDA.

Where is Delta-8 legal in the U.S.?

Chris Lindsey, who serves as the Director of State Campaigns and Public Policy at the American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp, revealed that due to modifications in their controlled substance legislation in alignment with the 2018 Farm Bill, a total of twenty-four states, including Washington D.C., have inadvertently legalized intoxicants derived from hemp.

According to the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, the states that regulate Delta-8 are:

Delta-8 is regulated in states where marijuana is already legal, such as Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah.

Delta-8 is banned in:

It’s also banned in California, New York, and Hawaii.

Is Delta-8 safe?

According to a report made in 2022 by the FDA, there have been at least 104 adverse event reports made regarding the substance and at least two deaths associated with Delta-8. Between January 1, 2021, and February 28, 2022, the U.S. National Poison Control Centers received 2,362 exposure cases of Delta-8 products. Seventy percent of them required medical care.

No large clinical studies have been conducted on Delta-8-THC.

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