The FDA is raising the alarm about Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8 THC) after several hospitalizations and instances of accidental ingestion.
The chemical is a psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis sativa plant, of which marijuana and hemp are two varieties. Delta-8 is one of many cannabinoids, but it is found in tiny amounts in the actual plant; concentrated doses of Delta-8 are often manufactured from hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD).
Here are the FDA’s top five concerns about Delta-8 THC:
1. Delta-8 THC products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA, and may be marketed in questionable ways
Since the FDA is not overseeing the production of any Delta-8 products and has not approved them for any uses, product formulations and labeling are not held to any standards by a governing body.
Labeling issues include failing to mention other cannabinoid and terpene content, varying Delta-8 concentrations, and vaguely labeling the products as “hemp,” which does not reflect the psychoactive nature of the drug.
The FDA is also worried that people may forego legitimate medical treatment in favor of following advertising claims about Delta-8 THC products.
2. The FDA has received adverse event reports about Delta-8 THC products
From December 2020 through July 2021, the FDA received adverse event reports from both consumers and law enforcement describing 22 patients who consumed Delta-8 THC products.
Of the 22 patients, 14 presented to a hospital or emergency room for treatment following the ingestion; 19 experienced adverse events after ingesting Delta-8 THC-containing food products (e.g., brownies, gummies). Adverse events included vomiting, hallucinations, trouble standing, and loss of consciousness.
National poison control centers received 661 exposure cases of Delta-8 THC products between January 2018 and July 31, 2021. 660 cases occurred between January 1, 2021, and July 31, 2021.
Of the 661 exposure cases:
- 41% involved unintentional exposure to delta-8 THC and 77% of these unintentional exposures affected pediatric patients less than 18 years of age
- 39% involved pediatric patients less than 18 years of age
- 18% required hospitalizations, including children who required intensive care unit (ICU) admission following exposure to these products
3. Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects
Like Delta-9 THC, the component responsible for the “high” that people experience from using cannabis, Delta-8 THC has psychoactive effects. In addition, Delta-8 products contain much higher levels of the chemical than the amounts that naturally occur in cannabis; the historical use of cannabis is not reliable for judging an appropriate level of safety for unnatural concentrations of Delta-8.
4. Delta-8 THC products may use harmful chemicals to create concentrations of their active ingredient
The natural amount of delta-8 THC in hemp is very low, and additional chemicals are needed to convert other cannabinoids in hemp, like CBD, into Delta-8 THC (i.e., synthetic conversion). Manufacturers may use unsafe household chemicals to change the final product, leaving Delta-8 products with potentially harmful contaminants.
Since the manufacture of Delta-8 THC products is unregulated at this time, it may occur in an uncontrolled or unsanitary setting.
5. Delta-8 THC products should be kept away from children and pets
With many Delta-8 products being sold in the form of gummies, chocolates, cookies, and candies, they are naturally appealing to children. There have also been a recent uptick in reports of accidental consumption by pets.