You might have read news articles in recent years concerning a substance called delta-8. Between 2020 and 2021, Google searches for the phrase increased by more than 850 percent in the United Places, particularly in states where recreational marijuana use is prohibited. According to a recent study, 16% of frequent marijuana users also buy delta-8 gummies.
Some believe it to be the next big thing in cannabis: a milder and, perhaps more importantly, legal high that provides comfort and pain treatment without the nervousness or foggy thinking of legal marijuana.
However, the Food and Medicine Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently issued warnings that delta-8 is a potentially harmful drug that has caused thousands of unintentional poisonings. Is this an instance of overly cautious authorities or overzealous cannabis advocates? The solution relies on what is contained in a product branded as delta-8.
Early studies back up the idea that delta-8 might have a gentler high than regular marijuana. However, because of the drug’s lack of regulation, most delta-8 gummies items on the market differ from those tested in laboratories and may contain heavy metals and other cannabinoids. As a result, several professionals suggest against using it.
WHAT IS DELTA 8?
Technically, delta-8 refers to delta-8-THC or the T.H.C. that makes up most of marijuana’s psychotropic components. The most prevalent T.H.C. in cannabis plants is delta-9-THC, which has a molecular structure nearly equal to delta-8-THC. Because the molecules are identical, delta-8 and delta-9 behave similarly in the body. The cannabinoid type 1 (or CB1) receptor, in particular, is significant since it is what causes the high you get from smoking a joint or eating a marijuana gummy. They both bind to this receptor in the brain.
Research indicates delta-8 gummies have a milder effect than delta-9 because it binds to the CB1 receptor less strongly. According to Linda Klumpers, co-founder of Verdient Science, a pharmacology consulting firm specializing in cannabis-based medications, delta-8-THC is less effective than delta-9-THC.
WHY DO EXPERTS USE IT?
It is supported by a poll of delta-8 users, who claimed to experience less paranoia, less anxiety, and a “nicer” high compared to delta-9-THC. The most frequent effects of delta-8 were exhilaration, pain alleviation, and relaxation. Although not to the same amount as with ordinary marijuana, users did report some difficulty concentrating, issues with short-term memory, and an altered sense of time.
Participants felt that delta-8 was less intense when we asked them to compare it to delta-9, according to Jessica Kruger, a clinical assistant professor of health behavior at the University at Buffalo who oversaw the survey. When using delta-9, they would complain of having a “couch lock” or not feeling like getting up and doing anything, yet when using delta-8, they could still be productive.
It’s unlikely that delta-8 gummies and delta-9 have different effects, according to Drs. Kruger and Plumper’s. That is likely because there is less substance in the CB1 receptors. As a result, people are less likely to experience the more distressing symptoms that can arise when someone is too high, according to specialists.
IS THAT LEGAL?
One of delta-8’s key draws for users is the allegedly gentler high. The second is its legal standing.
The 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp, marked the beginning of Delta-8’s ascent. Both hemp and marijuana are forms of the cannabis plant; however, only marijuana yields delta-9-THC, while hemp does not. Imagine hemp and marijuana as two different tomato plant varieties if only one tomato variety could make you high.
As long as it contains less than 0.3 percent T.H.C., you may produce hemp legally, according to the Farm Bill. However, the authors of the bill made a mistake; according to Kent Vrana, a professor of pharmacology at Penn State: T.H.C. was characterized explicitly as delta-9-THC,
Although manufacturers have discovered a way to make delta-8-THC from CBD, a third prominent component in cannabis plants, which comes in trace amounts in both hemp and marijuana plants, large amounts of CBD are found in hemp plants, claiming that because CBD is legal, delta-8 is also.
Although manufacturers have discovered a way to make delta-8-THC from CBD, a third prominent component in cannabis plants, which remains in trace amounts in both hemp and marijuana plants, large amounts of CBD are found in hemp plants, claiming that because CBD is legal, delta-8 is as well.
According to Eric Leas, an assistant professor of public health at the University of California, San Diego, “these producers are arguing that since you can extract CBD from hemp, and CBD is not T.H.C., that it’s still called hemp.” In other words, delta-8 is chemically T.H.C., but it’s hemp, which is legal.
The synthetic delta-8-THC is commonly sold legally via the internet and in retailers, where it is put into candies and vape cartridges. However, because the goods are unregulated, what is on the label and within the package may change, both in the potency of delta-8 and other unexpected ingredients like delta-9.
IS IT HAZARDOUS?
Many public health professionals are most concerned about the absence of regulation surrounding buying delta-8 gummies in the United States. Contaminants in delta-8 products have been discovered in several investigations, including one by the U.S. Cannabis Council. None of the 27 delta-8 products evaluated in a different study by researchers at the University of Rochester that existed in December contained the reported level of delta-8.
Additionally, all 27 included potentially dangerous by-products, most likely from the production process, such as heavy metals like lead and mercury and other cannabinoids like delta-9-THC.
The way it forms and who is selling it scares me, Dr. Vrana said, even if he didn’t believe delta-8 was inherently more harmful than delta-9. There are many opportunities for mistakes because it is unregulated and synthetic. In September, the C.D.C. released a health advisory for delta-8 because of these worries. In May, the F.D.A. issued a similar warning after receiving 104 reports of adverse effects associated with delta-8, including hallucinations, vomiting, tremor, anxiety, disorientation, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Similar to this, national poison control centers received almost 2,000 calls about delta-8 between January 2021 and February 2022, with youngsters inadvertently eating items containing delta-8 accounting for 41% of those calls. One of those incidents had a fatal
These poisonings may be brought on by ingesting large doses of unlabeled or contaminated delta-8 or delta-9. T.H.C. can lead to prolonged vomiting, psychosis, and addiction when used in excessive amounts. Due to the lack of federal regulation, delta-8 and all other uncontrolled forms of T.H.C. (including delta-10) have been outlawed in 14 states. That contains several places where marijuana is legal for recreational use, like Colorado and New York.
We cannot guarantee the safety of delta-8, according to every expert consulted for this piece, including those who favor legalizing marijuana. But they said that regulation, not outright outlawing, is the preferred course of action in this case.