Hemp-derived delta-8 skirts marijuana laws and raises health concerns


KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces detailed journalism on health issues. KHN, along with Policy Analysis and Polling are the three main operating programs of KFF. KFF is an endowed non-profit organization that provides information to the nation on health issues.

Suzan Kennedy has smoked marijuana and claims her Wisconsin roots make it easy to handle alcohol. So she wasn’t concerned when, earlier this year, a St. Paul bartender described a cocktail containing the delta-8 THC cannabinoid as “a little potent”.

After drinking the delicious drink and feeling the silliness that reminded Kennedy about a high from marijuana, Kennedy said she felt “really shakey and faint” and then collapsed in the arms of her friend. Kennedy was able to regain consciousness, and she recovered. However, her dislike for delta-8, which is legal at the federal level, remains.

Kennedy, 35, a Milwaukee-based software salesman, said, “I’m certainly not one to tell people what they should do.” However, Kennedy said that if a friend asked for a delta-8 drink, she would say, “Absolutely no.” “You’re not putting it in your body.”

Kennedy’s concerns are shared by the FDA and some experts in the marijuana industry. The FDA and some marijuana industry experts agree that at least 12 states have banned hemp-derived drugs, including New York, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, New York, New York, New Jersey, and Oregon. These states are the ones that have legalized cannabis. Delta-8 manufacturers claim that the concerns are unfounded. They say they are driven by marijuana businesses looking to protect their market share.

What is the difference? The flower of the marijuana plant, oil derived from it, and edibles made from those contain delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance that produces the drug’s high, and can be legally sold only at dispensaries in states that have legalized marijuana. Similar products containing delta-8 THC can be purchased online, at bars and retail outlets across the U.S., even in places where marijuana is still illegal. Because a 2018 federal law legalized cannabis, hemp was allowed to be grown. Hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% THC, the psychotropic compound found in marijuana.

Delta-8’s manufacturing process is the main concern. Delta-8 is usually made by dissolving CBD, a compound found within cannabis plants, in solvents such as toluene. This solvent is commonly found in paint thinner. People in the marijuana industry claim that this process can leave behind harmful residue. An study published in Chemical Research in Toxicology last years found lead, mercury and silicon in Delta-8 electronic cigarettes.

The FDA has issued warnings regarding the “serious risks” associated with delta-8. This was due to concerns about the conversion process. There have been more than 100 reports that people experienced hallucinations, vomiting, and loss of consciousness after consuming the substance. The FDA reports that more than 2300 cases of delta-8 were reported to national poison control centers between January 2021 and February 2018. 70% of these cases required users to be evaluated by health care facilities.

Delta-8 is “just what people need to access cannabis, but are not allowed to do so legally,” Dr. Peter Grinspoon said. He is a Massachusetts General Hospital primary care physician and long-time provider of medical cannabis. You can either have a hard time buying cannabis or get delta-8.

Grinspoon said that delta-8 is half the potency of marijuana. He wouldn’t recommend it to his patients due to the lack of research on delta-8’s potential benefits and the absence regulation. He said that harmful contaminants could be flagged and removed if it was regulated as Massachusetts’ recreational and medical marijuana programs.

Christopher Hudalla is chief scientific officer of ProVerde Laboratories in Massachusetts. He said that he had examined thousands upon thousands of delta-8 products, and all contained harmful contaminants to consumers’ health.

Hudalla said that Delta-8 is “incredible” as a therapeutic because it offers many of the same benefits of marijuana without the intoxication. “But delta-8, like unicorns, doesn’t exist. The only thing that is available on the market are synthetic mixtures made of unknown garbage.

Justin Journay is the owner of 3Chi brand delta-8. He is skeptical about the claims. After experiencing relief from his shoulder pain, he started the company in 2018. Soon, he began to wonder what other cannabinoids found in hemp could do. Journay recalls thinking, “There’s got be some gold in these hills,” His Indiana-based company employs more than 300 people and sponsors a NASCAR driver team, he said.

Journay answered a question about FDA reports of adverse reactions and said that there were risks associated with THC. They are. Cheeseburgers come with risks.

He blames the side effects on taking too much. Journay stated, “We say, Start low.’ You always have the option to take more.”

Journay stated that he is sensitive to concerns regarding contaminants in delta-8 products. His company was carrying out tests to determine the small amount of unknown substances, which he claims are cannabinoids.

Hudalla’s company conducted an analysis on 3Chi Delta-8 oil last year. It was posted on 3Chi.com. The analysis revealed multiple unidentified compounds which “do not exist naturally” and “would not recommend for human consumption.” Delta-8 oil can still be purchased on 3Chi.com.

Journay stated that the analysis revealed that 0.4% of the oil contained unknown chemicals. He said it in an email: “How can they then definitively state that compound isn’t natural when they don’t even know what is it?”

Journay stated that the cannabis industries are responsible for the majority of the negative information and push to make Delta-8 illegal. “It’s cutting their profit margins which is funny that they would all of the sudden be for prohibition.”

Delta-8 products are significantly less expensive than weed. Curaleaf is one of the largest cannabis companies and offers packages that have 100 mg of delta-9 THC. These gummies are $25 plus tax at any Massachusetts dispensary. gummies containing 400 mg of delta-8 are available at 3Chi for $29.99 online. There is no tax

Journay’s critique of the marijuana industry is true, according to Chris Lindsey. He is the government relations director at the Marijuana Policy Project which supports legalization for adults. Lindsey said, “We see it happen in every adult-use legalization states.” “Their existing medical cannabis industry will sometimes become your loudest critics, and that’s not a business thing. This is not a cannabis thing.

The bans may not have been effective. Lindsey stated that in New York, where delta-8 was banned in 2021, it is still available at every bodega.

Minnesota passed a law in July that limited the amount of THC allowed in hemp products. It also banned delta-8 from its medical marijuana program. News reports that the law would eliminate delta-8. However, the state cannot control what is being sold online outside of Minnesota.

Max Barber is a Minneapolis writer and editor who remains interested in delta-8, despite the state’s restrictions. He could probably get a prescription for medical marijuana because of his anxiety disorder and chronic sleep issues, but he didn’t want to pursue it because pot made him more anxious. He tried CBD oil, but the results were inconsistent. He tried a 10-milligram Delta-8 gummy in March 2021.

He said, “It got my pretty high, which isn’t something I enjoy.”

He then found the right dose for him: one third of a gummy that he takes in the morning. He claims he gets six to eight hours sleep each night, is less anxious, and can focus better. Barber said that he has become an advocate for delta-8 and the new law for sleep problems. He bought enough gummies to last him for several months.

Paul Armentano (deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) stated that to address concerns regarding delta-8, the federal government must regulate it and make it easier for consumers to access cannabis.

He pointed at a recent study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy. It showed that Google searches for delta-8 increased in the United States in 2021. This was particularly true in states that have restricted cannabis use. Armentano stated that in an environment where whole-plant marijuana is legal, there would not be much demand for these alternatives.

Lindsey of the Marijuana Policy Project isn’t sure this would matter. He thought that delta-8 would become the same as Spice or K2 when he heard about its popularity in 2021.

Lindsey said, “That didn’t materialize.” “The more we know about this plant, the more cannabinoids will come out.” This, he stated, will spur interest from both consumers and businesses.

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