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We Have To Know: Is Delta-8 THC Safe?

Jan, 2022
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Cannabis is a package with many presents. According to some estimates, there are close to 100 naturally occurring cannabinoids in the special plant, each one offering unique benefits. Recently, the cannabis world learned about delta-8 THC, a supportive, mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that’s federally legal.

The popularity of Delta-8 THC has grown over the past year, especially in states where recreational marijuana is illegal. Amidst this exploding popularity, consumers and non-consumers alike have started asking the same question: is delta-8 THC safe? 

cannabis cannabinoids; is delta-8 THC safe?

Delta-8 THC: The New Kid on the Block

Delta-8 vs weed: what’s the difference?

When comparing D8 to D9, delta 8 THC is quite similar to delta-9 THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gets you high. After all, they share nearly identical double bond structures. Like delta-9, delta-8 can get you high, but the effect is milder. Some consumers who prefer a less potent experience choose delta-8. 

Delta-8 occurs in very little quantities in cannabis; most delta-8 you find on the market are made in the lab because nature doesn’t make much of it. It is a relatively unknown cannabinoid. Clinical studies on the effects of THC are hard to find. In fact, researchers published the only known study in 1973, almost 50 years ago, and it doesn't tell us much about delta-8. 

LEARN MORE: What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 Safety Concerns

Is delta-8 THC safe? Well, that depends.

The popularity of delta-8 has generated much interest among consumers, but regulators, physicians, and other experts in the cannabis industry have voiced their concerns.

Because most manufacturers craft delta-8 THC in labs, there are no rules to stop unscrupulous sellers and suppliers from adding toxic substances and poisoning consumers. 

In June 2021, the U.S Cannabis Council (USCC), a trade group representing state-licensed cannabis companies and advocates of legalization, issued a report that brought the consequences of the unlicensed and unregulated delta-8 THC dangers to light.

The report referred to delta-8 THC as “a rapidly expanding crisis” and called for action by consumer protection bodies. The report said: “While efforts to legalize and to regulate the sale of cannabis and cannabinoids derived from cannabis should encompass Delta-8 THC, the fact that it is being sold outside of the regulated marketplace with no oversight or testing and is readily available to children is alarming, and it presents a public health risk of a potentially wider impact than the vape crisis.” 

The USSC commissioned tests on delta-8 products, their labeling, and marketing. The results are alarming. It was found that “not only do Delta-8 THC products commonly have vastly varying amounts of delta-8 THC, but they also can contain amounts of delta-9 THC in clearly illegal quantities, as well as pesticides and heavy metals.”

They went on to state, “The packaging of such products is often misleading or outright false as to the product’s ingredients, and it often includes unsubstantiated claims about medical or other benefits.”

Delta-8 Side Effects

Patients who have been treated after consuming or accidentally ingesting delta-8 show symptoms such as the following:

  • Psychoactivity
  • Difficulty thinking and speaking
  • Severe nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Impaired coordination
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss

The Need for Caution: We’ve Been Here Before

Of course, you should pay attention to what you put in your body. (Even more so when it comes to a widely available, easily contaminated, yet unregulated product.) By buying unregulated THC, you could be purchasing a product with questionable potency at best. At worst, it could contain toxic substances that can lead to hospitalization in the case of vape products.

So, is delta-8 safe? Why the worry?

Well, the alarm is not unfounded. All of this has happened before: flashback a few years.

Between August 2019 and February 2020, America suffered a public health crisis caused by vaping. This epidemic led to 2,807 hospitalizations and 68 deaths. The victims fell sick after inhaling vitamin E acetate, a chemical used as an oil thickener in unlicensed cartridges. This caused them to contract the deadly long disease known as EVALI.

You'll find vitamin acetate in many foods and dietary supplements, and as a cosmetic ingredient. It's not harmful as a vitamin supplement or cosmetic ingredient but can interfere with lung function if inhaled. All of this stays present in the cannabis community's mind as we see similar fears arise with delta-8 products. 

No matter what, you should put your health first.

Delta-8 THC Dangers

cannabis and test tube; is delta 8 THC safe

It's tempting to focus on the reported benefits of delta-8 THC, but it is necessary to be aware of the dangers, too. Is delta-8 bad for you? It could be. However, it is important to note that the potential risks don't come from the natural cannabinoid itself. Instead, they come from the additives and contaminants that make their way into the product in the manufacturing process. 

A research team commissioned by the USSC bought and tested unlicensed delta-8 THC from unregulated stores in Indiana, Texas, Nevada, California, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, and Massachusetts. Of the 16 products tested, none complied with the 0.3 THC limit that the 2018 Farm Bill prescribes. 

Many products contained illegal compounds prohibited in cannabis products, such as chromium, copper, nickel, and lead. The toxicity doesn’t stop there; the products had solvents at levels unsafe for human inhalation. These solvents included heptane, hexane, methanol, ethyl acetate, isopropanol, acetone, and dichloromethane. 

Dubious Retail Sources 

If you're wondering if delta-8 THC is safe, you can primarily blame fraudulent companies for that anxiety.

Infused delta-8 THC products are available in licensed cannabis stores run by companies with a clean record. However, many companies sell delta-8 products without regulatory oversight. Thus, you can buy them online or in stores like gas stations and smoke shops. 

Cannabis and cannabis products found in state-licensed stores must adhere to strict standards of potency and purity. Meaning what you see on the label is what you must get without toxic chemicals and contaminants. On the contrary, professionals test inhalable delta-8 products for mold, dew, and other contaminants harmful to the lungs. 

Products bought online or in unlicensed stores are more likely to contain untested and contaminated delta-8. There could be a discrepancy between the THC a brand advertises on the label and the actual THC content. Be careful! 

FDA Warning on Delta-8 Dangers

The risk that illicit delta-8 poses have prompted the FDA to issue an update on their website warning the public about delta-8 THC dangers. Factors that informed the release of the information by the FDA include:

  • An increase in reports of adverse events involving delta-8 THC
  • Marketing that appeals to children  
  • The risk of contamination during the manufacturing process

According to the FDA, here are five reasons to protect yourself and those you love from unlicensed and unregulated delta-8 THC.

The FDA has not approved delta-8 THC products, and they may pose a public health risk.

Amid exploding popularity and accompanying concern, it is important to note that no delta-8 product has been evaluated and certified safe by the FDA. 

Variability in product formulation and product labeling, variable THC content, and mislabeling are some concerns. The FDA states that “This deceptive marketing of unproven treatments raises significant public health concerns because patients and other consumers may use them instead of approved therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases.” 

LEARN MORE: MI Regulates Delta-8 | Is Delta 8 Legal in Your State?

The FDA has received reports concerning the adverse effects of delta-8 THC products.

is delta 8 THC safe? cannabis flower in a jar

Within eight months from December 2020 to July 2021, the FDA received adverse event reports involving 22 patients who consumed delta-8 THC products. 

Medical professionals treated fourteen of these patients in the hospital or emergency room. Additionally, 19 consumers experienced adverse reactions, including vomiting, loss of consciousness, hallucination, and trouble standing after consuming food products containing delta-8 THC. 

Between January 2018 and July 31, National Poison Control Centers received 661 cases of exposure to delta-8 THC products, 660 of the cases occurred between January 1, 2021, and July 31, 2021. The FDA notes that of the 661 exposure cases: 

  • Unintentional exposure to delta-8 THC accounted for 41%, and of these unintentional cases, 71% affected minors less than 18 years old. 
  • Minors less than 18 years old made up 39%
  • 18% required hospitalization, including children admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) following delta-8 THC exposure

Always keep in mind that the D8 cannabinoid can induce psychoactivity and intoxication similar to Delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC products likely contain levels of the substance much higher than in natural hemp cannabis extracts.

Concentrations of delta-8 THC found on the open market are manufactured using potentially harmful chemicals.

The delta-8 THC that occurs naturally in the hemp cannabis plant is minimal. Thus, extractors rely on chemicals to create delta-8 THC from other cannabinoids in the lab. Unscrupulous manufacturers use potentially unsafe household chemicals to synthesize delta-8 THC in the manufacturing process.

The result is a final product that may contain contaminants; if consumed or inhaled, these contaminants can be harmful. Also, manufacturing may take place in unsanitary conditions, which increases the risk of contamination.  

Keep delta-8 products away from children and pets!

It's incredibly easy to purchase delta-8 THC products; you can find them online, in convenience stores, and in retail stores. Because of that accessibility, you have to be diligent with proper storage.

Manufacturers package and label these products in ways that appeal to unsuspecting children. Poison control centers have had cases where parents accidentally exposed minors to these products. Also, animal poison control centers have noted a spike in cases of animals accidentally exposed to delta-8 THC.

Keep them out of the reach of children and pets. If you're wondering, “is delta-8 THC safe for me?” Then you shouldn't be giving it to anyone else, either.

Is Delta-8 THC Safe? We're Not So Sure

Cannabis is a wonder plant, but sometimes, information can be the difference between purchasing and ingesting quality cannabis products and illicit products that harm your health. That’s why we have made it our duty to provide you with up-to-date information.

If you’re still unsure of the safety regarding the cannabis around you, or questions like “Is delta-8 THC safe?” still linger in your head without conviction, reach out to Elevate Holistics for more information. Our helpful services don’t stop there, either! At Elevate Holistics, we can also help you get your MMJ card or link you with a licensed dispensary.

No matter what you're searching for, we have the cannabis resources for you. Contact us today!