Delta-what? What you need to know about this legal THC
Mar. 20, 2023
By Katie Minor
Have you walked past a flashing Delta-8 sign in a shop window lately? Recreational marijuana isn’t legal in West Virginia, so how are stores able to advertise and sell this product?
To understand who this is possible, you first need to know what Delta-8 is.
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as Delta-8 THC, is a naturally occurring psychoactive chemical compound called a cannabinoid that’s found in such small traces in hemp and cannabis (marijuana) plants that it exists in a legal gray area.
(Delta-9 THC, on the other hand, is illegal in all states and is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. It is a much more potent psychoactive drug than Delta-8 THC, although their chemistries are very similar.)
The Agriculture and Nutrition Improvement Act of 2018 removed hemp and its byproducts from the list of controlled substances because of hemp’s low THC levels (less than 0.3%).The bill doesn’t mention Delta-8 anywhere.
Hemp advocates and others who sell it have used this loophole to legally market Delta-8 products, which come in the form of wax pens, plant buds, edibles and more.
“I believe that individuals see this as a ‘safer,’ less intense version of cannabis that is legal in West Virginia,” said Jon Dower, executive director of West Virginia Sober Living Solutions and a member of the Monongalia County Quick Response Team (QRT), a multi-organization group that tackles opioid issues that is funded by grants obtained by Monongalia County Health Department.
People who consume Delta-8 say that its effects help with nausea, pain relief and mental health. But there have also been adverse side effects reported, such as confusion, anxiety and drowsiness.
“Individuals are likely to experience euphoria from ingesting a cannabinoid. However, I regularly talk with providers across West Virginia that report psychosis and other secondary side effects from the drug,” Dower said.
While Delta-8 products are legal, they have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safe use in any context. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved a bill that includes the regulation of marketing Delta-8 THC, limiting sales to those 21 and up.
One concern surrounding Delta-8 is the lack of oversight and regulation, meaning Delta-8 products may contain impurities due to the chemicals used in producing Delta-8 products or high levels of THC. Consuming too much THC can lead to unpleasant psychoactive experiences, the risk of which might be downplayed by Delta-8 advertisers labeling the product as hemp and not properly warning consumers about the risks of THC.
Regular use of THC can cause cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). Patients with CHS can experience severe nausea and vomiting that doesn’t respond to typical anti-nausea drugs.
Delta-8 products are also often marketed in ways that are appealing to children. Edibles are packaged like sweet treats and candy, and not all stores selling these products check the age limit. It can be very easy for this product to end up in little hands. Children
ingesting gummies and candy may experience side effects including extreme tiredness, low
blood pressure, and slowed heart rate which then require hospitalization.
The most important thing to remember about Delta-8 is that just because it’s legal and easy to obtain doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. If you’re looking for something similar, consider trying CBD products that don’t contain THC and can still have calming and pain-relieving effects.
Click here to learn more about Delta-8.