The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a report warning of issues with the Delta-8 THC manufacturing process that the NJ Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA) is echoing.
“Hemp-derived Delta-8 THC has exploded in popularity in 2021. It has been touted as a ‘legal high.’ But Delta-8 products have also raised concerns over their legality, safety, and accuracy. Which is only further demonstrated by these warnings from the CDC and FDA,” said Lital Shafir, the head of product at Leafreport. “We felt it was important to test these products earlier this year.”
Delta-8 has been proven to reduce inflammation due to pain or chronic conditions.
It has been an economic booster for hemp farmers and others in the industry who produced too much hemp. Or they were penalized for having “hot” hemp that has more than .03 percent Delta-9 THC. Delta-8 products are widely available in New Jersey at CBD and head shops.
“We don’t have standardization. Every state sets their own levels. We’ve even heard reports of laboratories working with companies to produce the levels that the companies are looking for. The thing I always come back to is education. There’s a lack of education for consumers. We need to hold some of these companies and brands accountable,” Shafir said.
CDC Concerned About Nature of Unregulated Delta-8 THC Industry
CBD derived from hemp can be synthetically converted into Delta-8, as well as Delta-9 THC, with a solvent, acid, and heat. That would produce higher concentrations of Delta-8 than those found naturally in cannabis. According to the CDC, the conversion process may create harmful by-products that presently are not well-characterized. The health effects of Delta-8 THC have not yet been researched extensively and are not well understood. However, Delta-8 is psychoactive and gets people high, similar to the way Delta-9 THC does.
Delta-8 THC products are sold by a wide range of businesses that sell hemp. As a result, Delta-8 THC products may confuse uninformed customers with hemp or CBD that doesn’t get you high.
Many Delta-8 products have entered the marketplace. They include vape cartridges or carts, smokable hemp sprayed with Delta-8 THC, tinctures or oils, gummies, chocolates, and infused beverages.
Because testing methods for Delta-8 THC products are being developed, they may not be tested systematically for contaminants such as heavy metals, solvents, or pesticides that may have adverse health effects.
Variations in product content, manufacturing practices, labeling, and misunderstanding of the psychoactive properties of Delta-8 THC may lead to unexpected effects among consumers.
CDC Recommendations for the Public
The CDC said consumers should be aware of limitations in labeling products containing THC and CBD from approved marijuana and hemp retailers.
More research is needed to understand the health effects of products containing these compounds.
The CDC said states that have passed laws allowing adult-use cannabis or may allow it should consider requiring the reporting of total THC content, including ingredients like Delta-8 THC and other compounds that may be synthetically produced on product labeling.
In addition, the CDC recommends that parents who consume edibles and other products that contain THC and CBD should store them safely away from children. Children may mistake some edibles that contain THC and CBD as candy.
The CDC said retailers selling cannabis products should provide information to consumers about the psychoactive qualities of Delta-8 THC.
NJ Cannabis Trade Association Raises Serious Issues
Many established cannabis companies have jumped on the warnings about Delta-8. Both large and small licensed cannabis companies are unhappy that Delta 8 is being widely sold in an unregulated fashion.
“Unregulated and untested Delta-8 THC and its potential dangers have been on our radar for months,” said New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA) said vice president and communications chair, and vice president of government relations for Curaleaf Matt Harrell. “As the trade association for New Jersey’s Alternative Treatment Centers, this causes us great distress.”
The NJCTA represents the 12 New Jersey medical cannabis vertically-integrated license holders, the majority of whom are large cannabis corporations from out of state, otherwise known as Multi-State Operators (MSOs). The NJCTA only allows licensed companies to be their members. Thus they have a narrow focus.
Pushing the CRC
While other states have cracked down on Delta-8, the State of New Jersey has yet to discuss or regulate it.
Harrel argued consumers who enter a New Jersey cannabis dispensary have access to an array of products that have been vetted.
“We have been pushing the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to impose rules and regulations on Delta-8 in New Jersey, even going so far as drafting a letter of great concern to them in June,” Harrell said. “These CDC studies and the statement by the FDA give us hope that this product will soon be off the market.”
He called the Delta-8 entrepreneurs “illicit.”
Harrell noted that because it is unregulated, there are no age restrictions mandating it not be sold to minors. He also said they are indifferent to health/safety rules and conduct business without concern about the consequences of their actions.
The NJCTA sent a letter to the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) in June. It was critical of the nature of the Delta-8 industry due to its lack of consumer safeguards. They ultimately urge the State to regulate the industry.