Food Safety: Some edibles may contain dangerous delta-8 THC marijuana

Food Safety: Some edibles may contain dangerous delta-8 THC marijuana
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Food Safety: The marijuana-infused foods called edibles could be contaminated with this THC and cause “adverse events.” A Health Advisory was issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Food and Drug Administration. It warns of danger due to increased availability of cannabis products that contain delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol. (THC). The warning agencies claim this is due insufficient labeling for projects containing THC or CBD.

The danger comes from Delta-8 THC intoxication, which may include the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Uncoordinated movements and decreased psychomotor activity
  • Slurred speech
  • Increased heart rate progressing to slowed heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sedation
  • Coma

Cannabis plants have several “isomers” — a certain type of molecule — with most often referring to the delta-9 THC Delta-8 THC exists naturally in cannabis plants in only small quantities with 50 percent to 75 percent of the psychoactive punch as delta-9 THC.

Delta-8 and delta-9 THC, as well as other THC isomers, are also synthesized from CBD. This is not naturally psychoactive. According to the official CDC Health Advisory,

Delta-8 CBD products are becoming more common in both marijuana or hemp markets. Some of these marketplaces operate under state, tribal, or tribal laws. Online sales of concentrated delta-8 THC products are permitted by most states and territories. The advisory states that delta-8 THC products can sometimes be marketed as “weed-light” or “diet marijuana”.

The health effects of delta-8 THC are still not fully understood and have not been extensively researched. Delta-8 THC can be psychoactive, and could pose similar impairment risks to delta-9 THC.4 Products that only contain delta-8 THC, but not with the total THC, may underestimate the psychoactive potential these products have for consumers.

In addition, delta-8 THC products are not restricted to dispensaries that are licensed in certain states, territories or tribes where there is a legal market. Delta-8 THC products can be sold by many businesses that sell hemp. Delta-8 THC products can also be confused with CBD or hemp products that aren’t intoxicating. These products can cause THC intoxication to consumers who consume them.

A wide range of products containing delta-8 THC have been introduced to the market, including vapes, smokable cannabis sprayed with delta-8 CBD extract, distillates and tinctures, chocolates, gummies, and infused beverages. The warning states that testing methods for synthetically derived delta-8THC products are still being developed. Therefore, delta-8-THC products may not be systematically tested for contaminants like heavy metals, solvents or pesticides that could have adverse health effects CDC reports syndromic surveillance data of emergency departments participating in the National Syndromic Surveillance Program. The NSSP includes more than 4 ,400 emergency facilities located in 49 US states and Washington D.C.

The NSSP received the first report involving Delta-8 THC in September 2020, with subsequent monthly increases. From Jan. 1 to July 31 this year the National Poison Data System (NPDS) has recorded 660 delta-8 exposures.

Eighteen percent of those exposures required hospitalization, and 39 percent were younger than 18 years of age.

The CDC reported two cases of severe adverse reactions to delta-8 CBD in two children who ingested gummies infused with THC from their parents. The children felt deep sedation, slowed breathing, and increased heart rate. This progressed to decreased blood pressure and a slowed heart beat. The children were admitted to the intensive care unit for further monitoring and oxygen supplementation.”

A spokesman for the pro-marijuana group known as NORML blamed the rise of delta-8 THC on marijuana policy conflicts that have left gaps in access to traditional cannabis products.

NORML’s Paul Armentano said this to Marijuana Moment. It is a news site that covers the cannabis industry. “We share some agencies’ concerns about the unregulated nature these grey-market goods. The artificial market for these products is, of course, a result of the prohibition on marijuana. If whole-plant cannabis were legal, there would be little or no interest for consumers to experiment with unregulated imitations. But, absent widespread regulated access to cannabis, these unregulated producers and distributors are all too happy to fill this void.”

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