Delta-8, a psychoactive compound similar in effect to delta-9 (which is what most people are talking about when they refer to THC), has been slipping through legislative loopholes around the country, including in strictly anti-recreational states like South Carolina, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Even in states where recreational use is legal, delta-8 products are not held to the same legal requirements as delta-9. Though delta-8 has a slightly different chemical structure that supposedly makes it less potent than delta-9, an independent study commissioned by CBD Oracle Lab analyzed 51 delta-8 THC products and found that 76% of them contained illegal levels of delta-9 THC. How illegal? In at least one case, a staggering 7700% over the legal delta-9 limit. The average amount of delta-9 THC in all products tested by CBD Oracle Labs was 6.6%, 22 times higher than the federally legal limit.
Dangerous Delta-9 Levels
So how is delta-8 making it so easily into the hands of recreational consumers, including people who may be particularly vulnerable to its dangerously inconsistent THC levels such as the underage and mentally ill? The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp containing less than .3 percent delta-9, which leaves the field open for delta-8 as long as it comes from hemp and stays under the limit for delta-9. The fact that it is synthetically made have also kept it off of certain regulatory radars, though warnings from the FDA and CDC as well as disturbing testimonials from Delta-8 users are causing some huge blips which may lead to a larger lockdown on what some companies are marketing as “weed light”.
Oracle Labs Tests Delta-8
An investigation from the US Cannabis Council found illegal levels of delta-9 THC in products for sale all over the country, which prompted CBD Oracle Lab to undertake a study to address three primary questions: whether a consumer gets delta-9 when purchasing a delta-8 product; whether a consumer gets as much delta-8 as the company claims, and whether the consumer will get any residues from the manufacturing process alongside cannabinoids. The outcome of the investigation showed a strong presence of delta-9 as well as a serious deficit in the degree and depth of impurities testing that is taking place. Also alarming were labeling inaccuracies and the ease with which minors can obtain these dangerously inconsistent products.
The study breaks delta-9 THC content in delta-8 products by type, revealing that vape pens and concentrates have the highest levels (at 13.11% and 12.51% respectively) and edibles contain the least at .09%. This implies that consumers should assume that vaping products or concentrates, readily available at gas stations and smoke shops alike, will be far above the limit with an average of 9.25% delta-9 content. On average, the products tested were 513 times higher in delta-9 than their reported amounts. In terms of reporting, CBD Oracle Lab also found that some companies fake or manipulate their COA results, and 34 out of the 51 products tested were only tested for potency and not impurities.
As far as delta-8 getting into the wrong hands goes, while there are occasionally age verification systems in place (though only 6 out of the 44 companies whose products were purchased had them), some companies simply use pop-ups asking the user to confirm their age while others use nothing at all. This problem is compounded by product packaging, which is often designed to resemble typical gas station snacks like Cheetos and cereal bars. Young people who use cannabis are particularly vulnerable to the reduced capacity for cognitive and response inhibition caused by THC.
There is also ample evidence that those with mental illness who consume THC have a higher risk of psychosis or at least psychotic symptoms, with heavy cannabis users experiencing a fourfold increase in the risk of psychosis than non-users. Consumers shouldn’t rely on the packaging for an accurate sense of delta-8’s effects and how vulnerable they might be to them. Half of the 51 companies studied contained no warning labels at all and some only mention possible “impairment” or “sensitivity”, and as the CBD Oracle Lab study shows, these downplayed side effects can be just the tip of a very large iceberg.