The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an advisory regarding the increased availability of cannabis products containing delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the potential for adverse events due to insufficient labeling of products containing THC and cannabidiol (CBD).

The term THC commonly refers to the delta-9 THC isomer, which is psychoactive and causes euphoria. However, THC contains several other isomers including delta-8 THC, which is approximately 50 to 75% as psychoactive as delta-9 THC. CBD products containing delta-8 THC are becoming more prominent in both marijuana and hemp marketplaces. Some of these products may potentially be confused with hemp or CBD products, which are non-psychoactive.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not evaluated or approved the safe use of delta-8 THC products in any context. The FDA is concerned that delta-8 THC products “likely expose consumers to much higher levels of the substance than are naturally occurring in hemp cannabis raw extracts.”


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From December 2020 to July 2021, the FDA received adverse event reports describing 22 patients who ingested delta-8 THC products. Among the 22 patients, 14 were admitted to a hospital or emergency room, and 19 reported adverse events including vomiting, hallucinations, trouble standing, and loss of consciousness.

Among the 661 cases of delta-8 THC exposures identified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 119 (18%) required hospitalization and 258 (39%) involved pediatric patients less than 18 years of age.

In response to the increased availability of delta-8 THC products, the CDC recommends that patients presenting with THC-like intoxication symptoms should be questioned about their use of CBD or delta-8 THC products. It is unclear whether tests used to detect delta-9 THC are useful in detecting delta-8 THC. There is currently no specific antidote for THC intoxication; treatment is based on supportive care.

Adverse events related to these products should be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch program.

References

  1. Increases in availability of cannabis products containing delta-8 THC and reported cases of adverse events. News release. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Alert Network Health Advisory. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://emergency.cdc.gov/han/2021/han00451.asp
  2. 5 Things to Know about Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC. News release. US Food and Drug Administration. Accessed September 14, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc.

This article originally appeared on MPR