The Haymaker is Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott’s opinion column about cannabis politics and culture.

Headlines alarmed the cannabis world last week when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert about the risks of delta-8 THC, the hemp-derived cannabinoid that’s become all the rage in non-legal states.

haymaker-column-logo

CDC officials noted that US poison control centers recorded 119 cases of “delta-8 exposures” that resulted in hospitalization in just the first six months of 2021.

That’s troubling.

Leafly has reported extensively on the delta-8 phenomenon and on the many real risks that come from consuming an unregulated and often untested product. So I took a dive into the CDC’s data to see if the alarm matched the evidence.

It did not.

‘Exposures’ led to ‘symptoms’

Here’s what the CDC led with:

“In March 2021, the West Virginia Poison Control Center reported two cases of adverse events related to use of delta-8 THC products in adults. In both instances, individuals mistook the products containing delta-8 THC for CBD-like products. These exposures led to symptoms consistent with cannabis intoxication.”

In other words, two adults in West Virginia consumed delta-8 products under the mistaken assumption that they were taking CBD. Result: They got high.

When people get high when they aren’t expecting it, some of them naturally freak out. They don’t know what’s happening. Some become frightened. So they take the next logical step. They call the local poison control center or check into the nearest emergency room—even though what’s happening to them may be the same experience that many cannabis consumers actually seek.

The CDC’s warning is framed with frightening language—poison control centers, hospitals, exposures, symptoms. But “exposures led to symptoms consistent with cannabis intoxication” means those people got high. Nothing more.

Now, those patients may not have wanted to get high. Or maybe they got higher than they expected, freaked out, and called for help. But those are not poisonings. Those are instances of poor labeling or consumer inexperience.

Related

I tried delta-8 THC: Here’s what it feels like

Delta-8 rises in prohibition states

CDC officials noted that the two first recorded delta-8 “exposures” trickled in around Sept. 2020, gradually increasing to 48 in the month of July 2021. “The majority of these visits (73%),” occurred in the “Southern states that have not passed state laws to allow non-medical adult cannabis use.”

Most of the ‘exposures’ were reported in the South, where cannabis prohibition remains the law of the land.

Of course they did. Delta-8 THC products exist primarily because there is a demand for cannabis in prohibition states. If cannabis were legal in the South, consumers could choose from thousands of licensed, lab-tested, and well-labeled delta-9 THC products. But they can’t, so unregulated delta-8 products entered through a legal back door.

In those Southern states, delta-8 THC products are sometimes labeled and sold as “delta-8 CBD.” That wink-and-nod strategy may keep shop owners out of trouble with local cops, but it confuses consumers who don’t expect the intoxicating high delivered by delta-8.

This is a parenting problem

The most troubling aspect of the CDC’s warning isn’t the adults who get unexpectedly high. It’s the kids. Earlier this year the Michigan Poison Center reported a case of two children ingesting their father’s delta-8 THC gummies, which he purchased at a vape shop. “The children developed sedation, slowed breathing, low blood pressure and slowed heart rate, requiring admission to the intensive care unit,” the Center reported.

We don’t know the details of that particular incident. The father may have thought his gummies were loaded with CBD, nothing more. Either way, if kids are getting into a parent’s stash, that’s on the parents, not the stash. If your gummies are infused with anything other than sugar, don’t be stupid. Keep them out of reach of children.

A byproduct of prohibition

At the end of the day, what we have here is a rising trend of consumers in non-legal states trying delta-8 THC products.

The solution isn’t to raise a panic about delta-8. The solution is to legalize and regulate.

Some of them buy products mislabeled as “delta-8 CBD” and find themselves unexpectedly high. Others take too much and need help riding out an experience of overintoxication. And a few parents carelessly leave their infused gummies lying around where the kids can get their hands on what they think is candy.

The solution isn’t to raise a panic about delta-8 THC. The solution is to legalize and regulate cannabis products in every state, so that consumers have access to licensed, regulated, tested, and properly labeled products. And nobody has to sneak around pretending a THC-infused gummy contains nothing more than CBD.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

View Bruce Barcott’s articles



Source link

5 creeper weed strains that’ll trick you into getting really stoned

5 creeper weed strains that’ll trick you into getting really stoned

With Halloween right around the corner, what better way to get in the spirit than by smoking some creeper weed. You know the kind: You smoke a bunch of it and don’t get high or think you somehow forgot to inhale, and just when you turn to your friend to say,...

This delta-8 is built for party vibes

This delta-8 is built for party vibes

Presented ByActiv-8 October 27, 2021 Delta-8 syrups and shots designed for sharing. There’s nothing quite like kicking back with some friends and a cold drink in your hand. Even better, you’re not limited to beer or punch in that cup. The flavor masters at...

Autumn strains to kick off cuffing season

Autumn strains to kick off cuffing season

The fall season is upon us! It’s time to break out the sweaters, boots, and embrace all things pumpkin. If you’re searching out a new strain to keep you cozy as temperatures drop, there’s a sea of quality green to pick from to match any budget. During this...

Florida judge rules in favor of Leafly and online cannabis ordering

Florida judge rules in favor of Leafly and online cannabis ordering

Medical patients can finally order products again, after months without third-party options Medical patients in Florida can resume using Leafly and other third-party services to order cannabis from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, following a Monday...

HHC is your new favorite hemp-derived high

HHC is your new favorite hemp-derived high

Hemp is bringing us new experiences—and fresh perspectives. Whether you want a chill time or a wild ride, hemp, it turns out, has something for everybody. You’ve heard of delta-8’s mellow vibes and delta-10’s get-up-and-go attitude, but with even more...

How does delta-10 compare to delta-8 and THC?

How does delta-10 compare to delta-8 and THC?

The alternative THC wave is hitting the cannabis industry like a hurricane with a whole new plethora of cannabinoids and products. A few months ago I tried delta-8 gummies for the people to see how they felt, and today, I’m back to tell you about delta-10, the...