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.”
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.
- 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.
- 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.