KANSAS CITY, Mon. – Most people are already familiar with Delta 9 THC. It’s what gets someone high from smoking or using cannabis.
However, the cannabis plant contains more than a hundred different cannabinoids. Delta 9 and CBD are the most common.
Recently, Delta 9’s chemical cousin, Delta 8, exploded in the market.
“It has similar effects, but far less psychoactive,” said Vince Sanders, CEO of CBD American Shaman. “It has a lot of the great benefits of pain management and stress and the like.”
You can get Delta 8 in several forms, just like regular weed: gummies, joints, extracts, and vape pens.
It’s even sold at gas stations and smoke shops on the subway.
Delta 8 occurs naturally in the cannabis plant, but in traces, so the manufacture of these products requires a laboratory. Many of the products are synthetically derived from CBD or hemp.
As long as the product does not contain more than 0.3% Delta 9 THC, it is considered hemp, which falls under the Farm Bill 2018.
The Farm Bill regulates the weed most people know but says nothing about Delta 8. The loophole also makes way for products that contain other cannabinoids, like Delta 10, which is also new to the market.
However, these products don’t have strict testing requirements like medical marijuana.
“It’s really a safety issue because nobody knows about these synthetic forms of THC,” said Anthony David, COO of Green Precision Analytics. “No studies have been done. Patients buy this and use it as medicine without knowing what’s in it.”
Green Precision Analytics is a medical marijuana testing facility but has recently started testing Delta-8 products.
Lab directors Josh Kollmeyer and David said cannabis companies, store owners, and even patients asked them to test Delta-8 products to see what they were made of.
What they find is worrying, they said.
“What we are seeing are many products made on the black market using heavy chemicals, toluene, methalin chloride and hexanes – which are extremely carcinogenic to humans when they are inhaled, especially through the lungs,” said Kollmeyer.
Kollmeyer said the majority of the Delta-8 products they tested contain more than 0.3% Delta-9-THC, which is not allowed under the Farm Bill.
People looking to experience a high of Delta 8 may not mind if they end up receiving a misleading product with more Delta 9. However, experts say this threshold is critical for the industry to give customers a clear idea of dosage and safety.
A great way to find out if a product is legitimate is to go through a third-party testing facility.
“We have a full test facility in-house, so every product in the store has been tested and batch tested,” said Sanders. “It has also been tested by third parties.”
American Shaman uses Zen Master as their supplier.
Sanders said you should look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that should be easily accessible via a QR code on the product packaging.
Sanders and others at Green Precision Analytics believe Delta 8 has a place in the cannabis industry because of its therapeutic benefits, but want to see more regulations that get sketchy manufacturers out of the way.
“Every time something new comes into the cannabis space, there is concern because it is a very balanced business. We have to protect everything that is potentially harmful to the industry, ”said Sanders.