We’ve all heard of Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). She’s the cheeky little minx responsible for getting us high.
She does a lot of other cool stuff, such as helping us sleep, relieving our aches and pains, helping to reduce nausea, and in the right doses, can even improve anxiety symptoms.
But have you heard about delta-9’s popular cousin, Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol?
Delta-8 THC has been dubbed diet weed or marijuana lite because its effects are reportedly milder than regular ol’ delta-9 THC. The compound has gained popularity due to its ability to induce euphoria, happiness, symptom relief, and sedation without paranoia.
Sounds pretty magical, right?
Interestingly, there’s been growing concerns coming out of the US about the safety of delta-8 THC, and there are now reports it’s being prescribed to Australian patients.
The concern stems from the claims that delta-8 is predominantly derived from hemp plants. However, there’s evidence to suggest that the concentrations of naturally occurring delta-8 are so low that it would take 55,000 kilos of hemp biomass to create one kilo of delta-8 THC through natural sources. This puts the wholesale price at an estimated cost of USD $500 million per kilo .
I’m not sure if even Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos would be buying at this price, let alone the everyday consumer.
So, how are manufacturers producing affordable Delta-8 products? According to Chris Hudalla, chief scientific officer of cannabis testing lab ProVerde Laboratories, the chances of this cannabinoid being derived from hemp is slim to none.
In fact, he has described a “synthetic pathway” that converts either delta-9 THC or CBD to delta-8 THC and has warned that the conversion results in isomers and synthetic reaction by-products not found in nature. These synthetic compounds have not been studied for their toxicity to humans .
Given the growing concerns about delta-8 products landing on our shores, Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) has sent a position paper to members on delta-8 THC products to clarify confusion about the cannabinoid and to ensure practitioners aren’t prescribing it in error.
Currently, manufacturers whose products do contain delta-8 do not have to declare on the label whether the product contains delta-8 or delta-9, only that the product contains THC.
MCIA is actively encouraging companies to disclose whether products contain delta-8 or delta-9 to ensure complete transparency for prescribers and patients .
The MCIA paper states: “Given the differences in the chemical and pharmacological properties between these isomers of THC [delta-8 and delta-9], transparency in labelling by suppliers, informed decisions by prescribers, and awareness by patients, are key to ensuring patient safety and to avoid medicine confusion or mistakes.”