CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Barbour County Sheriff’s Department Monday posted a public service announcement for parents on its Facebook page warning about delta-8 products that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the same psychoactive substance that causes people to get high when consuming marijuana.
The sheriff’s department warned that the products are small and easy to conceal, that they sometimes do not have a smell, because kids can avoid exhaling the vapors and therefore avoid detection, and that the products are often in brightly colored packaging that it says are being marketed toward children.
The warning came just over two weeks after three Philip Barbour High School students were taken to the hospital after “having very serious and adverse reactions to something.” Deputies have still not clarified what the substance was but did say it was not fentanyl.
If it contains THC, how is it being sold?
Delta-8 THC isn’t illegal at the federal level because of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp and derivatives of cannabis with extremely low concentrations of delta-9 THC from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
With no federal regulations, that means it’s up to individual states to make laws surrounding delta-8.
West Virginia has not outlawed delta-8; although a bill to add delta-8 THC to the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances was introduced by State Sen. Jack Woodrum (R-Summers) in February. The bill died in committee.
While it may be legal, the Barbour County Sheriff’s Department cautioned that because it contains THC, it will show up on drug tests and they are not allowed in schools or other places with a zero-tolerance drug policy.
Like CBD products, which do not contain THC, delta-8 products can be sold as edibles, vape liquid, whole herb and other forms.
Is it safe?
Earlier this year, the FDA posted a warning about delta-8, pointing out several concerns, including the fact that the products, though sold in stores and online, are not evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use. That raises concerns like variability in product formulations and product labeling, other cannabinoid and terpene content, and variable delta-8 THC concentrations for the FDA.
Additionally, the FDA said, it has received adverse event reports involving delta-8 THC-containing products; of which, the FDA said 55% required medical intervention or hospital admission. Those adverse events included hallucinations, vomiting, tremor, anxiety, dizziness, confusion and loss of consciousness according to the FDA.
Furthermore, the FDA warned that some manufacturers may use potentially unsafe household chemicals to make delta-8 THC or change the color of the final product, so those final products may have harmful chemical by-products. Without FDA regulation, the products may have been created in an unsanitary environment, which poses additional contamination risks.
The FDA warned that delta-8 THC products should be kept out of reach of children and pets due to marketing that is appealing to children and possible health risks.