Susan Kennedy has smoked marijuana and says her Wisconsin roots allow her to handle booze well, so earlier this year, a bartender in St. Paul, Minnesota, gave her a cocktail containing the cannabinoid delta-8 THC. “Slightly effective.”

After hours of enjoying a delicious drink and the silliness that Kennedy reminded me of the elation from weed, she began to feel “really shivering and faint,” before collapsing in her friend’s arms, she said. regains consciousness and recovers, but her dislike of Delta-8 remains, even though the substance is legal on a federal level, unlike marijuana.

“I’m not the type to really tell people what to do,” said Kennedy, 35, who lives in Milwaukee and works in software sales. But if a friend of his tried to order a Delta 8 drink, “I would tell them, ‘Absolutely not. You’re not putting it in your body.’

The FDA and some marijuana industry experts share Kennedy’s concerns.At least a dozen states that have legalized marijuana, including Colorado, Montana, New York and Oregon, have banned hemp-derived drugs. . But Delta-8 makers called the concerns unfounded and said they were driven by marijuana companies trying to protect market share.

What’s the difference? The flowers of the marijuana plant, the oil derived from it, and the edibles made from them contain delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance that produces the drug’s high sensation, and state dispensaries that have legalized marijuana Similar products containing Delta-8 THC are sold online and in bars and retail stores in most places in the United States, including some places where pot remains illegal. I’m here. That’s because a 2018 federal law legalized hemp, a type of cannabis plant.

Concerns about Delta-8 center primarily on how it is manufactured. Delta-8 is typically produced by dissolving CBD (a compound found in the cannabis plant) in a solvent such as toluene, which is commonly found in thinners. Some in the marijuana industry say the process leaves behind potentially harmful residues. It turns out that

The FDA has issued a warning about “serious health risks” from Delta 8, citing concerns about the conversion process, and has received more than 100 reports of hallucinations, vomiting, loss of consciousness and other problems after consumption. According to the FDA, from January 2021 to February this year, the National Center for Poison Control said he received more than 2,300 Delta-8 cases, 70% of which required users to be evaluated at a healthcare facility.

Dr. Peter Grinspoon, chief physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and a longtime medical marijuana provider, said Delta-8 is “for people who want access to cannabis but live in states where it’s illegal.” It’s the obvious solution,’ he said.

Grinspoon explained that Delta 8 is about half as potent as marijuana. However, due to the lack of research on delta-8’s possible benefits and the lack of regulation, he does not recommend patients use it. Like the Massachusetts medical and recreational marijuana program Harmful contaminants could be flagged or removed if regulated, he said.

Christopher Hudalla, chief scientific officer at ProVerde Laboratories, a marijuana and hemp testing company in Massachusetts, has tested thousands of Delta 8 products, all of which contain contamination that could be harmful to consumer health. said to contain substances.

Delta 8 has “incredible therapeutic potential”. Because it has many of the same benefits as marijuana, minus some of the addiction. “But there is no Delta 8 like Unicorn. What exists on the market is a synthetic mixture of unknown garbage.”

Justin Journay, owner of Delta 8 brand 3Chi, is skeptical of concerns about the product. He started the company in 2018 after hemp oil relieved a sore shoulder. “‘There must be gold in that hill,'” Journay recalled. His Indiana-based company now has more than 300 employees and sponsors NASCAR teams, he said.

When asked about the FDA’s reports of adverse reactions, Journay said: Absolutely. Cheeseburgers are risky. ”

He believes the side effects are from an overdose. “We say ‘start low.’ You can always take more,” Journay said.

Journay said he understands the concerns about contaminants in Delta 8 products, and his company is working to identify a small portion of the remaining unknown substances that he claims are plant-derived cannabinoids. You said you were running a test.

An analysis of 3Chi delta-8 oil conducted last year by Hudalla’s company and posted on 3Chi’s website found several unidentified compounds that “do not occur naturally” and are therefore “not recommended for human consumption.” I was. Delta-8 oil is still for sale on his 3Chi site.

According to Journay, analysis showed that only 0.4% of the oil contained unknown compounds. “So how can you conclude that a compound is not natural if you don’t even know what it is?” he said in an email.

“Most of the negative information out there and the drive to outlaw Delta-8 comes from the marijuana industry,” Journay said. “It’s hurting their profit margins. It’s funny how suddenly the marijuana guys get banned.”

Delta-8 products seem to be considerably cheaper than weed. For example, Curleaf, one of the world’s largest cannabis companies, sells packages of gummies containing 100 milligrams of delta-9 THC at a pharmacy in Massachusetts for $25 plus sales tax. At 3Chi, the online price for a gummy containing 400 milligrams of Delta 8 is $29.99 excluding tax.

Journay’s criticism of the marijuana industry contains some truth, said Chris Lindsey, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. Lindsay said. “Their established medical cannabis industry will sometimes be your worst enemy. It’s a business problem. It’s not a marijuana problem.”

Still, bans may not be fully operational. In New York, which has banned Delta 8 in 2021, it’s available at any bodega, Lindsay said.

In July, Minnesota implemented a law limiting the amount of THC containing delta-8 allowed in hemp products outside of medical marijuana programs. But the state “cannot control what is sold and shipped over the Internet outside of Minnesota,” said the policy director of Sensible Change Minnesota, which aims to legalize recreational cannabis for adults. said Maren Schroeder.

Minneapolis writer and editor Max Barber remains interested in Delta 8 despite state restrictions. He has an anxiety disorder and a chronic sleep disorder, so he might be able to get a prescription for medical marijuana, but he hasn’t pursued it because marijuana exacerbated his anxiety. in March 2021, he tried 10 milligrams of Delta 8 gummies.

“It got me pretty high, which I don’t enjoy,” he said.

Then he found what he thought was the right dosage for him.At one-third of the gummies, he takes it in the evening.He now gets six to eight hours of sleep each night. Barber, who bought enough gummies to last for months after the new law went into effect, said, “I have trouble sleeping. It has become a kind of evangelist for Delta 8 for everyone who knows it.

To address concerns about Delta-8, the federal government needs to regulate it and make cannabis more accessible to consumers, said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform. says Mr.

He points to a recent study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, which found that in 2021, the number of Google searches for delta 8 in the US would skyrocket, with interest particularly high in states restricting cannabis use. I showed that. “In an environment where whole plant cannabis is legally available, there will be little demand for these alternative products,” Armentano said.

Lindsey of the Marijuana Policy Project isn’t sure if that will matter. I thought it would stay within regulatory rules long enough to stand in line for the eventual closure.

“It didn’t happen,” Lindsey said. “The more we understand about the plant, the more these different cannabinoids will come out,” he said, which will appeal to consumers and businesses.

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