Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC) is chemically and functionally similar to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) (the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant) and is currently widely available "over-the-counter" across the United States due to unregulated sales. However, these products have a questionable legal status based on current U.S. laws, as Δ8-THC is considered a Schedule I drug by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Despite this designation, Δ8-THC products (e.g., gummies, edibles, oils, and vapes) are largely unregulated and are sold in gas stations, online, and other marketplaces (most often outside of authorized dispensaries) and are marketed as legal hemp products. This problem arises from a purposeful misinterpretation of the 2018 Farm Bill, which some interpret as legalization of non-Δ9-THC cannabinoids (notably, Δ8-THC). The widespread availability of Δ8-THC products has not been without health consequences. The lack of regulation means that there are no required warning labels or packaging protections in place and no mandated laboratory analysis to assure label accuracy or product purity. As Δ8-THC produces physiological and toxicological effects that are similar to Δ9-THC, high-dose exposure of Δ8-THC (e.g., consuming a full bag of Δ8-THC gummies) has resulted in recent reports of medical emergencies, including calls to poison control centers and presentations to emergency departments, with some pediatric patients arriving unconscious and unresponsive. Several states and regulatory agencies have called for legislation to regulate Δ8-THC, but little progress has occurred nationally thus far.
Keywords: Drug Enforcement Agency; Schedule I; United States Farm Bill; delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol; regulatory; Δ8-THC.