Texas has wisely taken a slow and cautious approach by resisting calls to legalize marijuana for recreational use. We should be just as guarded when it comes to other products derived from the cannabis plant.
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-8, is a compound that became legal in Texas in 2019. The chemical is similar to delta-9 THC, which is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Products with concentrations of more than 0.3% delta-9 THC are illegal in Texas and at the federal level.
Like marijuana, delta-8 is capable of causing a “high.” The immediate effects on the user are similar to those of delta-9, but little is known about the long-term impact of delta-8 products, which come in the form of gummies, tinctures or vape cartridges.
The Texas Department of State Health Services attempted to ban delta-8 in 2021, but after a company filed a lawsuit against the state, a judge allowed the products to remain on the shelves while the case was resolved. Oral arguments were heard in a Texas court last week, but a final decision will take some time.
The last thing we need is to find out delta-8 products aren’t safe after so many Texans have used them.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that delta-8 products “have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use in any context.” Companies that produce them might label their products as safe or medicinal, but Forbes reported in 2021 that most delta-8 products had misleading labels. The necessary oversight of these products still isn’t there.
Manufacturing delta-8 involves some heavy-duty processing. The FDA has said that it has concerns with harmful chemical contamination that can result from its production.
It’s difficult if not impossible for consumers to tell what’s actually in delta-8 products. Paired with labels with misleading statements about the products’ benefits, the widespread availability of delta-8 items in gas stations and smoke shops seems downright dangerous.
A January study analyzed negative health incidents from delta-8 reported in an FDA database. It found that the most commonly reported effects were labored breathing, respiratory disorders and seizures. The authors wrote that future research with reliable, comprehensive data can help identify the risks of these products and make them safer for use.
But that research isn’t in yet. This isn’t the first instance of a drug growing popular before it was really understood. On other occasions, it ended in disaster, and Texans would be remiss not to learn from that.
Around 2010, synthetic marijuana products like K2 and Spice ran wild in communities across the United States. At the time, our editorial board wasn’t thrilled with Dallas’ “premature” ban of the drugs. We were wrong. It soon became clear that the substances can be severely harmful.
While the legal battle over delta-8 continues and its future in Texas remains uncertain, Texans everywhere should be wary of these products.
The Dallas Morning News