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OPINION | MIKE MASTERSON: Delta 8

by Mike Masterson | February 22, 2022 at 3:12 a.m.


What is delta-8 ? A special forces team, or spanking- new Boeing passenger jet? Nope, not even close. Although I suppose they have been known to lift some people to new and relaxing heights.

Delta-8 THC is among 100-plus cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant, yet not found in significant amounts within such a plant.

As a result, concentrated amounts of delta-8 THC and its slightly stronger cousin delta-9 THC, typically are synthetically manufactured using chemicals from hemp-derived cannabidiol (aka: CBD). Delta-8 THC is available online and in some states where it is sold legally, usually through stores that offer tobacco, alcohol, fuel and convenience stops.

While delta-8 THC products are not illegal federally (if derived from hemp since passage of the Farm Bill in 2018), they have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use in any context.

Understanding state and federal regulations surrounding delta-8 THC can prove confounding.

One Internet story said delta-8 THC is illegal in Arkansas under state law. The use, possession, sale, distribution, and production of delta-8 and its products is not permitted and is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, placing it alongside all other tetrahydrocannabinols.

Moreover, I read where penalties for delta-8 possession in Arkansas vary depending on quantity and intent. Possession of fewer than 28 grams is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison. For a user with four or more criminal convictions on their record, possession of fewer than 28 grams of delta-8 is a Class D felony punishable by up to six years in prison. But hold onto your hemp just a minute.

In stoking my confusion, Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, told me, "the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division (ABC) and the Division of Tobacco Control (ATC) have not taken a position at this time on the legality of possessing delta-8 THC in a permitted premise (a retailer that holds a license from Tobacco Control or ABC).

"The Divisions believe this is a matter better left to the discretion of local law enforcement and prosecutors," Hardin continued. "ABC and ATC remain committed to enforcing the existing rules governing their respective permit holders across the state."

Where they are considered legal, delta-8 THC products must contain less than a relatively small 0.3 percent of THC, which reportedly makes the effects of this product only slightly potent and not nearly to the THC extent of regular marijuana, delta-9, or even enough to send a user into a congnitive spiral.

I had no problem locating delta-8 gummies sold publicly across the counter in two commercial locations, which I interpret to mean it's been--and remains--widely available for some time.

My daughter, Anna, in the Memphis area, purchases it regularly in gummy form for less than $40 for a container of about a dozen.

"It definitely caused me to relax and feel mellow, " she said, smiling. "Well, now I did have a little trouble correctly matching fresh-washed socks correctly the other day after chewing one."

Although seeming on the surface to be relatively harmless, delta-8 and delta-9 THC have triggered health precautions. Those include a list of, "Five Things to Know" about the substances.

First, it has yet to be evaluated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may be marketed in a way that puts public health at risk.

Secondly, the FDA has received adverse reaction reports involving delta-8 THC-containing products. Those reports described: Forty-one percent of events involving unintentional exposure to delta-8 THC and 77 percent of those affected pediatric patients less than 18 years of age.

Eighteen percent required hospitalization, including children requiring intensive care admissions following exposures to delta-8 THC products.

Third, delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC each have psychoactive and intoxicating effects.

Fourth, delta-8 THC products often make use of household chemicals (some potentially unsafe) in the process of creating the synthetically- produced THC being sold in the marketplace.

Fifth, delta-8 THC should be kept from the reach of pets and children.


Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at [email protected]


Print Headline: Delta 8

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