If you have any connection to the world of medical cannabis, whether as a patient, medical practitioner, or curious observer, it’s likely you’ve seen or heard something about delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Delta-8 is a semi-synthetic, largely unstudied cannabinoid that has been attracting much attention elsewhere in the world. In the US and beyond, the legalities and safety of this cannabinoid are the sources of much debate. In Australia, we’ve seen discussions around delta-8 popping up in patient forums and social media more and more frequently.
Here at alternaleaf, we’re dedicated to giving patients access to information that will help them make safe, intelligent decisions about the benefits and risks of their medical cannabis use. Below, we’ll explore delta-8 in more detail, including its effects, legal status, and safety.
What Is Delta-8?
First, a bit of background. Delta-9 THC, usually just called THC, is an intoxicating compound naturally occurring in cannabis plants, and it’s the compound responsible for improvements in pain, appetite, insomnia and other conditions.
Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive compound similar to Delta-9, but it has a slightly different chemical structure and is scarcely found in the plant. To quote the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) Deputy Secretary John Skerritt, “[Delta-8] is only found [naturally] in trace amounts, 0.1%, maybe 0.5% in some strains, but generally very, very low amounts, not commercially feasible to extract.”
Because of this, delta-8 is predominantly produced in labs where CBD, acids, solvents, and heat are combined to create the semi-synthetic cannabinoid.
What Are the Effects of Delta-8?
There are limited studies on the effects of delta-8, and the studies that have been published are mostly inconclusive.
As Skeritt stated in a recent interview, “There’s almost nothing known about the safety of delta-8.” He went on to say, “Both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have warned against adverse events.” The US FDA has received over 100 reports of adverse events related to delta-8 consumption, some requiring emergency intervention.
As a semi-synthetic compound, by-products like solvents and chemicals in the product require further research before patients can rest assured that delta-8 is safe for consumption.
Is Delta-8 Legal?
Delta-8 is not legal in Australia. At the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia’s Cannabis conference, Skerritt clearly stated, “It is not legal in Australia, despite questions about it, because it is chemically manufactured.”
The TGA has strict safety standards. Until there is a body of research around delta-8 and the by-products that have been detected, it is unlikely delta-8 will meet those standards, meaning its legal status in Australia is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Is Delta-8 Safe?
In short, no. Delta-8 is still largely untested, and the few research papers published are not extensive or reliable enough to lean on.
Plus, since it’s only available on the black market in Australia, producers of delta-8 are not held to the quality control standards that legal, medical cannabis products are.
At the conference mentioned above, Skerritt expressed concerns about initial findings on delta-8 usage in the US, stating, “Both the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have warned against adverse events… they’ve had people in emergency departments with Delta-8.”
Safe, Legal Alternatives to Delta-8
While trying the hottest new thing may be tempting, is it wise to do so regarding your health and well-being? For delta-8, the risks outweigh the benefits by quite some margin.
Thankfully, patients in Australia have access to a wide range of medical cannabis products that any registered doctor can prescribe. Plus, with the guidance of a doctor, you’ll ensure the prescription you receive is suited to your condition and symptoms.
There are a number of risks associated with the use of medical cannabis and your doctor will explain these to you before issuing a prescription. Medical cannabis affects everyone differently and may not help with your chronic condition.