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Legal but unregulated hemp derivative delta-8 thrives in Pa.’s thorny marijuana landscape

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania lawmakers and advocates for legal cannabis say uneven access to marijuana has pushed consumers toward a widely available — but unregulated — psychoactive product whose exact contents are often impossible to discern.

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — known as delta-8 — is a cannabinoid derived from hemp. Its properties resemble those of delta-9, the main cannabinoid in marijuana that produces the high. But users say delta-8 creates milder effects.

In 2018, Congress unintentionally sanctioned the sale of delta-8 when it passed a federal farm bill legalizing hemp production. Since then, it has become widely available in edibles, vape pens, oils, and food products sold at head shops, gas stations, and online.

In Pennsylvania, some consumers have turned to it for its reported milder side effects, and because of the state’s complex cannabis landscape: Accessing medical marijuana can be time-consuming and costly, and recreational cannabis remains illegal.
But despite its accidental legal status, delta-8 is not subject to any regulations or mandatory testing, and its packaging isn’t required to specify serving size or potential side effects.
The Food and Drug Administration warns consuming delta-8 could result in “serious health risks.” National poison control centers received 2,362 calls related to delta-8 between January 2021 and March 2022, according to the agency, and 40% percent of those calls involved “unintentional exposure.” Of those exposures, 82% involved “pediatric patients.” [Read More @]
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