MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – It can be purchased in just about any smoke shop, gas station and online. Delta-8 THC is sold in several forms, including vapes, tinctures, candy gummies and versions that can be smoked.
“It’s one of our biggest selling things”, one smoke shop employee told Channel 10′s Amy VIteri. “We sell a lot of Delta-8.”
Because it comes from hemp, the THC isomer is technically legal in most states, for now. In recent weeks, the FDA and CDC both issued warnings about Delta-8 products, citing serious health risks.
According to the FDA, between January and July of 2021, poison control centers were contacted regarding 661 exposure cases related to Delta-8 THC.
Of those cases, 18% required hospitalization and 39% of exposures involved children under 18 according to the CDC. At least two children were admitted to the ICU after ingesting a parent’s Delta-8 infused gummies.
Unlike CBD, Delta-8 has psychoactive effects. In other words, it can get you high. The concern according to the CDC is the chemical processes used to create higher concentrations of Delta-8 than those naturally found in the cannabis plant, which could create harmful by-products like heavy metals and solvents.
“So it can go through a chemical reaction to convert from CBD into Delta-8″, according to Dr. Denise Vidot, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami, “So the issue is, depending on the manufacturer, how well are those solvents being removed?”
Florida’s Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried says Delta-8 is on the state’s radar, too.
“We are going out and as we’re seeing Delta-8 products, we’re testing them and to make sure that they do in fact fall under the Delta-9 thresholds. But unfortunately, most of the products that we are seeing on the shelves are in fact, testing hot, and so we are trying to take them off the shelves”, said Fried.
Though Florida requires licensing and lab testing for any hemp products manufactured in the state, much of what’s ending up in stores is bypassing the process according to Fried.
“There’s a lot of products that are coming in … whether it’s outside of the state or even overseas”, Fried explained, “I want all the products that are sold here in the state of Florida, to be manufactured and processed here.”
“There is definitely a correct way and an incorrect way not just to produce Delta eight or their products, but in general manufacturing as a whole”, according to Eli Elias who owns and operates Wholesale Hemp Suppliers, “So we hold ourselves to that high standard.”
Elias said for his company which is based in South Florida, doing things the right way is critical to surviving in an industry where the rules always seem to be shifting. Their product line includes a wide range of Delta-8 products, but they are best known for their edibles.
“On the more unique side, we have a Skittles flavored gummy. We have a pineapple upside down cake gummy, we have a smoothie gummy”, Elias said.
He added they inspect all raw materials to ensure what is going into their products and he encourages consumers to check labels for third party test results. He said he would welcome certain regulations like stricter labeling requirements and child-proof packaging.
One smoke shop worker telling us regulations could be beneficial to hold everyone to the same standard and ultimately make it safer for consumers.
“But there are companies out there and there are people out there who are pushing products who don’t have these testings, so nobody knows what’s in it, nobody knows what’s actually going on.”
Commissioner Fried added, “It’s really important for parents to be aware of the products that are out there, what their kids are unfortunately having access to and know that we are working on it.”
Currently Commissioner Fried says the department is working on setting an age requirement to purchase Delta-8 products in order to stop children from getting their hands on it.