Two-thirds of Delta-8 THC Products Do Not Contain Advertised Amount of Delta-8 THC, Report Finds
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This new delta-8 THC market report, compiled using third-party potency analysis data from the Las Vegas-based testing lab Canalysis Laboratories, also reveals that over 50 percent of delta-8 THC products appear to contain more than the legally allowable limit of delta-9 THC.
In light of these findings, the authors of the report are advising consumers to avoid delta-8 THC products if possible. Alternatively, consumers still wishing to use delta-8 THC products should consider seeking out products from reliable brands that are already well-established in the CBD industry and who publish publicly available third-party analysis results for their products.
Unclear labeling and inaccurate THC amounts present significant issues
From a pool of 38 delta-8 THC products, only 12 products (32 percent) contained amounts of delta-8 THC that were within a 10 percent range of what was advertised on the product’s label. This 10 percent buffer zone is the standard allowable range used by industry experts to evaluate the labeling accuracy of herbal products.
Thirty-four percent of products did not clearly list the delta-8 THC content of the product either on its packaging or in the online product description. For these products, accuracy was measured against the listed value for “total cannabinoid content” or a set of test results provided by the manufacturer. Concerningly, two products still did not have any labeled cannabinoid content or available test results for comparison.
Overall, 12 of the 38 products fell within the advised 10 percent accuracy window, with 10 more being within a 20 percent range of their advertised potency. The rest were off by more than 30 percent – in one case containing over 100 percent more delta-8 THC than advertised. Generally, delta-8 THC gummies and pre-rolls, such as those wrapped in RAW cones, were most likely to have inaccurate delta-8 levels. This was thought to be because liquid products, such as tinctures and vape products, are easier to formulate and thus easier to maintain a target delta-8 THC content in.
The Leafreport investigation also found that 20 of the products – more than 50 percent of the entire investigation sample – contained amounts of delta-9 THC that were over the legally allowable limit of 0.3 percent by weight. In one case, a vape cartridge product was found to contain a staggering 15.2 percent THC.
Why this fuss over Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC has made waves in the cannabis industry in recent years. Just like its structural isomer delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC also has psychoactive properties. Anecdotal reports claim that the delta-8 THC is a more mellow experience, and so it is often sought out by people wanting to avoid feelings of anxiety or paranoia that they might experience with delta-9 THC products.
While products containing delta-9 THC are strictly prohibited under federal law, delta-8 THC products exist in a legal gray area. Because of a loophole relating to how delta-8 THC can be made from legal hemp plants, some producers have seized on this as an opportunity to create marketable products that offer a legal high.
“The thought process is this: hemp is legal under the Farm Bill; CBD is extracted from hemp, is natural, and therefore is legal; trace levels of delta-8 THC have been observed in biomass and therefore is considered a natural product. And since delta-8 THC is naturally occurring, a derivative pathway from CBD for production is legal,” Dr Chris Hudalla of ProVerde Laboratories explained during a keynote talk at the Analytical Cannabis Expo East Online 2020.
“This is where I start to have concerns. One of the problems that we are seeing in the lab is that the conversion of CBD to Δ8-THC is not a natural process, meaning we don’t have direct control of it. Many of the isomers formed during this process are not naturally occurring and so there becomes both a legal question and a consumer safety issue – are these compounds that are resulting from this synthesis legal under the definition of hemp? And are they safe for consumers to be using?” Hudalla continued.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has yet to formally weigh in on the legality of delta-8 THC products, saying that it will not speculate until the administration finalizes its interim final rule on hemp. This means that for the foreseeable future, these products will remain in a legal gray area with no real regulations governing how they are produced or marketed.
Leafreport advises consumers to avoid unverified delta-THC products
Leafreport says that this complex legal situation led them to question whether companies making delta-8 THC products might also be more likely to cut corners than those producing CBD or other legal products from hemp.
Based on their findings – including the somewhat ironic discovery that around 50 percent of these self-proclaimed legal highs actually contain illegal amounts of delta-9 THC – Leafreport advises consumers to avoid delta-8 THC products where possible.
“Overall, our investigation confirmed that delta-8 products are mostly offered by inexperienced companies looking to make a quick buck,” Leafreport concludes in its report.
“These products provide little information about their cannabinoid content and have a high chance of containing inaccurate delta-8 and illegal delta-9 THC levels. That’s why we recommend that consumers avoid Delta-8 products.”
For consumers who still wish to use delta-8 THC products, Leafreport recommends sticking with well-established brands that are experienced in producing other hemp-derived cannabinoid products, such as CBD oils. The group also advises seeking out products that provide third-party testing results to verify the delta-8 and delta-9 THC content present in these products.