Delta-8 THC: What is it and why is it raising concerns?

Some experts say delta-8 THC – which is sometimes dubbed weed light or diet weed – is a legal gray area and can cause negative health effects.


Around the country, some parents are growing concerned over a product occasionally dubbed weed light or diet weed. Experts say delta-8 THC is in a legal gray area and can cause negative health effects, sister station WGAL investigated.

Delta-8 THC products are being sold online and in stores in different forms.

"It can come in Rice Krispies treats, gummies, candies, a whole litany of edibles," said Michael Reisinger, who runs American Shaman in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Reisinger said his customers, who must be 21 or older, are using it for things like sleep, relaxation and pain relief.

"The same thing that they’re looking and turning to CBD for, delta-8 can help with the same relief," he said.

Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive substance found in very low levels in the hemp plant. But CBD can be synthesized into high levels of delta-8 and added to products.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp products as long as they have less than 0.3% of delta-9 THC, the compound in marijuana that causes a high. But the bill doesn't address delta-8.

"It lives in that gray area," attorney Bill Roark said.

Roark, who teaches cannabis law and regulation, said people may believe delta-8 is legal because it is derived from hemp.

"I don't think anyone can say that the intent of the Farm Bill was to find another way to create a legalized psychoactive drug," he said.

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning that some delta-8 THC products can have serious health risks. It said there have been adverse event reports in the last year involving 22 patients. They experienced vomiting, hallucinations and other issues.

"You don't know what you're getting. You're getting an adulterated hemp material and so it really needs to be buyer beware," said Dr. Kent Vrana, a pharmacologist with the Penn State College of Medicine.

When Reisinger was asked whether people are using delta-8 THC to get high, he said, "Not in our experience. I can't say for every single person. Nine times out of 10, there's not a psychoactive element that's hit. While there's the potential, we want to be more safe than sorry."

Nineteen states have regulated, restricted or banned the sale of delta-8 THC products, which include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.

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