What is Delta 8, the drug a Lexington man says made him hit a city bus? We explain | Turn 420
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Delta 8 Thc

What is Delta 8, the drug a Lexington man says made him hit a city bus? We explain



It’s made headlines, prompted an explosion of Google searches and, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, produced thousands of accidental poisonings and sent some to the hospital.

Now, a Lexington man is suing a vape manufacturer, alleging he took the drug, Delta 8, without his knowledge, ultimately making him intoxicated enough to accidentally hit a Lextran bus.

We’ve rounded up what to know about the substance, including the drug’s legal status in Kentucky, what it does to your brain and more.

What is Delta 8?

As explained by the FDA, Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, also called Delta-8 THC, is a psychoactive substance found in the cannabis sativa plant, from which marijuana and hemp come.

Delta-8 THC is one of more than 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant, though significant amounts are not found in the plant itself. To get more concentrated amounts of Delta-8 THC, you need to obtain it from hemp-derived cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD.

Delta-8-THC differs from the similar Delta-9-THC – the chemical structure that produces a high – in that Delta 8 plays less significantly on the cannabinoid type 1 receptor in your brain, studies have shown.

The attachment of Delta 8 to that brain receptor is weaker than its more potent Delta 9 counterpart, meaning you’d have to take more of the former to get the same effect as the latter. For those who’ve taken it, they describe a milder high than typical weed. Commonly reported experiences include euphoria, pain relief and relaxation.

According to the FDA, between January 2021 and February of this year, national poison control centers fielded 2,362 exposure calls of Delta-8 THC products. Of those, 70% required an evaluation at a health care facility, with 8% requiring admission to a critical care unit.

What’s more, 45% of the cases requiring health care facility evaluations were among children – prompting the FDA to warn that many of these products are labeled and packaged in ways to appeal to children and are things like gummies, candies, chocolates and cookies.

Is Delta 8 dangerous?

According to the FDA, the risks mostly stem from no real oversight or standards to protect people and ensure product quality. The regulator warned some product manufacturers may use potentially harmful household chemicals to make Delta-8 THC.

Further, the environments they’re made in may also be unsafe, with the FDA warning “manufacturing of delta-8 THC products may occur in uncontrolled or unsanitary settings, which may lead to the presence of unsafe contaminants or other potentially harmful substances.”

The New York Times cited one study that tested 27 Delta 8 products, finding that none contained the amount of Delta 8 they claimed and all 27 had harmful byproducts, some of which were lead and mercury.

Is Delta 8 legal in Kentucky?

Kentucky is among at least 14 states in recent months that banned the sale of Delta 8, citing a lack of clarity around the compound’s psychoactive effects, NBC news reported.

As recently as August, a Kentucky judge declared Delta 8 to be a legal derivative of hemp and restrained law enforcement agencies from charging retailers and producers with criminal activity for selling the drug.

Do you have a question about Kentucky for our service journalism team? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out our Know Your Kentucky form or email ask@herald-leader.com.

Aaron Mudd is a service journalism reporter with the Lexington Herald-Leader based in Lexington, Kentucky. He previously worked for the Bowling Green Daily News covering K-12 and higher education. Aaron has roots in Kentucky’s Fayette, Marion and Warren counties.
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