Today’s topic is the phenomenon of D8, sometimes known as ‘Diet Weed’. Here’s a post from Summer 2021: Revisiting D8.

You may recall that D8 is the close cousin of Delta 9 THC, the principal psychoactive component found in cannabis. D8 is also psychoactive, but gets a pass from classification as a controlled substance because it’s made from hemp, which is considered an agricultural product under current law. This is due to a rather weird provision of the massive Farm Bill passed in 2018.

Yes, D8 can apparently get you high, just not to the extent or as reliably as D9. Nonetheless, D8 has become very popular in places like Texas, where a cottage industry has emerged to hawk D8 products in colorful packaging as ‘remedies’ for a whole range of medical needs, up to and including sleeplessness and anxiety.

That drew the attention of the FDA, whose mission after all is to “protect the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices…”.  Accordingly, they’ve taken a close look at these claims. And they are not pleased with what they find. A summary:

Don’t believe the high: FDA issues warning over misleading legal weed claims

Not surprisingly, makers and sellers of D8 products are guilty of “making unsupported claims about the health benefits of the items.” Well, duh. There aren’t any established health benefits for D8, at least not the kind supported by science. Maybe there will be someday, but that’s speculation.

So how are they being marketed as something they so transparently are not? It’s because of their status in the law.

Per The Guardian: D8 is “derived from a similar part of the marijuana plant to CBD… which makes the legality of delta-8 unclear.” In this day and age, ‘unclear’ is all you need to circumvent the law. At least enough to get away with selling your products as ‘potentially’ useful in the medical sense.

It harks back to the old saw about how it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask for permission. By the time the authorities get around to asking difficult questions, you hope to have collected way more than enough revenue to pay your team of expensive legal talent.

It’s a strategy that, sadly, often works.

So far, five companies that make and sell D8 products have received warning letters from the FDA. They’re all unfamiliar to me: ATLRx Inc., BioMD Plus LLC, Delta 8 Hemp, Kingdom Harvest LLC, and M Six Labs Inc. I expect there are others yet to come.

I couldn’t help noticing how quickly the Guardian article switched subjects, from the need for controls on D8 marketing to the seemingly unrelated issue of allowing cannabusinesses to make use of the regular banking system, rather than relying on cash transactions. It’s something the cannabis industry badly wants.

“[it] would be a significant step towards establishing their legitimacy across the US,” the article asserts. But is that a good thing? Industry figures complain that currently, the cash-only model makes them a target for robbers. Having so much cash around is dangerous, they assert, for employees and for customers. Although my understanding is that most burglaries of cannabis establishments occur after they’ve closed up shop for that day, when fewer people are around to interfere.

Still, what does the banking issue have to do with falsely advertising cannabis products on store shelves and check-out counters? Seems like a bit of a switcheroo. The writer even criticizes President Biden for not having promoted legislation to decriminalize cannabis at the Federal level. Okay, but that may have more to do with the content of the proposed legislation than the larger issue of decriminalization, which Biden has said he favors.

Here’s another article with a slightly different viewpoint, if you’re interested:

The FDA is cracking down on delta-8 THC, the legal-ish weed that gets you high and is being sold openly all over the US

I like that term, legal-ish. That’s about what it is. From the Commissioner: “The FDA is very concerned about the growing popularity of delta-8 THC products being sold online and in stores nationwide…” Right. As well they should be.

“Delta-8 has between half to three-quarters the level of potency as delta-9, but cannabis specialists and users said the compound can make users feel relaxed, clear-headed, and giggly.” Clear-headed? That’s one I haven’t heard before. Pot helps you feel clear-headed? I’m guessing that’s anecdotal evidence, not from research.

One quote comes from Peter Grinspoon MD, who  has written his own memoir of experiences with addiction and recovery. It’s got a great title: Free Refills. The blurb says it’s often hilarious, in the way that stories of survival from addiction often are. Might want to check it out.