Qualitative Descriptions of "What is Delta-8 THC"?

dc.creatorOlsson, Sofia
dc.creatorLoParco, Cassidy
dc.creatorRossheim, Matthew
dc.creator.orcid0000-0003-4206-4179 (LoParco, Cassidy)
dc.description.abstractBackground: Delta-8 THC is a chemical isomer of the more common form of THC found in the Cannabis plant, Delta-9. Delta-8 THC retail increased after the 2018 Farm Bill was passed. This bill defined hemp as anything having less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by dry weight, thus implicitly defining Delta-8 THC as hemp rather than marijuana. The retail of Delta-8 THC is unregulated, and both consumers and retailers may lack an understanding of the substance. This study utilized qualitative responses of retailers selling Delta-8 THC products in Fort Worth, Texas to understand how retailers are explaining the product to consumers. Methods: Retail locations in Fort Worth, Texas with alcohol, CBD, or tobacco retail licenses was compiled (n = 1,777). Retail locations were contacted between September 8 and October 14, 2021, by research assistants to query the retail of Delta-8 THC products. This study utilized a subsample of retail locations (n = 125) that answered the question asking, "What is Delta-8?" Qualitative analysis was performed by authors SO and CRL. Results: Cohen's kappa was 0.92, indicating a good inter-rater reliability. Many retailers (20.8%, n = 26) reported that they were unsure of what Delta-8 is while 7 (5.6%) told surveyors to look it up themselves. Several retailers (8.8%, n = 11) withheld information, stating they would provide information over the phone. Nearly a quarter (23.2%, n = 29) of retailers made claims on the legal status of Delta-8 THC (e.g., that it was legal), seven (5.6%) of which specifically mentioned the 0.3% Delta-9 THC threshold. Delta-8 THC was often described as a form of marijuana (34.4%, n = 43). Importantly, Delta-8 THC was also frequently described as CBD (19.2%, n = 24) or hemp (7.2%, n = 9), substances without psychoactive effects. Several retailers described the potential effects of Delta-8 (e.g., "It relaxes you"; 26.4%, n = 33) or the potency (e.g., "Not high dose"; 13.6%, n = 17). Discussion: Comments on the legal status of Delta-8 products may be misleading to consumers as lack of regulation may result in illegal product composition. For example, recent research has found that 76% (n = 51) of Delta-8 products surveyed had Delta-9 THC levels above the legal limit (Johnson 2021). Several retailers verbally withheld information or said they were unsure of what the product is, which may be due to the lack of clarity surrounding Delta-8 THC product composition and/or legality. Retailers often described Delta-8 THC by focusing on psychoactive experiences or potency, rather than an explicit definition of the product, which may be a marketing strategy. Without proper laws regulating the marketing or packaging of Delta-8 THC products, individuals may be unaware of the contents. This may lead to increased consumption, particularly among adolescents and young adults or those not expecting psychoactive effects. Regulation, surveillance, and product definitions of Delta-8 are important to reduce the risk of adverse effects.
dc.titleQualitative Descriptions of "What is Delta-8 THC"?