SHELL LAKE, WI -- Delta-8 THC is often referred to as a less risky, legal marijuana. However, between January 2021 and February 2022, national poison control centers received 2,362 calls regarding exposure to delta-8, THC. Of these calls, more than 40% involved children/youth less than 18 years old.
Delta-8 THC is affecting Washburn County. The Health and Human Services Department of Washburn County has seen a huge increase in mental health emergencies linked to the use of delta-8, which is a disturbing pattern. Locally the commercial market for delta-8 THC has been growing exponentially. As of July 2021, only one location within Washburn County sold delta-8 THC products. Currently, there are more than a dozen establishments, with a few more mentioning they will be carrying the products in the near future.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a consumer report, “Delta-8 THC has serious health effects," which can be accessed online. The article highlighted five things about delta-8 THC that can help keep you, your family, and our community safe from potential risks.
Delta-8 THC products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use. They may be marketed in ways that put public health at risk. Marie Schrankel, from Health and Human Services in Washburn County stated that, “Just because you can purchase it legally in a gas station or other stores does not make it safe. In addition, delta-8 THC is not regulated like alcohol or tobacco, making it more available to youth.”
The FDA has received adverse reports involving delta-8 THC-containing products. Between December 2020 and February 2022, the FDA received 105 reports of adverse health effects including (but not limited to) hallucinations, vomiting, tremor, anxiety, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects. Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects similar to delta-9 THC (which is the component responsible for the “high” people experience when using cannabis). The amount of chemical exposure levels within delta-8 THC is much higher than found in naturally occurring cannabis extracts. As a result, historical data on cannabis use is unable to determine if delta-8 THC is safe for consumption.
Delta-8 THC products often involve use of potentially harmful chemicals to create the concentrations of delta-8 THC claimed in the marketplace. The naturally occurring amount of delta-8 THC in hemp is very low. As a result, other chemicals are needed to synthetically increase the amount of delta-8. These chemicals are then applied to the hemp flower. Due to concentrations and applications varying among producers and products, all delta-8 products are not created equally.
Delta-8 THC products should be kept out of the reach of children and pets. Often, delta-8 THC products resemble children’s treats (cookies, candies, gummies, etc.) This can lead to serious health issues in children. Cheri Nickell, Health Officer, Washburn County Health Department urged families to “keep these products locked up and out of reach of children. If your child does ingest them, call poison control at 1-800-222-1222.” Also, animal poison control centers have indicated a sharp overall increase in accidental exposure of pets to these products.
Delta-8 THC products are being sold locally and are often thought of as a less potent, safer, legal alternative to marijuana. However, these products have far greater health effects than people are led to believe. Individuals “need to do more research rather than just believe what they are told,” stated Kim Campion, Mental Health and AODA Supervisor for Washburn County HHSD.
Youth in Washburn County are concerned about the impacts and availability of delta-8 THC products. Alyssa Langham, Shell Lake High School Senior and Change In The Youth (CITY) member stated “It worries me that these products are targeted at youth. We are the future of Washburn County. We need to educate the community about the dangers of delta-8 THC and make Washburn County a better place to live.”
If you are interested in learning more about delta-8 THC or other substance use/misuse issues impacting Washburn County, please connect with our local coalition: Community Alliance for Prevention of Washburn County (www.healthywashco.org or @WashCoPrevention on facebook.)
The Community Alliance for Prevention is a local coalition (made up of various business, individuals, and community organizations) addressing substance use/misuse issues in Washburn County. CAP’s goal is to create a healthy and resilient community that is educated, aware, and actively prevents substance abuse; while families and community members are supported through local resources for substance abuse. If you are interested in learning more about delta-8 THC or other substance use/misuse issues impacting Washburn County, please connect with our local coalition: Community Alliance for Prevention of Washburn County (www.healthywashco.org or @WashCoPrevention on facebook.)