Delta-8 THC (D8) has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity in the last two years. Between 2020 and 2021, Google searches for this cannabinoid increased by a staggering 705%. One of the main factors that have been propelling the interest in D8 is the ability of this cannabinoid to cause intoxication, unlike CBD. Because D8 can be synthesized from hemp-derived CBD, consumers in states where cannabis is not legal have exploited D8 as an avenue to get “legally high.” While there are no exact figures on sales of D8 products, it is believed that they have rivaled those of the popular non-intoxicating cannabinoid, CBD.
However, there have been mounting concerns about the safety of delta 8 products. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has in the past issued several public health warnings related to this issue. In May 2022, the FDA published a list of “five things to know about delta-8-THC” which was addressed to the public. Among the five things listed, safety concerns around D8 featured prominently.
Why is the FDA Concerned About Delta-8?
The FDA states that delta-8 products being sold online have not yet been evaluated nor approved by the FDA. The FDA is therefore concerned about the cannabinoid and terpene content as well as variability of the D8 concentrations. The FDA has also noted that some D8 products may be labeled as hemp, thereby misleading customers who may assume that they are not intoxicating.
The FDA also states that it has received several adverse events related to the consumption of D8 products. A total of 104 adverse event reports have been documented between December 1, 2020, and February 28, 2022.
Lastly, the FDA has raised concerns about the process of synthetically manufacturing D8. Some manufacturers use unsafe chemicals to synthesize D8 or to alter the color of the final product. They may also manufacture the D8 in unsanitized or contaminated setups, thereby jeopardizing consumers’ health.
These safety concerns around delta 8 products have spiraled to the Canadian market. Last week, two major cannabis wholesalers in Canada indicated that they will no longer fulfill delta 8 orders, citing safety concerns. The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) and the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) stated their intention in letters that were addressed to Canadian Licensed Producers.
The Importance of Third-Party Testing for Delta-8 Products
Third-party testing is conducted by an independent party that is not affiliated with the D8 manufacturer. Consumers and other stakeholders can therefore rely on third-party results to ascertain what is in a D8 product and whether it matches up with what appears on the label.
Third-party testing for cannabis confirms the presence and concentration of delta 8 in a product (potency). It also confirms the presence and concentration of other cannabinoids such as CBD and THC as well as terpenes.
Third-party testing confirms or rules out the presence of the following contaminants:
Heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, lead, mercury, and copper
Extraction solvent and hydrocarbons
Biological contaminants such as mold, yeast, and salmonella
How is Third-Party Testing Conducted?
A third-party lab is one that conducts testing on samples as an independent provider and with no interests in the origin of the samples. Manufacturers of D8 products send out a sample from each batch to a “disinterested” and independent lab for analyses. The lab then runs a battery of tests on the sample, mostly using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Once the analysis is complete, the lab sends a detailed test report known as the Certificate of Analysis (CoA) back to the D8 manufacturer. The report will list all the cannabinoids and terpenes that are present in the sample and their concentrations. It will also indicate if there are any heavy metals or chemical contaminants that were identified in the sample. It is up to the company to decide whether they will publish the CoA or not; some companies may opt to use the CoA to fix the problem and improve the quality of their D8 products.
How Does a SaaS LIMS for CBD/THC Testing Support Delta 8 Testing?
Cannabis testing labs often get overwhelmed by the huge volumes of test requests that they receive on a daily basis. In this case, quality and throughput can easily become competing interests for labs that test D8 products. That said, the importance of ensuring the highest levels of accuracy when testing for D8 cannot be over emphasized. A SaaS LIMS for CBD/THC testing helps labs to automate and streamline their processes and hence increase their output. At the same time, automation minimizes human error and therefore boosts the accuracy of the testing process. With a cloud hosted SaaS LIMS for CBD/THC testing, labs that test D8 products can do so in a timely, secure, and reliable way.
Accurate Lab Testing Improves the Credibility of D8 Products
The reputation of D8 products is currently at stake. Several concerns have been raised about the safety of D8 products in the market currently. Third- party testing allows consumers and other stakeholders to verify the purity and potency of delta 8. This is the only way that safety concerns can be allayed and consumers can continue enjoying the benefits of this new psychoactive cannabinoid. A SaaS LIMS for CBD/THC testing supports accurate and efficient testing of delta 8 products.