One Fifth of Americans Report Use of Hemp Derived Products

Research has revealed one of the first snapshots of Americans’ use of hemp-derived cannabinoids: More than a fifth of adults reported using cannabidiol (CBD).

According to new findings published in JAMA, 25.2% of adults reported past-year use of any emerging cannabinoid, including delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Meanwhile, 21% of adults reported using CBD. Researchers warn that the products are not regulated and could put patients at risk for adverse effects from unknown contaminants.

Other hemp-derived products had lower rates of use: 11.9% of survey respondents reported using delta-8 THC, 5.2% reported using cannabigerol (CBG), and 4.4% reported using cannabinol (CBN).

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp, leading to a cascade of hemp-based products sold online and at smoke shops, gas stations, and other retailers. The US Food and Drug Administration does not regulate hemp products; therefore, no federal standards exist for testing ingredients for safety or verifying ingredients as listed on labels.

“If someone is taking one of these products to use medically, and it ends up having heavy metals and pesticides and it doesn’t have the active ingredient in it, that’s not good,” says Kevin F. Boehnke, PhD. , a research assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

More than 1100 adults were surveyed as part of the National Opinion Research Center AmeriSpeak panel in June 2023.

Participants reported their use of CBD, CBG, and CBN, which do not contain psychoactive components and are commonly marketed to help with sleep problems, anxiety, and pain. Delta-8 THC, also included in the survey, produces psychotropic effects.

Among emerging cannabinoids, delta-8 THC is of particular concern to Boehnke. The substance is associated with psychiatric issues such as delusions and paranoia, painful breathing and choking sensations, gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, and accidental overdose.

Where medical cannabis is legal, residents are 56% less likely to use delta-8 THC, while those in states where recreational marijuana is legal are 55% less likely to use delta -8 THC than those surveyed in states without legalization.

The findings suggest that “cannabis prohibition may inadvertently promote the use of delta-8-THC,” Boehnke and his colleagues wrote.

Delta-8 products are usually sold in the form of vape cartridges, gummies, and chocolates at retailers such as supermarkets.

In an advisory published in 2020, the FDA said it tested cannabinoid products, “and found many did not contain the levels of CBD they claimed. We are also investigating reports of CBD potentially containing non- safe level of contaminants.”

Alice Kuo, MD, PhD, a pediatrician and professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, says she’s noticed a significant increase in patients who say they use nonpsychotropic cannabinoids. that product. He said many report viewing the products as “natural.”

“My official response to patients who ask me for my opinion is that I don’t have enough scientific background to give an opinion: If you think it helps you and you don’t have side effects, I’m not going to tell you that stop,” said Kuo.

Although he hasn’t heard from any patients reporting delta 8-THC use, Kuo has concerns about the mental and emotional effects of psychotropic cannabinoids.

Patients are generally reluctant to accept the use of delta-8 THC or other psychoactive substances such as marijuana, and “I had to be very non-judgmental and careful in asking patients because if there was any understanding judging on my part, I will be punished by my patient,” said Kuo.

Various study authors report receiving grants from entities, including the State of Michigan Veteran Marijuana Research Program; the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Support; the Medical Cannabis Research Advocacy Alliance; the Good Samaritan Foundation of Legacy Health; the National Institutes of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases; and Tryp Therapeutics.

The study was partially supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.

Brittany Vargas is a medicine, mental health, and wellness journalist.

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