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: Slightly more than a fifth of adults have reported using cannabidiol (CBD).

According to new findings published in Jama, 25.2% of adults reported use of any emerging cannabinoid, including delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in the past year. Meanwhile, 21% of adults reported using CBD. Researchers cautioned that the products are not regulated and could put patients at risk due to 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 increased sales of hemp-derived products online and at smoke shops, gas stations, and other retailers. The US Food and Drug Administration does not regulate cannabis-derived products; Therefore, no federal standards exist for testing ingredients for safety or verification of ingredients listed on labels.

Kevin F. “If someone is choosing one of these products for therapeutic use and it has heavy metals and pesticides and it doesn’t even have an active ingredient in it, that’s no good,” Boehnke, PhD, said. A research assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and the Center for Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

More than 1,100 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 ingredients and are typically marketed to help with sleep, anxiety, and pain problems. Delta-8 THC, also included in the survey, produces psychoactive effects.

Of the emerging cannabinoids, delta-8 THC is of particular concern to Boehnke. This substance has been linked to psychiatric issues such as confusion and paranoia, painful breathing and suffocation sensation, gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and accidental overdose.

Residents in states where medical cannabis is legal were 56% less likely to use delta-8 THC, compared to states surveyed without legalization in states where recreational marijuana is legal. They were 55% less likely to use.

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

Delta-8 products are often sold in retailers such as supermarkets as vape cartridges, gummies, and chocolates.

In an advisory published in 2020, the FDA said it tested cannabinoid products, “and many did not have the CBD levels claimed. We are also investigating reports of CBD containing potentially unsafe levels of contaminants.” Are.”

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, said she has seen a large increase in patients who say they are taking nonpsychotropic cannabinoids. use products. He said many reports considered the products to be “natural”.

“My official response to patients who ask me my opinion is that I don’t have enough scientific background to give an opinion: If you think it helps you and you have no side effects, then I don’t. “Wait, I’m going to tell you,” Kuo said.

Although she has not heard reports from any patients about delta 8-THC use, Kuo is concerned about the mental and emotional effects of psychotropic cannabinoids.

Patients are generally reluctant to admit to the use of delta-8 THC or other psychoactive substances such as marijuana, and “I have to be very non-judgmental and very careful in asking patients because if there is a decision on my part If there is any perception, I am punished by my patients,” Kuo said.

Various study authors reported receiving grants from institutions, including the State of Michigan’s Veterans Marijuana Research Program; New York State Office of Addiction Services and Support; Medical Cannabis Research Advocacy Alliance; The Good Samaritan Foundation of Legacy Health; National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; and Tripp Therapeutics.

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

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

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