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One in Nine U.S. High School Seniors Has Used Delta-8 THC in the Past Year

By March 28, 2024No Comments

New data from The Monitoring the Future study, a University of Michigan initiative which surveys 50,000 high-school age children each year, suggests that use of delta-8 THC, a synthetic THC analog, may be more widespread that many realize.

The study’s authors report that one-in-nine 12th graders have tried delta-8 containing products in the past year. Delta-8 THC is a compound found in marijuana that has effects similar to traditional marijuana. It’s important to note that while delta-8 is widely available for purchase, often without age restrictions, its safety profile is not well-established.

Given their novelty, delta-8 THC products have not been assessed to the same degree as traditional marijuana, which has been used for thousands of years. In addition, there have been numerous reports of negative incidents associated with the use of delta-8 THC products.

“We’re not typically alarmists, but in our opinion, using products that contain delta-8 is like playing Russian roulette with your health and wellness – you never know what you’re going to get,” said Doug Cress, a founder. “Purveyors of delta-8 use unregulated, potentially dangerous, chemical processes to transform hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as CBD, into delta-8 THC. So, in addition to the risks of ingesting delta-8, a substance that has been minimally studied, there are a variety of other chemical additives that may be harmful to your health.”

According to the FDA:

“Some manufacturers may use potentially unsafe household chemicals to make delta-8 THC through this chemical synthesis process. Additional chemicals may be used to change the color of the final product. The final delta-8 THC product may have potentially harmful by-products (contaminants) due to the chemicals used in the process, and there is uncertainty with respect to other potential contaminants that may be present or produced depending on the composition of the starting raw material. If consumed or inhaled, these chemicals, including some used to make (synthesize) delta-8 THC and the by-products created during synthesis, can be harmful.

Manufacturing of delta-8 THC products may occur in uncontrolled or unsanitary settings, which may lead to the presence of unsafe contaminants or other potentially harmful substances.”

Understanding the implications of delta-8 use is crucial, especially as it gains popularity among teens. As we navigate this evolving landscape, it’s essential to prioritize the well-being of our youth and ensure they have the information needed to make informed decisions about their health.

The study indicated that about 14% of 12th graders in the South and 15% in the Midwest have used delta-8, in contrast to 10% in the Northeast and 5% in the West. Approximately 14% of 12th graders in states where cannabis is not legal reported using delta-8, versus 8% in states where it is legal. Furthermore, 14% of students in states lacking specific delta-8 regulations reported its use, as opposed to 6% in states that have enacted delta-8 laws.

“Your teenage years and early 20’s are a critical period for brain development. This means that young adults are particularly susceptible to the negative consequences marijuana and THC-containing products may have on maximizing cognitive function and learning ability,” said Cress. “We advise all young people to minimize their use of THC. But, in the interest of reducing the potential for harm, we suggest that young adults use traditional marijuana products, versus delta-8 THC, insofar as they have been widely studied and have a better established safety profile.”

Marijuana use predominates in youths compared to older populations and is the most commonly used substance among adolescents and young adults. Young adults represent about one-third of all people who use cannabis and are also more likely than older adults to become addicted to marijuana.

About is a free, web-based resource and community created by a team of healthcare professionals and researchers. We distill the facts about marijuana use and its effects into practical guidance for interested persons or for those who are thinking about or struggling to quit weed. Finding reliable, easy to understand information about marijuana should never be a struggle—that is why our core mission is to provide the most up to date information about marijuana use, abuse, addiction, and withdrawal. While we seek to empower individuals to have control over their use, we are not “anti-weed” and we support efforts to legalize adult marijuana use and study.

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