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Study Says More Teens Are Using Delta-8 THC Products

A new study has found that more than 11% of seniors in high school are using delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC is one of the many compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant, of which hemp and marijuana are common varieties. This compound isn’t found in high quantities in the cannabis plant and is said to have weaker psychoactive effects in comparison to delta-9 THC.

To get concentrated amounts, delta-8 THC has to be manufactured from CBD derived from hemp.

It is important to note that delta-8 THC has not been approved for use and neither is it legal. Despite this, products based on the compound have proliferated legal markets because of a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp.

The study was led by researchers at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from a survey that asked adolescents questions about their attitudes toward drugs and substance use, with a focus on responses on cannabis use and delta-8 THC. They determined that almost 31% of seniors in high school had used cannabis in the last year, with over one in every ten having used delta-8 in the same period.

Adam Leventhal, the study’s senior author, stated that while they knew high school students wanted to try new things such as marijuana, they were surprised to observe such high figures. Leventhal is the director of the university’s Institute for Addiction Science.

They also found that delta-8 use by high schoolers was higher in states where recreational cannabis wasn’t legal, as well as in the Midwest and South. Additionally, delta-8 was more likely to be used in states that hadn’t imposed any regulations on its use.

Currently, the compound is severely restricted or banned in Washington D.C. and 24 other states, including Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Massachusetts.

Addiction specialist, Dr. Scott Hadland, believes that delta-8 THC may possess some of the same risks that delta-9 has on the developing adolescent brain. Research has shown that delta-9 may affect the function and structure of the brain when used in large amounts by growing individuals. It has also been linked to risk for schizophrenia, early onset psychosis and depression as well as anxiety in young individuals.

Hadland noted that legislative action was needed to fully keep adolescents from accessing these products, highlighting the need for age restrictions.

The study’s findings were reported in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.”

As this study clearly states, the jurisdictions that have retained prohibitive marijuana policies are unwittingly increasing the rate at which teens use intoxicating hemp derivatives. This is in contrast to states that have eased their cannabis laws, allowing enterprises such as TerrAscend Corp. (TSX: TSND) (OTCQX: TSNDF) to operate in a way that implements age restrictions for people who can access their products.

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