"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Why so many use CBD, Delta-8 and others

January 8, 2024 – They are usually not regulated by the federal government, a minimum of not yet, but a big variety of Americans are reportedly using hemp-derived products Alternative cannabinoid products.

Some take them for pain relief, others to enhance their sleep. These products, higher often known as CBD, Delta-8, CBG and CBN, have flooded the market.

Users interviewed for this story advise caution and encourage others to seek out a good source or brand and stick to it.

How many American adults use these products?

“We were surprised that over a quarter of Americans consumed these new cannabinoid products in the past year,” said Kevin Boehnke, PhD, research assistant professor within the Department of Anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center on the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.

Boehnke was lead researcher on a study that examined how often and why Americans used these products.

Younger adults and folks living in states where cannabis use is banned usually tend to use CBD, delta-8-THC and others. These “new cannabinoids” contain lower than 0.3% THC (the compound in marijuana that gets you “high”) and are currently legal under federal law.

The research shows that almost 12% of adults reported using delta-8 THC prior to now 12 months, greater than 5% CBG, and over 4% CBN. The Public Health Study was published online within the magazine in December JAMA network opened.

Additionally, within the nationally representative survey, greater than 21% of individuals reported using CBD. So Bill Gould, a 47-year-old real estate agent and songwriter from Temecula, California, is in good company.

Gould uses CBD in gummy, liquid or topical forms to alleviate his migraines. He also reports higher relief from topical CBD to treat “guitar elbow,” which is analogous to tennis elbow but occurs in musicians. “Compared to other times I’ve had strains, it definitely seems to help more,” he said.

Buyer beware

Gould is anxious about labeling transparency and whether products are consistent from brand to brand.

“Some of them are made with [animal-derived] Gelatin, some of them are not gluten free, some contain enormous amounts of sugar. If you have food allergies or dietary preferences, you really need to pay close attention,” he said.

Marsi Thrash, a 54-year-old lobbyist who lives in a suburb of Charleston, S.C., agreed. “I buy CBD from very reputable shops. I buy it at the local pharmacy and have never had any problems,” she said.

The concerns stem partly from a young and crowded market where major players haven’t yet emerged, she said. “There are so many different brands, so many different products.”

“I see all sorts of CBD brands and products. It’s definitely overwhelming,” said Jay Valter, a 52-year-old attorney who works within the financial sector in Philadelphia.

The concentrations of CBD and THC also differ depending on the product. Regarding the hemp-derived product with lower than 0.3% THC, I would like people to know that you would be able to get it, that it’s functional and non-stressing,” Gould said. In contrast, products containing a 1:1 concentration of CBD and THC will delight you and usually tend to be available in pharmacies or clubs than in health food stores.

Navigating the Delta

Thrash has tried CBD gummies, but tincture drops under her tongue work higher and faster for her. She suffers from pain as a consequence of an autoimmune disease and the CBD is “very helpful in calming it down”.

Thrash also has trouble sleeping, and prescription sleep medications generally leave her with a sleepy hangover the subsequent day, making it difficult for her to perform. “CBD is the most viable,” she said.

In contrast, Delta-8-THC is just not an excellent sleeper for Thrash, regardless that it’s widely available in drinks and e-cigarettes in her a part of South Carolina. “I don't like it because it literally sends me into 'Alice in Wonderland' type dreams.”

But Valter prefers delta-8-THC to treat his joint pain and as a sleep aid. “The THC gummies helped for me, but the problem was that I was waking up a lot [feeling] stoned,” he said. “That wasn’t particularly ideal.”

He has tried various Delta 8 products, “and I really like the one I use now. It really does the job and I don't wake up with any after-effects.” Valter also occasionally uses a topical CBD gel or a CBD tincture to alleviate joint pain.

Better regulations are needed to guard consumers, said Boehnke, the University of Michigan researcher. “This is particularly true for delta-8-THC products, which have been reported to have similar effects to delta-9-THC, the compound commonly referred to as THC.”

Are you stopping for gas, beef jerky and CBD?

Valter also recommends caution when selecting a cannabinoid product. “I think there’s definitely a lot of junk on the market, especially when it comes to CBD,” he said.

Thrash is willing to pay more to get CBD from a more reputable source. “I'm very suspicious of the $5 things you can buy at a gas station. I wouldn't buy it. Maybe it's exactly the same thing – and I'm just being scammed out of a hundred dollars. I don't know.”

“But I want to buy from the person who can tell me exactly where it comes from,” she said.

Unlike prescription medications with precise ingredient labeling, “with CBD products, there are such a lot of corporations that make them,” Gould said. “I don’t buy junk products from people.”

Since no laboratory tests are required to ensure the safety of these products, for example for harmful substances such as pesticides, solvents or heavy metals, Boehnke also advises caution. Likewise, there is no evidence that these products contain the type and amount of cannabinoids stated on the label, he said.

Additionally, many cannabinoid products can be purchased online, where minimum age requirements are difficult to enforce, Boehnke said.

An argument for further relaxation of the laws?

“The key takeaway is that when cannabis is legal in any form in a given state, it tends to reduce or eliminate consumer desire for Delta-8 THC products,” said Ethan Russo, MD board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher in Vashon, WA, and founder and CEO of credo-science.com. “This is a clear indication that liberalization of laws must be continued and expanded to reduce the public health risks posed by synthetic, unregulated products.”

Russo, who was not involved in the study, said the compound delta-8 THC was not the problem, “but reasonably its manufacturing and production.” All commercially available delta-8-THC products are manufactured synthetically from surplus CBD stocks, he said. “Virtually none of them are pure, mostly they are contaminated with a variety of other synthetic molecules whose possible toxicology we know little or nothing about,” he said.

Likewise, he said there is little scientific evidence supporting the benefits of cannabinol or CBN. He also said that CBN is a breakdown product of THC and “its presence out there is essentially as a consequence of the undeniable fact that it provides the industry with an outlet and income stream for old, degraded cannabis that might otherwise be unsaleable.”

On the opposite hand, Russo said, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), or delta-9, and cannabigerol, or CBG, “show great promise as therapeutics” and “deserve greater attention.”

Russo and his colleague Carrie Cuttler, PhD, an associate professor at Washington State University, recently accomplished a randomized controlled trial of CBG for anxiety “with very positive results.” We hope to publish this soon.”

When asked where he would love to go next along with his research, Boehnke said: “This is a first small step. We want to understand how people use these products, why they use them – for example, for medical or non-medical reasons – and the health consequences of their use.”