A study published this month in the journal JAMA found 11.4% of 2,186 U.S. 12th-grade students self-reported consuming delta-8 THC products in the past year, while 30.4% self-reported consuming traditional delta-9 THC products.  

Delta-8 products were more commonly consumed in southern and Midwest states that have not legalized delta-9 products for adult use, while the consumption of delta-9 products did not differ by Cannabis policies.  

The study included 12th graders from 27 states who participated in the Monitoring the Future Study in-school survey from February to June 2023. 

Delta-8 is most often created from federally legal hemp plants by converting CBD to the THC compound through a process known as isomerization.  

Of the 295 participants who reported delta-8 THC use, 35.4% used it at least 10 times in the past 12 months. The researchers found prevalence of delta-8 use was lower in Western versus Southern census regions (5.0% vs 14.3%), states where delta-8 was regulated versus unregulated (5.7% vs 14.4%), and in states with versus without legal adult-use marijuana (8.0% vs 14.0%). Past 12-month use of delta-8 THC products was also lower among Hispanic than White participants (7.3% vs 14.4%). 

In a subsequent editorial published in JAMA related to the study, the authors – Jennifer M. Whitehill, PhD; Kelly E. Dunn, PhD, MBA; Renee M. Johnson, PhD – said the “study is a reminder that there is a diverse set of Cannabis products on the market that vary in their legal and regulatory status and potential for harm.”   

“[Delta-8] THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that can be derived from hemp. It was introduced to the retail market in 2018 and there are indications that its use is on the rise,” the authors wrote. “There is little regulatory oversight of production and sales of Δ8-THC and some evidence of adverse outcomes after use.” 

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