The Delta-8 THC Problem

Delta-8 THC is a naturally occurring minor cannabinoid found in low concentrations in most cannabis plants. It can be produced synthetically from CBD and is not regulated in New Jersey and many other states. It is a recently popular and available recreational drug and is reported to have pharmacological properties including anti-emetic, analgesic, appetite-stimulating and neuroprotective effects. 1,2,3

In a recent case I was involved in, a prominent state toxicology laboratory reported a positive result of 11-Carboxy delta-9 THC by mass spectroscopy. Subsequent analysis of a sample from the collected urine was sent (at the request of a law firm) to NMS Laboratory, also a prominent nationally recognized forensic laboratory. 4 NMS reported no delta-9 THC metabolites detected due to the presence of an “interfering compound” whose chromatographic characteristics were consistent with the presence of 11-carboxy delta-8 THC, a recently available popular legal and commercially available cannabinoid product. Their report stated that “interfering substance for delta-8 THC interferant” is found in the analytic chromatogram of the urine specimen. Since the split specimen tested at NMS Labs (multiply certified by national and state toxicology agencies) 4 was reported to not have 11-carboxy delta-9 THC metabolite, I had to call into question the validity of the state laboratory result (a laboratory with reportedly no certifications). This is particularly so since NMS has developed a chromatographic analytic procedure that is designed to separate delta-8 and delta-9 THC, as have other laboratories. 1,2 I must conclude therefore that many laboratories may not be able to distinguish the two isomers and may report illicit use or intoxication due to delta-9 THC when in fact legal delta-8 THC was ingested.

  1. Analytical and medico-legal problems linked to the presence of delta-8- tetrahydrocannabinol(delta-8-THC): Results from urine drug testing in Sweden.
  2. Emergence of Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol in DUID Casework: Method Development, Validation and Application J. Anal Toxicology,46:1, Jan. 2022 p. 1-9 Ayako Chan- Hosokawa, Loan Nguyen, Nicole Lattanzio, Wendy R Adams Anders Helander, Malin Johansson, Annika Andersson, Tomas Villen. Drug Testing and Analysis, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2021 p. 371-376
  4. Meets the rigorous standards of ABFT, ASCLD/LAB-International ISO 17025, CAP ISO 15189, CAP-LAP and NYS DOH