Due to the presence of delta-8 THC and other synthetic cannabinoids allowed in Utah's medical marijuana supply, the state's regulators are pushing for new rules.
The medical cannabis industry in Utah is confusing since synthetic cannabinoid-laden products appeared in naturally abundant amounts on dispensary shelves. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), CBD is synthesized from delta-8 THC and a variety of other cannabinoids that could pose serious health risks.
However, the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), recently released a bulletin for the state's medical marijuana patients, requiring that if a medical cannabis product contains a synthetic or derived ingredient, the label must include the following: “This product contains a derivative and/or synthetic cannabinoid.”
Utah law currently allows "THC analogs" in edibles, vape cartridges and other products sold at licensed pharmacies reported MjBiz Daily. Analogs are defined as "a substance that is structurally or pharmacologically similar to or represented to be similar to delta-9-THC."
Thus, MMJ pharmacies sell products containing delta-8 THC as well as other controversial synthetic derivatives with unknown safety profiles, including delta-6 and delta-10 THC, according to State officials.
To date, “no public health agency has recognized a synthetic cannabinoid as a toxic or harmful substance,” prompting the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) to call for changes to state law “that would allow us to restrict the presence of synthetic cannabinoids in products in Utah, even if they have not been shown to be toxic," said Brandon Forsyth, director of the agency's Division of Cannabis and Hemp.
Christine Stenquist, the founder and president of the nonprofit advocacy group Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), said the only acceptable level of THC analogs is zero.
Lack Of Data Does Not Equal Safety
“This is a super-hot-button deal,” said Blake Smith, a trained biochemist, and chief scientific officer at Zion Medicinal, a licensed manufacturer in Salt Lake City that makes oils and other products sold at MMJ pharmacies across the state.
“Here’s the deal: Lack of data does not equal safety,” said Smith, who also expressed concerns over these understudied analogs’ unknown safety profiles. “If we don’t know anything about these things that we just discovered, we should probably not be giving them to cancer patients.
First, Patients’ Safety
Recently, the UDAF and DHHS expressed concern for the safety of patients. "Like all state agencies, they are accountable to the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and the public; as such, their authority is limited. Under current law, in order to restrict an ingredient from inclusion in a medical cannabis product, the departments need reliable evidence that the ingredient is harmful or authority from a law that bans or identifies the ingredient as harmful," according to a news release.
Finally, state legislators are expected to revise medical marijuana regulations during the legislative session that begins in February.
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