KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Most people already know about Delta 9 THC. It's what makes someone feel high when smoking or using cannabis.
However, the cannabis plant has more than a hundred different cannabinoids. Delta 9 and CBD are the most common.
Recently, Delta 9's chemical cousin, Delta 8, has exploded on the market.
"It has similar effects, but far less psychoactive," said Vince Sanders, CEO of CBD American Shaman. "It has a lot of the great benefits of pain management and stress and that type of thing."
You can get Delta 8 in various forms just like regular weed: gummies, joints, extracts, and vape pens.
It's even sold in gas stations and smoke shops in the metro.
Delta 8 naturally occurs in the cannabis plant but at trace amounts, so making these products requires a lab. Much of the products are synthetically derived from CBD, or hemp.
As long as the product doesn't contain more than 0.3% of Delta 9 THC, it's considered hemp, which is covered under the 2018 Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill regulates the weed most people recognize, but doesn't say anything about Delta 8. The loophole also makes way for products containing other cannabinoids, like Delta 10, which is also new to the market.
However, these products don't have stringent testing requirements like medical marijuana.
"It's a safety concern really because nobody knows anything about these synthetic forms of THC," said Anthony David, COO of Green Precision Analytics. "No studies have been done. Patients are buying this and using it as medicine not knowing what's in it."
Green Precision Analytics is a testing facility for medical marijuana but recently started testing Delta 8 products.
Laboratory Director Josh Kollmeyer and David said cannabis companies, store owners, and even patients have asked them to test Delta 8 products to know what's in them.
What they're finding is concerning, they said.
"What we're seeing is a lot of products made on the black market using heavy chemicals, toluene, methalyne chloride, hexanes — which are extremely carcinogenic to people when you inhale them, especially through your lungs," Kollmeyer said.
Kollmeyer said the majority of Delta 8 products they've tested contain more than 0.3% of Delta 9 THC, which is not allowed under the Farm Bill.
People who want to feel a high from Delta 8 might not mind if they end up getting a misleading product with more Delta 9 in it, however experts say having that threshold is vital to the industry so customers have an accurate idea of dosage and safety.
A good way to find out if a product is legitimate is by going through a third-party testing facility.
"We have a full testing facility in house. So every product that is in the store has been tested and batch tested," Sanders said ."It's also gone out for third-party testing."
American Shaman uses Zen Master as their supplier.
Sanders said you should look for a certificate of analysis (COA) which should be easily accessible by a QR code on the product packaging.
Sanders and others at Green Precision Analytics believe Delta 8 has a place in the cannabis industry because of its therapeutic benefits, but want to see more regulations that knock sketchy manufacturers out.
"Anytime something new comes into the cannabis space there is a concern because it is a very balanced business. We have to protect anything that is potentially damaging to the industry," Sanders said.