Data From New Study Supports Regulating Alternative Cannabinoids

Discussions about cannabis legalization generally center around the two most prominent cannabinoids found in plant material: CBD and THC. But truth be told, there could be more than a hundred cannabinoids in a particular plant variety. All but CBD and THC are considered alternative cannabinoids. And growing numbers of scholars and lawmakers believe it’s time to start regulating them.

If there is ever a question about why we need regulation, consider a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It reveals a higher incidence of delta-8 THC consumption in states where marijuana is still outlawed.

Some might seize on the study data to say we need to just get it over with and legalize marijuana nationwide. But that is neither the point of the study nor the conclusion reached by researchers. Rather, they say the study demonstrates the need for more regulation.

More About the Study

Conducted as a representative survey in 2023, the study enrolled 2,186 participants – all 12th grade students who were asked to self-report both delta-8 and marijuana use within the past year. They crunched the numbers and discovered the following:

  • 14% of the participants in prohibitionist states had used delta-8.
  • 7% in states with legal marijuana had used it.
  • 14.4% in states with no delta-8 regulation had used the cannabinoid.
  • 5.7% in states with delta-8 regulations had used it.

The researchers drew a correlation between regulation and delta-8 consumption. Interestingly though, they found no substantial difference in actual marijuana consumption between students in prohibitionist and marijuana-legal states.

More About Alternative Cannabinoids

Delta-8 is just one of several different alternative cannabinoids now on the market. As explains, delta-8 is an isomer of delta-9 the form of THC that makes marijuana psychoactive. Being an isomer means that delta-8 has the same molecular structure as delta-9. However, its molecules are arranged a bit differently.

The result of this different arrangement is that delta-8 produces a less intense high. Some have said that the high even feels different. Nonetheless, delta-8 is still psychoactive. says the big challenge with delta-8 and other alternative cannabinoids is that they are not regulated at the federal level. They are only loosely regulated at the state level.

Manufacturers can add alternative cannabinoids to their fully legal CBD products with little fear of getting in trouble with law enforcement. And in many states, that is exactly what they do. CBD products with alternative cannabinoids are extremely popular in prohibitionist states because they offer a loophole, if you will. They represent a legal high anyone can purchase at the local convenience store or corner pharmacy.

Not a Valid Reason to Legalize

Anyone tempted to seize on the study data as further evidence that marijuana should be legalized nationwide completely misses the point. Legalizing marijuana in order to bring down delta-8 consumption rates is to basically tell teenagers to go ahead and smoke pot. We already know that this not a good idea.

Instead, the data should be looked at from the angle of alternative cannabinoid regulation. The reason delta-8 consumption is higher in prohibitionists is as simple as the fact that manufactures of such products target those states, knowing that they do not have competition from a legal marijuana market. More product and more marketing equal stronger sales among teens.

Regardless of one’s position on lingual marijuana and alternative cannabinoids, here’s hoping we can all agree that minors should not be using psychoactive substances except under the direction of a medical provider. We do not want teens drinking alcohol. We should not accept them using cannabinoids, either.

About Elijah Fox

River Elijah Fox: River, a fitness influencer, shares home workout routines, fitness challenges, and nutrition tips to help followers lead a healthy lifestyle.

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