Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8 THC) vape cartridges have become an increasingly popular way to consume cannabis products. Often referred to simply as “delta-8 carts,” these vape cartridges provide a convenient method for enjoying the effects associated with delta-8 THC.
However, as delta-8 THC is a relatively new substance on the market it brings some lingering questions regarding the safety and the potential risks of using delta-8 carts. We take a look at what delta-8 carts are, their legal status, potential health risks, and most importantly—how to ensure you are using a safe, high-quality delta-8 vape cartridge.
- Delta-8 THC provides milder effects compared to delta-9 THC and is federally legal when derived from hemp 1U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “5 Things To Know About Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC,” FDA, Sep. 14, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc. Delta-8 carts allow vaping concentrated delta-8 oil.
- The safety profile of delta-8 vape carts requires further research. Potential health risks include lung damage from vaping and contaminants like heavy metals.
- To ensure safety, only purchase delta-8 carts from reputable companies that provide third party lab reports verifying purity and cannabinoid potency.
- Alternatives like delta-8 edibles or regulated delta-9 THC products may pose fewer health risks compared to vaping delta-8 carts.
What Is Delta-8 THC?
Before diving into the specifics of delta-8 carts, it’s helpful to understand exactly what delta-8 THC is.
Delta-8 THC is one of over 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant. It is structurally similar to delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, with a few subtle differences in its chemical structure.
While delta-9 THC is known for producing an intense, euphoric high, delta-8 provides more mild, relaxing effects. Some of the key reported benefits of delta-8 include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Improved sleep
- Appetite stimulation
- Nausea relief
- Pain relief
Delta-8 occurs in the cannabis plant in very small concentrations. In order to produce delta-8 products in commercial quantities, the compound is typically synthesized from CBD extracted from hemp.
This process results in hemp derived products that are federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, since hemp contains 0.3% or less THC by dry weight. Many consumers view delta-8 products like vape carts as a legal loophole allowing access to the benefits of THC without the legal restrictions.
What Are Delta-8 Carts?
Delta-8 carts refer specifically to disposable vape pens or cartridges that contain a delta-8 THC distillate, along with added terpenes and cannabinoids that alter the flavor and effects. The distillate is heated and vaporized using a 510 thread battery or vape pen, allowing the user to conveniently inhale the delta-8 rich vapor.
Delta-8 carts offer several advantages for consumers:
- Convenient and discreet – The carts are portable, subtle to use, and produce little odor.
- Pre-dosed – Carts come prefilled with a specific delta-8 oil quantity, eliminating the dosing guesswork.
- Familiar experience – Using a delta-8 cart mimics the experience of vaping e-juice or nicotine vape products.
On the downside, there are concerns around vape cartridge additives and materials interacting with the heated delta-8 oil during use. We’ll explore these potential health implications next.
Are Delta-8 Carts Safe? Health Risks and Contaminants
The safety of delta-8 vape carts remains an area requiring further research by the scientific and medical communities. However, there are some known areas of concern consumers should keep in mind:
Manufacturers use various additives in delta-8 vape carts that may have negative health effects:
- Vitamin E acetate – Used as a thickening agent, vitamin E acetate has been linked to lung illness when vaped in high doses. Reputable companies avoid vitamin E acetate or vitamin e oil.
- Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin – These compounds are common vape juice ingredients that can cause allergic reactions to some users when vaped. Seek carts with natural, cannabis derived terpenes instead.
- Artificial flavors – Artificially flavored vape juices contain chemicals that may be harmful when inhaled. Opt for delta-8 carts with only natural cannabis terpenes for flavor.
Potentially Harmful Contaminants
Delta-8 carts can also become contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, or other harmful chemicals and toxins:
- Heavy metals like lead and cadmium can leach from low-quality vape cart hardware and accumulate in the delta-8 oil.
- Pesticides may be present if the original hemp biomass was not properly tested. Seek out organic, US-grown hemp sources.
- Residual solvents left over from the delta-8 extraction process can be toxic if vaped. Proper lab testing should confirm solvent-free distillate purity.
Health Effects and Side Effects
The long-term health implications of vaping delta-8 products are still relatively unknown 2U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “5 Things To Know About Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC,” FDA, Sep. 14, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc. However, the FDA has received several dozen reports of adverse effects potentially tied to delta-8 use, including:
- Trouble standing
- Loss of consciousness
These severe reactions appear to be rare but are still concerning given delta-8’s increasing popularity. More common side effects of delta-8 include drowsiness, appetite changes, dry mouth, and bloodshot eyes – similar to marijuana highs.
A study published in PubMed also provides insights into the use of Delta-8-THC for the treatment of health and medical conditions, with patterns of use showing both similarities and differences when compared to Delta-9-THC 3PubMed, “Consumer Experiences with Delta-8-THC: Medical Use,” PubMed, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34797727/.
However, It’s unclear whether side effects are caused by delta-8 itself or by contaminants in untested products. Using carts from trustworthy suppliers can reduce this risk.
Starting with very low doses of delta-8 and increasing slowly may also help minimize side effects until you understand your tolerance levels. However it is still widely considered that vaping any form of cannabis is a healthier alternative to the dangers of combustion through smoking.
Is Delta-8 Legal? Regulations and Drug Testing
Delta-8 exists in a legal gray area. While technically legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, delta-8 preparations and finished products fall under FDA jurisdiction.
The FDA has expressed concerns over delta-8’s psychoactive effects and the lack of scientific support for purported wellness benefits. However, the agency has not formally approved or banned consumer delta-8 products. Individual states are beginning to regulate or restrict delta-8 access, but in most areas, it remains available.
There are a few key factors determining delta-8’s legal status:
- Delta-8 is legally allowed if sourced from hemp containing 0.3% or less delta-9 THC.
- Delta-8 synthetically converted from CBD remains federally legal, though some states have banned this process.
- Finished delta-8 consumer products exist in a regulatory gray area with the FDA not having approved delta-8 as a safe food additive or dietary ingredient.
Additionally, delta-8 can create complications for workplace or other drug testing:
- Delta-8 products can lead to a positive drug test result for delta-9 THC metabolites.
- This depends on the type of test, but delta-8 use poses a risk for failing a standard cannabis urine test.
Those subject to drug testing should avoid delta-8, or seek out broad spectrum products that may have less THC cross-reactivity on tests.
How to Find Safe Delta-8 THC Vape Carts
Ensuring you select a high-quality, safe delta-8 vape cart comes down to researching brands, verifying lab tests, and avoiding obvious warning signs. Here are the key purchasing criteria to keep in mind:
Buy from Trusted Brands
With little regulation in the delta-8 market currently, reputable companies committed to transparency and safety are essential. Seek out established brands with:
- Extensive positive customer reviews
- Responsive customer service teams
- Detailed information on sourcing and production methods
- Professional, educational website content
Less scrupulous suppliers may cut corners on safety and quality. Stick to well-reviewed industry leaders.
Review Third Party Lab Reports
Always verify that a delta-8 cartridge has been tested by an independent, ISO certified lab before making a purchase. Lab reports should confirm:
- The delta-8 distillate is pure and free of contaminants
- Potency matches the amount listed on the packaging
- No heavy metals, pesticides, or residual solvents are present
If a brand doesn’t provide current COAs (Certificates of Analysis) from testing, it’s better to avoid their products.
Avoid Obvious Warning Signs
Be on the lookout for red flags indicating poor quality or unsafe delta-8 vape cartridges:
- Generic, non-child proof packaging
- Typos, incorrect info, or confusing wording
- No batch number, manufacturing dates, or ingredient list
- Dark, murky, or thick distillate color
- Crystallization or solids in the oil
- Leaks, broken hardware, improper filling
Pricing and Sourcing
- Unbelievably low prices compared to competitors
- No information provided on hemp source location
- Claims product was made in unlicensed facilities
Find out more about how to tell if your cart has expired or gone bad.
Alternatives to Delta-8 Carts
If the potential health risks of delta-8 vape cartridges remain a concern, safer alternatives exist to experience the benefits of delta-8 THC, including:
Consuming delta-8 orally via edibles, capsules, or oils eliminates respiratory risks from vaping. While edibles have a slower onset, the effects typically last longer. Start with 5-10 mg doses until you determine your tolerance.
Delta 8 tinctures are a liquid concentrate taken sublingually by placing drops under the tongue for 30-60 seconds before swallowing. This allows delta 8 THC absorption through the mouth’s mucous membranes. Tinctures provide similar 2-4 hour euphoric effects to vaping delta 8, but without inhalation. Start with 1mL or a half dropper to find your optimal dosage.
Full Spectrum CBD
Non-intoxicating CBD products made from cannabis plants or hemp contain small amounts of many cannabinoids, including delta-8. They provide calm without the marked psychoactivity of delta-8 distillates.
Delta-9 THC Products
In legal states, lab-tested vape carts, flower, and edibles containing delta-9 THC from licensed dispensaries offer regulated alternatives. However, delta-9 does produce more significant intoxication than delta-8 for some users.
Frequently Asked Questions About Delta-8 Carts
Are delta-8 carts completely safe and legal?
No product is 100% safe for all users, and delta-8 exists in a legal gray area federally. However, carts from reputable companies that have been independently lab tested for purity and potency can provide relatively safe access to delta-8’s benefits where it is currently legal. State and local laws may restrict delta-8 access.
Can you fail a drug test after using delta-8 carts?
Yes, it is possible to fail a marijuana drug test after vaping delta-8 carts. Most drug tests do not distinguish between delta-8 and delta-9 THC and will detect THC metabolites from both. Those concerned about drug screenings should avoid all THC products.
What are early signs of a poor quality delta-8 vape cartridge?
Warning signs of low quality or impure delta-8 carts include dark, cloudy, or thick oil, crystallization in the oil, damaged hardware and leaking, extremely low pricing, and no independent lab reports showing potency and purity. High quality carts will have pure, transparent or light gold oil and professional packaging.
Are there different types of delta-8 carts to choose from?
Delta-8 vape carts primarily come in two forms – disposable one-time use vape pens, often referred to as vape carts, or refillable cartridges designed to screw onto a reusable vape battery. Disposables offer convenience while cartridges allow choosing flavors. Both types should display third party testing when purchased from reputable brands.
What are the potential benefits of delta-8 THC versus other cannabinoids?
Delta-8 THC provides mild psychoactive effects leading to feelings of calm and focus, and may help promote appetite, sleep, and nausea relief. Compared to CBD, delta-8 adds light euphoria while avoiding intense paranoid sensations sometimes experienced with high doses of delta-9 THC. Many find delta-8 provides a balance of therapeutic effects without strong intoxication.
In Conclusion: Prioritize Safety With Delta-8 Carts
When used responsibly from trusted suppliers, delta-8 THC vape cartridges can offer enjoyable and potentially beneficial effects for hemp-derived product consumers. However, the relative newness of delta-8 requires exercising caution by carefully vetting brands and verifying independent testing before purchasing any delta-8 vape products.
Avoiding obvious warning signs like poorly made cartridges and lack of transparency can go a long way in sidestepping the potentially hazardous contaminants identified in some early delta-8 goods. Seek out established, safety-focused companies using high-purity distillate sourced from organic US hemp.While more research is still needed on the long-term health implications of vaping delta-8, following current best practices provides the safest possible experience with these increasingly popular cannabis industry products. Prioritizing your health should always come first when evaluating whether delta-8 cartridges are the right choice for your needs.
- 1U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “5 Things To Know About Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC,” FDA, Sep. 14, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc
- 2U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “5 Things To Know About Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC,” FDA, Sep. 14, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc
- 3PubMed, “Consumer Experiences with Delta-8-THC: Medical Use,” PubMed, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34797727/