Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) boss John Skerritt did not mince his words about delta-8 THC during his presentation at Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia’s ACannabis conference.

While acknowledging the contentious compound does appear naturally in cannabis plants in tiny amounts, Skerritt reminded the industry that products containing delta-8 which has been chemically transformed from CBD are not legal in Australia.

TGA boss John Skerritt

He said: “[Delta-8] is only found [naturally] in trace amounts, 0.1%, maybe 0.5% in some strains, but generally very, very low amounts, not commercially feasible to extract.” 

“It has become popular because it can be chemically made… it’s generally converted by ‘cooking up’ CBD with acids, solvents and heat.”

“It is not legal in Australia, despite questions about it, because it is chemically manufactured,” said Skerritt, adding TGO93 has been clarified to remove any ambiguity about delta-8’s legal status.

Skerritt also warned delta-8 products will not be considered schedule 8 drugs or schedule 4 medicines, due to their synthetic origins. The implication being that they may be captured as a schedule 9 prohibited substance.

The growing popularity of delta-8 has raised concerns about its safety and the potential for its synthetic manufacture to leave behind harmful contaminants.

Skerritt added: “There’s almost nothing known about the safety of delta-8… There are about two studies published 30 years ago with a handful of people… And a lot of these products from American analytical studies have found bits of chemicals and solvents in them, let alone a whole lot of other [unidentified] chemicals. 

“Both the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have warned against adverse events… they’ve had people in emergency departments with delta-8.”

Skerritt also revealed that the Federal Advisory Council on Medicinal Cannabis has asked the TGA to conduct post-market surveillance of products to test for the presence of delta-8. 

“I’m not accusing any companies in Australia of deliberately doing the wrong thing,” he said. “But I am worried that some may not know that the material they are getting, especially from North American sources, may have delta-8 in it.”

Rhys Cohen

As well as being editor-at-large at Cannabiz, Rhys is the director of Cannabis Consulting Australia, which provides commercial consulting services to various domestic and international cannabis companies....