Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) has sent a position paper to members on delta-8 THC products in a bid to clear up confusion about the medicine, ensure accurate labelling, and avoid it being prescribed in error.

In October 2021, growing alarm about delta-8 products in the US, and reports of it being prescribed to patients in Australia, prompted industry bodies to warn members about the potential risks associated with the cannabinoid and to raise their concerns with regulators.

As things stand, companies with delta-8 in their products do not have to declare on the label whether the product contains delta-8 or delta-9, only that it contains THC of some kind. In its position paper, MCIA encourages companies to proactively disclose this information.

Concerns have also been raised about the solvents needed to transform delta-8 from CBD and the possibility of contamination in the final product. However, advocates for the medicine have blamed poor production methods and processes used in the US recreational market for this perception.

MCIA chair Peter Crock

MCIA chair Peter Crock said: “For an unregistered medicine, [labelling standards] TGO 91 and 92 don’t technically apply, but TGO 93 [medicinal cannabis standard] does require identification of each active ingredient. Since the ingredients list includes tetrahydrocannabinol, without differentiating the isomers, there is the potential for misunderstanding and misrepresentation.”

“MCIA has developed a position paper to highlight that these two isomers are very different — in how they are produced and in what is known about their biological effect — and therefore industry members need to provide accurate labels and guidance to enable informed and active decision making by prescribers.”

The paper states: “The purpose of this document is not to discuss the legalities of delta-8 THC, its synthesis or use. Instead, [it] highlights the similar but unique chemical structures of delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC, and the importance of not defaulting, in the absence of evidence, to considering these isomers as equivalent in all but name.

“Given the differences in the chemical and pharmacological properties between these isomers of THC, transparency in labelling by suppliers, informed decisions by prescribers, and awareness by patients, are key to ensuring patient safety and to avoid medicine confusion or mistakes.”

It adds: “Given the different risk profile between isomers of THC (based on origin, potential impurity profiles, chemical properties, toxicity and pharmacological effect), transparency of labelling is an expectation under the MCIA’s Code of Conduct.

“The MCIA encourages active and informed decisions by prescribers and ongoing and targeted research on delta-8 THC.”

Prior to launching Cannabiz, Martin was co-founder and CEO of Asia-Pac’s leading B2B media and marketing information brand Mumbrella, overseeing its sale to Diversified Communications in 2017. A journalist...