Breaking research showcased on Tuesday at AACC 2022 demonstrates that common drug testing methods can do just that.
Over the last few years, use of delta-8-THC has been rising in popularity in the U.S. for two reasons. The first is that it's known for giving users a milder high than regular marijuana, and the second is that delta-8-THC is unregulated at the federal level, which means that it is legal in most states where cannabis use is still banned.
However, because delta-8-THC products are unregulated, many contain toxic manufacturing byproducts that make it more dangerous than delta-9-THC.
As a result, testing for delta-8-THC is needed to discourage people from taking these contaminated products to circumvent drug tests. Testing is also needed to monitor the spread of delta-8-THC and to inform public health efforts to craft better regulations for it.
A team of researchers led by Uttam Garg, PhD, of Children's Mercy, Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine conducted research to see if tests that detect delta-9-THC can also detect delta-8-THC. To do this, Garg's team spiked negative urine samples with various concentrations of delta-8-THC (10-50 ng/mL) and analyzed these samples with a standard approach for detecting cannabis use. First, they screened the samples with a commercial cannabinoid immunoassay; they followed the screening with confirmatory testing using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).
Garg's team found that the cannabinoid immunoassay yielded positive results for all samples with delta-8-THC concentrations of 30 ng/mL and higher. The GC-MS method also identified delta-8-THC. The latter is especially significant because delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC are very similar at a molecular level, but the GC-MS method was able to distinguish between them due to a difference in retention time. The researchers confirmed these findings in a patient sample containing delta-8-THC.