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Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol Exposure and Confirmation in Four Pediatric Patients

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Abstract

Introduction

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a known isomer of delta-9-THC, both found naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant and thought to have similar potency. Delta-8-THC products are widely accessible in retail shops which may lead to a rise in pediatric exposures with substantial clinical effects.

Case Report

This is a case series of four pediatric patients that were seen between June and September 2021. The patients presented with varied clinical symptoms including confusion, somnolence, seizure-like activity, hypotension, and tachycardia after exposure to delta-8-THC products obtained in retail shops. Basic urine drug screen immunoassays revealed positive results for cannabinoids in all patients. Subsequent confirmatory drug analysis of residual biological samples of blood and/or urine was sent to the University of California San Francisco Clinical Toxicology and Environment Biomonitoring Laboratory with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Toxicology Testing Program (DEA TOX). Confirmatory testing revealed 11-nor-9-carboxy-delta-8-THC, the metabolite of delta-8-THC. Delta-9-THC and its metabolites were not detected on confirmatory testing in any of the cases.

Discussion

Clinical effects of delta-8-THC in children include but are not limited to altered mental status, seizure-like activity, and vital sign abnormalities. Delta-8-THC exposure may lead to a positive urine drug screen for cannabinoids, but confirmatory testing is needed to differentiate from delta-9-THC.

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Acknowledgements

This document has been approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Publication Review Board (PRB-2023-01).

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Correspondence to Kerollos Shaker.

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Supervising Editor: Katherine O'Donnell, MD

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Shaker, K., Nillas, A., Ellison, R. et al. Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol Exposure and Confirmation in Four Pediatric Patients. J. Med. Toxicol. 19, 190–195 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13181-022-00927-x

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