Delta 8: Candy Lookalike Drugs


Alli Valentine

The image shows how students, hiding in the bathroom, distribute and take drugs such as Delta-8.

Alli Valentine, Yearbook Editor

Everyone loves candy, but kids should be more cautious when they eat candy. There are candies and snacks packaged to look like popular candy, but contains a drug called “Delta 8” that can cause a high similar to marijuana.

Mike Campbell is the student resource officer at John Sevier Middle School. His main job is making sure that students are safe.

“Delta 8 is one of over 100 different cannabinoids found in the hemp plant,” he said. Delta 8 is psychoactive, meaning it causes temporary changes in psychological and physiological processes.”

Delta 8 is actually legal as of right now, which makes regulating it extremely difficult.

Robert Pack is the Director of the East Tennessee State University Addiction Science Center.

“Delta 8 is right now legal,” he said. Okay. “It’s not regular marijuana; it’s like a different variation of cannabis, which is delta nine, THC.”

Now, however, Delta 8 edibles have started showing up in packaging that looks almost exactly like regular candy from popular brands.

“Products containing Delta 8 are often packaged to appear as Gummie Bears, Skittles, Life Savers, and common chocolate candies,” Campbell said. “Delta 8 can also be found in common snack chips such as Doritos, Ruggles, and Pringles. We have seen popular cereals such as Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch, with packages almost identical to the original products, containing Delta 8.”

Many students are worried about the effects these products could have on teens.

“It will hurt our bodies as we are still growing and could lead to a higher risk of diseases in the future,” eighth grade student Sid Sigmon said.

Some students are unaware of this trend, so they could accidentally eat Delta 8 products, especially during the Halloween season.

“I don’t know anything about it,” Brently Woliver, an eighth grade student, said.

Delta 8 does not appear to be addictive.

“Addictive means that when you don’t have it, your body actually develops what’s called a withdrawal symptom,” Pack said. “Withdrawal symptoms are not common for people who use any type of cannabis product, Delta 8, 9, or 10.”

Still, there are dangers, especially for kids.

“Products containing Delta 8 are not tested or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration,” Campbell said. “They may contain large amounts of THC, the main cause of the ‘high’ effect of marijuana and could be harmful mentally and physically to a middle school student.”

Pack agreed.

“We need to think about what the risks are,” he said. “Maybe there’s some pretty significant risks, especially huge risks for any kind of kid who might get a hold of these products, especially if they’re disguised as candy.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Delta 8 candy side effects include hallucinations, vomiting, tremor, anxiety, dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

According to Campbell, students have begun to take advantage of the packaging of Delta 8 candy.

“Sneaking Delta 8 candy into middle and high schools due to the products being packaged as ordinary candy, or chips, or cereal is a proven fact,” he said. “This is something that needs to be monitored by teachers, staff, administration, and SRO.”

Several students feel that administrators at Sevier Middle should take action to help prevent this problem.

“[We should have] meetings or assemblies,” Lyric Wolfe said.

The Delta 8 drug is becoming very popular. According to the website Healthline, Delta 8 produces feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and potential pain relief. These effects are milder than those of marijuana.

According to the FDA, they have received 104 reports of adverse events in patients who consumed delta-8 THC products between December 1, 2020 and February 28, 2022. Of these 104 adverse event reports 77% involved adults, 8% involved pediatric patients less than 18 years of age, and 15% did not report age.

Even Sevier Middle students have been affected.

“On two occasions during the 2021-2022 school year, we had incidents of students using Delta 8,” Campbell said. “One was in the form of edible gummies and the other was vaping. One student had to be transported to the hospital.”

Pack believes that if the Delta 8 candy was designed for adults, it can be especially dangerous to kids.

“[Let’s say it] was sold legally to an adult,” he said. “There, the amount that they could safely take will be higher than it would be for a kid because their bodies are different in size. So, think about it like my dinner. I eat more rice than a kid because my body needs more fuel. That’s exactly the thing. So, it could have a really potentially very bad effect on them based on just their size.”

Many adults, including Pack, are concerned about how these products could fool students.

“I actually think that it’s irresponsible of manufacturers to do this,” Pack said. “If it’s not illegal, it should be. I think it’s very dangerous, particularly if kids can’t tell the difference.”