Keeping our Teens Drug and Alcohol Free

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What is 4/20, Delta-8 and THC-O?

“4/20” is a day of marijuana celebrations around the world. While you may not have heard of it, posts about it can easily be found on sites and apps that attract tweens and teens like YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok. The term “4-20” has become code for using marijuana any time of the year and particularly at 4:20 p.m.

“Remind your teen the easiest way to avoid using marijuana on 4/20 is to associate themselves with friends who don’t use it.”
– DHS School Resource Officer Rheanna Hall

What is Delta-8 and THC-O?

There is a new and concerning trend of alternative cannabis products derived from the hemp plant such as Delta-8 and THC-O. Because of loopholes in both federal and state law, these substances are not regulated. THC-O (or THC-O acetate) can be three times as strong as traditional marijuana (Delta-9-THC), but does not need to comply with the same regulations for manufacturing, testing, labeling, advertising and minimum sales age. And despite being illegal in 13 states, Delta-8-THC is also not regulated in Illinois.

The marketing and sales of these products appeal to youth and have no age restrictions. For example, Delta-8-THC, commonly referred to as “diet weed” and “hemp THC,” is found in a wide variety of kid-appealing foods and drinks. Delta-8 infused lemonades, lattes, and custom cakes are all on the menu at a bakery shop on the North Shore. Other local shops and convenience stores began selling THC-O in gummies, edibles, vape cartridges, and pre-rolled joints since they don’t face the same state oversight that licensed marijuana dispensaries do.

It’s important to let your child know that even though they are able to buy these products, they are not safe for their developing brains. How do you begin this conversation with your child? The Marijuana Talk Kit can get you started and keep it going.

Sources: Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 14, 2022 and Daily Herald, Feb. 24, 2022 (subscription required)