Marijuana is the world’s most widely used illicit drug, and its use links with various mental health issues, especially among younger people. The best-known result of marijuana use occurs due to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a compound that acts upon brain areas influencing pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination and sensory perception.
As a parent of a teen, you should be aware of a cannabis derivative called Delta-8 THC and the possible consequences of adolescents using it.
Is Delta-8 Legal in Tennessee?
Delta-8, also known as D8, is one of the hundreds of naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant. Because Delta-8 THC derives from hemp, it is legal to buy and use in Tennessee and many other states due to a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill, which protects the manufacturing and sale of hemp products containing less than 0.3% THC. This same law also legalized the sale of CBD, another well-known marijuana compound that does not contain any psychoactive properties and supposedly helps relieve anxiety and pain in some users.
Specialty stores sell Delta-8 in various forms, including gummy candies, chocolates, tinctures and vape cartridges. In Tennessee, the legal age for buying Delta-8 is 21, but that hasn’t prevented underage teens from obtaining it illegally. Its colorful packaging and widespread availability may make it seem harmless, but it’s essential to remember that D8 is still THC, and therefore has mind-altering properties, including anxiety and impaired judgment. Delta-8 can also linger in the body and show up on a drug test, which does not distinguish between different types of THC.
Delta-8 THC and Teens
Though fatally overdosing on marijuana is not possible, that does not make THC safe to use – particularly due to the lack of consistent regulatory standards surrounding it. With any drug, it is possible to develop a psychological dependence that leads users to believe they need to continue taking the substance to feel “normal.” At this point, a teen might be increasingly willing to take risks or do unethical things to get more THC, or be unable to stop using Delta-8 even if he sincerely wants to.
There is also a growing body of evidence suggesting that heavy marijuana use in young adults can give rise to mental health issues such as schizophrenia and psychosis. The risk may increase if your son already has a mental health disorder, which THC use at a young age could exacerbate. Often, co-occurring addiction and mental illness go hand in hand, whether teens use drugs as a temporary escape from their feelings or substance abuse begins perpetuating the cycle of addiction.
How to Talk to Your Son About Drug Use
Adolescence is an especially fraught time of life. Teens are taking on more adult responsibilities and navigating changes in their social and emotional lives. Experimenting with drugs like Delta-8 THC might be a response to peer pressure, or seem like a release valve for stress from school, sports or part-time jobs.
If your teenager seems unusually withdrawn, irritable or has lost interest in previously enjoyable activities, he could be struggling with his mental health. Ensure your son knows he should always feel comfortable coming to you for help or advice. Listen without judgment, and be a good role model about discussing your feelings. If you feel it’s necessary, ask your family doctor to recommend a therapist.
Prioritizing Progress in Recovery
Substance abuse has disrupted the promising lives of many young men. At ARCH Academy, your son does not have to put his academic career on hold while seeking treatment. Enrolling in ARCH Academy allows teen boys aged 14 through 17 to continue their education by completing coursework and transferring credits. To learn more about our unique programming, please reach out to us today.