Before recreational marijuana became legal in New Jersey earlier this year, a similar product that is technically considered hemp was being sold across the Garden State, in head shops, convenience stores and even in some gas stations.

The product known as delta-8 is derived from the same plant as marijuana, but according to Dr. Diane Calello, the executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, there are some important differences.

She said delta-8, technically known as delta-8 THC, is usually not as powerful as its cannabis cousin delta-9THC.

“The THC people think of is delta-9 THC, that is regulated, that is what just recently became legal. Delta-8 THC is not regulated but has very similar effects to delta-9 THC,” she said.

Photo by Grav on Unsplash
Photo by Grav on Unsplash

You never know what you'll get

Calello explained THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the ingredient that makes you feel high, and some batches of delta-8 are much stronger than others.

“We have seen patients with delta-8 THC toxicity. It causes disorientation and a high, but also some negative effects as the dose increases” she said.

Calello pointed out that delta-8 many also contain other substances or additives.

What's in it?

“A lot of the danger arises from not knowing exactly what is in the product, and not be able to estimate the exact effect of delta-8 THC,” Calello said.

She said because delta-8 is considered to be a hemp product it’s legal, but “predicting how strong it is and how many milligrams of delta-8 will produce the effect a consumer is looking for is actually very difficult, and we don’t know that.”

(Photo by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash)
(Photo by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash)

So is it safe?

Calello said if safety is a concern for you it’s important to remember a licensed product, “the one that actually does undergo the regulatory oversight that is being established with legal retail cannabis, those products would be the safest of all because they’re tested.”

She added a legal cannabis product is required to indicate what the milligrams are of the different compounds, “so whether it’s delta-9 THC or it’s CBD or any other ingredient, it has to be packaged in a way that the consumer can gauge how much they’re getting, and it has to be tested for contaminants.”

Calello said the bottom line is there's a lot of uncertainty when it comes to delta-8.

“Delta-8 is somewhere in that grey area because it is sold legally but it doesn’t have the testing and doesn’t have the package oversight that the legal cannabis products do. Right now delta-8 lives in limbo.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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Here's where NJ legal weed is sold

The number of recreational cannabis dispensaries continues to grow, with close to two dozen state approvals given since the first adult recreational sales in the state back in April. Here is where the open sites are located.

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

Cape May, NJ: 15 wonderful places to visit

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