Blue Ridge Poison Center Sees Major Spike in THC-Related Calls

July 22, 2022
An empty bench in a doctor's office

The Blue Ridge Poison Center at UVA Health saw a fivefold increase over the past year in calls for adverse reactions to Delta-8 THC, a substance extracted from hemp and marijuana plants or created synthetically. Delta-8 THC is structurally similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and is available for sale legally in Virginia.

After receiving 20 calls related to Delta-8 THC between July 2020 and June 2021, the poison center received 112 calls between July 2021 and June 2022. This contributed to an overall 30% increase in THC-related calls – a total of 256 over the past 12 months.

Edibles Driving Increase in Delta-8 Calls

Nearly all the calls related to Delta-8 are for edibles, said Dr. Christopher Holstege, director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center. The packaging of some Delta-8 edibles mimics popular candies, making them more attractive to children. 

Of the 112 calls related to Delta-8 between July 2021 and June 2022, 37 calls involved children under the age of 18. Fifteen of those children were evaluated, treated and released at a hospital emergency department or outpatient clinic, while four were admitted to a hospital for treatment. In that same period, 39 adults were evaluated, treated and released after ingesting a Delta-8 product, while 12 adults were admitted to a hospital.

“These are chemicals that can cause harm and are unregulated,” Holstege said. “There is no guarantee of what you are getting in these packages.”

When to Call the Blue Ridge Poison Center

Holstege recommends calling the Blue Ridge Poison Center if a child consumes any Delta-8 product or if an adult experiences symptoms such as:

  • a racing heart 
  • feeling faint
  • altered mental status, such as feeling confused or disoriented
  • unresponsiveness
  • agitation

If someone has an adverse reaction to Delta-8 or any other substance, trained healthcare providers at the Blue Ridge Poison Center are available to help around the clock. Call 1-800-222-1222 for assistance. The center can also be reached at 1-800-451-1428. Calls are free and confidential.

Media Contact

Eric Swensen

UVA Health System