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Delta-8 THC: What Makes It so Popular These Days?



We all know that a healthy dose of skepticism is good anytime we get on the internet. With all the talk around Delta-8 THC, we have created this guide to give you all the answers you need. By the end of this article, you’ll know all about Delta-8 THC, including similarities and differences between it, CBD, and Delta-9 THC. 

The similarities and differences between Delta-8 THC, CBD, and Delta-9 THC.

Table of Contents

1. What Is Delta-8 THC?
2. Is Delta-8 THC Legal?
3. Is THC Delta-8 Safe?
4. Is Delta-8 a CBD or THC?
5. What Is the Difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9?
6. What Does Delta-8 Feel Like?
7. What Is Delta-8 Good for?
8. Final Thoughts

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1. What Is Delta-8 THC?

 

Delta-8 THC is not a new discovery, but its popularity has grown rapidly in recent years. Based on research and consumer feedback, we know that it produces a similar, yet weaker high compared to Delta-9 THC. 

While Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC are similar, they are both very much unlike cannabidiol (CBD). The fascinating twist here is that Delta-8 can be created using natural CBD compounds. (Click to tweet)

This fact and the progression of hemp laws in the USA have combined to increase the market for this product. 

While Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC are similar, they are both very much unlike CBD.

That said, there is very much we do not yet know about Delta-8. Likewise, the legal status of this compound is a rapidly evolving situation at the state level. So, what do we know about hemp Delta-8 THC

Like with Delta-9, we know that Delta-8 is able to activate our natural CB1 receptors, producing potential therapeutic effects.

Furthermore, Delta-8 is very potent and has psychoactive effects different from Delta-9. We do not yet know just how different, but there are clues. [1]

Delta-8 is a minor cannabinoid produced in very small quantities in Cannabis sativa L. Hemp plants, by law, contain no more than 0.3% THC—Delta-8 is only produced in even smaller amounts. 

But these legal hemp plants can be used to produce Delta-8 from extracted CBD compounds. The process involves using acetic acid to convert the structure of CBD into hemp Delta-8 THC. [1] 

Legal hemp plants can be used to produce Delta-8 from extracted CBD compounds.

RELATED: How Cannabinoids Interact with Their ECS Receptors

Want to know the best part?

For those wondering, there is no evidence that CBD compounds can convert to either Delta-9 THC, Delta-8, or any other type of tetrahydrocannabinol inside the human body naturally. This stands even with high doses based on human studies. This is critical for those who are concerned about THC drug testing. [2]

RELATED: Will CBD Ever Make You Fail a Drug Test?

2. Is Delta-8 THC Legal?

 

Hemp-derived Delta-8 THC can now be found in all sorts of products, from vape liquids to edibles. Many—if not all—of these products are unregulated beyond the production of hemp. 

Once those CBD compounds are extracted from legal hemp plants, they can be used to create products that themselves may be unlawful. You may have seen Delta-8 products in convenience stores and smoke shops, but that does not mean they are legal. 

In brief, the answer is complicated. The legal status has evolved in the last few years, and more changes are expected to occur. While this compound was not discovered recently, a recent change to U.S. law created the opportunity for it to emerge.

While Delta-8 THC was not discovered recently, a recent change to U.S. law created the opportunity for it to emerge.

RELATED: The Greatest Victory for Hemp: The New Farm Bill Signed Into Law!

A big reason for this rise in popularity was the legalization of hemp products in the USA after the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. This law authorized the production of hemp, also removing hemp and hemp seeds from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) controlled substances schedule. [3] (Click to tweet)

The most critical aspect of this bill was the definition of hemp. By law, hemp is now legal if it contains no more than 0.3% THC by weight. To be even more specific, the law was targeted specifically for the content of Delta-9 THC. This is largely the reason Delta-9 THC rose in popularity.

Producers and processors realized they could create products containing Delta-8 THC from completely legal hemp plants. But just because the base ingredient is legal, it does not mean the final product is as well. [4] (Click to tweet)

“All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain Schedule I controlled substances.” —DEA [4]

All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain Schedule I controlled substances. -- DEA

RELATED: What Is the CBD Content of Hemp?

Since Delta-8 is not a natural extract of hemp plants, the DEA considered it to be outlawed. So far, the regulations have not been strictly enforced. As such, many states have taken it upon themselves to fix what they consider to be a loophole. [1] (Click to tweet)

This loophole has been closing in many states as they move to ban hemp-derived Delta-8 THC. States like Alaska, Delaware, Arkansas, Idaho, Arizona, Iowa, Montana, Mississippi, Utah, and Oregon have all blocked Delta-8. [1] 

Be sure to check the legal status of these products in your home state before considering any purchases. You now know what Delta-8 is and how it gets into products, but here’s the big question you should be asking: Is Delta-8 THC safe? 

Be sure to check the legal status of Delta-8 THC products in your home state before considering any purchases.

RELATED: The FDA vs. CBD—A War Against the Innocent?

3. Is THC Delta-8 Safe?

 

Just because we know that CBD compounds are safe, it doesn’t mean we know the artificially modified Delta-8 compounds are also safe. Currently, there is insufficient evidence around the toxicity and potential side effects of hemp-derived Delta-8 THC. [1] (Click to tweet)

Consider a friend who buys legal coffee beans to convert the compounds inside their garage. They extract specific compounds and modify them somewhere. 

The lack of regulations around Delta-8 THC have produced a questionable situation all over America.

If they took these modified compounds and sold them in a consumer product, would you buy it? The lack of regulations around Delta-8 THC have produced a similar situation all over America. 

This is crazy:

Health agencies in the USA do not consider Delta-8 to be safe for food, cosmetics, or dietary supplements at this point in time. Consumers should exercise caution around any synthetically created cannabinoid, especially those that are unregulated. [1] 

Compared to Delta-9 THC and CBD, we know very little about the safety of Delta-8 products. To help you understand why this is, you first need to learn about this fascinating compound.

Compared to Delta-9 THC and CBD, we know very little about the safety of Delta-8 products.

RELATED: Is CBD Safe for All Ages?

4. Is Delta-8 a CBD or THC?

 

As you may have guessed by the name, Delta-8 has far more in common with THC than CBD. This fact rings true both in terms of chemical structure and effects on humans. Delta-8 and Delta-9 are both tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). The commonly used term THC comes from simply removing the Delta-9 for ease of communication. 

But when it comes to the laboratory, CBD has all the right stuff to be converted into Delta-8. So, while Delta-8 is not a CBD, it can be made from it. 

CBD has all the right stuff to be converted into Delta-8 THC.

You may be wondering...

Are there similar variations of CBD like we see between these versions of THC? The answer appears to be yes, but the compounds are highly unstable. This instability makes the extraction of these not reasonable at this time. [5]

However, laboratories have artificially created altered versions of CBD. One such secondary substance (produced in a lab, not by the plant) is EPM301. A process called esterification was used to take cannabidiolic acid and convert it into this potential pharmaceutical product. [5] 

This brings up an important point. There are small amounts of natural Delta-8 THC in plants, making it infeasible to create products extracting this compound naturally. 

Instead, most Delta-8 THC products are made using the secondary substance type. In other words, compounds in hemp are modified in a lab to produce the Delta-8 compounds

Compounds in hemp are modified in a lab to produce the Delta-8 compounds.

RELATED: CBD Extract: How is CBD Oil Made?

5. What Is the Difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9?

 

From a chemical standpoint, the only difference between Delta-9 and Delta-8 can be found right in the name. The number in these names describes slightly different arrangements of the molecules inside. In other words, Delta-9 and Delta-8 are isomers. 

We all know about THC, a term that came from shortening Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. From a scientific standpoint, Delta-9 is a tetrahydrocannabinol isomer. 

An isomer is a compound that shares the molecular formula of another compound, but the arrangement is altered. Like having an item made out of LEGO pieces, the placement of two pieces is altered in an isomer. 

Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC share the same molecular formula, with a slightly different arrangement.

These two versions of THC contain the double bond that is thought to produce psychoactivity. In other words, the double bonds are what get you high. 

The placement of this double bond is different between the two compounds, however. Specifically, the double bond is found on the eighth carbon for Delta-8 and the ninth carbon for Delta-9. Now, don’t the names make sense? 

This is crazy but amazing:

This may not sound like a big change, but small adjustments in the molecular arrangement can have drastic impacts. In other cases, the change can be barely noticeable. When it comes to Delta-8 and Delta-9, it appears that this change produces a relatively small change in the overall effects produced. 

The two versions of THC, Delta-8 and Delta-9, contain the double bond that is thought to produce psychoactivity.

RELATED: Hemp CBD vs. Marijuana CBD: There’s a Difference

6. What Does Delta-8 Feel Like?

 

Unlike CBD, Delta-8 THC does have psychoactive properties capable of producing impairment. (Click to tweet)

One study compared this minor compound against the far more prevalent Delta-9 THC. While the study was small, we discovered some fascinating surprises. [5]

The researchers expected Delta-8 THC to be active in humans, but they were surprised by the lower potency of this compound. Although the clinical effects were smaller than with Delta-9 THC, they were otherwise similar. The effects produced by the two compounds were shown to be nearly identical in the symptoms noted. [6]

It is important to note that the levels of Delta-8 THC are also dramatically lower than Delta-9. And it was this reasoning that led the researchers to conclude that Delta-8 was not the driver of between-strain differences of effects. Individuals who promote the entourage effect likely would see things differently, however. [6] 

Unlike CBD, Delta-8 THC does have psychoactive properties capable of producing impairment.

Consumers describe Delta-8 as more mild than Delta-9 THC, which matches this decades-old research. The lower potency also helps avoid some of the side effects from consumption of Delta-9 THC. Theoretically, a big enough dose of Delta-8 would produce equal effects and side effects as Delta-9 THC, but research is lacking here. 

It gets better:

The term “energizing” has been used to describe the high produced by Delta-8. Like with Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 produces: 

  • Euphoria
  • Symptomatic relief
  • Uplifting effects 

Side effects are also similar, including: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Paranoia
  • Short-term memory loss 
  • Red eyes
  • Motor impairment

Delta-8 THC Side Effects

If you’d like to avoid these effects when consuming CBD products, ensure they are lab-tested to be pure. 

RELATED: How to Ensure the CBD Oil You’re Using Is Pure

7. What Is Delta-8 Good for?

 

Consumers may find Delta-8 to be a good substitute for THC, especially in states where Delta-9 is illegal. To be more specific, Delta-8 is good for those who seek the effects of Delta-9 but do not have legal access to it. Delta-8 THC can produce similar but weaker effects as those produced by Delta-9. 

Individuals suffering from medical conditions that they would prefer to treat with Delta-9 may find Delta-8 an adequate replacement. That said, people should have a talk with their medical professional team and check the legal status of Delta-8 in their home state before taking any actions. 

If you are seeking the benefits of CBD, Delta-8 is not a good alternative. The benefits of CBD are lost once the compounds are converted to Delta-8. The CBD inside our products is natural and unadulterated. 

The benefits of CBD are lost once the compounds are converted to Delta-8.

WATCH: SOL*CBD Cannabidiol (CBD) Tinctures

8. Final Thoughts

 

There is plenty of mystery and intrigue around Delta-8 THC. We hope this article helped lift some of the uncertainty around this popular compound. You can now decide for yourself whether this artificially produced compound with many safety questions is right for you. 

Delta-8 THC produces weaker, yet similar effects as the far more popular Delta-9 THC. The positioning of one carbon chain is the only molecular difference between these two tetrahydrocannabinols. While Delta-9 may have very different effects than CBD, it can be created using those CBD compounds. 

There is plenty of mystery and intrigue around Delta-8 THC.

But here’s the kicker:

With the rise of legal hemp-derived CBD, some producers have used this opportunity to create Delta-8 THC products. These products are legal in some states, but others agree with the DEA’s view that they are unlawful. (Click to tweet)

We do not yet know the answers that are needed regarding safety and toxicology of these secondary products. For now, it is better to stick with natural CBD instead of synthesized Delta-8 THC. 

As we look to the future, this special compound may find utility in the pharmaceutical world. Further research will help illuminate when and where Delta-8 has value. Until this compound can be purchased under the strict safety regulations of pharmaceuticals, consumers should exercise caution. 

Sources:

  1. https://hemptoday.net/ban-on-delta-8-thc-spreads-as-colorado-warns-dispensaries/
  2. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/can.2016.0036
  3. https://www.usda.gov/topics/hemp
  4. https://www.regulations.gov/comment/DEA-2020-0023-0388
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/javierhasse/2020/07/12/dr-mechoulam/
  6. https://ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cpt1973143353

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