What is Delta-8?
According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta-8 (short for delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol) is a relative of THC and exhibits similar antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties. While it features many of the same benefits of THC (known as Delta-9), Delta-8 (also known as D8) has a lower psychoactive potency. In other words, it works well to soothe and prevent anxiety, pain, and vomiting without creating an identical high. (But, let it be known: You will absolutely feel heady when using this product—more on that later.)
Delta-8 is able to manifest these benefits thanks to its ability to bind to the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain that THC does. Despite being metabolized the same way, a new-to-market Delta-8 offering that’s sold across the country and plants a tree for every product made—the effects are significantly dialed back. Users report a clearer, calmer, and more composed high compared to what they get when consuming typical marijuana.
While you may be feeling rather intrigued at this point, know that there’s a very real chance that you’ve already tried Delta-8. If you’ve ever consumed marijuana, broad-spectrum hemp, or even some CBD products, you’ve most likely already consumed Delta-8. Noting that D8 is extracted from hemp (more specifically, cannabis sativa L). Of course, many folks aren’t aware of this due to ever-changing hemp regulation and the fact that Delta-8 extraction has only recently begun to be more heavily researched. As such, many brands—THC, hemp, or CBD—haven’t directly called out Delta-8 in their product copy.
Fortunately, ever since the 2018 Hemp Farm Bill was passed—which was nothing short of a watershed moment for the hemp industry because it removed hemp and its derivatives (so long as they have less than 0.3% THC) from the definition of illegal marijuana—other legal distillates, like Delta-8, have begun to earn their moment in the spotlight, making their way from the unknown to the general market. As a result, there’s no doubt about it: Delta-8—which is available in many of the same forms as THC, including carts, dabs, gummies, and tinctures—is the next big hemp-derived distillate that’s about to become a household name.
Is Delta-8 legal?
Before getting into how D8 differs from THC and CBD, let’s get straight to the point with what you’re undoubtedly wondering: Is Delta-8 legal? You betcha.
The 2018 Hemp Farm Bill allows for the manufacturing and sale of any product derived from hemp containing less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The Controlled Substance Act specifically makes amendments that protect the manufacturing of any tetrahydrocannabinol (again, as long as it has legally compliant levels of D9) derived from hemp by removing them from the list of Schedule I narcotics, which is why D8 is legal.
But there’s a caveat. Some states have different local regulatory laws that ban any and all hemp products (including CBD and, subsequently, D8). These include Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, and Utah. So, unfortunately, if you live in these states, D8 is a no-go.
Additionally, even though D8 is legal, thanks to being super similar to THC, it can sometimes lead to false positive drug tests. This is because drug tests typically test for metabolites left behind by consumption and not the chemical itself, and since D8 bonds to the same receptors and gets metabolized the same way...well, you get it.
How does Delta-8 compare to THC?
Both Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC—the cannabinoid commonly referred to as ‘THC’—that are known for getting you ‘high' contain double bonds. The ‘delta’ in the names refers to where these double bonds are positioned. While the double bond is located on the eighth carbon in the carbon chain for Delta-8, it’s on the ninth for Delta-9. Furthermore, D8 connects to both CB1 And CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, whereas D9 binds only to the CB1 receptor.
CBD also binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. One way to think about Delta-8-THC is that it is a cross between CBD and Delta-9-THC. Many consumers do not enjoy consuming Delta-9-THC because of the negative feelings typically associated with taking it: anxiety, paranoia, cloudy thinking, and dry mouth and eyes. In contrast, these same consumers enjoy using Delta-8-THC because it does not cause these undesirable effects.
What's the difference between Delta-8 and CBD?
Given that D8 and CBD connect to the same receptors in the brain, they have many of the same effects. Sometimes people say CBD doesn’t do anything for them. That’s because it’s not psychoactive. CBD has a lot of behind-the-scenes benefits that people aren’t aware of because you can’t always feel them. You don’t immediately feel smarter or healthier when you take omega-3, for example, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working wonders for your body. Delta-8 is like that but gives your brain more immediate feedback. It offers all those same benefits that CBD does—it has been shown to potentially offer neuroprotective benefits; relief from pain, nausea, inflammation; and can potentially help with appetite and stress relief—with more of a psychoactive effect, but, again, far less psychoactive than THC.
Because of this, D8 is the perfect option for folks who crave something more than CBD but not as intense as THC.
It’s naturally occurring in hemp and marijuana and can actually be found in broad or full-spectrum CBD as well. But it is found in such small trace amounts that to distill it legally, you basically need to start with hemp, extract the CBD isolate, then through the isomerization of CBD, you get your Delta-8 distillate (at least, all the credible manufacturers do it this way). While it’s a time-consuming and expensive process, it’s one that ensures the D8 you’re consuming is the highest quality possible.
Content from Rebecca Norriss