People who keep up with cannabis news are likely to be aware of the controversy surrounding delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol. Delta 8 is a psychoactive compound that is technically legal at a federal level due to some loopholes.
If you’re a newcomer to the world of cannabis, you might be a bit confused about this new cannabinoid. What is it? Is it safe?
Let’s dig a little deeper…
Delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as Delta 8 THC or D8, is a psychoactive compound derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant.
Hemp and THC-dominant marijuana are two varieties of the cannabis plant. Cannabis is an umbrella term for hemp and marijuana. The difference between the two is that hemp production is for medicinal and textile purposes with a minimal amount of THC. Whereas, ‘marijuana’ has high concentrations of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.
Cannabis plants have over 100 different cannabinoids. Hemp is usually higher in CBD concentrations, whereas marijuana is typically higher in THC. You will see cannabis referred to as hemp and marijuana interchangeably, it depends on the context of the cannabinoids you are discussing.
D8 is one of over 100 cannabinoids occurring naturally within the hemp plant. However, this mildly psychoactive cannabinoid does not appear in significant amounts within the hemp plant. Because of this, delta-8 THC is commonly made from CBD (hemp-derived cannabidiol).
How Does Delta 8 THC Compare to Delta 9 THC?
Why is Delta-8 so popular? For starters, its chemical structure is similar to that of its well-known cousin, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC). Delta 9 is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana. This is what makes you “high.”
Both D8, as well as Delta-9, are forms of THC. When people refer to THC they’re often talking about Delta-9, which appears in high levels in the marijuana plant.
Both can produce a fuzzy, euphoric feeling. However, Delta-8 produces a milder effect.
Delta-8 is often called “marijuana light” or “diet cannabis.” This is because unwanted delta 9 THC side effects like paranoia and anxiety are less common with D8 due to its milder effects.
Is Delta 8 Legal?
Part of the reason Delta-8 is so popular is due to the fact that it is legal in most states. Unlike THC which is still illegal and heavily regulated. This is because it’s mainly extracted from hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) which is legal to farm in all 50 states.
However, this mildly psychoactive cousin of delta 9 is currently sitting in a legal gray area. The legality of hemp stems from the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, which removed hemp as well as its byproducts from the list of controlled substances. The reasoning behind this is that hemp has low levels of THC.
2018 Farm Bill
Also, the farm bill states that any production of hemp must have under 0.3% levels of THC. So, whenever hemp is grown, sold, or used in product formulation, it must be third-party lab tested to ensure that the THC levels are below 0.3%.
The farm bill does not explicitly state anything about D8 THC products. This is why this cannabinoid and its products lie in a legal gray area and are being sold left and right all over the country.
For this reason, it is currently the largest rapidly growing market within the cannabis industry.
Again, Delta-8 THC produces similar feelings to delta-9, but the effects are milder.
The lower potency might be beneficial for those who don’t desire to feel a strong “high”.
Research on D8 THC is still lacking. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for researchers to determine if the benefits outweigh any risks. Experts know way more about delta-9 THC.
Alternatives to Delta 8?
CBD is a federally legal alternative to psychoactive cannabinoids that is in fact regulated and won’t get you high. Cannabidiol is a safer alternative because it adheres to the stipulations of the 2018 Farm Bill that require full transparency and lab testing.
Full-spectrum CBD contains very little THC (under 0.3%), and it does not produce any psychoactive effects when used in small doses. However, because it is full-spectrum, it produces a more medicinal effect with the synergistic properties of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Something To Keep In Mind
Delta-8 could pose additional risks since it is synthetically manufactured. Although it is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, the extraction method could potentially use toxic chemicals and solvents that aren’t filtered out before it hits the market. This means that you may not know exactly what it contains, and this could be dangerous.
There is little to no oversight or lab testing of what goes into D8 products as they aren’t yet required by law to adhere to the 2018 Farm Bill.
This raises safety concerns for chemists as well as other scientists. Some products labeled Delta-8 could contain high levels THC or other impurities. A dozen states, including New York, have begun to ban or restrict the use of Delta-8.
This is why, if you are going to purchase Delta 8 products, make sure you purchase it from a trusted source that provides certificates of analysis (COA).