The cannabis industry is booming, thanks in part to our better understanding of cannabinoids, novel cultivation techniques that breed plants high in these cannabinoids, and the master extractors who isolate them in concentrated forms.
CBD, in particular, has become extremely popular in the last decade—going from a nearly unheard of compound to showing up in everything from dog treats to beauty products. Even more recently, we’ve seen delta 8 THC enjoy a massive rise in popularity.
Are you curious about trying either CBD or delta 8 but don’t really know which one would be best for you? Let’s explore what makes these two cannabinoids different and how they’re similar.
What Is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the most abundant compounds found in cannabis and hemp plants. When people think about any cannabis product, they often think about the high that comes with marijuana consumption. However, CBD is non-intoxicating. This means that smoking or ingesting CBD won’t leave you feeling high.
This non-intoxicating quality is a big plus for those who want to use cannabis therapeutically without feeling impaired. Though the FDA hasn’t approved most CBD products and there has been a dearth of clinical trials looking into the cannabinoid’s medicinal potential in the last few years due to legal restrictions, preliminary studies are incredibly promising and many people are already using CBD for medical conditions. Studies indicate that cannabidiol may be helpful in treating anxiety, as well as mitigating pain.
CBD has also been proved to be effective at preventing seizures in children with severe epilepsy conditions. The drug Epidiolex, which is just pharmaceutical-grade CBD, has been approved by the FDA for this purpose.
What Is Delta 8 THC?
So CBD is non-intoxicating, but does delta 8 make you high? The answer is yes.
Delta 9 THC, which is usually just called THC, is the active ingredient in marijuana responsible for getting users stoned. Chemically, delta 9 THC is incredibly similar to delta 8 THC. The only difference is the placement of a single covalent bond in the carbon chain.
Both delta 8 and delta 9 affect our brains in similar ways; By binding directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. CBD, and other minor cannabinoids, don’t fit as well into these receptors and instead influence how they interact with our naturally occurring neurotransmitters. Scientists speculate that this difference explains why THC is intoxicating and CBD is not.
Delta-8 thc is more like delta 9 than CBD, but it’s not exactly the same. Each cannabinoid produces its own unique high. The delta 8 thc feeling has been described as more mellow than traditional delta 9 THC. Users report experiencing less of the cerebral effects of THC when using delta 8 and remain clear-headed and focused.
Cannabis plants can be bred to be naturally high in either CBD, delta 9 THC, or both. However, delta 8 THC only shows up in small percentages. In order to get enough of the cannabinoid to produce any effects, it must first be extracted into a concentrated form. For this reason, delta-8 products are usually sold in the form of oils, vape carts, or edibles like delta 8 THC gummies. Even delta 8 flower is just hemp flower that’s been infused with a delta 8 concentrate.
Is CBD Legal?
Three years ago, the most recent iteration of the 2018 farm bill sought to stimulate the American agricultural economy by federally legalizing hemp—giving farmers a new cash crop. This means that CBD, and other compounds made from hemp, are also federally legal.
It’s still up to the states to set their own laws regarding controlled substances, though, for the most part, the states have followed the federal government’s federal law and legalized at least some form of CBD.
Is Delta 8 Legal?
The language in the farm bill defines hemp as any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% delta 9 THC per dry weight. Since the legislation specifically refers to delta 9 THC, one could assume that delta 8 THC is federally legal so long as it comes from hemp.
Like with CBD, however, the sale of delta-8 is ultimately up to the individual states to decide. So far, 11 states have chosen to explicitly ban delta 8: Utah, Rhode Island, Montana, Mississippi, Iowa, Idaho, Delaware, Colorado, Arkansas, Arizona, and Alaska.
Where Is Delta 8 Available?
Delta 8 extracts are primarily available online. Unlike CBD, don’t expect to find delta 8 THC product lining the shelves of your local pharmacy or Whole Foods any time soon.
Is Delta 8 THC Safe?
Both compounds, CBD and delta 8 THC, are non-toxic and are impossible to overdose on. However, like with all cannabis products, it is important to make sure you’re buying your extracts from a reputable vendor. It’s vital to make sure the seller of your delta 8 or CBD has adequately tested their products in an accredited third-party lab for potency, heavy metal contamination, mycotoxins, pesticides, and any other foreign material. Check the seller’s website for a certificate of analysis (COA) which signals the necessary testing has occurred.