Cannabis is an incredibly special plant, teeming with curative compounds. Humans have used cannabinoids like THC and CBD medicinally, spiritually, and recreationally for centuries. Even the terpenes in cannabis may have therapeutic qualities.
Today, we’ll be looking at a cannabis product that’s been rapidly growing in popularity for the last few years—delta 8 THC. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it before; we’ll explain.
What Is Delta-8 THC?
THC, the cannabinoid responsible for producing the “high” during marijuana consumption, has a chemical formula of C21H30O2. While we usually just use the abbreviation when talking about THC, the full name is delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9 thc for short. The delta 9 part of that name refers to a specific type of covalent bond called a double bond attached to the ninth carbon in the chain.
Delta 8 THC has a nearly identical structure to traditional THC, with the only difference being the double bond placement on the eighth carbon as opposed to the ninth.
So how does that minor change in chemical composition alter the effects of the compound, and how similar is the delta 8 THC feeling to a regular delta 9 high?
Does Delta 8 Make You High?
Unlike CBD, CBN, CBG, or any of the other minor cannabinoids, consuming delta-8 THC products will definitely result in some intoxicating effects similar to conventional marijuana. Scientists speculate that this has to do with the way that both the delta 8 and delta 9 forms of THC mimic our body’s natural neurotransmitters by directly stimulating the cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system. In contrast, other cannabinoids like CBD simply don’t appear to bind to these receptors completely.
Both delta 8 and delta 9 can induce intoxicating effects; however, users have anecdotally established some fundamental differences in the buzz.
Most commonly, users of delta 8 report that the effects of delta 8 are noticeably more mild than standard THC—especially when it comes to the mental effects. Your basic marijuana high often has powerful mind-altering effects. Users may experience a drastic change in the perception of time, a mental fogginess that interferes with basic problem-solving abilities, increased feelings of paranoia, and problems encoding short-term memory. With delta 8, however, these cerebral effects appear to be significantly diminished.
While cannabinoids will affect every user differently, the consensus regarding delta 8 is that the compound induces a much more mellow type of high than delta 9. Some effects include a mild feeling of euphoria, increased appetite, sensations of tranquil relaxation, and clear-headed mental stimulation. Although, these statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.
Benefits of Delta 8 THC
Delta 8 has much of the same therapeutic potential as delta 9 THC. What makes delta 8 so exciting in this capacity is that it doesn’t seem to be as impairing as delta 9 THC. For example, if someone like a cancer patient needs an appetite stimulant to help maintain weight during treatment, delta 8 could potentially serve this purpose without leaving the patient dealing with as much brain fog as delta 9.
Like regular THC, there’s been some notable preliminary research into delta 8’s possible medical applications. One 1995 study found that delta 8 may be useful in helping to reduce nausea in children battling cancer, with limited side effects.
A more recent study from 2004 suggests that delta 8 THC could increase production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which could help maintain brain health into old age.
Is Delta 8 Legal?
Like many other compounds derived from the cannabis plant, delta 8’s legal status is somewhat hazy. The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp, which it defines as cannabis containing less than 0.3% delta 9 THC per dry weight. So technically, delta 8 THC derived from hemp plants is federally legal.
However, it’s up to the individual states to set laws regarding the sale of delta 8 within their borders. So far, delta 8 THC remains legal in most of the country. However, 11 states (Arizona, Arkansas, Alaska, Utah, Rhode Island, Montana, Mississippi, Iowa, Idaho, Delaware, and Colorado) have made legislation banning delta 8.
Delta 8 THC is primarily made in extract form and sold online by virtual retailers. Extractors ship delta 8 disposable vape carts, delta 8 gummies, and even CBD hemp buds infused with delta 8 extracts to create smokeable delta 8 flower. However, if you live in one of the 11 states mentioned above, you may find it difficult to acquire legal delta 8 products due to shipping restrictions.