Cannabinoids like CBD and traditional THC have exploded in popularity during the last decade due to a loosening of legal restrictions. However, CBD and THC aren’t the only cannabinoids in high demand. For the last few years, a form of THC called delta 8 THC has become more and more ubiquitous on online cannabis marketplaces. But what’s the big deal with delta 8? Why is it suddenly selling like hotcakes, and is it worth trying yourself?
What Is Delta 8 THC?
Cannabinoids are the psychoactive molecules found mostly on the frosty trichomes that dust the outside of cannabis and hemp buds. When we consume them, they interact with a system of neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter receptors that help regulate our bodily functions called the endocannabinoid system. CBD and THC are by far the most well-known of these molecules, but there are actually over 100 unique cannabinoids produced by cannabis. Most of these, including delta 8 THC, may sometimes be referred to as minor cannabinoids since cannabis plants only produce them in extremely small amounts.
If you were to look at delta 8 THC and traditional THC (also known as delta 9 THC) under a microscope, you would notice the two chemicals look strikingly similar. In fact, on a molecular level, the only difference between delta 8 and delta 9 THC is the placement of one covalent bond. This slight difference, however, results in a significant contrast in the two compound’s effects.
Both forms of THC, delta 8 and delta 9, are considered intoxicating—meaning consuming them will get you high. That being said, the high from delta 8 is quite different from what a conventional marijuana user may be expecting.
Reason #1: Delta 8 Is More Mellow Than Traditional THC
Anecdotally, delta 8 and delta 9 THC users overwhelmingly agree that delta 8 produces far less intense cerebral effects than traditional delta 9 THC. Those who regularly enjoy THC-rich strains of marijuana are likely familiar with some of the compound’s more intrusive side effects. Things like heavy sedation, increased paranoia or anxiety, short-term memory dysfunction, and the cloudy stoner brain fog that comes after a big bong rip or a well-packed cone.
With delta 8, however, these sorts of effects appear to either be significantly diminished or not present at all. Users typically describe feelings of mild euphoria, increased focus, appetite stimulation, and pleasant body sensations that don’t leave you couch-locked.
Since delta 8 provides a more mellow high, it may be the perfect cannabinoid for someone who wants to remain active while catching a buzz. Try using delta 8 before a hike or bike trip to really get the most out of the experience.
Reason #2: Delta 8 Is Legal More Places Than Delta 9
The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp, which it defines as cannabis containing less than 0.3% delta 9 THC per dry weight. As a result, hemp-derived cannabinoids such as CBD also became federally legal. Because the bill specifically refers to delta 9 THC, many have interpreted this to mean that delta 8 products are now federally legal as well.
Ultimately though, it’s up to each individual state to create its own laws and regulations governing the sale and use of delta 8. Delta 8 is a relatively new product on the cannabis marketplace, as a result, the lion’s share of legislation regarding its state-level legality is still pending. However, 12 states have formally banned delta 8 from being sold inside their borders: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah. Interestingly, you’ll notice that both Alaska and Colorado.
Reason #3: Delta 8 May Have Health Benefits
Aside from the Epidiolex (a CBD-based treatment for seizures) the FDA hasn’t approved any cannabinoid for medicinal use. However, preliminary research and anecdotal evidence strongly suggest that several cannabinoids could potentially have therapeutic applications without the debilitating side effects that come with conventional pharmaceuticals.
One 2018 study explored delta 8’s anti-inflammatory effects on rats with damage to their eyes. The results indicated “Cannabinoids could be a novel clinical therapy for corneal pain and inflammation resulting from ocular surface injury.” If delta 8 does, in fact, have anti-inflammatory qualities, it may also be useful in treating pain stemming from conditions like arthritis.
Another study found that activating the CB1 cannabinoid receptors with delta 8 THC could be useful in alleviating IBS and gut pain.