The Rise of Delta-8 THC

In the ever-evolving landscape of cannabis legalization in the United States, a curious trend has emerged, reshaping our understanding of cannabinoid consumption. A recent study, funded by the American Medical Association and conducted by esteemed researchers from the University of Michigan, University at Buffalo, and Legacy Research Institute, unveils a fascinating phenomenon: in states where cannabis remains illegal, there's a notable surge in the use of alternative cannabinoids like delta-8 THC. This trend not only highlights the adaptability of consumer preferences but also suggests a paradoxical effect of cannabis prohibition—potentially driving people towards these less regulated substances.

This blog delves into the intriguing findings of the study, exploring the implications of such trends on the cannabis industry, regulatory frameworks, and consumer behavior. As we unpack the layers of this complex issue, one thing becomes clear: the prohibition of cannabis may inadvertently be paving the way for a burgeoning market of alternative cannabinoids, raising crucial questions about public health, safety, and the future of cannabis legislation.

Background on Delta-8 THC

what is delta 8 thc?

Before diving into the study's specifics, it's crucial to understand what delta-8 THC is and how it stands apart in the cannabinoid family. Delta-8 THC, chemically distinct from its more famous cousin delta-9 THC (the primary psychoactive component in marijuana), has been gaining popularity, especially in regions where traditional cannabis is outlawed. While both compounds share similar molecular structures, delta-8 THC has a slightly different arrangement that results in milder psychoactive effects. This subtlety in chemical composition means that while users can expect a somewhat parallel experience to delta-9 THC, the effects are often described as less intense and more controlled.

Legally, delta-8 THC resides in a gray area. Derived from hemp (cannabis containing less than 0.3% delta-9 THC), it was deemed legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, its legality varies state by state, with some states actively banning its sale despite federal permissiveness. The compound's availability, often in forms like vapes, edibles, and oils, has made it an accessible alternative for those living in states without legal access to cannabis.

The Study: Key Findings and Methodology

delta 8 cannabis usage in unregulated states

The study, which casts a spotlight on the shifting patterns of cannabinoid usage, was meticulously conducted to ensure representativeness and accuracy. Researchers from the University of Michigan, University at Buffalo, and Legacy Research Institute analyzed data from 1,169 adults, utilizing a cross-sectional survey to gather comprehensive insights into cannabinoid consumption trends.

A key finding of the study was the marked 50% increase in CBD usage since 2019, suggesting a growing acceptance and popularity of this non-intoxicating cannabinoid. However, more striking was the revelation that 25% of respondents had used emerging cannabinoids like delta-8 THC in the past year. The study highlighted a particular interest in delta-8 THC in states where cannabis remains illegal. In these regions, consumers were found to be twice as likely to use delta-8 THC compared to those in states with legal cannabis access.

This pattern of usage underscores a significant trend: the absence of legal cannabis options seems to be inadvertently nudging consumers towards alternative, and perhaps less regulated, cannabinoids. By bringing these insights to light, the study paves the way for a deeper understanding of how legal frameworks around cannabis might be influencing consumer behavior and market dynamics in unforeseen ways.

Implications of the Study

The surge in delta-8 THC usage in states without legalized cannabis reveals much about the unintended consequences of cannabis prohibition. This pattern suggests that in the absence of legal cannabis options, consumers are seeking alternatives, potentially driving the demand for less regulated and more readily available cannabinoids like delta-8 THC. This trend could indicate a significant shift in consumer behavior, highlighting the adaptability and resourcefulness of individuals in navigating the complex and often contradictory landscape of cannabis laws in the U.S.

The study's findings also raise questions about the efficacy of cannabis prohibition as a policy tool. If the goal of prohibition is to limit access to psychoactive substances, the rising popularity of delta-8 THC in non-legal states could suggest that such policies might be counterproductive. Instead of curbing usage, prohibition may be inadvertently creating a market for alternative substances, which, due to less regulation, could pose unknown risks to consumers.

Moreover, the efficiency of extracting cannabinoids from hemp, a process that is logistically less effective than extraction from high-resin cannabis plants, is brought into focus. The profitability of hemp-derived products, despite these inefficiencies, can be attributed to the lower taxes and regulations compared to traditional cannabis. This economic perspective underlines the complex interplay between market forces and regulatory frameworks in shaping the cannabinoid industry.

Industry and Regulatory Perspectives

where is cannabis legal and not legal in the US

The study's implications extend beyond consumer behavior, touching on concerns within the industry and regulatory bodies. Paul Scialdone, an organic chemist interviewed by Project CBD, highlights the problematic incentives created by the current regulatory landscape. The lack of stringent standards and oversight has led to a proliferation of 'hemp hustlers'—manufacturers prioritizing profit over consumer safety. These producers often resort to substandard production environments, such as garages or warehouses, for creating hemp-derived products like vape pens and edibles, potentially endangering consumer health.

The dichotomy within the industry is also evident in the varying responses to this trend. While hemp operators are committed to maintaining the legality of their products, there's a growing call within the regulated cannabis industry for more scrutiny and regulation. This call reflects a concern for consumer safety and a desire for standardization within the industry.

With the next Farm Bill scheduled for late 2024, it's expected that these issues will be addressed, potentially reshaping the regulatory framework governing cannabinoids. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has already stated its position, considering cannabinoids like delta-8 THC illegal if synthetically produced, although enforcement has been minimal. This legal ambiguity further complicates the industry's landscape, indicating a need for clear, comprehensive legislation.

The study paints a complex picture of cannabinoid use in the U.S., one where legal, economic, and health considerations intersect. As the industry and regulators grapple with these challenges, the future of cannabinoids like delta-8 THC hangs in the balance, influenced by a tangle of consumer demand, economic incentives, and legislative actions.

Consumer Behavior and Market Trends

The study's revelation about delta-8 THC's popularity in states where cannabis is illegal provides a unique window into consumer behavior. It suggests that a significant portion of the market is driven by accessibility rather than allegiance to specific cannabis products. This adaptability of consumers, who turn to available alternatives like delta-8 THC in the absence of legal cannabis, reflects a pragmatic approach to navigating the complex legal landscape of cannabinoids in the U.S.

This trend raises an intriguing question: Would the demand for delta-8 and other hemp-derived intoxicating cannabinoids diminish once cannabis becomes widely legal? The study’s data seem to indicate that many consumers turn to these products primarily due to the lack of access to legal cannabis. This shift in consumer preference could have profound implications for the cannabinoid market, potentially leading to a decline in the popularity of delta-8 THC once legal barriers to cannabis are removed.

Understanding this consumer behavior is crucial for businesses and policymakers in forecasting market trends and crafting effective cannabis policies. As the legal landscape evolves, so too might the market dynamics, potentially leading to significant shifts in the types of cannabinoid products that consumers seek.

Public Health and Safety Concerns

safety concerns of delta 8 cannabis

The study also underscores significant public health and safety concerns associated with the unregulated use of cannabinoids like delta-8 THC. The lack of industry standards and controlled human studies on these emerging cannabinoids means that consumers may be at risk due to unknown health effects and inconsistent product quality.

Delta-8 THC, like its counterpart delta-9 THC, has psychoactive effects, which can be particularly concerning for adolescents and young adults whose brains are still developing. Without proper regulation and standardization, consumers are left navigating a market rife with uncertainty regarding product safety and potency.

The call for ongoing public health surveillance and research into these cannabinoids is more than justified, considering these potential risks. Understanding the safety profile, motivations for use, and outcomes associated with these products is vital for ensuring consumer protection and informed decision-making. As the NORC AmeriSpeak panel study shows, there’s a pressing need for comprehensive research to guide future legislation and public health initiatives in this rapidly evolving field.

The complexity and novelty of the cannabinoid market, as revealed by the study, pose significant challenges and opportunities for public health officials, researchers, and industry stakeholders. Addressing these concerns proactively and effectively will be critical in ensuring the safe and responsible use of cannabinoids in the future.


The insightful study on delta-8 THC use in the United States paints a nuanced picture of the current state of cannabinoid consumption, particularly in regions where cannabis remains illegal. Its findings reveal not only the adaptability and resourcefulness of consumers but also the unintended consequences of inconsistent cannabis laws across different states. This shift towards delta-8 THC and other similar cannabinoids in prohibition states signifies a critical juncture in the ongoing debate over cannabis legalization and regulation.

The study underscores a pivotal truth: consumer behavior in the cannabinoid market is heavily influenced by the legal availability of cannabis products. As such, the legal and regulatory frameworks play a significant role in shaping market dynamics, with far-reaching implications for public health, industry practices, and consumer safety.

Moreover, the study brings to light the need for heightened scrutiny and regulation in the cannabinoid industry. The current laissez-faire approach, marked by a lack of stringent standards and oversight, poses significant risks to consumers, warranting urgent attention from policymakers and health authorities. As we look towards the future, the findings of this study advocate for a more informed, responsible, and health-centric approach to cannabinoid regulation and consumption.

In conclusion, the increasing popularity of delta-8 THC in states without legal cannabis access serves as a clarion call for comprehensive research, effective policy-making, and robust public health strategies. It’s a reminder of the complex interplay between legislation, market forces, and consumer behavior, urging stakeholders to navigate this evolving landscape with caution, foresight, and a commitment to public welfare.

As we anticipate future legislative developments, such as the upcoming Farm Bill, and ongoing discussions in the cannabinoid space, it's essential that all actions are grounded in scientific research, public health priorities, and a nuanced understanding of consumer needs and market trends.

E1011 Labs: Commitment to Purity and Compliance in Cannabis Products

whole cannabis flower product

As the landscape of cannabinoid usage continues to evolve, with trends like the rising popularity of delta-8 THC in prohibition states, it's essential to spotlight companies like E1011 Labs that are committed to purity, compliance, and consumer safety in the cannabis industry. At E1011 Labs, we understand the importance of offering safe, high-quality cannabis products to our consumers, and this commitment is reflected in our stringent approach to product formulation and manufacturing.

Unlike the trend of utilizing compounds like delta-8 THC, E1011 Labs focuses exclusively on providing products made from pure, full-spectrum cannabis flower. This dedication ensures that our consumers receive the full benefits of the cannabis plant without the potential risks associated with less regulated, synthesized cannabinoids. By choosing to steer clear of delta-8 THC, E1011 Labs upholds a standard of product integrity and safety, aligning with our core values of promoting health and wellness.

Our products are carefully crafted to preserve the natural integrity of the cannabis plant. This means our consumers experience the entourage effect, where the synergistic interaction of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other natural compounds in the plant work together to enhance therapeutic benefits. This approach contrasts sharply with the market for synthesized cannabinoids, which often lacks the complex profile of compounds found in whole-plant cannabis.

In an industry marked by rapid changes and evolving regulations, E1011 Labs stands out for our unwavering commitment to compliance and quality. We rigorously test our products at various stages from seed to shelf, ensuring that they meet the highest standards for potency, purity, and safety. Our transparent practices, including providing detailed Certificates of Analysis (COAs) for our products, ensure that our consumers are well-informed about what they are using.

As discussions around cannabis legalization and the regulation of cannabinoids like delta-8 THC continue, E1011 Labs remains focused on offering reliable, high-quality cannabis products. Our approach reflects a deeper understanding of consumer needs and a commitment to contributing positively to the cannabis industry's future.

At E1011 Labs, we believe in the power of pure, full-spectrum cannabis and are dedicated to bringing the best of nature's offerings to our consumers, prioritizing their health and well-being above all.