What Is Delta-8 THC?
Is there a legal THC? Yes, there is a form of THC that is legal. Currently, there are over 140 identified naturally occurring cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Delta-9 THC, the dominant psychoactive compound known to provide the common effects of feeling “high,” is the most famous cannabinoid. However, as of lately, there is another cannabinoid that is stealing the show. This minor cannabinoid, Delta-8 THC, occurs in exceedingly small concentrations. Delta-8 THC is not that well known but is gaining popularity because it is only about half the psychoactive potency of Delta-9 THC. Since Delta-9 THC is illegal in most states, Delta-8 THC is quickly becoming known as the legal THC.
Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is different from the THC you often hear about when discussing marijuana. As mentioned before, what we normally call THC usually refers to Delta-9 THC, which is the main form in cannabis. Delta-8 THC is a bit like the cousin of Delta-9 THC. Federal law prohibits the THC content of Delta-9 from exceeding 0.3%. Although the law has strict regulations on Delta-9 THC, the legality of Delta-8 THC is not addressed in the hemp laws, so, there is a legal THC.
Delta-8 THC nicknamed “diet weed” or “lite weed,” is a degraded form of THC. Promising a milder high than marijuana, it has been gaining popularity due to the medicinal effects it has demonstrated. Consumers claim that it is a smoother, less anxious psychoactive experience that is not as sedative as Delta-9. It also seems to demonstrate better pain relief, but these claims have yet to be confirmed with clinical trials. Delta-8 can benefit many people for whom Delta-9 provides medical help, but without producing the side effects of paranoia or anxiety.
Delta-9 vs. Delta-8 - Similarities and Differences
These two cannabinoid molecules have similar structures, but there are some subtle differences. Both Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC contain double bonds in their molecular chains. Delta-8 THC contains a bond on the eighth carbon chain, and Delta-9 THC contains a bond on the ninth carbon chain. Although it is a subtle difference, it has noticeable effects on how the body’s endocannabinoid receptors bind and respond to the molecule.
Delta-8 THC Effects - Does It Make You Feel High?
The concentration of Delta-8 THC found in cannabis plants is extremely low, so until the legalization of cannabis in 2018, there was little information about this cannabinoid. Before legalization, the only psychoactive cannabinoid people were familiar with was Delta-9 THC.
Delta-8 THC is psychoactive and will cause a feeling of being "high." However, compared to the infamous Delta-9 THC, the potency of Delta-8 THC is only half. Delta-8 does not cause intense and overbearing effects such as confusion and anxiety. Some consumers of Delta-8 THC describe the “high” felt as "clearer headed" without effecting concentration or causing anxiety or fogginess. Delta-8 users claim the cannabinoid heightens senses and enables them to concentrate better. Other consumers report Delta-8 THC effects as "energizing and motivating"; however, like other cannabinoids, Delta-8 THC affects people in various ways. Some consumers report that Delta-8 taken in higher doses can be a sedative. These claims are consistent with research that has demonstrated cannabinoids as having a biphasic effect. Biphasic means it can feel vastly different at low doses than it does at high doses.
As mentioned before, cannabinoids affect people differently, so use Delta-8 with care. Avoid operating heavy machinery or driving after consuming Delta-8 THC.
How does Delta-8 THC work in the body?
When consumed, Delta-8 and Delta-9 act in similar ways. These cannabinoids interact with the complex system in our bodies called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis in the body, including regulating the immune function, appetite, pain and inflammation response, memory, etc. Both Delta-9 and Delta-8 bind to CB1 receptors, located in the central nervous system to cause its effects. However, since Delta-8 has a slightly different chemical structure, it has less affinity for CB1 receptors, and more of an affinity for CB2 receptors, which is why it is probably less potent.
The combination of differences may be the reason for the described higher anxiety and reduced anxiety, as well as the greater ability to concentrate, usually related to Delta-8 THC. It is possible that its unique molecular arrangement also influences the chemical's effects on other receptors and neural pathways.
Benefits of Delta-8 THC
As mentioned earlier, the effect of Delta-8 THC varies from person to person, but at the appropriate dose, users report that Delta-8 THC has a higher function and activity than Delta-9 THC. Although the efficacy and benefits of Delta-8 THC are still being studied, more research studies are needed to prove its benefits, how it works in the body, and its potential side effects. However, some early studies have shown that Delta-8 THC may have the following benefits:
Pain & Inflammation Effects
Published in "Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research," a 2018 preclinical study found that Delta-8 THC may have been effective in diminishing pain and inflammation in corneal injuries with mice. When used topically, it helps to relieve pain and reduce inflammation by acting on CB1 receptors. Another preclinical study reported that Delta-8 THC can relieve pain, but resistance to cannabinoids develops rapidly. Even so, this response does prove the potential of cannabinoids in controlling pain and inflammation.
One of the earliest studies on Delta-8 THC noted that it eliminated nausea and vomiting in children treated for cancer. This study followed eight childhood cancer patients for two years and found that when these patients ingested Delta-8 THC within 24 hours before and after cancer treatment, no vomiting occurred and almost no side effects were reported.
Comparably, to Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC may also help stimulate appetite. Research conducted on mice reported that Delta-8 THC increased food consumption significantly more than Delta-9 THC, which is an appetite stimulant. Hence, Delta-8 appears to be more effective as an appetite stimulant than Delta-9.
While there seems to be little clinical literature investigating the anti-anxiety potential for Delta-8, reports of consumers claim that consumption of Delta-8 results in a calm, focused high, without the anxiety that can sometimes accompany Delta-9 THC.
Other benefits include:
- Mood Boost/Happier
- Better Sleep
- Increased Libido
Negative of Delta-8 THC
Negative effects can include drowsiness, upset stomach, dry mouth, red eyes, and headache.
Legalities of Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC became legal by H.R. 2: The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the 2018 Farm Bill. It became legal when hemp allowed for all derivatives, isomers, and cannabinoids of hemp that were not Delta-9 THC, hence, there is a legal THC... for now.
Up to that point, Delta-8 THC had been illegal and was specifically mentioned in the Controlled Substances Act. However, in addition to making all hemp cannabinoids, isomers, and derivatives legal, H.R. 2 specifically includes text to remove all confusion among laws by amending the Controlled Substances Act to exclude Delta-8 THC from hemp.
Delta-8 THC is federally legal and legal in most states, but it is not legal in all states. It is legal in most states that have hemp laws mirroring H.R. 2, however not all states do this. Some states specifically exclude Delta-8 THC or have laws that do not specifically make all cannabinoids, isomers, and derivatives of hemp legal, creating a gray area for the compound.
Drug Screening Warning:
As mentioned earlier, there is a legal THC...currently, Delta-8 THC; however, its metabolite is like Delta-9 THC, which will trigger a positive drug screening for Delta-9 THC.
In many ways, Delta-8 sounds too good to be true. It appears to be a perfect solution for people who want to feel the psychoactive effects of Delta-9, yet without the paranoia or anxiety. It also seems to be the legal option available in the illegal marijuana states because legislation made no mention of Delta-8 in the 2018 Farm Bill. Delta-8 is also significantly less expensive than Delta-9, making it a great option for a person looking for a short uplifting feeling without being highly intoxicated. However, due to the abundance of attention Delta-8 has been getting from law enforcement, the trend might be short-lived. However, today there is a legal THC... for now.
At Arolistic Naturals, it is our mission to educate our community and consumers on the potential benefits of hemp therapeutics. We offer a variety of hemp-derived products, ranging from tinctures to topical products. For more information, contact us directly.
1) “New Legal THC Product Is Costing Dispensaries Billions.” LA Weekly, 14 July 2020, www.laweekly.com/new-legal-thc-product-is-costing-dispensaries-billions/.
2) “Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol.” Weedmaps, weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol.
3) Thapa D;Cairns EA;Szczesniak AM;Toguri JT;Caldwell MD;Kelly MEM; “The Cannabinoids Δ 8 THC, CBD, and HU-308 Act via Distinct Receptors to Reduce Corneal Pain and Inflammation.” Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29450258/.
4) Abrahamov, Aya, et al. “An Efficient New Cannabinoid Antiemetic in Pediatric Oncology.” Life Sciences, Pergamon, 5 Apr. 2000, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/002432059500194B?via=ihub.
*The statements on this website are for educational purposes and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition or disease. The products are not a substitute for professional medical care. These products may interact with medications you are currently taking. Arolistic Naturals is not responsible for any adverse reactions you may experience.