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The Rise of Delta-8 THC

By Kasey Craig
Published: April 8, 2022 | Last updated: April 12, 2022
Key Takeaways

Delta-8 THC, delta-9’s more mellow sibling, is making a big move in consumer products. Kasey Craig provides answers to some FAQs about this relatively new cannabinoid.

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8 THC) is a psychoactive cannabinoid similar to delta-9 which is the compound popularly known as THC. The reason it is called delta-8 is because the double bond placement is at carbon chain position 8.

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Delta-8 has a milder effect since it is synthesized from cannabidiol (CBD). Despite the lower levels of THC, delta-8 is growing in popularity especially in places where delta-9 THC is still illegal.

Detla-8 can be found in the form of vape cartridges, gummies, tinctures, drinks, and more. These delta-8 products are available for purchase in smoke shops, gas stations, dispensaries, convenience stores, and more.

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Since delta-8 THC is new to the market, consumer hesitancy on trying it is understandable, especially if delta-9 THC is legal in that area. The discovery of delta-8 took place in the 1940s but it wasn’t until the 1970s that full synthesis was completed.

Then, in the 1970s, research on delta-8 came to a halt when cannabis prohibition began. But in the early 2000s a cannabinoid researcher discovered that CBD could be converted into delta-8 thus creating an FDA loophole for cannabis users in the U.S.

What’s the Difference Between Delta-8 and Delta-9?

The biggest difference between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC is placement of a specific interaction between two of the atoms that compose the molecule. Delta-8 has a double bond in the 8th position where delta-9 has its double bond in the 9th position.

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Because of this, there is a difference in the way the two cannabinoids bind to our cannabis receptors. Delta-8 binds to the CB1 and the CB2 cannabis receptors, like CBD, but delta-9 only binds to CB1 cannabinoid receptors.

Illustration showing the differing molecular bondsDelta-8-THC-Cannabis-Delta 9 THC (top) vs Delta 8 THC (below) showing the differing molecular bonds.

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How is Delta-8 THC Made?

Making delta-8 THC would be difficult if you aren’t a chemist, but we’ll make it as simple to understand as possible. First, high-quality hemp is grown and then harvested.

When making delta-8 a process called “isomerization” is performed which is the transformation of a molecule into a different isomer.

CBD will need to be dissolved in glacial acetic acid which will convert some of the CBD to delta-9 and then after 72 hours more than half of the CBD material becomes delta-8 THC.

After carefully refining the concentrate and removing any unwanted chemicals, you are left with delta-8.

Is Delta-8 THC or CBD?

Both CBD and delta-8 THC are cannabinoids, but unlike CBD delta-8 provides users with mild psychoactive effects. Therefore, delta-8 is more like delta-9 THC than CBD.

Illustration showing the hydroxyl group within CBD and the cyclic ring within THC.Delta-8-THC-Cannabis-CBD (top) vs Delta 8 THC (below) showing the hydroxyl group within CBD and the cyclic ring within THC.

Is Delta-8 Synthetic THC?

Since delta-8 is made through the isomerization process it’s not a synthetic cannabinoid like K2 or spice. K2 and spice are made in a lab and contain no cannabis material. As delta-8 is made from CBD it’s described as an isomer.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 defines hemp as “the plant cannabis sativa and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 concentrate of no more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

So, based on the definition delta-8 THC is an isomer of CBD and is, by definition, considered hemp and legal under United States federal law.

Is Delta-8 Safe to Smoke?

Many people are asking if delta-8 can make you sick or if it’s even safe to use. Well, it’s not poisonous but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, right? Some people report feeling lethargic, have slurred speech, low blood pressure, red eyes, dry mouth after considerable use. But for the most part, since the THC profile is so small, there is a decreased likelihood of these side effects.

What Does Delta-8 THC Feel Like?

Delta-8 THC has a similar feeling to delta-9 THC but with a milder high. Delta-8 users have reported feelings of relaxation, calmness, sleepiness, and hunger, among other things commonly experienced by traditional cannabis users.

The main difference between delta-8 and delta-9 is the lower potency, making delta-8 a good option for people who want to use cannabis products but have an extremely low tolerance.

What are the Benefits of Delta-8?

Delta-8 is known to increase appetite, eliminate nausea, reduce pain, and relieve anxiety. Since delta-8 binds to the CB1 and CB2 cannabis receptors it can better help the body regulate anxiety and pain.

Also, a study done on rates suggests that delta-8 could help people produce a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which is responsible for memory, cognitive functions, and even arousal.

Considering there are little to no side effects, it’s not surprising this cannabis isomer is growing in popularity.


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How to Dose Delta-8 THC?

If you have a higher tolerance for cannabis products, delta-8 won’t do much, so delta-8 edible manufacturers make gummies twice the strength of delta-9 THC.

So, instead of getting one 10mg THC gummies before bed, you could get 25mg of delta-8 THC gummies. The idea is that since the THC potency is less in delta-8, 25mg almost equates to a 10mg delta-9 gummy.

As with any edibles, you can always take a small amount and see how you react, then increase the dose as necessary. Wait at least an hour or two before adding more edibles to your day.

If you’re using a vape cartridge, you should feel effects within 10 minutes.

If delta-8 is legal in your state or province, you can order it online. While delta-8 is federally legal, some states have banned it including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont.

Can You Fly with Delta-8?

For the most part, yes! When you’re flying to and from an area where delta-8 is legal you should be allowed to bring it with you. However, you may want to check with your airline to be sure they don’t specifically prohibit delta-8 products.

If you’re using a vape pen, that needs to be in your carry-on. But, with edibles it’s acceptable to put them in a checked bag. Either way, check with the airline before you travel.

Can Delta-8 Make You Fail a Drug Test?

Yes, delta-8 will likely give you a positive test result under THC since it contains trace amounts of THC. Drug tests won’t be able to differentiate delta-8 from delta-9. So, if you need to pass a drug test it is advised that you don’t consume delta-8 THC.

Does Delta-8 Get You High?

The short answer is yes. Delta-8 does contain trace amounts of delta-9 THC, because of that, users have reported euphoric effects for two to four hours. But, if you’re a seasoned stoner it’s likely not going to do much for you.

The best cannabis product for you might be different than the best product for your friend. Some people need a low THC amount for various reasons, while others may need higher potency dank. There’s a good chance delta-8 will end up being used in medicinal cannabis products because of its properties and minimal psychoactive effects. And it’s great for people with a very low THC tolerance.

Overall, this is a small step for the stoners and a giant leap for cannabis communities everywhere. Hopefully delta-8 THC opens more doors for delta-9 THC globally.

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Written by Kasey Craig | Senior Content Writer at MedicareFAQ

Profile Picture of Kasey Craig

Kasey Craig is a Senior Content Writer at MedicareFAQ. She has a wealth of knowledge on the topics of alternative medicine, insurance, travel, money, saving and more. She is working towards getting her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of South Florida. Kasey is passionate about her writing and it reflects through her content.

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