Both the growing trend toward worldwide cannabis legalization and the impact of the 2018 Farm Bill have opened up a world of possibilities when it comes to cannabis compounds. First, CBD became widely available to the general public as a result of the cannabinoid’s typically high concentrations in hemp plants along with its vast therapeutic potential. Next, breeders and scientists came up with ways to manufacture hemp flowers and extracts containing alternative cannabinoids like CBG.
These days, a compound called delta-8 THC has become the spotlight cannabinoid in the hemp revolution. Unfortunately, many consumers still don’t know what delta-8 is, what it does, and whether it’s even legal. We’ve prepared this comprehensive guide so that you’ll have a better understanding of this intriguing cannabinoid and be able to determine if delta-8 products are for you.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is a hemp compound with a similar molecular structure to regular delta-9 THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the euphoric nature of typical cannabis buds. However, delta-8 imparts distinctly milder effects.
Delta-8 is often referred to as “THC light” or “the businessperson’s THC” due to the compound’s ability to provide a clear-headed buzz that won’t get in the way of daytime activities. Unlike its more psychoactive sister, delta-8 doesn’t usually cause consumers to have an anxiety attack or experience couch lock.
One Double-Bond Makes a World of Difference
Chemists call delta-8 a degraded form of THC because it’s produced as regular delta-9 breaks down with age. The two molecules are exactly the same except for the placement of one double-bond. The numbers in the name of the two cannabinoids refer to this bond. As delta-9 THC ages, the double-bond moves from the ninth atom in a chain of carbons to the eighth, producing delta-8.
The seemingly tiny change in the chemical makeup transforms the shape of the delta-8 molecule so that it can’t make such a strong link to CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system. The inability to bond as powerfully makes delta-8 produce mellower effects, with less likelihood of causing intense sedation or paranoia.
Is Delta-8 THC Legal or Not?
The 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act, also known as the Farm Bill, effectively made hemp-derived products legal, as long as they contain less than .3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Most state laws conform with federal hemp regulations. However, some state and local authorities maintain stricter rules regarding hemp-derived compounds, such as delta-8 THC.
Delta-8’s Therapeutic Potential
The National Cancer Institute acknowledges that delta-8 has therapeutic potential for reducing nausea, stimulating appetite, combating anxiety, relieving pain, and protecting neurons.
Delta-8 and Digestion
A 1995 study found that delta-8 completely prevented vomiting in children undergoing chemotherapy for blood-related cancers. Preliminary animal research concluded that delta-8 stimulates the appetite, making the compound a strong candidate for treating wasting syndrome and eating disorders.
Delta-8 for Stress and Tension
Delta-8 produces a sense of peace and calm in moderate doses. The mild psychoactivity can help modify the circular thoughts that accompany anxiety. Both the National Cancer Institute and the National Library of Medicine recognize delta-8’s anxiolytic effects.
Delta-8 to Ease Body Aches
Like regular THC, delta-8 stimulates CB1 receptors in the central nervous system. Among other functions, CB1 endocannabinoid receptors play a role in our perception of pain. A preliminary animal study concluded that delta-8 could relieve pain and inflammation in mice with corneal injury. A 2005 clinical study performed in Quebec included delta-8 in its list of pain-relieving cannabinoids.
Delta-8’s Neuroprotective Properties
Oxidative stress is a significant contributor to neurodegenerative disorders. Delta-8, like many cannabinoids, exhibits potent antioxidant properties. Researchers have also discovered that delta-8 helps to preserve certain neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine. Decreased levels of acetylcholine can lead to tremors, poor memory, and problems with coordination.
Delta-8 and Glaucoma
Delta-8 also reduces the intraocular pressure in glaucoma cases like its more psychoactive sister does, making the compound a better alternative for patients who wish to avoid overwhelming psychoactive effects.
What About Delta-8 THC’s Side Effects?
Just as delta-8 offers many of the benefits of regular THC, the compound may also cause some of the typical side effects, especially when consumed in higher doses. Some common delta-8 side effects include:
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Temporarily raised blood pressure
- Increased appetite
- Reduced intraocular pressure
Note that a few of the side effects may also be benefits depending on your individual situation. We recommend that you seek your physician’s advice before incorporating delta-8 products into your daily routine. Delta-8 may enhance the effects of certain prescription medications, including:
- Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium
- Opioid-based pain relievers
- Diabetes medications
- Blood pressure pills
More research is needed to understand the effect of cannabinoids on infants, and delta-8 is contraindicated for pregnant or nursing women. Considering the compound’s mild intoxicating effects, consumers should not drive or operate heavy machinery when enjoying delta-8 products.
Delta-8 Products Available on the Market
With its reduced psychoactive effects, delta-8 products can be ideal for people who want the therapeutic benefits of regular THC without having an experience that’s too overwhelming. Delta-8 can also be a viable option for beginners who want something slightly more psychoactive than CBD. Furthermore, delta-8 may be the only legal choice for herb connoisseurs who live in states that have yet to legalize cannabis.
While the hemp industry is still exploring the many possibilities, consumers can already purchase a host of delta-8 products, such as:
- Delta-8 THC Flower: Hemp flower infused with delta-8 is a highly versatile product that you can smoke, vape with a dry herb vaporizer, or make into homemade edibles, topicals, and tinctures.
- Delta-8 Vape Carts: Vape carts offer a quick and relatively discreet way to enjoy the benefits of delta-8.
- Delta-8 Edibles: Edibles, such as gummies and chocolates, make for a delicious and longer-lasting delta-8 experience.