All About Delta-8: Properties and Legal Status of the New THC

One of the most exciting hemp compounds on the market today, delta-8 offers consumers a unique way to relax and unwind. But for most people just discovering the hemp and CBD scene, delta-8 remains a mystery.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions about delta-8 THC, including:

  • How are delta-8 and delta-9 THC different?
  • What does delta-8 feel like?
  • Does delta-8 have any health benefits?
  • Is delta-8 legal?
  • Will delta-8 show up on a drug test?

What Is Delta-8 THC?

Before delta-8 hit the shelves, most people had no idea that there was more than one type of THC. Most people would be surprised to know that researchers have isolated at least 30 different THC isomers!

Scientists name each THC variant after the placement of a specific double bond in the molecular structure. With regular delta-9 THC, the double bond is placed on the ninth atom in a chain of carbons. This configuration creates a structure that allows THC to make a strong link with CB1 endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system. The stronger the bond with CB1 receptors, the more potent the effects.

Delta-8, as you may have guessed, features the identifying double bond on the eighth carbon atom. The altered placement changes delta-8’s form just enough to weaken its bond with the CB1 receptors. The result is a similar yet milder effect than you would get with regular THC.

What Kind of Effects Does Delta-8 Produce?

The sensations produced by consuming delta-8 lie somewhere between the relaxing and calming effects of CBD and the “stoned” feelings of regular THC. While CBD is mostly non-psychoactive, delta-8 imparts mellow intoxicating effects. However, moderate delta-8 consumption rarely produces overwhelming psychoactive effects like regular THC often does. Instead, delta-8 offers a clear-headed buzz that some refer to as THC-light or a businessperson’s high. Delta-8 consumers can enjoy benefits like relaxation, creative inspiration, and enhanced mental focus without fear of experiencing unwanted effects like paranoia, panic, or excessive sedation.

Delta-8’s Therapeutic Benefits

The National Cancer Institute defines delta-8 THC as “an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.” In other words, delta-8 has the potential to reduce vomiting, ease anxiety, stimulate appetite, relieve pain, and protect brain cells.

Let’s examine some of the research.

Delta-8 Can Alleviate Digestive Difficulties.

Like its more psychoactive sister, delta-8 stimulates appetite and reduces nausea and vomiting. Preliminary laboratory studies concluded that delta-8 stimulates appetite even in relatively low dosages. An early clinical study from 1995 found that administering delta-8 significantly reduced nausea and vomiting in children undergoing chemotherapy.

Delta-8 May Be Useful for Pain Relief and Stress Management.

As acknowledged by the National Cancer Institute, delta-8 exhibits both anxiolytic and analgesic properties. Chronic pain and anxiety disorders are among the top reasons why people use medicinal cannabis.

Delta-8 Has Neuroprotective Power.

One of Delta-8’s most promising potentials is the compound’s ability to help preserve acetylcholine levels in the brain and central nervous system. Reduced acetylcholine is associated with some of the more profound symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders, such as memory loss, tremors, and difficulties with motor coordination.

Another major factor in neurodegenerative disorders is oxidative stress. Like CBD and other cannabinoids, delta-8 has potent antioxidant powers and may help protect neurons.

Delta-8 Can Help Treat Glaucoma.

The Medical Marijuana community has used cannabis to treat glaucoma for decades. Delta-8 reduces the intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma just like regular THC does. The compound may offer a less-psychoactive alternative for glaucoma patients who want to stay clear-headed during the day.

Please keep in mind that delta-8 research remains in the early stages. The information in this article is not intended to substitute for the advice of a licensed medical professional. We suggest that you consult with your physician before consuming delta-8 products.

Delta-8 Side Effects and Precautions

Most consumers tolerate light and moderate doses of delta-8 THC. However, some people experience some of the same side effects they would get with regular THC, such as:

  • Appetite changes
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Temporarily elevated blood pressure
  • Reduced intraocular pressure

Many side effects are mild or can be remedied by reducing the dosage. Delta-8 consumption may be contraindicated for people with certain conditions or who are taking regular prescription medications. We suggest that you seek the advice of a trusted medical professional before consuming delta-8 products.

Consumers should avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while consuming delta-8 since the compound can produce mild intoxication. The effects of delta-8 consumption during pregnancy have not been fully researched. Until we know more, pregnant or nursing mothers should refrain from consuming delta-8 products.

Will Delta-8 Show Up on a Drug Test?

Unfortunately, delta-8 will probably trigger a positive on a routine drug screening. Delta-8 is one of the compounds produced as THC degrades making it a metabolite of THC. Drug tests typically search for THC metabolites when screening for cannabis use. The best practice is to refrain from consuming delta-8 products at least 90 days before a routinely scheduled drug test.

Is Delta-8 Federally Legal?

The Agricultural Act of 2018 included legislation that would permit all hemp and hemp-derived compounds that contain less than .3% delta-9 THC. The law, also known as the Farm Bill, removed industrial hemp, CBD, and THC isomers like delta-8 from Schedule I of the DEA’s list of federally controlled substances.

Despite it’s descheduled status, delta-8 has been the target of increasing scrutiny. Although the compound is federally legal, several states have banned delta-8 products.

In response to the growing pushback against delta-8, the DEA published a declaration stating that all synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols will remain Schedule I controlled substances. The enforceability of the policy, called the Interim Final Rule, depends upon the definition of “synthetic” with respect to cannabinoids.

Some lawmakers insist that delta-8 falls under the synthetic category, while many experts in the hemp industry disagree with that assumption.

Unlike compounds like Spice or K2, delta-8 occurs naturally in hemp and cannabis plants. The confusion comes from the practice of isomerization during which manufacturers transform CBD into delta-8 in a laboratory. However, the delta-8 produced by isomerization is identical in molecular structure to delta-8 extracted directly from hemp plants. It would be challenging or even impossible to determine if the delta-8 in a particular product was extracted directly from hemp or created through isomerization.

The controversy has sparked confusion among manufacturers, consumers, and industry lawyers alike, making the DEA’s Interim Final Rule largely unenforceable with respect to delta-8. Most experts expect the matter to become clearer after Congress passes the next Farm Bill in 2022. For now, delta-8 THC remains legal on the federal level.

Delta-8 Legality: State by State

Unfortunately, an increasing number of U.S. states have banned or placed restrictions on delta-8. Less cannabis-friendly states already had laws prohibiting all tetrahydrocannabinols, and other states have prohibited delta-8 because of the synthetic cannabinoid controversy. Even states with legal recreational cannabis have passed regulations banning delta-8, presumably in fear of competition with highly taxed dispensary sales.

So far, the following states have passed laws prohibiting delta-8 products:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Several additional states have recently published statements and policy changes that affect delta-8 availability, including:

  • Legislators in Illinois passed House Bill 147 to regulate delta-8 products sold outside of the dispensary system.
  • While delta-8 products remain legal in North Dakota, the state’s Attorney General has proposed an amendment to the hemp laws that would ban delta-8 products.
  • Oregon introduced a measure to regulate hemp-derived delta-8 under the jurisdiction of the state’s Liquor Control Commission.

The hemp industry expects to see similar measures affecting delta-8 in upcoming months. The best advice for consumers is to check with their state and local authorities to determine if delta-8 products are permitted where they live.

Where is the Best Place to Buy Delta-8 Products?

While the future of delta-8 law may be murky, one thing is clear. Now is the time to stock up on delta-8 products before availability becomes even more scarce. Local CBD and boutique stores are becoming more and more concerned about offering delta-8, so the best way consumers can get their hands on delta-8 products is online through a reputable company.