What is Delta-8, and How is It Different from the Common Type of THC?
The cannabis industry is growing at breakneck speeds.
Studies from New Frontier Data point to massive growth, 21% over the next seven years. Effectively pushing legal weed sales from $13.2 billion in 2019 to a whopping $41.5 billion by mid-decade.
And what's one of the most growing in-demand consumer products within that market?
If you've got no idea what delta-8 is, don't worry. Read on, and we'll tell you everything you need to know.
What is Delta-8-THC?
Delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid in both cannabis and hemp plants. The plant doesn't actually produce it on its own. As the plant ages, another THC type breaks down, and small quantities of delta-8 are established.
To access more of this compound, growers employ selective breeding and molecular isolation. It's because of this genetic manipulation the legal status of delta-8 is questionable. More on that coming up.
Delta-8 is an analog of delta-9 THC. Meaning it has a molecular structure very similar to that of delta-9. In fact, the only difference is a double bond.
Delta-8 has this bond on the 8th carbon in its genetic chain. In contrast, delta-9 has one on the 9th.
Amazingly, that one subtle difference makes them quite distinct from one another. This difference changes how the body's endocannabinoid receptors bind and respond to the molecule.
All that said, when people talk about THC, they typically mean delta-9 - as it is the most abundant, widely known, and studied. But as it stands, delta-8 is set to take off in much the same way CBD has. So we may see more distinctions being made around the type of THC in products.
What Are the Effects of Delta-8?
The effects of delta-8 are really what makes it stand out. Current marketing promises to get you high without the paranoia and anxiety that can come with delta-9 THC. Delta-8 is still a psychoactive cannabinoid, but it's generally half as potent as delta-9.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that delta-8 offers a smoother, more mellow high when compared to delta-9. So far, studies indicate that this potency difference is due to the way the compound interacts with the endocannabinoid system.
More research is needed as we are still learning how the compounds work together in the entourage effect. This essentially explains how all the cannabinoids work together to produce different effects rather than looking at them in isolation.
From a product standpoint, delta-9-THC is less shelf-stable than delta-8-THC. By its nature, delta-9 degrades into delta-8. But delta-8 doesn't degrade (also called oxidizing) any further, giving it much longer shelf life.
Potential Medical Applications of Delta-8
More research is certainly needed to understand what delta-8 can really do. However, several studies - preclinical and clinical - have produced exciting data.
Here are just a few examples.
Pain and Anti-Inflammatory Effects
A 2018 preclinical study found delta-8 could help diminish inflammation and associated pain due to corneal injuries in mice. Their research found that when delta-8 was applied topically, it greatly affected pain reduction through its effect on CB1 receptors.
A second preclinical study showed similar effects but also showed tolerance was quickly developed.
Many people report that the consumption of delta-8 THC offers a calm, focused high. A high without the anxiety that more potent delta-9 brings. At this time, these reports are purely anecdotal.
However, we suspect that as delta-8 grows in popularity, more research will assess this claim.
The nausea-fighting potential of cannabis has been widely studied. However, research specific to delta-8-THC is less common.
In 1995, a study published in Life Sciences magazine showed almost no side effects of taking delta-8. Scientists treated and followed eight pediatric cancer patients over two years. They observed no vomiting occurred when their patients ingested delta-8-THC before and for 24 hours after cancer treatment.
Anyone who has experience with cannabis knows all about "the munchies." While it's likely a result of the entourage effect, some studies link delta-8 to appetite stimulation directly.
In 2004, research done on mice found a 22% increase in food intake vs. the control group. Over the course of the 50-day study, scientists administered a low dose of delta-8 to the mice. Not only did they eat more, but it was significantly more than delta-9-THC, which is a long reputed appetite stimulant.
Is Delta 8 Legal?
Yes and no.
As mentioned, the genetic manipulation used to create strains with larger quantities of delta-8 makes its legality questionable. So right now, it's really in a legal gray area.
Under U.S. federal law, delta-9 THC is considered a Schedule I substance. With this classification, the government considers it as dangerous as heroin and LSD.
As it stands, this law defines all hemp-derived cannabinoids and products with a Delta-9-THC level below 0.3 percent as legal; anything above that threshold is illegal. And since delta-8 products contain no delta-9, they would seem to be legal.
At least, this is what many growers assumed initially. But shifting laws and perspectives on cannabis make the legal landscape tricky to navigate.
But times are quickly changing. Federal legalization seems to be on the horizon.
The existing law is old, passed in 1970 during a different time. It has made researching cannabinoids expensive and difficult. These difficulties are part of why we still know so little about this incredible plant in general.
As cannabis and hemp become more accepted, we are hopeful that more research around the plants' medicinal properties will be funded.
Can You Buy Delta-8 Products?
Yes, you definitely can.
There are many delta-8 products available wherever cannabis is sold medically or recreationally. Everything from wax to gummies to flowers is available with delta-8 concentrations.
We expect delta-8 to take a similar path to CBD. As people learned about CBD and loved its properties, it became available in almost every form, everywhere. In time, the same will likely be true of delta-8.
The Bottom Line
Delta-8 is the hot new cannabinoid on the market, and everyone is talking about it. Now you can too.
Have you tried delta-8? Drop a comment about your experience!
If you have any questions or want to learn more about our products, please reach out.