What is Delta-8 THC?

What is Delta-8 THC?

If you haven’t heard of Delta-8 THC yet, don’t worry, it’s still relatively new! With changes in the cannabis industry coming all the time, many people are asking, “What is Delta-8 THC?”

Most people are already familiar with Delta-9 THC, which is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis. In fact, whenever you’re reading about cannabis and see “THC,” they’re referring to Delta-9.

Delta-8 isn’t very different in its effects, outside of being a little less intense. It’s actually been referred to in the news as “Cannabis-light.” It isn’t found in high concentrations like Delta-9 in most cannabis strains, but can be derived from CBD. The products you find in stores are almost always hemp derived as it’s easier to isolate CBD and convert it to Delta-8 than it is to grow it in large quantities – not to mention, to be sold legally across the country, it must be derived from hemp.

With that in mind, you may live in an area where Delta-8 edibles are showing up in gas stations and corner stores already, so you may as well get familiar with it. Most commonly you’ll see gummies and other edibles, but sometimes you’ll find capsules, oil droppers, and even hemp that’s been sprayed with Delta-8 being sold as Delta-8 THC flower. 

Delta-8 THC vs Delta-9 THC

So what is Delta-8 THC? Even though these 2 compounds more or less mirror each other, they do carry slightly different psychological effects. There’s a few key differences that we’ll cover. 

The first is paranoia and anxiety. One of the main reasons cannabis gets such a bad name is because of the negative psychological effects it can have, including paranoia. Some people can have really adverse reactions to cannabis that can cause intense paranoia and anxiety. Phone calls, cops, invisible monsters… we’ve all heard the horror stories before. The risk of anxiety is much lower in Delta-8 than with Delta-9. The high is much more gradual to start, and less potent overall, easing anxious users into a more comfortable experience.

The second is relaxation. As Delta-8 takes a longer amount of time for the high feeling to build up in your system, attaching to receptors in your endocannabinoid system all through your body, the experience is comparatively a smoother, gentler ride. 

The third thing worth bringing attention to is the increase in appetite. Have you ever smoked a cannabis strain that made you feel like a bottomless pit opened up in your stomach? Delta-8 is going to do the same thing, almost every time. If you’re new to cannabis or haven’t had a strain that’s hit you with an empty belly you’re really in for it. Make sure there’s some snacks on hand, or the pizza shop better be on speed dial. 

Does Delta-8 THC Get You High?

If you’re new to all this and wondering, “does Delta-8 THC get you high,” the answer to that one is a yes – it’s just not as strong as Delta-9. It’s reported that it’s similar in potency when it’s eaten, however when smoked and inhaled it’s significantly less potent and often takes longer for the feeling to set in.

You can expect the onset when you’re smoking to be about 10-20 minutes, compared to the almost immediate effects felt by smoking Delta-9. Similarly, when eating it, you will notice the feelings of the high somewhere between the one hour and two hour mark. Lots of users actually prefer this against the sometimes overwhelming effects of potent cannabis strains that can leave you feeling wiped out and lethargic.

Of course, if you do overdo it, you may feel just the same as having smoked a strain that’s a little too strong – so don’t just dive into Delta-8 without caution.

Effects of Delta-8 THC

Reading this so far, it would be reasonable to assume that the effects of Delta-8 and 9 aren’t very far off from one another. It operates very similarly to Delta-9 in its effects; the normal high you would expect if you were consuming isolated Delta-9 will be felt with Delta-8, just with a little slower onset and a less intense high.

Delta-8 may actually be something a lot of people should be giving more attention to. In recent studies it’s been found to provide neuro protective potential.

People suffering from chronic pain also report it as significantly helping to reduce symptoms. It has similar benefits to long term CBD usage but on a much tighter timeline.

It’s also pretty common for people to get a way stronger case of the munchies with Delta-8 – be warned. And just like THC, Delta-8 may also help you relax and unwind. 

Delta-8 vs. CBD

As far as comparing the effects of Delta-8 to CBD, they’re actually pretty similar in some ways. The main difference is that CBD is more effective the longer you use it. Taking CBD regularly will increase the benefits, and in most cases it won’t be effective for the first few days.

Delta 8 is more of an immediate effect. People who’ve tried it for themselves will tell you after ingesting this compound you’ll notice the increase in appetite, decrease in nausea, calmed nerves, and relaxed muscles. More research is always being done on Delta-8 and other emerging compounds from cannabis, so the future will tell us more about what this new cannabinoid really has in store for us.

If you’re using CBD and considering trying Delta-8 it’s not a bad idea. This could be a great spot treatment when you’re experiencing moments of anxiety that your normal CBD regiment just isn’t helping with. 

How To Use and Dose Delta-8 THC

Let’s use oil droppers as an example here. Delta-8 products aren’t just pure Delta-8, they’re usually mixed into some type of carrier oil. So the ratio of other ingredients to Delta-8 will vary from product to product. The milligram strength should be listed on the product and should be considered before dosing.

If you’re new to psychoactive products like cannabis, and seeking Delta-8 out for medical purposes instead, I’d recommend starting off low,  somewhere between 5-20mg. If you’ve got some experience under your belt somewhere around 30-50 should be good. If you’re a daily cannabis user, your tolerance would justify a stronger dose. Usually the packaging for your product will have a generally trustable chart for dosing, so you can always fall back on the companies suggestions. 

Is Delta-8 Legal?

Delta-8 is legal. As almost all of the production of Delta-8 happens with hemp, this is a “legal high.” In 2018, the Farm Bill was passed, allowing for the cultivation of all different types of hemp products. Hemp plants are cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC, as defined by this bill, so even if you’re creating psychoactive compounds from hemp like Delta-8 you’re still operating legally. However, once Delta-8 enters your body and you metabolize it, your body will convert it to 11-hydroxy-THC. This means if you’re considering replacing your normal cannabis consumption with Delta-8 to avoid detection for something like a urine test at work, you may want to reconsider. Those tests will show all types of THC and don’t discriminate between the 2 compounds we’re talking about here, even if one is technically legal and the other isn’t. With the entire nation moving closer and closer to full cannabis legalization we can only hope that soon we’ll be less focused on the legality of Delta-8 and more people (and legislators!) will be looking to see cannabis become available for everyone. 

Can You Receive Delta-8 Legally By Mail?

It’s not going to be an issue ordering some Delta-8 online and having it delivered through the mail. It’s not even falling into a grey zone – it’s just not cannabis. The biggest question to ask would be is delta-8 THC legal? It’s hemp derived, which is completely legal, and therefore carries no risk of legal persecution. So if you’re thinking of placing an order with a company you trust and you’ve done your research to know the product you’re ordering is trustable and legitimate, you should go ahead and place the order. 

How Is Delta-8 Made?

As mentioned above Delta-8 can indeed be isolated from cannabis, but it just isn’t being produced in large amounts in cannabis plants so it’s not often that you’ll find Delta-8 that hasn’t been isolated from a hemp plant. Additionally, why make an illegal product with cannabis when you could make a legal one by converting CBD that’s sourced from legal hemp plants? Delta-8 THC can be converted from CBD through a process of adding and recovering solvents to remove other compounds, convert the CBD to Delta-8 and then isolate and remove it. The process is pretty complicated. Doing it on a large scale usually requires very expensive laboratory equipment that should only be operated by people who are trained to do so. For some people understanding where their products come from and how they’re made is of utmost importance, and with good reason. In smaller operations, or illegal operations, it’s a lot less likely that the appropriate equipment is being used. Even less likely is that you have experts in their field working on these products. 

What To Look For When Buying Delta-8 THC

In a world of grey market cannabis, falling somewhere between legal and illegal, sometimes sourcing a quality product can be difficult. When it’s available, information like how the product is made and what ingredients are in it are extremely important in making your purchases.

If there’s any information about the product being tested by a third party, this should be looked at as a reliable stamp of assurance. 

With edibles, the ingredient list should all be ingredients you can pronounce. If you’re not familiar with it, there’s no need for it to be in the recipe. Preservatives and industrial colouring agents aren’t common in cannabis edibles at all. If any colouring is added, it’s usually natural colouring products, and the same can be said for flavouring. 

Vape carts are a bit of a different story though. The media has done a wonderful job of portraying vaping as equally deadly as smoking, but that’s primarily because of a lack of regulations around additives. Heavy metals have been found in black market products which have horrible effects when vaporized and inhaled, so be careful when buying Delta-8 carts. If you’re determined to try it in a cartridge, it would be even more beneficial to have that third party stamp of approval on test results. 

Those gas station products are a little suspicious, no doubt about that. But when you walk into a dispensary and someone makes a recommendation for a Delta-8 gummy they’ve had good experiences with, that’s something you should be able to put some trust in.

Final thoughts

Delta-8 is getting a lot of attention right now because it’s a legal high, so anyone who hasn’t tried cannabis due to the laws surrounding it finally have a chance to legally give it a try. But when the country decides to legalize Delta-9 there probably won’t be nearly as much focus on it. It does have benefits for medical users that make it less intense than its Delta-9 alternatives, like a calmer build up. If you’re wanting to use cannabis medicinally without the intense psychoactive effects, or at least less of them, Delta-8 is something you should try. 

Zackariah Turner Written by: Zackariah Turner

Zackariah is a young professional working in the cannabis industry. With countless successful grows under his belt, he is passionate about educating cannabis consumers about growing their own cannabis, as well as advocating for the rights of home growers. He’s worked with a number of licensed cannabis producers in Canada, dedicated to helping shape the future of the cannabis industry.

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