What is Delta 8 THC?

A close up of Delta-8-THC molecules

The cannabis plant is full of mysteries that are only beginning to be discovered. As other cannabinoids like CBG and CBC start to gain the attention of researchers and the cannabis community, the diversity of benefits this plant has to offer don’t seem to cease. 

However, when it comes to THC, there are definitely some variations of this cannabinoid that are taking the market by storm. Cannabis extractors have discovered varying forms of THC, different from the common delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, with minor disparities in where chemical bonds occur. These differences in the chemical constitution of each variation allows THC to provide alternative effects, or even potentiate the already known benefits of this cannabinoid. One of the most popular forms of THC is delta-8-THC, has promising benefits that have already made some users choose it over delta-9-THC.

What is Delta-8-THC?

In order to understand the basics of Delta-8-THC, it is necessary to know the process by which cannabinoids are produced. These compounds are produced by natural chemical reactions such as decarboxylation, isomerisation, and oxidation. A few enzymes produce CBDA, CBCA, and THCA. Once this process is done, these substances convert CBGA, also called the “mother cannabinoid”, into the acidic forms of the cannabinoids we know: CBD and delta-9-THC, as well as lesser-known compounds like CBG and delta-8-THC.

Delta-9- THC is the common form of THC we find in weed. However, it can undergo different reactions that generate new variations like delta-8-THC. Delta-9-THC is oxidised into a new isomer with a similar structure: delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol.  Delta-8-THC is produced in small quantities by the cannabis plant, which makes it almost impossible to experience its effects when smoked in THC flower and other derivatives. The only way to experience its effects is to consume very specific concentrates. 

Delta-8-THC Effects

Since it is a different form of THC, cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects, delta-8 does have the same psychoactive effects of the common THC we know. However, its intoxicating qualities are not as potent as those of delta-9-THC. 

Similar to CBD, delta 8 also binds to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system.  Users have reported a light high, anxiety symptoms reduction, appetite stimulation, and non-sedative effects. However, everyone is different, and products and strengths vary, so each individual will experience a unique reaction to this cannabinoid. 

Additionally, delta-8-THC has demonstrated analgesic, antitumor, antiemetic and neuroprotective properties in research settings. In all these studies, delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol stood out the most among other forms of THC, providing important information about the potential benefits of this compound for health. Moreover, this cannabinoid has already been successfully tested as an antiemetic in paediatric oncology. Delta-8-THC was administered to eight children ranging from 3–13 years of age with various haematologic cancers who had been treated with chemotherapy. During the experimental treatment with the cannabinoid, vomiting was completely prevented and other side effects from chemotherapy were dramatically reduced.

As for negative side effects, the reduced quantity of studies haven’t allowed researchers to find solid proof of side effects of delta-8-THC. While delta-8-THC is less psychoactive, online users have reported that it is possible to over-do it. However, the common anxiety provided by high delta-9-THC levels isn’t a side effect when consuming delta-8. Additionally, delta-8-THC can still cause redness of the eyes, especially in stronger doses.

Is Delta-8-THC Legal?

Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go for delta-8-THC to be legal all over the country. The current laws reiterate the DEA’s position that any cannabinoid that is created synthetically is illegal. Because delta-8-THC occurs in low concentrations naturally, CBD is turned into delta-8-THC with a chemical catalyst. For this reason, the DEA considers the resulting delta-8-THC to be “synthetically derived” and therefore a Schedule I narcotic.

However, take into account that the legality of delta-8 THC can also vary according to the state you live in, since some of them have completely legalized the cannabis plant in almost all forms. Lastly, not all drug tests are able to distinguish between delta-9 and delta-8 THC, since they have similar chemical structures. For this reason, delta-8-THC can potentially make you fail a drug test, even if you haven’t consumed delta-9-THC.

Buying Delta-8-THC

If you want to buy delta-8-THC, your best bet is to ask your local dispensary about the companies that are producing delta-8 distillate. This concentrate is available in cartridges or syringes, and can be vaporized using a standard weed pen or dab rig. In addition, you can mix it with your flower to increase the delta-8-THC potency. 

Moreover, distillate is virtually edible. For this reason, you can consume it orally, although there is not much research about the effects of delta-8 when metabolized in the body. As the market expands, some other companies are starting to develop delta-8-THC infused tinctures, making it a great product to add to your foods or consume sublingually.

Make sure you are buying from reliable companies who have third-party lab tests for their products.

Delta-8-THC vs Delta-9-THC

Since they are similar in terms of chemical structure, the effects of delta-8-THC are similar to those of delta-9-THC. However, the main difference reported by users is that delta-8 won’t provide a high as potent as delta-9 does. This allows many consumers to enjoy a mellow buzz while having a greater ability to stay focused when working or performing daily tasks. Additionally, some other users have reported to feel more energized when they vaporize delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol.

As the misconceptions regarding cannabis start to be eliminated, we can expect more research being performed on this plant to find many more benefits offered by its compounds. Delta-8-THC seems like a potent cannabinoid that could be put to good use if researchers decide to run more studies on its effects and potential uses as a medical treatment.

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