The Ultimate Guide to Delta-8-THC
Aug 21, 2020 | Save On Cannabis
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is familiar to most stoners: it’s the compound in marijuana that gets you high. But did you know that there are actually different types of THC, each of which behaves differently in the body? The common and familiar cannabinoid is known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; this is what we refer to when we talk about THC. But delta 9 has a less abundant but still noteworthy cousin: delta-8-THC.
What Is Delta-8-THC?
Delta-8 is a degraded form of THC, and it’s considered a minor cannabinoid (cannabinoids are the active compounds found in marijuana).
Cannabis has more than 100 cannabinoids in all, but the majority of them occur naturally from cannabinoid-synthesizing enzymes within the plant. Delta-8-THC is unique in that it doesn’t emerge on its own. It forms as delta-9-THC ages and oxidizes. That’s why it tends to exist in much smaller concentrations and is regarded as a minor cannabinoid.
Most strains of cannabis contain less than 1% delta-8-THC, but some cultivators are developing strains with higher concentrations in order to harness the unique benefits.
How Is Delta-8-THC Different From Delta-9-THC?
Delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC both contain a double bond in their molecular chain, but the location is different. Delta-8-THC has the bond in the 8th carbon chain while delta-9 contains it in the 9th carbon chain.
As a result of this seemingly subtle chemical distinction, delta-8-THC is actually more stable than delta-9. The more common delta-9-THC oxidizes over time; its molecular structure breaks down, and it converts into minor cannabinoids like delta-8 and cannabinol (CBN). Though it only boasts about half the strength of delta-9, delta-8-THC doesn’t degrade as easily and lasts much longer.
Although delta-8-THC functions similarly to delta-9 in many ways, it appears to be only two-thirds as psychoactive. This may be because it bonds differently to CB1, the cannabinoid receptor that regulates much of THC’s mind-altering effect.
This is one of the reasons why researchers are paying attention to delta-8-THC. If people can enjoy the therapeutic effects of cannabis without getting baked, it may have real medicinal potential.
The Effects of Delta-8-THC
Delta-8-THC is associated with a calm, cerebral high that’s more focused and less chaotic than you might get with delta-9. Some users report being able to concentrate and relax without any anxiety or brain fog. It’s a less intense high, offering the physical benefits of an indica combined with the alertness associated with sativas. Some users also report pain relief and increased hunger.
If you enjoy the euphoric feelings that marijuana provides but you don’t like surrendering control of your faculties, delta-8-THC can provide a nice balance. And because it’s legal in many states where cannabis is prohibited, some users rely on it as a substitute for marijuana.
Potential Medical Uses for Delta-8-THC
Though little is still known about delta-8-THC, researchers have found potential benefits for appetite, nausea, inflammation, and more.
- Cancer: A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute examined mice with lung cancer. When treated with delta-8-THC over a 20-day period, the mice experienced significant tumor shrinkage. The use of delta-8 also appeared to increase the mice’s average survival time.
- Appetite: A 2004 study from Israel analyzed the effects of delta-8-THC on the appetites of mice. Mice treated with delta-8 consumed 22% more food than the mice in the control group. Most notably, delta-8 was found to be more effective than delta-9 for stimulating appetite.
- Nausea: A 1995 study analyzed 8 pediatric cancer patients between the ages of 3 and 13. The patients received delta-8-THC before and after their chemotherapy treatments, and not a single case of vomiting was reported—which is significant for chemo patients. The researchers noted that side effects from the delta-8-THC were “negligible.”
- Memory: In a 1987 animal study, delta-8-THC was found to increase levels of acetylcholine in the brains of mice. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter associated with learning and memory, and low levels have been associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Anxiety: No major studies have been conducted regarding the effects of delta-8-THC on anxiety, but the National Library of Medicine acknowledges that delta-8 has anxiolytic effects. The benefit may stem from the fact that delta-8 is less psychotropic and therefore less likely to trigger the confusion and paranoia that can accompany high doses of delta-9-THC.
- Inflammation: Delta-8-THC was instrumental in a 2018 study analyzing the effects of topical cannabinoids on inflammation. Researchers concluded that delta-8 was effective in reducing pain and inflammation in mice with corneal injuries. Delta-8 was found to be more effective than CBD for fighting inflammation.
Delta-8-THC extracts are becoming more widely available in the form of vape juices, gummies, tinctures, and other preparations. Delta-8 vape cartridges and pens are especially popular. When shopping for delta-8 products, look for extracts that are enriched with terpenes and other cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and CBG. This will ensure the optimal potency and benefit.
Because a typical cannabis flower only contains around 1% delta-8-THC, you need a lot of cannabis or hemp to extract just a small amount of delta-8. For this reason, delta-8 products tend to cost more than other types of cannabis and CBD extracts. You may be able to offset the added cost by using Delta 8 THC coupons.
Side Effects of Delta-8-THC
Human studies involving delta-8-THC have revealed only mild, negligible side effects. Possible effects are similar to marijuana and may include heightened heart rate, altered awareness, changes in mood, and impaired movement. Because delta-8-THC is less psychoactive, these side effects are typically much milder than what you’d experience with delta-9.
When consuming delta-8 vape products, note that some throat irritation is possible, particularly with heavy use. Because delta-8 extracts are so highly concentrated, small puffs are recommended.
Is Delta-8-THC Legal to Use?
Delta-8-THC is generally legal to cultivate, sell, and consume as long as it is derived from hemp and not from marijuana. This distinction was made clear in the 2018 Farm Bill, which specifically restricts only delta-9-THC and notes the following:
TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL.—Schedule I, as set forth in section 202(c) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812(c)), is amended in subsection (c)(17) by inserting after ‘‘Tetrahydrocannabinols’’ the following: ‘‘, except for tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp (as defined under section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 19 1946)’’.
This amendment effectively removes hemp-derived THC from the U.S. Controlled Substances list. Though the Farm Bill does restrict delta-9-THC to a maximum 0.3% concentration, other tetrahydrocannabinols are unrestricted.
Please note, however, that some states restrict hemp-based products more heavily than the federal government. So if you don’t live in a recreational-use state, and you’re thinking of purchasing delta-8-THC extracts:
- Review the laws in your state to ensure that hemp-based products are legal. If your state is CBD-friendly, it should be delta-8-friendly—as these extracts are both commonly derived from industrial hemp. However, some state laws (like Montana) define “tetrahydrocannabinol” more broadly than the Farm Bill, meaning that delta-8 might not be subject to the same protections.
- Ensure that you only purchase delta-8 products that come from hemp—and not marijuana. Marijuana-based extracts are still considered Schedule 1 Controlled Substances. Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, but it’s classified as hemp if the plant contains no more than .3% delta-9-THC.
If your state has legalized recreational use, or if you’re a licensed medical marijuana patient, you should be able to purchase a wider selection of delta-8-THC products.
Will Delta-8-THC Show Up on a Drug Test?
Delta-8-THC may trigger a positive result on a marijuana drug test. Conventional drug tests look for THC metabolites, enzymes created in the liver that break down THC and eliminate it from the body. Because delta-8-THC contains the same molecules as delta-9 (just arranged in a different order), the metabolites are nearly identical.
Furthermore, some 12-panel drug tests specifically list delta-8-THC among the compounds detected. And because delta-8 metabolites have a lower cutoff than delta-9 metabolites, delta-8 may actually be easier to detect. So if you’re subject to drug testing, you may want to exercise the same cautions with delta-8 as you would with delta-9.
Where to Buy Delta-8-THC
Delta-8 products may be found in dispensaries, CBD stores, and smoke shops. However, because delta-8-THC is still a lesser-known and lesser-cultivated cannabinoid, you may have some trouble finding it in your hometown.
The good news is that—because delta-8 isn’t subject to the same legal restrictions as cannabis—you can easily find a wealth of products online. We recommend loading up on cannabis coupons and then comparing delta-8 products on the web. This will ensure that you have access to the best selection at the best prices.
At Save on Cannabis, we’re constantly gathering the latest delta-8-THC brands on our website. So you can easily use our directory to track them as they hit the market.
See for yourself why delta-8-THC is one of the best-kept secrets in the cannabis world.
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