All About Delta-8: A Guide
Every decade, every year, all have their own fads—a product, outfit, or style that rises to popularity quickly and seemingly out of the blue.
In the 1980s, a popular fad was leg warmers and shoulder pads. In the 90s, butterfly clips could be found in the majority of girls’ hair. More recently, in the 2010s, video challenges like the Harlem Shake and the mannequin challenge were everywhere.
The cannabis industry is not exempt from trends rising and falling. CBD burst onto the scene within the last few years, popping up in dispensaries, gas stations, and more. Its ability to help people relax without getting them high was a significant driver in its popularity growth.
Today, many cannabis experts believe we are on the precipice of a new cannabis trend with the rise of delta-8.
This particular cannabis compound is a bit controversial due to a dispute over its legality. But that isn’t stopping people from purchasing delta-8 products.
Let’s take a look at what it is, what it can do, why people are using it, and the question of its legality.
What Is Delta-8?
Cannabis is made up of more than 100 different compounds. Of these, we know quite a bit about two: THC and CBD. These are the two most prominent compounds found in the cannabis plant and are the most talked about when it comes to choosing weed strains users want to try.
These are just two out of more than 100, though. Within this mass of smaller, lesser-known compounds exists delta-8.
Also called delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-8-THC, this is one of the secondary, more minor compounds found in cannabis. Delta-8 can be found in very small concentrations in both hemp and cannabis plants.
Though delta-8’s popularity is newfound, this compound is not newly discovered. In fact, it is believed to have first been discovered in 1941. Because it is found in such small amounts, it was essentially ignored until recently.
Is Delta-8 the Same as THC?
With delta-8’s full name having “THC” in it, it is easy to think it is the same as what we know as THC. Although the two compounds are similar, they are actually different.
What cannabis users refer to as just THC is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9-THC. For our purposes, when we say “THC,” we are referring to delta-9.
The two compounds share the THC component in their names because they have a similar makeup with one very important difference: the placement of their double bond structure.
THC and delta-8 both have a double bond in their structures, which is what makes them similar. But, the placement of the bond is unique to them. Delta-8’s double bond is in the eight carbon while THC’s is on the ninth (hence their names).
Although science has not yet proved it, it is believed that the placement of delta-8’s double bond causes it to bind to our endocannabinoid system differently than its THC cousin. This, in turn, causes it to have slightly different effects on users.
Effects of Delta-8
Like the main compounds found in cannabis, delta-8 also offers its own effects. Although what this particular compound can do is still unknown, science does know some of the effects delta-8 can provide those who use it.
Delta-8 offers users many of the same effects as THC, including:
- Stimulating appetite
- Reducing nausea
- Slightly altering perceptions
- Possibly relieving anxiety
- Boosting energy and mood
While it offers users many of the same effects as THC, what sets it apart from its fellow compound is the strength of the psychoactive effects users will experience. Many people refer to delta-8 as “weed light” because it is milder than THC. Although you’ll still get high, it will be a toned-down experience. Some users prefer to use delta-8 because it offers a smoother, milder high.
Delta-8’s more mild experience is thought to be due to the placement of the double bond discussed earlier. However, the research into delta-8 is minimal as of right now. Science has only scratched the surface on discovering how exactly delta-8 interacts with the body. Time will tell if other factors play a role in deciding what gives delta-8 its less-intense effects.
Cannabis users know that properly storing your cannabis product is essential, whether you are storing a bud or concentrates to dab later. Not doing so can cause your product to lose its potency. When it comes to THC, what happens if not stored correctly or stored for too long is that it degrades and loses some of its power. Eventually, your THC will degrade into delta-8-THC.
How to Use Delta-8
Delta-8 can be purchased in many forms, and the form you purchase it in will dictate how exactly you use it.
You can find delta-8 in the form of:
- Vape cartridges
- Gummies and other edibles
- Concentrated nuggets
- Moon rocks
Be warned, though, delta-8 products can be pricey because they are difficult to produce and because right now, demand is high.
How Delta-8 Is Made
So, how do cannabis manufacturers get the delta-8 needed to make all the products we talked about above? They go about it the same way they would make any other concentrate. Because delta-8 is found in such low quantities, getting enough delta-8 to make these products can be a challenge.
Growers and manufacturers can use breeding, extraction, and processing methods to remove delta-8 from their raw hemp or cannabis plant. Because of this, some delta-8 products are made synthetically. CBD will be extracted from the plant and put through an isolation and distillation process to remove the delta-8 and generate more of it.
Manufacturers may also soak a hemp flower in a delta-8 distillate. This creates a delta-8 flower that looks like regular hemp flowers. Because hemp itself won’t get users high, this method of creating delta-8 turns hemp flowers into a product that is more like traditional cannabis. Hence, part of its appeal.
Why Try Delta-8?
If delta-8 is experiencing a surge in popularity, there has to be a reason, right?
There are many reasons people are starting to seek out delta-8 cannabis products and why you may want to consider them as well, including:
- It allows users to experience the stress-relieving qualities of cannabis but without the worry about getting too high. This can be ideal for those with anxiety, who would fret over getting high but benefit from using cannabis of some kind.
- It allows beginners to have a less intense first experience, as delta-8 is not as potent as THC. By using a delta-8 product, novice cannabis users can feel what cannabis is like but with milder effects.
- It is a good alternative for those who find THC too intense. When using a hemp-derived delta-8 product, users will have a mild experience. This is ideal for people who find THC to be too much for them, no matter how carefully they monitor their dosage.
- It provides a bit of a cannabis loophole (for now). Because cannabis is illegal on a federal level, many people aren’t able to legally use it in their state. Due to the Farm Bill of 2018, hemp is now legal, so delta-8 hemp products provide users the ability to experience cannabis-like effects (though milder).
Is Delta-8 Legal?
Whether or not delta-8 is legal is a bit of a controversial question, and the answer falls within a legal gray area.
As we mentioned earlier, delta-8 hemp products create a bit of a loophole in allowing users to get high legally. Keep in mind as we dive into it that laws can change, and this question is something authorities are currently working on.
The Farm Bill of 2018 was passed into law. This bill made hemp legal as long as it contained less than .03 percent THC. This minute amount of THC would not be enough for people to get high, so many people supported the bill.
However, delta-8, which is found in small quantities in hemp plants, can get users high. A fact that was all but unknown at the time. So, many people feel that when you take delta-8 from hemp and use it to create delta-8 concentrated products, it is legal. After all, the THC requirement is still met since delta-8 is its own unique compound.
As the majority of delta-8 on the market today is made from hemp-derived CBD, users can argue that its use is legal.
Although the argument can be made that delta-8 is legal, some states have taken steps to ban it on a state level. Many U.S. states, including Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah, have all banned the use of delta-8 products. So, although it may be legal federally (maybe), it is not legal on a state level.
Finally, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration has recently begun to investigate delta-8 and its effects. It has proposed classifying delta-8-THC as a controlled substance. This would effectively close the loophole many people point to in arguing its legality and make delta-8 products illegal for use on a federal level. But, it has not yet taken action to do so, though that could change at any moment.
Before using delta-8, you’ll want to research the laws around it in your state and decide for yourself if using delta-8 products is legal in your area.
Finding Quality Delta-8 Products
If you’ve decided delta-8 is something you want to try, you’ll want to make sure you get a quality product. Because of its popularity and rarity, finding it can be a trick. And, some companies may try to pass off other products as delta-8 to capitalize on its surge in popularity.
Just like you would do research to find out what rolling papers are best for your needs, you’ll need to do some research before buying delta-8 to trust you are getting a quality product.
First, you’ll want to read reviews of both the product you have found to purchase and the company selling it. This will give you an idea of the effects the product offers and the reputation of the company.
You’ll also want to look for third-party testing results, which are usually available as a certificate of analysis (or COA) on the manufacturer’s website. A COA will break down exactly what is in your delta-8 product so you can be sure that it contains that and how much of delta-8 it has.
Alternatives to Delta-8
As mentioned, delta-8 can be hard to get a hold of. If you are wanting to experience the effects of cannabis but are concerned about getting too high, you have two alternative options.
- Buy and use CBD products. CBD does not get users high, which is why it has also seen a surge in popularity. Although you may feel relaxed and calm, you will not get the high feeling associated with cannabis use.
- Try a very low dose of cannabis or THC. It’s wise to always start low when trying cannabis. If you are concerned about the high effects it offers, use a small amount (under 5 milligrams) the first time to see how your body reacts and how you feel.
Delta-8 is the newest compound on the cannabis market. It offers the effects of its cousin THC, including the high but at a lower level. Also referred to as “weed light,” delta-8 is ideal for those who find THC itself to be too intense or who are nervous about trying cannabis products and the effects they will experience.
The legality of delta-8 is a hot topic right now. Because the vast majority of delta-8 on the market is hemp-derived, many people feel it is legal, even though you’ll get high while hemp itself won’t have that effect.