Delta-8 THC: Sources, Legality, and Uses

Updated: 3 days ago

Both the illicit and legal cannabis markets love their jargon. With words like “sour diesel” and “cannabidiol” fitting in the same sentence, it’s easy to get lost in any conversation about the plant. And if you thought the cannabis industry’s lingo couldn’t be any more complicated, then we’d like to introduce you to Delta-8 THC. 

At the time of this writing, Delta-8 THC is the hottest molecule in the cannabis world. Billed as a milder version of Delta-9 THC (the cannabinoid that produces marijuana’s famous psychotropic effects) Delta-8 found a market in people who wanted benefits of THC, without getting “too high.” Like Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 is frequently used to address pain, nausea, stress, appetite, and mood regulation. Delta-8 has already been used in clinical trials, namely a study where it completely prevented vomiting in chemotherapy patients.  

In terms of anatomic structure and molecular pathways,  Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC are nearly identical. However, when consumed, Delta-8 is reportedly about half as strong as Delta-9. This means ingesting Delta-8 THC can limit common negative side effects associated with a marijuana high (i.e., racing heart, anxiety, paranoia). This is good news for people looking to boost their health regimen with THC while avoiding the possibility of a “bad trip.”

Another significant difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC regards molecular stability over time. Delta-9 converts to CBN (cannabinol), a non-high-inducing cannabinoid, with exposure to oxygen, light, and natural aging. Whereas Delta-8 is shelf-stable and does not degrade over time.

Sources of Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 THC is naturally occurring and found in small concentrations of the hemp plant. The amounts are too small for psychoactive effects to be felt, however, some manufacturers are extracting and isolating Delta-8 THC from the plants, then adding these enriched concentrations to other hemp products like sublingual oils, capsules, gummies, vape cartridges, and hemp flower (intended to be smoked). Whereas most Delta-8 THC producers are using the glut of CBD isolate currently on the market, running the CBD through a chemical process called ‘isomerization’, and converting that CBD to Delta-8 THC.

Delta-8 THC is providing an opportunity for some struggling CBD retailers to enjoy a booming industry once again. Delta-8 THC is also offering consumers an opportunity to sample the cannabis plants’ psychedelic properties for the first time.

Since Delta-8 THC is being used by people looking for its euphoria-producing effects, a conflict is arising. Many hemp advocates and members of congress are still uncomfortable legalizing parts of the hemp plant t