18 min read
Sitting perfectly between marijuana and CBD, Delta 8 THC has burst into the mainstream as an ideal alternative. A more mild high than the classic Delta 9 THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana), but a lot more noticeable than the subtle effect of CBD. If you have ever taken a marijuana edible and felt completely overwhelmed - this might be just right for you!
The fast growth of the CBD industry has been a catalyst to the popularity of this cannabis compound. Extracted from either hemp or marijuana, Delta 8, or D8, has users hyped up due to its unique high.
The legality of Delta 8 is in a gray area. At the federal level, its sale and consumption are legal as long as it is extracted from hemp. Since its emergence, many states have begun passing legislation to regulate it.
This guide dives deep into the basics of Delta 8 including where it comes from, how it works, what it does and which states allow its use.
Delta 8 - The Basics
What is Delta 8?
Delta 8 THC (delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol) is a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis. It can be extracted from either marijuana or hemp, the 2 species of cannabis where CBD and Delta 9 THC come from.
Delta 8 and delta 9 are similar in their chemical structure.
The slight difference in the way Delta 8 binds to receptors in the brain is what causes a mild high compared to Delta 9.
The psychoactive high of D8 has fewer side effects than D9 and is easier to control, making it an ideal choice for many users.
According to the National Cancer Institute: "delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol is an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties. Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8-THC) binds to the cannabinoid G-protein coupled receptor CB1, located in the central nervous system; CB1 receptor activation inhibits adenyl cyclase, increases mitogen-activated protein kinase activities, modulates several potassium channel conductances and inhibits N- and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels. This agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), the primary form of THC found in cannabis."
Where does Delta 8 come from?
Delta 8 is found naturally in cannabis but only in small amounts. It can come from either hemp or marijuana but the federal legality of hemp makes it the primary source of D8. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of industrial hemp, making its derivatives, like D8, also legal.
Besides natural extraction from hemp, Delta 8 can also be synthesized from CBD. CBD isolate follows a distillation process which according to HempGrower "ends up being 60% to 70% delta-8 and roughly 2% to 6% delta-9." Next, the Delta 9 THC is extracted to be less than 0.3%. For a hemp product to be legally sold, it must have less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC.
Is Delta 8 legal?
At the federal level, Delta 8 is legal when it is extracted from industrial hemp.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalizes hemp production and the use of hemp-derived products. As long as Delta 8 continues to be extracted from hemp, it will continue to be legal under current law.
Some states have passed legislation to ban the sale of Delta 8 THC products. According to an ACS Laboratory Report, 14 states have already banned Delta 8. Three others, including Oregon, have introduced legislation to regulate its use and sale. Check the section below to see which states currently allow the sale of Delta 8 THC products.
Check out Sensify's safe and legal Delta 8 THC gummies here.
Where is Delta 8 available? Where is it not available?
Image credit: Vapor Vanity
States where Delta 8 is banned :
- New York
- Rhode Island
States where Delta 8 is currently legal:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Delta 8 vs Delta 9 - what's the difference?
Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC are very similar. At the molecular level, they only differ by a couple of electrons. Their properties and effects are similar as well. Although the effects are similar, they aren’t the same. Below we’ll go over how the effects of Delta 8 and Delta 9 differ.
Paranoia & Anxiety
Delta 9 is commonly associated with paranoia or anxiety. Users report feeling uneasy when the high is too strong. Delta 8 offers a milder high. Peter Grinspoon, a medical marijuana researcher at Harvard Medical School states “People report [Delta-8] as being less anxiety-provoking, less sedating and a little more clear-headed than THC.”
While Delta 9 offers users a feeling of elation and possibly euphoria, Delta 8 is more relaxing. The mild psychoactive effect offers users strong relaxation effects with only mild euphoria.
The CB1 Receptor
The different effects of D8 & D9 can be traced to their interaction with the CB1 receptor within the endocannabinoid system. This important protein exists in the central nervous system. It receives signals to help regulate mood, stress, anxiety, pain, energy, etc.
According to this 2017 study the CB1 receptor has a major impact on the body’s anxiety response. It also states that blocking the CB1 receptor triggers the body's anxiety response.
The slight differences in chemical structure between D8 and D9 affect the CB1 receptor differently. According to this 2001 study THC is an agonist to CB1 - meaning it initiates a physiological response. D8's interaction with CB1 may reduce anxiety while D9 may increase anxiety.
This can also be due to personal differences. While some D9 THC users experience intense anxiety, other users smoke THC to reduce their anxiety.
Does Delta 8 show up on a drug test?
Yes, it is possible that using Delta 8 can result in a positive drug test. Even though drug tests are actually looking for Delta 9, the similarities between them make it difficult for a drug test to tell the difference.
Each person will metabolize THC differently so while some may test positive, others can test negative. The individual differences in the way THC is metabolized make all the difference. Also the amount of use, length of use, and quality of product have an impact on the test result.
According to LA Weekly even though Delta 8 can result in a positive, this result is not entirely accurate and is actually a false positive.
If you’re worried about failing a drug test, it’s best to avoid Delta 8.
How long does Delta 8 stay in your system?
A study concluded that 80-90% of THC leaves the body within 5 days of use. This means most THC metabolites should be out of your system within 1 week. This time period applies to different consumption methods including vaping, sublingually or edibles.
Frequent users will have THC in their system for longer periods - like 1-3 weeks. Individual differences account for how long THC stays in the system.
Is Delta 8 safe?
The safety of Delta 8 THC completely depends on the manufacturing and extraction process. A reliable seller of Delta 8 THC will display lab results for each product. Lab results confirm that the product is properly licensed and contains the correct amount of Delta 8 THC.
Unlicensed Delta 8 THC products may not have the right potency or follow the right extraction process.
Is delta 8 CBD?
No, CBD and delta 8 are two different types of cannabinoids. They both come from the hemp plant but their chemical structure is different.
The chemical structure of Delta 8 is more similar to Delta 9 THC. This is what gives these 2 cannabinoids their psychoactive effects. They are able to attach to the CB1 receptor in a way that causes a high.
The chemical structure of CBD makes it act in an opposite way to THC. According to a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology the way CBD attaches to the CB1 receptor can block the psychoactive effects of THC.
Using Delta 8
Will Delta 8 THC get you high?
Yes, there is a definite psychoactive effect that comes with Delta 8. It offers a milder high compared to THC and the potency is at a manageable level for most. If it’s your first time trying Delta 8 it might be wise to start with a small dose to assess your tolerance.
The high from D8 THC is a more approachable experience than traditional THC products. It can even offer an energetic and productive high.
Ready to try Delta 8? Check out our Delta 8 THC gummies here.
How long does Delta 8 high last?
This depends on different factors like your THC tolerance, the quality of the product and your metabolism. The consumption method of the THC will also affect how long the high lasts and how long it will take to feel the effects.
Edibles like candies, gummies and chews start the absorption process while being chewed. The high from these edibles can be felt in approximately 30 minutes and the high usually lasts no more than 5 or 6 hours.
Edibles that need to be ingested completely like cookies or brownies are slower to act. It may take approximately 60-90 minutes to feel the effect and the high can last for up to 8 hours.
Tinctures applied sublingually can be felt in as quick as 15-30 minutes and the high can last 3-5 hours.
Vapes are the quickest to act. A vape high can be felt within 15 minutes and the high can last up to 3 hours.
These estimates are from anecdotal evidence. The times can vary from person to person.
What does Delta 8 THC feel like?
THC tolerance, metabolism and quality of product will affect the high from Delta 8. Users have reported the high as being a strong mellow feeling. Unlike a THC high which can be overwhelming to some, a Delta 8 high is more manageable and can even result in the user feeling productive and clear headed.
This is what a Delta 8 high typically feels like:
- Mild euphoria
- Uplifting feelings
- Promotes appetite
- Reduces feeling anxious
Unlike a marijuana high which can result in the user feeling paranoid and anxious, a Delta 8 high gives a mental clarity that can translate to mental energy and focus. Even during peak times, users have reported feeling under control of their high.
Even though the high is mild, it is suggested that users should not drive or operate machinery while using Delta 8.
What are the benefits of using Delta 8?
Numerous studies and anecdotal evidence have been used to identify the benefits of Delta 8.
The National Cancer Institute identified these possible benefits:
- Antiemetic (reduce nausea)
- Analgesic (reduce pain)
- Anxiolytic (reduce anxiety)
- Orexigenic (appetite stimulant)
- Neuroprotective (protects brain function)
A 1995 study concluded that a Delta 8 treatment used to reduce nausea had a 100% success rate on all 480 patients that participated in the study.
According to this US National Library of Medicine report, Delta 8 offers anxiety reducing qualities.
A different 2004 study found that Delta 8 increased cognitive function by increasing the release of dopamine and serotonin.
A 1897 study found that Delta 8 has an effect on acetylcholine in the brain. Alzheimer’s patients tend to have declining levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The study discovered that using Delta 8, acetylcholine levels increased in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex while acetylcholine turnover decreased in the hippocampus.
A 2018 study found that Delta 8 can serve as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
All studies conclude that although results seem promising, more research is needed to truly identify the benefits of Delta 8.
How does Delta 8 work?
Cannabinoids like THC, CBD and Delta 8 THC work by regulating the endocannabinoid system - a cell-signaling system that allows for chemical communication throughout the body.
This system regulates important bodily functions like:
- Reproductive system
When Delta 8 enters the body, it binds with cannabinoid receptors known as CB1. These receptors located in the central nervous system help regulate activity in the brain and the body.
As Delta 8 binds with CB1, it helps regulate pain, inflammation, energy, anxiety, metabolism, etc.
What are the side effects of Delta 8?
Side effects can be similar to those of Delta 9 THC. This includes red eyes, dry mouth and increased appetite. One study found that Delta 8 may temporarily increase heart rate. An animal study found that it may increase blood pressure during the high.
The studies conclude that more research is needed to better understand the effects and side effects of Delta 8 THC.
How many mg of Delta 8 to feel a high?
The amount needed to feel a high from Delta 8 THC will vary from person to person. Most edible products currently in the market offer doses of either 10mg or 25mg.
If you have never used any THC products it’s best to start with a small dose to assess your tolerance and move up from there if needed. If the product you try comes in 25mg doses you can start with half a dose before moving up.
If you are a seasoned THC user the 25mg dose might be just right or a little on the mild side.
The excitement around Delta 8 comes from how well it fits between CBD and Delta 9 THC. Users who feel D9 THC is too strong find D8 to have the ideal potency where they can enjoy a high while still feeling like they are in control of their body and mind. Typical CBD users who want something strong find D8 offers exactly that.