The National Institute of Health currently claims that there are over 140 known cannabinoids that have officially been identified in the cannabis plant. That is a lot, and most people will probably never know about most of them. The most popular of these is THC. It is the infamous compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana. What most people don’t know is that THC is a more general name for a group of analogs and that what they call THC is actually delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. There is a less popular cannabinoid with about 70% of the potency of delta 9 THC, though its popularity seems to grow exponentially by the day.
No, we’re not talking about the c-cannabinoids (CBC, CBD, CBG, and CBN). We’re talking about a close sibling of delta 9 THC: delta 8 THC.
The legalization of delta 8 THC can be traced back to when the Farm Bill was passed in December 2018. However, the first time it appeared on the market was in late 2019 when an online cannabis retailer called Freshbros began selling delta 8 THC gummies (to find out more about delta eight gummies, click here), concentrates, tinctures, and cartridges.
What, exactly, is delta 8 THC?
From a molecular perspective, delta eight and delta 9 THC seem quite similar, and they even have many of the same effects on users. However, a distinction should be made between the two. The quantity of delta 9 THC is especially important, as it is measured in any cannabis extract to determine whether it was extracted from the hemp or not. Remember that hemp is legal under federal law, while marijuana is illegal. Meanwhile, delta 8 THC, apart from having interesting legality issues, is in such small amounts, whether you’re looking at hemp or marijuana, that extraction is actually quite difficult.
Delta 8 and 9 THC are isomers of each other, which is to say, the exact same elements in the exact same proportions (the exact same number of atoms of each element). However, the structural arrangement of the two differs slightly.
Delta 8 THC is especially interesting in that while it will give you a high, just like delta 9 THC, the high is slightly different. Many individuals report feeling euphoria minus the sometimes severe mind-altering effects that they normally experience when consuming delta 9 THC. Delta 8 THC is therefore being praised mostly for its ability to give folks many of the psychoactive and other benefits of THC without the anxiety, paranoia, and fogginess that can sometimes be caused by its more potent sibling.
What about issues of legality?
Things get a lot more interesting here…
For starters, delta 8 THC is technically legal if it is derived from hemp, which is the legal form of cannabis under federal law. However, delta eight THC is especially difficult and expensive to extract in its original form since it exists in such trace amounts in hemp and marijuana. So companies use a different method of extraction, where they alter CBD and synthetically convert it into delta eight THC. This poses a legal gray area. It means the CBD could come from either hemp or marijuana, and no one would know since the resulting delta 8 THC does not have any signs of where its parent CBD came from.
Companies don’t do this synthetic alteration out of disregard for the law. It just so appears to currently be the most cost-effective way to produce delta eight THC in large quantities. It is, however, banned by federal law.
The main problem is that most jurisdictions in the country have not developed the necessary infrastructure to properly identify legal hemp. They, therefore, do not have the scientific equipment or expertise to determine the source of a particular sample of delta 8 THC. The Department of Justice is definitely aware of this and is trying to figure out how to go about it.
The Drug Enforcement Agency is also currently going through a protracted rule formulation process that will help them implement the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill includes regulatory controls over tetrahydrocannabinol like delta 8 and 9 THC and other cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp. They, therefore, can’t do or say much about delta eight THC until that process is complete.
One thing is for sure, however: with so many different constituents of marijuana popping up, the importance of research cannot be overstated.
The market’s treatment of delta 8 THC
Many brands on the market have begun to market and sell delta 8 THC products, such as gummies. To help customers with their concerns about the legality of such products, many of them have taken to listing which states they can ship to and which ones they can’t. Some of them even reflect the haziness of the law in their listings. LiftedMade, for example, may indicate that delta eight THC is legal in one state, illegal in another, and ‘likely legal’ in yet another.
One thing is for sure: delta 8 THC has the makings of a vastly popular cannabinoid. It has many of the benefits of both delta 9 THC and CBD, and very few, if any, side effects. Many pundits are predicting that this cannabinoid is even likely to dwarf the market share for CBD, an especially popular cannabinoid. Many of the people who initially hopped onto the CBD bandwagon expected to feel at least some level of high and didn’t quite get it. Delta 8 THC will provide that, and with less potency than delta 9 THC, making the unsavory side effects also less potent.
Delta 8 THC certainly has a bright future, and cannabis companies and consumers alike are awakening to that fact. With time and more research, as well as a more streamlined legal framework, this hot new cannabinoid will take off even faster than it already is. The good news is that you can already purchase it and try it. Buy some delta eight THC gummies today and see if you like them. They just might be your new favorite thing!