Updated: Feb 19
With a growing appeal amongst both medicinal and recreational cannabis and CBD consumers, Delta-8 is something that is worth looking into for those who are familiar with the effects of both THC and CBD. Delta-8 has the same chemical formula as CBD but behaves in similar ways to both Delta-9 THC and CBD. It has a strong efficacy and is very stable, meaning its effectiveness lasts longer over time and will behave in a predicted manner when used with other chemicals and ingredients. The Delta-8 cannabinoid has been found to have effects that have been highly sought after by many in between the want for THC, with the benefits but without the intense high that seems to arise when higher doses are taken, and those who find that CBD has it's limitations for whatever their ailment, but who also do not want the intense high that Delta-9-THC can cause. This has created the need for something less potent in the “high” department while still providing the invaluable benefits found with Delta-9-THC. This is where Delta-8-THC comes into play.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8-THC is an analog of Delta-9-THC, what we commonly know as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). It is found in trace amounts in the cannabis plant. It is an analog, meaning it has a similar structure, with some small difference, that still allows the molecule to behave similarly to Delta-9-THC when in the body. This means that it can bind to receptors in the brain and body (CB receptors) found along the Endocannabinoid System.
How does Delta-8 Work with the Endocannabinoid System?
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is a body system that is found in humans and many other species. This system runs along the neurological system and can be found throughout the body. The body itself produces endocannabinoids that work with this system to help maintain balance in the body between the different body systems. Delta-8 is a cannabinoid that can behave in the body similarly to how an endocannabinoid would. The Endocannabinoid System has a series of receptors throughout the body, comprised of CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the brain, while CB2 receptors are found in the body and only in small amounts in the brain. Due to Delta-8 having a slightly different structure than Delta-9, the molecule has different affects on other receptors in the neural pathways of the ECS. This is what is believed to the reason why it causes a less “high” feeling than Delta-9-THC.
How Does the Brain Work with Delta-8?
Almost all CBD comes from hemp plants (flowers, leaves, stalks). Some marijuana will have a high-CBD strain, but this is not a common plant used for extraction of CBD. Cannabis is the family that both hemp and marijuana belong to, just like animals have different kingdoms and classes, so do plants.
Will Delta 8 Get You High?
Yes. It is psychoactive, similar to Delta-9 THC, but much less intense. Reviews have stated that consumers appreciate the “high” feeling that does not seem to be followed by paranoia that can be felt by Delta-9.
How is Delta-8 part of the Entourage Effect?
The Entourage Effect or Ensemble Effect are newly termed theories that have arisen out of the research of the cannabis plant. The idea is that cannabinoids, such as THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, like Delta-8 THC, provide stronger benefits to the body when utilized together with other plant components, such as terpenes, flavonoids, other cannabinoids, and other plant compounds. Research is still being conducted on the ability for Delta-8 to produce enhanced effects when taken as part of a whole-plant therapy. This means that at this juncture it is unknown if it is better taken as part of a whole-plant therapy or in isolate form.
Is Delta-8 Legal?
Yes and No. Most states have adopted the federal stance on Delta-8, which means it is legal, but there are a handful of states that have written their own state policy. Delta-8 is NOT Legal (ILLEGAL) to buy, have, make or sell in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, and Rhode Island and Utah (as of date of publication, 1/23/21)
The rest of the states are covered by the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, Delta-8 is considered an isomer of CBD, which is a derivative of the hemp plant. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, all derivatives, isomers and cannabinoids in hemp are legal, as long as the hemp plant does not contain more than 0.3% Delta-9-Tetrahyrdocannabinol or more commonly, THC. The 2018 Farm Bill also created an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act due to the fact that cannabinoids were listed. With the amendment came the removal of all listed tetrahydrocannabinols found specifically in hemp, including Delta-8 THC and others like CBD.
What Are the Side Effects of Delta-8?
Research is ongoing and the benefits and use of Delta-8 are not fully understood. This means that those who wish to add it to their therapy should consult a doctor or medical professional for advice.
Where does Delta-8 come from?
As a cannabinoid in cannabis plants, including both hemp and marijuana, Delta-8 is found in concentrations of less than 1%. This means that in order for you to get benefits from the compound, it must be concentrated. This concentration generally happens by converting Delta-9-THC or CBD into Delta-8 by means of many different scientific processes.
Is Delta-8 Safe for Pets?
No. There is research that has shown that Delta-8 is unsafe for pets. It is already known that Delta-9 THC is unsafe for pets and should not be consumed by any animal. While Delta-8 is the same in chemical formula as CBD, it has been shown to behave more similarly to THC when in animals. This can have adverse effects on both mind and body, even in small doses. It is best to consult a veterinarian before starting any therapeutic routine.
What types of Delta-8 Products are there?
Many manufacturers are producing concentrates that are being sold as isolates. This means that you are buying a pure form of Delta-8. It will have a very high percentage of Delta-8 and should not have any other compounds aside from the plant oil. Companies are also creating products such as oils and tinctures that can be taken sublingually. Others are putting a distillate form of Delta-8 into vape pens in order to smoke it. Delta-8 can be combined with CBD and Delta-9-THC isolate products to create a more full-spectrum effect. This full-spectrum effect allows for most benefits to be felt by the body and mind versus products that contain only isolate forms of the cannabinoid.
Author: A.J. Varela, Biologist