According to the National Cancer Institute, delta-8 THC can be defined as:
“An analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties. [Delta-8 THC] binds to the cannabinoid G-protein coupled receptor CB1, located in the central nervous system… This agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than [delta-9 THC], the primary form of THC found in cannabis.”
Delta-8 THC has a different chemical structure from delta-9 THC by only a few atomic bonds but still offers a high of its own. While delta-8 THC only exists naturally in fractions of a percent, companies are finding value in concentrating esoteric cannabinoids for their unique effects and applications.
How Is the Delta-8-THC Distillate Made?
This product is made by employing a thin film distillation — fractional distillation — of locally cultivated cannabis flower and trim. The isolation of the delta-8 THC compound in this process is accomplished through temperature variations, vacuums, and scientific equipment to convert delta-9 THC over to delta-8 THC. This allows purification and isolation of specific cannabinoids by removing any residual solvents, impurities, and any other undesirable compounds.
This yields the most refined end-product that offers the user one of the cleanest, potent, and unique delta-8 THC products on the legal market today. Most dried cannabis flower contains less than 1% of delta-8 THC, so getting a product that contains a substantial amount of this cannabinoid can only be done through extraction, isolation, conversion, and refinement.
What Should Consumers Know About Delta-8-THC?
For one, delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol has a lower psychotropic potency than its close cousin, delta-9 THC, the most active ingredient found in cannabis. When most people refer to THC, they usually mean the latter. Nonetheless, the former is also a naturally occurring compound that can offer numerous potential benefits. When it comes to drug tests, delta-8 is less likely to be detected than delta-9 THC. However, a thorough drug test can still find traces of it.
Second, it is known to connect to both CB1 and CB2 receptors in our bodies. A study was conducted in 1995 by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in conjunction with Shaare Zedek Hospital, Bikur Holim Hospital, and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In this study, delta 8 THC was administered to eight children ranging from 3 to 13 years of age with various hematologic cancers. These children had been treated with different drugs and [chemotherapy] for eight months prior to treatment with delta-8 THC. The delta-8 THC treatments started two hours before each session of chemo and continued every six hours for 24 hours. With this treatment, vomiting was completely prevented, and side effects were reported as negligible.
With the help of science, we, too, hope to influence and advance the benefits of delta-8 THC as well as all other cannabis plant-derived compounds regarding the treatment of various diseases, chronic pain, and other ailments.
Is Delta-8-THC Safe?
Generally speaking, delta-8 THC is safe, although numerous scientists have expressed their safety concerns regarding the use of this substance. Probably the most controversial fact is that it is a close relative of the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana — THC. As such, it can have a milder psychoactive effect, similar to other cannabinoids.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that most delta-8 THC cannabis products are manufactured from federally-legal hemp. This hemp contains only up to 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. As such, delta-8 THC hemp products cause a milder high while offering all the benefits cannabis plants have to offer.
Delta-8’s impact on one’s overall health depends on multiple factors. This includes the amount of delta-8 THC taken, the frequency of use, the method of use, and an individual’s metabolism. To minimize risks, users should start with small doses and increase their intake only after a period of time. Even so, it is vital to keep in mind that delta-8 THC can cause some mild side effects like dry mouth, drowsiness, and numbness.
Still, among the most frequently mentioned advantages by delta-8 THC users are calming nausea, and stimulating appetite. The potency of delta-8 THC also makes it a good analgesic for muscle spasms, as well as for other acute or chronic pains. Moreover, it has been found to help manage anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
Is Delta-8 THC Legal?
Currently, delta-8 THC sits in a legal gray area. As long as it is manufactured from hemp-derived CBD, it is legal on a federal level. This is thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the production and sale of hemp-derived CBD products, boosting the hemp industry. Consequently, products containing this substance are available for purchase in most states that allow cannabis use for medical conditions or recreational purposes, as long as the levels of delta-8 THC don’t exceed 0.3%.
Still, some state laws specifically address delta-8 THC, treating it as a controlled substance (illegal according to the 1971 Controlled Substances Act). So, while in some parts of the country, you can buy delta-8 THC products at gas stations and convenience stores, it is not a general rule.
Here is what the current situation regarding the legality of delta-8-THC looks like:
- 14 states have banned delta-8 THC (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Utah).
- Three states treat Delta 8 THC the same as recreational cannabis (Connecticut, Michigan, Nevada).
Additionally, before purchasing anything, make sure to check your state laws, as many states have legalized delta-8 THC for medical use only.
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The efficacy and stability of delta-8 THC make it an extremely valuable chemical compound. The distillate’s benefits and effects serve both medical and recreational consumers alike, and it illustrates the power of individual cannabinoids. As science defines and refines the applications for cannabis’s eclectic collection of cannabinoids, we will benefit, one puff at a time.