The latest cannabinoid to captivate the public is Delta-8 THC. If you aren’t already a cannabis aficionado, you may not know that there are many correspondents of THC, Delta-9 being the most widely known and the one that gets users high. Delta-8 is a less potent analog produced naturally in both legal classifications of cannabis: marijuana, and hemp. The reason Delta-8 is controversial is it can be derived from hemp and can get users high.
Why is Delta-8 THC Controversial?
Hemp-derived products gained legal access because of their inability to intoxicate. Delta-8 serves as a workaround way to legally enjoy the effects of THC without visiting a dispensary. Online retailers all over the United States are taking advantage of D8’s legal status, but not without any controversy from both regulatory boards and the cannabis community.
The DEA’s Interim Final Rule (IFR)
In August of 2020, the US Drug Enforcement Agency clarified their position on synthetic cannabinoids by stating, “All synthetically derived (THC) remain Schedule I controlled substances.” It is unclear if the statement directly relates to the rise in Delta-8 THC and the confusion around the wording of the 2018 "Farm Bill" or synthetic forms of THC like "spice" or "K2."
More recently, many States have clarified their stances on the controversial cannabinoid. The issue remains complicated as states each take a different approach when dealing with D8. While most states are following the DEA's lead by banning Delta-8 products, others call to take a closer look and review how Delta-8 can fit into the legal cannabis market.
Before we jump into the current state of D8 in the US, we will cover some of the basics to help explain the source of controversy and get a feel for where we are headed.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 is a naturally produced cannabinoid. If you ever checked out your lab tests provided by your favorite CBD oil retailer, you have noticed trace amounts of D8 showing up in your product. The cannabinoid in this amount can add benefits the same way THC does but won’t affect users to the extent of getting them high. Because D8 is only naturally produced in trace amounts, manufacturers alter CBD to create a substantial amount. When Delta-8 is taken in significant quantities, it will deliver a less intense high comparable to Delta-9 THC.
Most D8 consumers report a "lite" or "mild" high compared to using a cannabis product. They feel less paranoid, have clarity, and don’t experience any grogginess after they come down.
Delta-8’s ability to produce a high is possible because its molecular structure resembles that of THC. When Delta-8 enters the bloodstream, the cannabinoid activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Delta-8’s interaction with the ECS may be more complex than a less efficient method of getting high. The cannabinoid has some effects that are much different than D9, such as more appetite stimulation and less anxiousness, and it is up to 200% more effective in treating vomiting and nausea.
Delta-8’s ability to interact with the ECS sheds new light for researchers looking to further our understanding of all cannabinoids. While we have a long way to go, the beginning stages of D8 research do look promising.
Preliminary research in rat models suggests that D8 could increase the appetite more than its close counterpart. Delta-8 could be a solution to multiple health complications without making the user egregiously high. Many people suffering from cancer treatments use THC to increase their appetite, but are turned off by the intoxicating effects.
The most promising use for Delta-8 is treating vomiting in patients who are taking cancer treatment drugs. A small study found that after taking treatments of D8 before and after their cancer drugs, the patients stopped throwing up.
Delta-8 has made its way into all types of cannabis products, including edibles, vape cartridges, flower, and tinctures. Many companies are infusing Delta-8 with terpenes to deliver a more catered experience than taking an isolate.
How Delta-8 THC Is Made
Some of the controversy surrounding Delta-8 is regarding how it is produced. While it does exist in trace amounts in hemp, making enough to create a product requires some chemistry. The Delta-8 products available online are using D8 that has been converted from CBD isolate. The process is called isomerize, and needs isolate CBD to be dissolved into glacial acetic acid.
Once D8 is produced, it can then be infused into products. Many retailers are adding terpenes to create a more natural experience.
The Future of Delta-8 is Uncertain
Our current debate is over whether Delta-8 is synthetic or not. The DEA’s recent IFR doesn’t explicitly mention Delta-8, causing retailers to defer to the Farm Bill. Recently, many states have outlined a response ranging from banning the substance, categorizing it as marijuana, or giving the green light to retailers that don’t consider Delta-8 a synthetic cannabinoid.
News about Delta-8 is coming out every day. If you are interested in using D8 products, be sure to check out your state’s stance on the controversial cannabinoid.