What Is Delta-8? The Complete Guide to Delta-8 Products & How it Relates to Cannabis, Hemp, and CBD
If you’ve had a chance to review our blog covering delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in depth, then you’ve already familiarized yourself with the ins and outs of the primary psychoactive phytocannabinoid (or component) of marijuana: Delta-9 THC.
Aside from delta-9 THC, there are over 70 phytocannabinoids in marijuana, and the majority of those phytocannabinoids have yet to be thoroughly researched and explored. One of the minor components of cannabis that’s been getting attention in recent years is delta-8 THC. So, what is delta-8? And will delta-8 THC get you high?
Below, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about delta-8 THC. From its legal status by state to its molecular structure, we’ve got you covered.
What Is Delta-8?
Delta-8 THC is a positional isomer of delta-9 THC. It has a similar molecular profile and lower psychoactive potency than that of delta-9 THC.1 It’s also a natural minor component of the marijuana plant.
Similar in molecular structure to delta-9 THC, delta-8 is commonly known as a middle point between cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 THC in terms of psychotropic effects.1 Once absorbed into the body, delta-8 activates cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors, which attach to glutamatergic terminals in the parts of the brain responsible for serotonin production, including:
- The basal ganglia
- The frontal cortex
- The hippocampus
- The cerebellum1
As exemplified by the data within Comprehensive Natural Products II, delta-8 products are less effective at activating CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors than delta-9 products. As a result, delta-8 THC doesn’t have as many psychoactive properties as delta-9 THC when comparing them directly in the same amount per dose.2
Where Does Delta-8 THC Come From?
Delta-8 is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid within the marijuana plant. However, its percentage within the plant is much lower than that of larger components like delta-9 and CBD. As a result of so little delta-8 THC being produced from marijuana plants, most commercially available delta-8 products, like delta-8 gummies, are manufactured from industrial hemp.3
Delta-8 Derived from Marijuana
Delta-8 is naturally present in grown marijuana, but on an extremely small scale. When delta-9 THC (the much more abundant phytocannabinoid in marijuana) is exposed to UV light & oxygen, it breaks down to form CBD and less than 1% of delta-8 THC.2
Products like delta-8 flower and delta-8 edibles that have been derived from marijuana do exist, but they’re more labor and time intensive due to the naturally scarce amount of delta-8 present in marijuana.
Delta-8 Derived from Hemp
Since delta-9 THC breaks down to form so little delta-8 THC within marijuana, manufacturers in the hemp industry synthesize delta-8 THC from other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.
After going through a process using acid, solvents, and heat, industrial hemp extract and its cannabinoids are converted to delta-8 THC. Industrial hemp manufacturers also extract delta-9 THC and CBD during this process as well.
So, the vast majority of delta-8 THC being sold today in the form of delta-8 edibles or delta-8 flower is synthesized from hemp. This process is difficult and regulated on a federal level with safety in mind for consumers. As a result, it’s important to make sure any delta-8 brand you choose is being forthright with testing results, so you can be sure you’re getting a clean and safe product. If you’re interested in third-party testing standards, check out Summit’s page covering lab testing of delta-8 products in depth.
What’s the Difference Between Delta-8 from Hemp and Delta-8 from Marijuana?
Delta-8 THC from both hemp and marijuana plants acts the same when it enters the body. So delta-8, no matter the source, does get you high.
The difference between hemp- and marijuana-derived delta-8 THC is all in the naturally-occurring abundance within the plant. There’s much more delta-8 that can be extracted from industrial hemp than there is within marijuana, due to the abundance of convertible cannabinoids in hemp.
It’s important to note when comparing delta-8 with CBD and delta-9 that research on delta-8 THC is much scarcer than that of CBD or delta-9 THC, as exemplified in a 2021 article by Daniel J. Kruger and Jessica S. Kruger on cannabis and cannabinoid research. However, a general web search will show that people are most certainly using delta-8 THC to mitigate the effects of chronic health conditions and report similar applications to that of delta-9 THC, including:
- Treating symptoms of anxiety
- Lessening the effects of stress
- Managing chronic pain
- Stimulating appetite
- Preventing nausea and vomiting4
Delta-8 THC has psychotropic effects just like delta-9 THC, but the effects are reported to be less substantial on users.
It has many of the same clinical applications as delta-9 THC, but users of delta-8 THC have reported that they experience less of the negative effects associated with delta-9 THC.2 So they’re less prone to anxiety, paranoia, or increased intensity of sounds.
Will Delta-8 THC Get You High?
Yes, delta-8 THC does stimulate the parts of your brain that are responsible for serotonin regulation. So, delta-8 THC will get you high. Memory loss and difficulty concentrating are common side effects of delta-9 THC consumption, and delta-8 THC users don’t report as much of these negative effects.
Again, more research is needed to make a definitive answer on the effects of delta-8 THC on users. So far, the research readily available has been conducted on small groups who report their individual experiences with delta-8 THC.4 More research is needed on larger populations to have a deeper understanding on the extent of how delta-8 makes you high. So will delta-8 THC make you high? It does, but it doesn’t cause as much of an effect within your brain as delta-9 THC does when taken in the same dose.2 This is why it’s typical that users feel a similar effect with delta-8 as delta-9, though they must consume a slightly higher dose of delta-8 compared to delta-9.
Is Delta-8 THC Safe?
Delta-8 THC is a newer addition to the marijuana and hemp market. While CBD and delta-9 THC have years of scientific study, there haven’t been all that many studies conducted on delta-8 THC.4 The data just isn’t as comprehensive.
But the molecular structure of delta-8 and delta-9 are nearly identical - the only difference is the location of a single double carbon bond.2 With responsible use, delta-9 THC is safe for long-term use, so information thus far suggests that delta-8 THC is also safe for long-term use.
Why Has Delta-8 THC Increased in Popularity?
Data gathered from the March 2022 International Journal of Drug Policy shows that public interest in delta-8 THC rose rapidly in 2020 and 2021. This in part has to do with the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. Also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, legislators have made growing hemp and selling hemp-infused products legal in the United States.5
As a result, the hemp industry has revolutionized public access to hemp-based products like CBD and delta-8 THC. Additionally, according to an article posted on CBDThinker by Gleb Oleinik, delta-8 THC is legally available in over half of the U.S., making it an attractive option for consumers to relieve stress and anxiety without using more traditional marijuana products that also may be illegal in their state of residence.
Those initially interested in delta-8 THC may confuse it for delta-8 CBD. Though it may seem obvious that something like delta-8 CBD exists in the current hemp market, there is no such thing as delta-8 CBD. As discussed earlier in the article, CBD and delta-8 THC are two different phytocannabinoids, and delta-8 CBD does not exist.
In What States Is Delta-8 THC Legal?
Delta-8 THC is currently living in a bit of a legal gray area. It’s newer to the cannabis market, and holistic research hasn’t yet been conducted. Most legislators haven’t made official calls on the legality of delta-8 THC per state. However, as of now, delta-8 THC is legal in 32 states, legally unclear in 3 states, and illegal in 13 states.6
How Are Delta-8 Products Typically Ingested?
Delta-8 THC can enter the body a few ways:
- Delta-8 Edibles: Through oral ingestion, sublingually (under the tongue), or mixed in with food
- Delta-8 Topicals: Through skin
- Delta-8 Flower: Smoked or inhaled
Delta-8 THC manufacturers and retailers typically sell the following delta-8 products:
Delta-8 Edibles (Gummies, Chocolates, and More)
Delta-8 edibles are formulated, hemp-infused treats that you can eat. After consuming an edible, it typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour for you to feel the desired effects. Delta-8 edibles come in all forms and flavors, from chocolates to gummies.
If interested in trying delta-8 gummies, you can explore Summit’s product selection for safe-to-use, infused treats that are shelf stable and resistant to heat. With transparent testing standards and premium ingredients, you can be assured that you’re picking products with care in mind.
Delta-8 Concentrate (Wax, Shatters, and More)
Non-solvent concentrates are highly potent and effective forms of hemp-formulated delta-8 THC. They’re the product of distilling down delta-8 THC into concentrated forms, and are designed to give users rapid, enhanced effects when inhaled. Users feel the effects of delta-8 THC concentrates immediately after consuming.
Delta-8 Oil & Tinctures
Delta-8 THC oil products are derived from CBD and hemp oil. They’re manufactured through a complex process: CO2 extraction generates delta-8 THC oil from hemp plants.
Users typically use tinctures to help them feel relaxed and alleviate pain in certain areas of the body.
Delta-8 flower is naturally derived from marijuana and hemp plants. Delta-8 flower is typically smoked, and can be done so in a variety of ways. Users typically feel the effects immediately when inhaling delta-8 flower.
What’s a Typical Dose of Delta-8 THC?
There are a lot of factors to consider for how a person will react to any given dose, like:
- Consumption method
- Overall tolerance to delta-8 THC, CBD, and delta-9 THC
- General mood7
According to information provided by a 2022 CFAH article on delta-8 dosages, delta-8 THC comes in doses that range from 10mg to 40mg. For beginners, it’s recommended to start at 5mg and evaluate from there.7
How Does Delta-8 THC Compare to CBD?
CBD is a phytocannabinoid that has few to no psychoactive effects.2 It acts antagonistically to CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors, preventing those receptors from attaching to glutamatergic terminals.
Delta-8 THC activates CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors, allowing them to attach to glutamatergic terminals, but it’s not as effective at doing so as delta-9 THC. So delta-8 THC has more effect on serotonin production than CBD does. It creates a high, but it doesn’t leave users typically feeling the more negative effects of the stronger delta-9 THC.
While CBD’s largest effect is sedation, delta-8 THC is more associated with pain reduction, calming anxiety, and relieving stress.2
Does Delta-8 THC Show Up in Drug Tests?
We have more detailed information on delta-8 THC and drug testing in this article.
In short, a drug test is used to determine if the active phytocannabinoid in marijuana, delta-9 THC, is in the body. Because delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC are so similar in how they look and how the human body processes them, delta-8 THC will likely show up as marijuana in a drug test.3
This also applies to hemp-derived delta-8 THC. The structure and how it acts when it is ingested is nearly identical to delta-9 THC.
So, What Is Delta-8 THC and Are Delta-8 Products Safe to Use?
Though similar to delta-9 THC, delta-8 products differ greatly from that of delta-9 products and CBD products. They offer users the clinical benefits of delta-9 THC products without that “stoned” feeling many associate with THC. So they’re a great middle ground for those looking to introduce themselves to the many applications of THC.
So far, the data gathered by researchers confirms that delta-8 THC is safe to use when consumed responsibly.
So, if you’re interested in trying out delta-8 THC products for yourself, you can find a selection of gummies on our website alongside delta-9 gummies. They’re tested by reputable third-party labs to ensure they’re safe and delicious for consumers.