Delta-8-THC- The New Cannabinoid On The Block?
Delta-8-THC is the cannabinoid industry’s newest hype. With new products popping up at every corner, it is crucial that you – the consumer, understand what this lesser-known cannabinoid is, what it can do for you, and the risks associated with taking it.
For a very long time, the only tetrahydrocannabinol in the public eye was delta-9-THC – the infamous primary cannabinoid in the cannabis plant that makes people high and is now used as a medicine. But delta-9-THC has its shortcomings.
First, it was illegal – it still is unless you live in one of the states where recreational marijuana is legalized. And second, even when it is being used for medical purposes, it has potent psychoactive effects that many would rather not deal with.
That was until 2018 when the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, was signed into law legalizing hemp and its derivatives in the United States.
This opened the door to interesting cannabinoids that weren’t or didn’t have the same intense psychoactive effects as delta-9-THC. The first cannabinoid to get popular was Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD.
However, there are questions arising as more people turn to a lesser-known cannabinoid – delta-8-THC. So what is delta-8? Should you use it?
The Basics – What Is Delta-8-THC?
The cannabis plant contains more than 500 compounds, a hundred plus of which are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring chemical compounds in cannabis that are responsible for a big part of its effects.
These can be grouped into two – major and minor cannabinoids. The major cannabinoids include delta-9-THC, which is what most people think of at the mention of “THC” and Cannabidiol, also known as CBD.
Then there are the minor cannabinoids, which delta-8-THC is a part of. These occur at very low concentrations naturally that it can be hard to extract them using standard extraction methods.
Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-8-THC is an analogue of delta-9-THC that is found in the hemp plant. However, it occurs in low concentrations, usually less than 1% naturally.
Like its more famous sibling – delta-9-THC, delta-8-THC also has psychoactive effects, meaning it will get you high, albeit to a lesser extent than delta-9-THC.
The major selling point of this cannabinoid is that it promises all or most of the benefits found in delta-9-THC without the overbearing psychoactive effects.
Its high has been described by users as more clear-headed, energizing, and that it helps maintain focus, which can also be characterized by confusion and sometimes – in case of overconsumption, anxiety, and paranoia.
The milder psychoactive effects make delta-8-THC an excellent candidate for cannabis-based medical use. However, more research into the effects and benefits of this cannabinoid is still required before being approved as a treatment.
The lack of quality studies hasn’t stopped some consumers from turning to the newer cannabinoid.
Why Delta-8-THC Is Becoming a Big Deal
Delta-8, like CBD, is now everywhere. More companies are producing the cannabinoid, and products are popping up left-right and center. But why is delta-8 getting this popular?
The first and probably the best-known reason is its therapeutic potential. The National Cancer Institute defines delta-8-THC as an analogue of THC with anxiolytic, antiemetic, analgesic, neuroprotective, and appetite-stimulating properties.
This suggests that it can be used instead of delta-9-THC to alleviate the side effects of cancer treatments, such as vomiting, lack of appetite, and nausea. An old study on the antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids in mice even suggested that delta-8 and CBN may reduce tumor size.
In a mid-90s study, Israel scientists administered delta-8 to pediatric cancer patients to relieve the treatments’ side effects. The study notes that vomiting was prevented entirely, and the side effects observed were negligible.
Aside from reducing nausea and vomiting, delta-8 also has other potential uses. A 2004 study found that delta-8-THC increased appetite, cognitive function, and altered neurotransmitter levels in mice following weight loss even in low doses.
The study suggests that low doses of the cannabinoid may have potential in the treatment of weight disorders.
A 2018 study investigating Delta 8, CBD, and HU-308’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties in mice with corneal injury found that delta-8’s antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects were mediated via CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
But not everyone is using delta-8-THC for its wellness benefits. As you already know, delta-8 will get you high, even if it is only half as potent as delta-9-THC. Some people may view this as a legal loophole to get high.
It is important to note that the FDA has not approved delta-8-THC as a treatment for any condition.
Should You Use Delta-8-THC?
Are you impressed by the potential benefits of delta 8? If yes, should you make the switch to the newer cannabinoid?
Well, the hemp product you use should be determined more by the needs as well as personal preferences. However, the use of this newer cannabinoid comes with several risks that you should be aware of before deciding.
As with most new trends in the health and wellness industry, there are unanswered questions and important factors that you should consider before you start using delta 8, especially when they involve legal status and safety.
Factors to Consider Before Using Delta 8
It is Psychoactive – Although many supporters of this newer cannabinoid insist that is only half potent as delta-9-THC, it is still psychoactive and may be intoxicating to some people.
As you may already know, cannabinoids affect people differently. So while it may only cause a mild high in some people, it doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on you. It may even reduce your productivity or prevent you from carrying out your daily activities.
It is recommended that you don’t drive or operate machinery after consumption. Is getting high a risk you are willing to take?
Safety – Because of its low concentrations naturally in the plant, delta 8 has to be created in the lab by converting other cannabinoids – such as CBD or delta-9-THC through a process known as isomerization.
The primary safety concern is that the lab process is performed by a qualified chemist, in a clean environment, and the products tested for safety and quality. To bring costs down, some producers may cut corners, risking the consumer’s safety.
On usage, there are no reports of overdoses. However, because of its reduced potency, it is easy to overconsume delta-8, which can lead to unwanted experiences such as paranoia and anxiety, just like delta-9-THC.
Note that because of its novelty, there is no long term safety information for delta-8-THC.
Dearth of research and studies on its benefits and effects – There isn’t enough information and research confirming the benefits of delta-8-THC or its long term effects.
Most of the available studies are old or performed on mice. There is a need for quality research studies especially on humans before we can truly say that delta-8 is beneficial and is safe to use for humans.
Is it legal? – Delta-8 currently resides in a legal gray area. Supporters claim that the 2018 Farm Bill legalized it, seeing as it is one of the derivatives of hemp and contains 0.3% or less delta-9-THC. The DEA, on the other hand, insists it is a synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol because it is created in a lab.
Synthetic cannabinoids are illegal in the United States. However, delta-8 is still on sale until the confusion is cleared.
So What Are Your Best Alternatives?
Unless you aim to get stoned, you are better of using the perfectly legal Cannabidiol products. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products will have the same benefits as delta 8 but without the psychoactive effects.
If you are afraid of failing a drug test, broad-spectrum and CBD isolates are the way to go as they contain no THC. Delta-8 has the same metabolites as delta-9 and will trigger a positive drug test result.
Delta-8-THC is the new health and wellness industry buzzword. It promises the same benefits as its more famous sibling – delta-9-THC without the unpleasant effects, but there is lack of quality research studies to back the claims.
Note that delta-8-THC is psychoactive and may cause intoxication in some people if you decide to go ahead and try it. Ensure that you don’t drive or operate heavy machinery after consumption.
Because of the risks involved, we suggest that you stick to full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolates for the same benefits.