What to Know About Delta-8 THC

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Delta-8 THC, short for Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, is a chemical found in the cannabis (AKA marijuana) plant.

It's a psychoactive substance, but it is considered less psychoactive than other components of cannabis, such as Delta-9 THC. Because it naturally occurs only in very small doses, it's usually manufactured from CBD. Users say it produces a mild high, but research thus far is limited on its uses.

The History of Minor and Novel Cannabinoids

There are over one hundred chemicals that are naturally occurring in the cannabis plant, and these chemicals are also known as minor cannabinoids and novel cannabinoids.

Research into the components of cannabis began in the 1940s, and since then, an industry has grown out of extracting individual chemicals and selling them as their own products. CBD is the most well-known novel cannabinoid, and is used as a wellness product for a wide variety of ailments.

Research on Delta-8 THC specifically first occurred in 1974, when it was used in a test by the National Cancer Institute along with Delta-9 THC and CBD. Though it wasn't the intent of the study, it concluded that Delta-8 THC had properties that could fight against cancer. Research has continued since, and Delta-8 THC now holds numerous patents.

What Delta-8 THC Is Used For

Due to being less psychoactive than Delta-9 THC and other minor cannabinoids, Delta-8 THC may be used by people who want a mild "high" that is less impactful than smoking or ingesting marijuana would be.

Additionally, one of the patents held by Delta-8 THC is for use as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. This means that it may ultimately be shown to be useful to reduce inflammation, and to relieve pain.

Studies have begun on the uses of Delta-8 THC. Users reported pain relief, cognitive disotrtions, relaxation, and euphoria, and a study concluded that "participants generally compared delta-8-THC favorably with both delta-9-THC and pharmaceutical drugs."

Benefits of Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 THC may be beneficial for people who enjoy the effects of marijuana, but don't want such a strong experience. Because it is less psychoactive than cannabis on its own, but much more psychoactive than other minor cannabinoids like CBD, Delta-8 THC falls into a middle ground between the two.

Additionally, Delta-8 THC may have some effectiveness for issues such as pain and inflammation.

While many consider it a "natural" treatment, however, it is worth remembering that Delta-8 is created through a chemical process and can have synthetic compounds you aren't aware of.

More research is needed to establish the potential risks and benefits of this substance.

Risks of Delta-8 THC

When you purchase Delta-8 THC, you don't have any way of knowing if there are other cannabinoids present with it from the manufacturing process. Scientists have expressed concern that when tested, some Delta-8 products also contain Delta-9 and 10as well. This can be a problem for anyone who does not want to experience the full psychoactive impact of those chemicals, and it also gives pause to users who want to know exactly what they are purchasing.

The FDA has spoken out about the risks of Delta-8 THC, noting that they have not done any evaluation of this chemical. It is not FDA approved, and they note that concentration of the Delta-8 chemical in purchased items can vary significantly.

In addition to concerns around purity and the lack of evaluation or testing, the FDA notes that as of late 2020, they had received over one hundred reports of adverse reactions to Delta-8 THC. They also state that national poison control centers received nearly 2,500 reports of adverse effects involving exposure to Delta-8 THC-containing products between the beginning of 2021 and 2022.

Delta-8 THC: Legal or Illegal?

Up until recently, whether or not Delta-8 THC is legal for you to purchase existed in a bit of a gray area, and is different from state to state. However, a recent court ruling has clarified the legality of it.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp across the United States, and in May of 2022 a federal court ruled that Delta-8 THC produced from hemp is therefore a legal product. The chemical is not derived directly from the hemp plant because it does not contain a high enough concentration for that, but is instead extracted from CBD.

That National Law Review notes that based on the court ruling, "delta-8 is treated no differently than CBD or any of the more than 100 cannabinoids that may be directly extracted from the hemp plant."

If you have looked into whether or not Delta-8 THC is legal before, chances are that you found it varied depending on the legality of cannabis in the state you're in. The new ruling in May, 2022, has rendered the chemical legal at large, provided it's made directly or indirectly from hemp or CBD and not from marijuana.

Because of the recent ruling, it stands to reason that there will be more Delta-8 THC products available on the market than there were before, and that they will be more accessible for purchase.

CBD Is a Common Alternative

If you have concerns around either the safety or the effects of Delta-8 THC but you are curious about it regardless, you might want to begin with CBD products instead. That's because CBD is completely free of psychoactive compounds, so it won't get you high.

CBD is used for physical ailments like inflammation and pain just like Delta-8 THC is. That said, it will not give you the mild high that users of Delta-8 THC purport to enjoy.

A Word From Verywell

The new legality of Delta-8 THC does not mean that the FDA has approved it, or even that they have evaluated it; they have not. If you are interesting in trying Delta-8 THC, know that concerns exist about its potential purity and possible negative reactions.

9 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ariane Resnick, CNC
Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity.