Delta-8 THC Benefits, Effects, & Legality

Known today as one of the most powerful herbs on the market, hemp contains an entire spectrum of chemical compounds that work together to provide a host of benefits. And while research is still working to establish the specifics, anecdotal evidence claims that hemp can address everything from pain to anxiety, among many others.

Today, it’s widely accepted that the chemical compounds contained within the hemp plant work best when taken together. But even then, a number of these compounds have received distinction because of their noteworthy effects. One of which is the controversial delta-8 THC.


Delta-8 THC Effects


What is Delta-8 THC?

The cannabis plant is chocked full of chemical compounds that give the herb its potent effects on both mind and body. For a few years, cannabidiol or CBD has been recognized as the single most powerful compound across the entire spectrum of close to 200 cannabinoids in the herb.

But that’s only because it makes up 40% of the plant’s chemistry. Today, researchers have found that other compounds like cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) — despite making up just a fraction of hemp’s chemistry — also deserve significant recognition for their potent contribution to the herb’s effects.

Interestingly, there’s a new kid in town and his close relation to a controversial chemical compound has raised a few brows. Delta-8 THC is one of the many cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and its close relationship to delta-9 has made it the topic of discussion throughout the industry.


Is Delta-8 THC Legal?

Way back when scientists and law makers didn’t know any better, cannabis was considered illegal. That’s because the herb was found to alter a person’s mental state and cause a ‘buzz’ that was associated with illicit substances.

But as the years rolled on and research on cannabis continued to develop, it was found that there was only one chemical compound in the plant that was responsible for those effects. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the many hundreds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and it was the sole compound responsible for the psychoactive effects.

Because cannabis was also discovered to provide a range of benefits for people undergoing cancer treatment among many other conditions, cultivators found a way to farm cannabis while restricting its delta-9 THC expression. And thus we have hemp.

According to the law, hemp is any part of the cannabis sativa L. plant containing 0.3% delta-9 THC or less. With that, any cannabis sample that contains more than 0.3% delta-9 THC is considered marijuana, and may or may not be legal in your area depending on the local regulations.

So where does that put delta-8 THC? Well, if we’re basing in on the 2018 Farm Bill, only delta-9 THC is considered illegal. But then again, the DEA released an Interim Final Rule in 2020, stating that all synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinoids remain schedule I controlled substances.

And since delta-8 is a tetrahydrocannabinoid, then it should, in-effect, be illegal. But not quite. There is a lot of confusion regarding the statements made in the Interim Final Rule, since it specifically points out that synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinoids are illegal.

That means that if a delta-8 THC product is derived straight from the hemp plant, then there shouldn’t be a problem. The issue however is that since delta-8 exists in such small amounts, manufacturers have found ways to manipulate CBD in order to turn it into delta-8 THC. And this synthetic process is what makes the resulting product illegal.

On the upside, it seems that the government is yet to implement any regulations to control delta-8 THC and its sales. With a lot of vendors still offering delta-8, it’s safe to say that the compound is still free to use for now. On the other hand however, there are some states that have started controlling the sale and use of delta-8, including:

Differences Between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC

It’s important to recognize that delta-8 and delta-9 and both tetrahydrocannabinoids. In fact, the National Cancer Institute states that delta-8 THC is an ‘analogue of THC with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.’ This means that both compounds have similar structures, differing by only a few atomic bonds.

Even then, there are major distinctions between the way they work. For starters, delta-9 THC binds to CB1 receptors that are found throughout the body, but most prominent in the central nervous system. This explains why the substance can alter a person’s mental state and cause the feeling of a ‘buzz.’

On the contrary, delta-8 THC binds of CB2 receptors, especially those found in the extremities. So when introduced into the system, delta-8 THC doesn’t affect cognition as much as it does the body. According to Dr. Peter Grinspoon, instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, delta-8 THC has only a fraction of delta-9’s psychoactive potency.

Other than that, it’s not as prominent as delta-9 in terms of chemical presence. Making up just a small amount of the cannabinoid blend in cannabis, delta-8 THC’s concentration is negligible at best. That’s why manufacturers have found it necessary to synthetically produce the compound as opposed to extracting it straight from the plant.


Delta-8 THC Benefits


Benefits and Effects of Delta-8 THC

So what exactly do users stand to gain by using delta-8 THC? Based on expert opinions, the chemical compound has strikingly similar effects with delta-9 THC, only watered down.

According to Dr. Max Mikheev, one of the top executives at BIOMEDICAN, people who use delta-8 THC report experiencing a milder range of effects that are similar to those caused by delta-9 THC. The sole exception being that even in high doses, delta-8 doesn’t cause anxiety or paranoia.

There have also been numerous anecdotal reports that claim that delta-8 THC produces a smoother, more functional buzz than its delta-9 counterpart. With the cognition left relatively unchanged save for a slight sense of calm, the compound mainly affects the body which it relaxes and soothes without completely tranquilizing the entire system.

Other alleged effects of delta-8 THC include:

Presently, there isn’t a lot of research that explores the benefits of delta-8 THC, but there are preliminary studies that attempt to explain what it might be able to do for your health. These include:

It’s important to remember however that despite offering a broad range of effects and benefits, delta-8 THC on its own still won’t be as effective as taking all of the different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids all together. The Entourage Effect is generally accepted as a fact, and states that the various chemical compounds in the hemp plant work best when they’re used all at the same time.

That said, while it might be enticing to buy a delta-8 THC isolate, it won’t provide the same, potent effects as raw plant chemistry. On top of that, there are legal concerns with isolate delta-8 THC because of the synthetic process necessary to formulate them. And since the DEA claims that synthetically manufactured tetrahydrocannabinods are illegal, you might be better off looking into full spectrum blends instead.


The New Kid in Town

As research continues to explore the intricacies of hemp, we’re discovering that there’s still a wealth of knowledge we’ve yet to reveal about its benefits and chemistry. Research about delta-8 THC is scarce, but with continued study, we might be able to uncover how we can fully leverage its benefits, and thus establish the proper rules and laws to regulate its sale, manufacture, and use for the protection and advantage of all.


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