Delta-8-THC is still a newcomer to the hemp market, but Delta-8-THC effects have been correlated to the effects of Delta-9 for years. The two are not so different, but Delta-8 may have a few benefits that make it preferable to (or at least more accessible than) Delta-9.
So, what are the effects of Delta-8-THC? Before we dig in, let's cover some basics to help differentiate between Delta-8 and the traditional THC products you may be more familiar with:
Delta-8-THC is almost identical to Delta-9-THC, the most common form of THC found in psychoactive cannabis strains. Of course, there's one big difference that's helped Delta-8 gain popularity in recent years.
Delta-8-THC can be made from CBD, derived from federally legal hemp, through a process called "isomerization." According to federal law (thanks to the 2018 updates to the Farm Bill), hemp-derived tetrahydrocannabinols are not classified as a controlled substance alongside Delta-9-THC.
Because it exists as a hemp-derived tetrahydrocannabinol and a natural "isomer" of CBD, Delta-8-THC is legal on a federal level. Many states have also taken the steps necessary to legalize Delta-8, so it's far more accessible than traditional Delta-9 products.
Legal facts aside, the only molecular difference between the two is the position of their double bond. Delta-9’s double bond is at carbon chain position 9, while Delta-8’s is at (you guessed it!) chain position 8.
The similar molecular structure allows Delta-8-THC to interact with the body in almost the same manner as Delta-9, but many reports suggest that the difference in the double bond position makes Delta-8 slightly less potent.
In short, the impact of Delta-8 is milder, but offers some of the relaxing benefits of traditional THC products that may be out of reach for consumers in states where cannabis is still illegal.
Delta-8 may be derived from legal CBD, but it’s nothing like the mild mannered hemp cannabinoid that initially took the industry by storm. Quite the contrary, actually. Unlike CBD, which isn’t psychoactive at all, Delta-8 is known for having heady, euphoric effects just like Delta-9, but to a lesser degree.
In fact, the effects of Delta-8-THC are thought to be about half as potent as the effects of Delta-9, which is why some research points to Delta-8 as a potential alternative to Delta-9 based therapies for children.
Some people may describe the effects of Delta-8-THC as “relaxing,” but many users agree that it’s not necessarily sedating like many high-THC cannabis strains. The euphoric effects aren’t nearly as strong, which some THC-sensitive users see as a major benefit.
Although not as potent as Delta-9, some research suggests that it may have the upper hand on traditional THC therapies in some cases.
For instance, one study suggests that Delta-8 showed potential as an antiemetic therapy for children undergoing various cancer treatments that may cause nausea and vomiting. A patent concerning Delta-8 as an antiemetic substance suggests that Delta-8 may be up to 200 times more effective at reducing nausea than Delta-9-THC.
Other Delta-8-THC effects may include reducing stress, enhancing mood, and increasing appetite. Delta-8-THC is thought to have plenty of medicinal potential (and may even be more shelf stable than Delta-9, posing a range of benefits for pharmaceutical applications), but is not currently FDA approved as a treatment for any conditions.
Instead, people currently use Delta-8-THC to experience it's recreational, uplifting, relaxing, and euphoric effects. It’s commonly chosen as a Delta-9-THC alternative because of its widespread accessibility.
The amount of time Delta-8-THC effects will take to kick in varies greatly depending on the delivery method. While other methods do exist on a limited basis, we'll cover the most common two: vaporizers and edibles.
Delta-8-THC vaporizers are an instant delivery method, which means the effects should begin to creep on only minutes after each dose. You should feel the full effects of your dose after only 15 minutes.
Because this method allows a "low and slow" approach to dosing, it's often preferable to those looking to experience Delta-8-THC effects gradually.
Delta-8-THC edibles are much different. Many edibles (like cookies and other infused foods) are designed to be processed by digestion, which means they will take effect more slowly. Although it varies for every person, these types of edibles may take 1-3 hours to kick in.
Some edibles, like hard candies and chews, are designed to dissolve slowly in the mouth, a method that’s thought to help counter the lengthy onset time of traditional edibles. These products allow Delta-8 to be absorbed through the mucous membranes in the mouth, which means you could begin to feel effects after roughly 30 minutes.
The onset time for different Delta-8-THC products will vary for every person based on a range of biological factors, like weight and metabolism. Experimenting with small doses is a great way to feel out these effects if you’ve never taken edibles before.
The duration of Delta-8-THC effects is even harder to predict, since it can also differ based on the dosing method used and a range of biological factors.
Generally speaking, smoking or vaping THC results in shorter lived effects than eating it. The effects from vaping Delta-8 typically last anywhere from 4-6 hours, while the effects from edibles can last anywhere from 5-8 hours.
While it may be tempting to look at Delta-8-THC's fractional potency compared to Delta-9-THC as a drawback, many people consider it a benefit. That's because Delta-8 is known to potentially offer euphoria without many of the drawbacks of traditional THC products.
For instance, many people claim to experience less paranoia and anxiety when using Delta-8-THC compared to Delta-9. It's unclear if this is due to its decreased potency, or if something is significantly different at the molecular level that helps users avoid these drawbacks. More research is needed to understand the full impact of Delta-9 on the Endocannabinoid System in the body.
Still, there are some more practical benefits and drawbacks that shouldn’t be ignored. Because Delta-8-THC is made from federally legal hemp, it can be acquired legally from most parts of the U.S. (To find out about local Delta-8-THC laws, read “Where is Delta-8-THC legal?”
Delta-8-THC cannot, however, be enjoyed in flower form like common high-THC cannabis strains. Instead, you’ll often find Delta-8 in the form of edibles and vaporizers, which may have natural cannabis terpenes added to offer more targeted effects, like those associated with some of the most popular cannabis strains.
Ultimately, Delta-8-THC seems to have more pros than cons for the conscious THC legal, assuming it’s acquired from a legal, high-quality source. To learn about Delta-8 in depth, read “What is Delta-8-THC?” or check out our Delta-8-THC collection to find legal Delta-8 products near you.
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