April 30, 2021 5 min read

Delta-8-THC is a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that’s being made from hemp material, and you can find it in stores all over the U.S. If you’re hearing “psychoactive” and “hemp” and things aren’t adding up—we’ll explain.

Hemp-derived Delta-8-THC is actually made from CBD derived from hemp through a unique process called isomerization. Delta-8 naturally exists in hemp, but only in very small amounts, so hemp is still non-psychoactive by nature.

Hemp-derived Delta-8-THC has its benefits and potentially some drawbacks. Here’s what you should know:

Table of Contents
How is Hemp Derived Delta-8-THC Made?
Can Delta-8 Come From Other Sources?
Benefits of Delta-8-THC Made From Hemp
Drawbacks of Hemp-Derived Delta-8-THC
Does Hemp-Derived Delta-8-THC Really Get You High?
Where to Buy Hemp-Derived Delta-8-THC
Resources

How is Hemp Derived Delta-8-THC Made?

Delta-8-THC was discovered in hemp material in the 1940’s, but it’s typically only available in very small concentrations, usually less than 0.1% by dry weight.

Raw hemp material and hemp seeds alongside a hemp-derived Delta-8-THC tincture.

One prominent researcher, Raphael Mechoulam, spent decades researching Delta-8’s potential medical applications. After finding the cannabinoid to be useful, sometimes more so than Delta-9, he launched research efforts to figure out how to harvest Delta-8-THC in the amounts necessary for therapeutic use.

In the early 2000’s, Mechoulam filed for a patent indicating a method for converting CBD to Delta-8-THC through a process called “isomerization.” Today, various methods are used, but they all rely on the same isomerization technique.

Let us explain:

“Isomers” are two molecules that have all of the same components, just in a different order. CBD and Delta-8-THC are isomers, meaning they have the same atoms, but their molecular arrangement is different.

The isomerization process just rearranges the molecules. It doesn’t add or remove molecules, rather it just moves atoms around to transform one molecule into its isomer.

For this reason, Delta-8-THC isn’t classified the same way as certain synthetic cannabinoids, which are synthesized entirely from other materials and contain no hemp or cannabis material at all.

To learn more about the isomerization process used to make hemp-derived Delta-8, read “How is Delta-8-THC Made?

Can Delta-8 Come From Other Sources?

So, Delta-8 exists naturally in hemp, but hemp-derived Delta-8-THC products are usually made from CBD. Can Delta-8-THC come from any other sources?

Yes! And it isn’t uncommon.

A legal cannabis dispensary where you can find various Delta-8-THC products.

The Delta-8-THC products that are frequently sold in legal dispensaries are often made from high-THC cannabis strains. Some strains are produced specifically for the purpose of creating Delta-8 products, like flower and concentrates, but they almost always have too much Delta-9-THC to fit the description of “hemp.” (Hemp is specifically defined as having less than 0.3% Delta-9, which is why it’s legal by federal law.)

Why’s that?

Because Delta-8-THC is actually produced as Delta-9-THC degrades when it is exposed to the elements, like sunlight and oxygen. That means that a high Delta-9 content is generally required to have even moderate amounts of Delta-8-THC in any given strain.

Delta-8 from cannabis and Delta-8 from hemp is pretty much the same (save for the fact that hemp-derived Delta-8 is isomerized from CBD), but hemp-derived Delta-8 may have a few unique benefits.

Benefits of Delta-8-THC Made From Hemp

As we mentioned, hemp is legal. Thanks to the wording used in the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 to legalize hemp and all hemp derivatives, so is hemp-derived Delta-8-THC. In fact, that’s likely the reason you’re just now learning about Delta-8, despite the fact that cannabis-derived Delta-8 products have been sold in legal cannabis dispensaries for decades.

Delta-8-THC derived from hemp is legal by federal law, and most states have also passed legislation that legalized all hemp materials, including Delta-8. (To check the laws in your state, read “Where is Delta-8-THC Legal?”)

That makes hemp-derived Delta-8 far more accessible than any cannabis products. Plus, it’s often more cost-effective than cannabis-derived Delta-8. Because it doesn’t fall under the definition of “cannabis products” in most states, it isn’t typically subject to the extra tax imposed on cannabis products in legal areas, which can range as high as 35%.

Another important benefit? You can order it online, even from out of state.

With cannabis products, you’re usually limited to what you can find locally, and some states have programs that allow you to order cannabis products online that are available in other parts of the state.

Hemp-derived products are legal to ship across the country, which means you have plenty of options to choose from and can more easily find the Delta-8-THC vaporizer or edible for you.

A close up of hemp flower material used to make Delta-8-THC products.

Drawbacks of Hemp-Derived Delta-8-THC

When exploring if there are any downsides to hemp-derived Delta-8, or just drawbacks to Delta-8 in general, it's immediately clear that evidence is lacking. That is, consequently, the biggest known drawback of Delta-8-THC--we're lacking the evidence necessary to completely understand it's therapeutic potential or who it may benefit most.

When comparing the difference in hemp-derived Delta-8 and traditional Delta-8-THC products, there are really no drawbacks to Delta-8 products made from hemp.

It's also worth noting that Delta-8-THC is frequently considered to have less downsides than the more common Delta-8-THC supplements. Some research even investigates the use of Delta-8-THC in pediatric cancer patients as a replacement to Delta-9-THC, noting that larger doses could be given without the same adverse reactions related to Delta-9, like anxiety and paranoia.

Ultimately, researchers are working to evaluate Delta-8-THC safety and the safety of current manufacturing practices. The most substantial concern is contamination, diluted products, or products posing as Delta-8 that actually contain synthetic cannabinoids that are potentially dangerous.

To lower risk, carefully evaluate the Delta-8-THC brand you choose, and look for third-party test results for each product before you buy.

If you want to know more about the safety of Hemp-Derived Delta-8-THC, read "Delta-8-THC Risks."

Does Hemp-Derived Delta-8 Really Get You High?

After learning that Delta-8 comes from hemp derived CBD, a compound that’s gained popularity for being legal and non-psychoactive, most people naturally have one important question--Is Delta-8 really psychoactive?

The answer is yes, but we should also note that the experience isn’t quite the same as Delta-9-THC. In fact, Delta-8-THC’s effects are only about half as potent, and they are usually described as “less sedating.” Delta-8 also affects the body more intensely than Delta-9, which is primarily focused on cognitive interactions in the body.

Most people describe Delta-8-THC as a “middle ground between Delta-9 and CBD,” meaning that it offers the same calming, body euphoria that many people experience when using CBD, but also some mild psychoactivity that is uplifting like Delta-9.

Where to Buy Hemp-Derived Delta-8-THC?

If you're sold on this legal psychoactive cannabinoid or just want to try it out before you make up your mind, you can check out our full Delta-8-THC collection to order online today.

We offer a variety of Delta-8 vaporizers and edibles. All of our products are third-party tested and 100% Farm Bill compliant, meaning they are legal in the U.S.

Still can't decide? Read “11 Delta-8-THC Facts You Need to Know.”

Resources

  1. “Google Patents: Conversion of cbd to delta8-thc and delta9-thc” https://patents.google.com/patent/US20040143126A1/en
  2. “An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7776837/

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