Delta-8 is being touted for a myriad of health benefits, and has quickly become one of the most popular legal cannabinoids on the market. Many people report great therapeutic effects that are similar to traditional THC therapies, but how much do we really know about Delta-8? Is Delta-8 safe? And what are the risks and potential side effects of Delta-8 in the current market?
Here’s what we know:Delta-8-THC Safety Research
Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of research regarding Delta-8-THC’s side effects or safety profile. In general, research surrounding Delta-8 is limited. Fortunately, however, we do know a few things about the cannabinoid that allow us to make pretty safe assumptions about it's risk and benefits.
For starters, Delta-8-THC is nearly identical to Delta-9-THC in their molecular forms. The two differ by only one double bond, with Delta-8’s double bond at the 8th chain position and Delta-9’s double bond at the 9th chain position.
These similarities allow the two cannabinoids to interact with the body in very similar ways. Delta-8, for instance, is known to bind to CB1 receptors, the primary endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system that bind with Delta-9-THC. These are the endocannabinoid receptors that are responsible for the psychoactivity of both cannabinoids.
Because the two cannabinoids are so similar, many people draw assumptions about the safety of Delta-8 based on what we know about Delta-9’s risks and safety profile.
Delta-8 also has similarities to CBD, which isn't surprising since most Delta-8 is actually made from CBD. The two cannabinoids are isomers, which means they contain all of the same molecular components, although they are arranged in a different order. Like CBD, Delta-8 interacts with the CB2 receptors in the immune system, a characteristic Delta-9 does not have.
The CB-2 receptors where some of the Delta-8 will bind do not have the ability to incite psychoactivity, and this split reaction is the reason that Delta-8 has milder psychoactive effects than Delta-9. Some evidence suggests that the effects are up to 50% less potent, and that Delta-8 is much less likely to lead to some of the side effects associated with Delta-9, like anxiety and paranoia. This may mean that Delta-8’s side effect profile is even milder than Delta-9’s, but we still need more research to know for sure.
Despite the fact that Delta-8 is made from CBD, Delta-8 is actually a naturally occurring cannabinoid. That means you can find Delta-8 naturally in cannabis material, and Delta-8 is not a synthetic cannabinoid. However, Delta-8 naturally occurs in very low concentrations, which is why it's generally converted from CBD, which is more readily available. Still, it’s safe to say that the side effects and safety profile of Delta-8 cannot accurately be compared to that of synthetic cannabinoids, many of which are potentially dangerous.
As we previously mentioned, there's no research that specifically identifies the side effects associated with Delta-8. However, many experts agree that the side effects and safety profile is pretty similar to Delta-9, and perhaps even a bit milder. The most common side effects associated with THC use include:
Many people are able to use Delta-8-THC without any side effects at all, and in some cases side effects are not due to Delta-8-THC itself, but rather drug interactions between Delta-8 and other medications. Another possible cause behind an adverse reaction is taking too much Delta-8.
Taking too much Delta-8 is the most common reason that someone may experience an adverse reaction. The same is true for traditional THC products. At increased doses, Delta-9-THC is known to cause paranoia, anxiety, and increased heart rate. Delta-8 is suspected to cause some of the same side effects at inflated doses, although the risk is thought to be less because Delta-8 is milder overall, which means it may take much higher doses to hit that threshold.
Still, the best way to avoid any adverse reactions is to ease your way into a Delta-8 dosing routine. This is especially important if you've never taken THC products before and aren't sure how you'll respond. If you're just looking to reap the therapeutic benefits of Delta-8, you may consider Delta-8 microdoses. This method involves taking small doses that may still carry the therapeutic benefits without any psychoactivity.
If you want to use Delta-8 recreationally, we recommend starting with doses as low as 5 to 10 mg to see how you feel before increasing your dose. To learn more about this, read “How Much Delta-8-THC Should I Take?”
There is, perhaps, one very real, severe risk of using Delta-8-THC, and that is the poor regulation and oversight within the hemp industry. While some states have somewhat strict parameters for hemp products made within their jurisdiction, the hemp industry is overall widely unregulated.
That means that you have to be incredibly careful when buying hemp products, and especially when buying Delta-8-THC, because it's a newer formulation that not every cannabinoid extraction technician has mastered.
Because there isn’t much oversight, many brands cut corners and market their cheaply made hemp products as the real thing. In the best case, you’ll get a hemp oil that’s essentially barren of Delta-8. In the worst case, Delta-8-THC products may not contain Delta-8 at all, and could instead contain dangerous synthetic cannabinoids. Not only are these products illegal, but they run the risk of causing serious side effects.
In some cases, the manufacturing process may just not be up to par, which can allow pesticides, solvents, and other harsh chemicals into the product. Once again, this substantially increases the risk of an adverse reaction. Some products may not necessarily be dangerous or useless, per se, but may not actually contain the exact amount of Delta-8 that they claim, which means you run the risk of wasting your money.
The most crucial thing you can do as a Delta-8-THC consumer is take the time to thoroughly research the Delta-8 products and brand you choose. Take the time to look into the brand's background, hemp source, manufacturing process, and lab test reports. Typically, the best Delta-8 products are made from U.S. grown, pesticide-free hemp material that’s tested for quality and purity before production.
Look for a brand that uses cGMP compliant manufacturing facilities, and insures a final product that's free of contaminants. Then, check the third-party test results to ensure label accuracy, which will prove that the product actually contains the Delta-8 that it claims. Finally, make sure that you carefully read the label and dosage guidelines so that you know how much Delta-8 is in a serving before you take your first dose. Ensuring that the Delta-8 products you choose are clean and high-quality is the number one way to ensure your safety as a consumer.
If you are wondering “Is it safe to smoke Delta-8 flower?” the answer is generally yes (if it’s high-quality, well made Delta-8 flower) it is as safe to smoke Delta-8 flower as it is to smoke traditional cannabis flower. You still want to make sure that the product meets the quality standards we detailed above. Keep in mind that there are risks involved with inhaling any type of smoke, but these risks are not directly related to Delta-8.
People often wonder if Delta-8 vaporizers pose any serious threats, and it’s a fair consideration. Some vaporizers on the market (Delta-8 or otherwise) contain ingredients that are potentially harmful.
For instance, some vapes contain propylene glycol, which is thought to convert to formaldehyde at high temperatures. Some may be made with cheap materials, like plastics and poor quality metals that may not sustain heat exposure.
Choosing a high-quality vaporizer is essential to a safe experience. You can learn more by reading our Delta-8 Vape Buying Guide.
Most people can safely consume Delta-8-THC in small to moderate doses, as long as the products are made using safe manufacturing processes. The most common side effects associated with THC are red eyes, dry mouth, and increased heart rate, but Delta-8-THC may be less likely to result in these side effects because it provides a milder experience overall.
To stay safe, make sure that you talk to your doctor about Delta-8-THC drug interactions if you already take regular medications. Also make sure that you do your due diligence in picking a Delta-8 brand to avoid any poor quality formulations. Then, ease into a Delta-8 routine so that you can see how you will respond before taking larger doses. With a little forethought, Delta-8-THC can be a powerful therapeutic remedy and offer mellow recreational buzz.
Looking for a high quality Delta-8 product that checks all the marks above? Check out our Elev8 Collection of Delta-8 edibles, tinctures, flower, and more. Our premium formulas will have you on a (safe) smooth lift through time and space in no time at all.
1. “An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7776837/
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