January 13, 2021 11 min read

The legal hemp conversation is rapidly evolving, but much of the focus has centered on CBD and its various benefits. The conversation may be shifting, however, to highlight the importance of various minor cannabinoids. Right now, delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-8-THC for short, is emerging into the spotlight.

But what is Delta-8-THC? What are the effects of Delta-8? How is it used? Is it legal? And most importantly, is it safe?

If you’re looking for a quick, legal high, you should be wary of the misinformation that’s out there. We aim to cut the confusion and answer all of the most important questions in this ultimate Delta-8-THC guide.

Read from start to finish and you’ll be a Delta-8 pro, or use the links below to find answers to your specific questions:

Table of Contents
What is Delta-8-THC?
How is Delta-8-THC Made?
How Does Delta-8-THC Compare to Delta-9-THC?
What are Delta-8-THC Effects?
Will Delta-8-THC Get You High?
How Long Does a Delta-8 High Last?
Can You Build a Tolerance to Delta-8-THC?
Does Delta-8-THC Show Up on a Drug Test?
Does Delta-8-THC Have Any Health Benefits?
How is Delta-8-THC Used?
Is Delta-8-THC Federally Legal?
Is Delta-8-THC Legal in All 50 States?
Is Delta-8-THC Synthetic?
Can You Travel with Delta-8?
Can You Take Delta-8 on a Plane?
How Should I Store Delta-8-THC?
Is Delta-8-THC Safe?
Does Delta-8-THC Have Side Effects?
How to Choose a Safe, High-Quality Delta-8-THC Product
Where to Buy Legal Delta-8-THC Products

What is Delta-8-THC?

Delta-8-THC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid, or a compound that interacts with the body’s Endocannabinoid System. Although it sounds incredibly similar to it’s cannabinoid cousin, delta-9-THC (the cannabinoid responsible for cannabis’ psychotropic effects), delta-8 has a few key differences.

Most significantly, it can be 'synthesized' from CBD that is derived from industrial hemp, a species of the cannabis plant that is now classified as legal in the U.S. Because Delta-8-THC is derived from hemp material and not high-THC cannabis strains, it's generally more accessible than Delta-9.

Because it interacts with the Endocannabinoid System, Delta-8 may have a variety of therapeutic benefits that make it useful in many of the same ways that traditional THC products are used.

Read more about cannabinoids.

How is Delta-8-THC Made?

As we mentioned above, Delta-8-THC can be made from CBD derived from hemp material. First, CBD is extracted from hemp using one of various extraction techniques. Then, CBD is converted into Delta-8-THC through a process called “isomerization.”

Let's break that down:

CBD and Delta-8-THC naturally exist as hemp isomers, or compounds that have the same components that are just arranged in a different order. Because CBD has all of the components necessary to make Delta-8, the isomerization process really just requires CBD to be rearranged.

The rearranging is done by exposing Delta-8-THC to acetic acid. Then, the final result is refined to remove any unwanted materials and extract a pure, potent Delta-8 concentrate.

Read more about  how Delta-8-THC is made.

How does Delta-8-THC Compare to Delta-9-THC?

On a molecular level, Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC are incredibly similar.

A comparison of Delta-8-THC's and Delta-9-THC's molecular formulas

In fact, their only physical difference is the position of their double bond--Delta-8’s is at the eighth chain position, and Delta-9’s is at the ninth. However, this miniscule difference makes the two cannabinoids very unique from each other in multiple ways.

The most significant difference is the way that the two cannabinoids function in the body. Delta-9 has a strong affinity for the CB-1 receptors, or the endocannabinoid receptor that is primarily found in the brain and central nervous system (which is responsible for its psychoactive effects). Contrastingly, it is thought to have a very low affinity for CB-2 receptors, or the endocannabinoid receptors that function as part of the body’s immune system.

On the other hand, Delta-8-THC may interact with both portions of the endocannabinoid system equally. This leads to what many people describe as “more balanced effects” and leads researchers to believe that Delta-8-THC hosts a unique range of therapeutic potential.

Read more about  Delta-8-THC vs Delta-9-THC.

What are Delta-8-THC’s Effects?

Delta-8-THC’s effects are often compared to Delta-9’s, and rightfully so, since the two cannabinoids are almost identical and function through the same bodily pathways (with some exceptions).

But those who have tried it are right to differentiate between the two psychoactive cannabinoids. Delta-8's effects are thought to be less "hazy" or "sedating," which may make it a better therapeutic option for those that are too sensitive to regular THC-based therapies.

In general, Delta-8’s effects could be described as relaxing and euphoric. Because Delta-8 interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 pathways (as described above), it provides a sensation that equally uplifts the body and mind. This is a direct contrast to the effects of traditional THC products, which disproportionately affect the mind and cognitive functions.

Read more about  Delta-8-THC effects.

Will Delta-8-THC Get You High?

Delta-8-THC's psychotropic effects are a touchy subject. Some may argue that it doesn't get you "high" in the same manner as THC, while others suggest that the high is just different, usually describing it as more mellow and relaxed.

Technically, delta-8-THC may have very similar psychotropic effects that are, as we mentioned earlier, about half as strong as delta-9's. Delta-8 also has a strong affinity for the CB-1 receptors that affect the brain and central nervous systems. So, in all aspects of the phrase, yes, delta-8-THC will get you high.

How Long Does a Delta-8 High Last?

Generally, a Delta-8-THC high can last anywhere from 2-8 hours, but there are a variety of lifestyle and biological factors that come into play to determine how long the effects may last for you. Some factors that affect the durations of Delta-8’s effects include the dosing method you use, your metabolism, and your Delta-8 tolerance.

Read more about  how long Delta-8’s effects will last.

Can You Build a Tolerance to Delta-8-THC effects?

Just like Delta-9-THC, you may build a tolerance to Delta-8-THC overtime, though research is lacking in this area. If you find yourself building a tolerance to Delta-8, you may consider a Delta-8-THC tolerance break.

Does Delta-8-THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

Most drug tests look for THC metabolites, like 11-hydroxy-THC. Delta-8-THC is converted to a THC metabolite by the liver, which may be picked up by a standard urine test.

Generally speaking, Delta-8-THC may appear the same way that Delta-9-THC does on most standard drug tests. Still, there are many variables to determining whether Delta-8 will cause you to fail a drug test.

Read more about  whether Delta-8-THC shows up on drug tests.

Does Delta-8-THC Have Any Health Benefits?

A woman talking to her doctor about Delta-8-THC's benefits.

Although Delta-8-THC is not as well researched as Delta-9-THC or even CBD, it’s not new to cannabinoid researchers. Researchers discovered various promising benefits related to Delta-8 years ago, and some even believe it may have greater therapeutic potential than Delta-9 (possibly because it’s thought to be less likely to cause adverse effects.)

You should discuss Delta-8's benefits with your doctor if you intend to utilize Delta-8 for it's therapeutic potential, especially if you have existing medical conditions or take medications. 

Delta-8’s therapeutic benefits are still being researched, but here are some notable areas where experts believe Delta-8-THC may be useful:

Pain

Delta-8’s potential pain blocking benefits may be similar to Delta-9’s. Pain management is one of the most common reasons that people choose Delta-8 for therapeutic benefits.

To see research related to Delta-8 for pain, read “Delta-8-THC for Pain.”

Sleep

Delta-8-THC’s effects are usually described as “relaxing” but not sedating. So, how could Delta-8 help with sleep? Research is still investigating the issue, but it could be because Delta-8 helps to relieve some of the ailments that could prevent you from falling asleep or sleeping through the night.

Read “Delta-8-THC for Sleep” to learn more.

Anxiety

Unlike Delta-9, Delta-8’s effects are not generally known to induce anxiety or paranoia. Some people even report using Delta-8 to help calm anxiety and panic.

To learn more about the existing research surrounding these effects, read “Delta-8-THC for Anxiety.”

Cancer (Side Effects)

One of the most researched areas regarding Delta-8’s potential benefits is it’s potential for managing cancer, or more specifically, for managing some of the side effects related to traditional cancer therapies.

There are many herbs and plant based supplements that have made their way into cancer management routines, and Delta-8 may be one of them.

Read “Herbs for Cancer” to learn more.

There’s plenty to still be uncovered about Delta-8's therapeutic benefits, and ongoing research suggests that Delta-8-THC may have promising medical applications.

Read more about  Delta-8-THC health benefits to see all of the current research related to Delta-8’s therapeutic properties.

How is Delta-8-THC Used?

Delta-8-THC is still a rare commodity in most corners of the market, but it's becoming a popular topic among legal hemp producers. Similarly to delta-9-THC, delta-8 can be used to make a massive range of different products. We’ll discuss the most popular:

Edibles

A delta-8-THC cart, a popular instant delivery method for Delta-8.

Edibles are, well, an edible form of Delta-8, generally a gummy or candy. Different edibles absorb in different ways, and therefore provide different effects. For instance, Delta-8 gummies are quickly chewed and swallowed and need to be processed by digestion, which leads to long-lasting effects.

Some edibles, like hard candies and caramels, are designed to dissolve slowly in the mouth so that they can be absorbed through the mouth’s mucous membranes, leading to fast-acting effects.

Read our  Delta-8-THC Edibles Buyer’s Guide to learn more.

Vaporizers

Vaporizers are a popular, fast-acting dosing method that are generally made from pure Delta-8 and a variety of terpenes used for strain profiling, or creating different Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid strains.

To learn more, read our  Delta-8-THC Carts Buyer’s Guide.

Flower

Delta-8 flower is simply hemp flower with Delta-8 concentrated added, which offers a fast-acting dosing method that closely resembles Delta-9-THC cannabis flower.

Read more about  Delta-8-THC Flower.

Dabs

Dabbing Delta-8 is a less popular, but more direct way to use Delta-8-THC concentrate. Dabbing is an inhalation method that involves touching Delta-8-THC concentrate to a hot dab nail, which is usually heated with a torch, to vaporize it.

Read “Dabbing Delta-8-THC” to learn more.

Is Delta-8-THC Legal Federally?

Technically speaking, delta-8-THC is listed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I substance alongside delta-9-THC. However, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (the bill that effectively legalized hemp) includes a clause in Section 12619b that specifically addresses tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp.

The wording clearly suggests that Delta-8-THC that is naturally derived from industrial hemp which contains less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC is federally protected. Of course, laws regarding cannabinoids are still subject to change as hemp regulations are ironed out by the DEA and FDA.

Read more about  why Delta-8 is legal.

Is Delta-8-THC Legal in All 50 States?

Although Delta-8-THC is currently protected by federal law, every state has the right to create its own laws surrounding hemp-derived cannabinoids. Fortunately, most states have cleared a pathway for legal Delta-8-THC to be made and sold within the state. Some states, however, still consider Delta-8-THC a Controlled Substance.

Read our  guide to Delta-8 laws in all 50 states to find out where Delta-8-THC is legal.

Is Delta-8-THC Synthetic?

It is the opinion of many reputable law advisory groups that the isomerization process used to create delta-8 does not fit the DEA’s description for a “synthetically-derived” cannabinoid.

Synthetic cannabinoids, like K2 or Spice, are generally made with synthetic ingredients and do not contain plant-derived materials. Alternately, Delta-8-THC is derived directly from raw hemp material and is not synthetically derived.

Can You Travel With Delta-8?

Delta-8 is federally legal, but travelling with Delta-8-THC still requires some deeper incite into the Delta-8 laws in surrounding areas.

A fully packed suitcase, where Delta-8-THC can be stored for a flight.

Generally speaking, you can travel with Delta-8-THC through or to any area where Delta-8 is legal, but there may be some restrictions regarding carrying Delta-8 on public transportation or into local businesses.

You should also plan to never drive while under the influence of Delta-8, which is illegal in all areas.

Read more about  travelling with Delta-8-THC.

Can You Take Delta-8-THC on a Plane?

If you plan to travel with Delta-8 on a plane, you may need to do a little more planning. It’s usually okay to take Delta-8-THC on a plane as long as you are travelling to and from an area where Delta-8 is legal, but there are some special TSA rules and airline rules you need to know. Read “Can You Fly with Delta-8-THC?” to learn more.

How Should You Store Delta-8-THC?

Storing Delta-8-THC is pretty simple, but the best storage method varies by storage type. Generally, you can just leave it in the container it came in, so long as it came in some sort of resealable package or bottle, ideally with an airtight lid.

To get the longest possible shelf life out of your Delta-8-THC products, you’ll want to store it away from direct sunlight and in a cool, dry place.

Read more about  storing Delta-8-THC.

Is Delta-8-THC Safe?

Delta-8-THC is simply a hemp derived cannabinoid, a product of CBD. It contains no synthetic ingredients or material and has a safety profile that is similar to Delta-9’s. The true “safety concerns” related to Delta-8 have more to do with the way that Delta-8 is made, especially since the hemp industry is still poorly regulated nationwide.

It’s important to carefully choose your Delta-8 manufacturer and to use only products that have been made according to cGMP standards. Checking products against their third-party test results can help you determine that they are accurately labeled, which will reduce any risks due to inaccurate dosing.

In general, yes, Delta-8-THC is safe when purchased from a reliable manufacturer and used responsibly.

Read more about  Delta-8-THC Risks.

Does Delta-8-THC Have Side Effects?

There are no isolated research efforts aimed at delta-8’s side effects, but many studies regarding delta-8’s benefits report very little potential for adverse reactions.

In most cases, the side effects of delta-8 may be similar to that of delta-9 (like tiredness), but to a much lesser extent. Some research even reports that there are no known side effects related to delta-9 consumption.

To be transparent, it may be too soon to tell. We know that delta-9-THC carries some level of risk, especially when taken in high doses. Delta-8-THC has a much lower psychotropic range, so over-indulging may not be a concern.

Still, we need more research to fully identify any drawbacks related to Delta-8. For now, consumers should take the same precautions used when dosing any THC product and consume delta-9 responsibly, starting with small doses to monitor your individual reactions.

How to Choose a Safe, High-Quality Delta-8 Product

We’re still waiting on leading organizations to fully weigh in on the risks, but there may be certain steps you can take to reduce your individual risks when shopping for delta-8.

First, look for a reputable company. Generally, certain markers will help you identify a reputable company, like an informative website with genuine contact details—you’ll want to be able to talk to a real person if you have issues with your product.

Most importantly, make sure that the brand uses third-party lab testing to ensure the potency of every product—you’ll want to know how much you’re actually taking.

You should also check the source to ensure that the delta-8 product you choose is derived from legal hemp (classified as industrial hemp with less than 0.3% delta-9-THC) so that you don’t run into legal troubles.

When you get your product, start slowly to test the waters and monitor your results. Then, you can slowly alter your dose to work out a dosing routine that works for you.

Where to Buy Legal Delta-8-THC Products?

In areas where Delta-8-THC is legal, you may be able to buy Delta-8-THC in various local stores. Still, there may be benefits to buying Delta-8-THC online because you can often get better insight into the brand, their manufacturing process, and the variety of Delta-8-THC products available.

At Vida Optima, all of our Delta-8-THC products are made according to cGMP standards, third-party tested, and Farm Bill compliant. You can read more about our mission and manufacturing practices or check out our full Delta-8-THC collection to see the variety of dosing methods and potencies we offer.

Still stuck on whether Delta-8-THC is right for you? Read “Should You Try Delta-8-THC?” to learn who may benefit most from Delta-8 products.

Resources

  1. “Did the DEA’s new rule confirm hemp-derived Delta-8 THC is illegal?” https://www.coatsrose.com/2020/08/25/did-the-deas-new-rule-confirm-hemp-derived-delta-8-thc-is-illegal/#:~:text=Delta%2D8%20THC%20is%20one,found%20in%20the%20cannabis%20plant.&text=This%20carveout%20indicates%20any%20type,(at%20the%20federal%20level).
  2. “What are synthetic cannabinoids?” https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice
  3. “H.R.2 - Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018” https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2/text

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