March 22, 2021 3 min read

Delta-8-THC made a late appearance compared to CBD, leading many people to think it was a "new" cannabinoid creation. Truth is, it isn't that new at all, and the discovery of Delta-8 was attributed to leading cannabinoid researchers decades ago.

So, when was Delta-8-THC discovered? And why did it take so long to reach the front lines of hemp therapeutics?

Here's the rundown on Delta-8-THC's history:

Table of Contents
The Discovery of Delta-8-THC
Cannabis Research Limitations
When Was Delta-8-THC Discovered in Hemp?
Where to Buy Delta-8-THC Today
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Delta-8-THC was discovered in the 1940’s, but full synthesis wasn’t completed until the 1960’s.
  • Delta-8-THC research was halted in the U.S. in 1970 due to cannabis prohibition, but research continued in other parts of the world.
  • In the early 2000’s, an infamous cannabinoid researcher found that CBD (derived from legal hemp) could be converted into Delta-8-THC.

The Discovery of Delta-8-THC

Delta-8-THC history can be dated back to 1941 when Roger Adams, an American organic Chemist, was the first to publish an article regarding the partial synthesis of Delta-8-THC. Shortly after, he and his colleagues at the University of Illinois began researching the psychoactive properties of Delta-8 and Delta-9.

A close up of hemp material grown for research purposes, like discovering Delta-8's therapeutic properties.

Total synthesis of the Delta-8-THC was reportedly achieved in 1965 by Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli organic chemist who is often referred to as “the father of cannabis.” The article depicting the full pharmacology of Delta-8 and other cannabinoids wasn’t published until 1970, however.

At the time of discovery, Delta-8-THC was frequently referred to as Delta-6-THC (Δ6-THC), but has been more accurately renamed Delta-8-THC as we’ve learned more about the whole molecule and its double bond placement (which is at carbon chain position 8).

Cannabis Research Limitations

Although Delta-8-THC was discovered in the early 1940’s, most Delta-8 research was halted in the United States when cannabis was ruled illegal under the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.

After this law was passed, Cannabis research required a special government permit that wasn’t frequently granted. When it was, it was commonly used to research the more abundant psychoactive cannabinoid, Delta-9-THC.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, Delta-8-THC was deemed illegal under U.S. federal law, and Delta-8 products could only be found in certain state-licensed dispensaries in areas where cannabis is legal.

Delta-8-THC accessibility changed, however, when it was recognized as a hemp-derivative and hemp was officially legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

When Was Delta-8-THC Discovered in Legal Hemp?

It’s important to note that Raphael Mechoulam carried out his research in Israel and was not subject to the same laws as U.S. researchers. He and his colleagues continued research on Delta-8-THC (and many other cannabinoids) for decades.

An inside look at a hemp extraction lab where the CBD to Delta-8-THC conversion process takes place.

His work on Delta-8 was frequently scrutinized, however, since it was only available in trace amounts in many cannabis strains, and was therefore difficult to source in the amounts needed for therapeutic doses.

Mechoulam’s work on Delta-8 began to make more sense when he filed for a patent in the early 2000’s regarding a process called “isomerization” which successfully converts CBD to Delta-8-THC. (Read “Here’s How Delta-8-THC is Made” to learn more about the isomerization process.)

CBD, the most abundant cannabinoid found in legal hemp, is now much more accessible even in the U.S. where cannabis is federally prohibited. A variety of different isomerization methods are used today to convert high-quality CBD to Delta-8-THC, which makes legal Delta-8 accessible in many states across the U.S.

Where to Buy Delta-8-THC Today

Don’t let Delta-8’s popularity fool you—it isn’t a new, unsubstantiated trend. Delta-8 has been around for decades, and prominent cannabinoid researchers have been evaluating it’s medicinal potential for years.

Luckily, Delta-8-THC is now legal in most U.S. states, and can be ordered online and shipped directly to your door. Our entire selection of Delta-8-THC products is 100% Farm Bill compliant and made according to stringent legal and quality standards, and ships to all areas where Delta-8 is legal in the U.S.

Resources

  1. “Structure of Cannabidiol. XII. Isomerization to Tetrahydrocannabinols” https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja01853a052
  2. “Marihuana: Harvey Lecture, February 19, 1942” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19312292/
  3. “Marihuana Chemistry” https://science.sciencemag.org/content/168/3936/1159
  4. “Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years” https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406
  5. “The Federal Controlled Substances Act: Schedules and Pharmacy Registration” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3839489/#:~:text=The%20Federal%20Comprehensive%20Drug%20Abuse,effective%20on%20May%201%2C%201971.&text=The%20goal%20of%20the%20Controlled,and%20dispensing%20of%20controlled%20substances.
  6. “Conversion of CBD to Δ8-THC and Δ9-THC” https://patents.google.com/patent/US7399872B2/en

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