What is Delta-8-THC?

What is Delta-8-THC?

What is Delta-8-THC?

When it comes to cannabis, you’ve likely heard of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), but Delta-8-THC is a relatively new term with which you may not be familiar. 

When people talk about “THC,” they are commonly referring to delta-9, the most common cannabinoid in THC. Delta-8 THC is a double bond isomer of the more common delta-9 THC. 

Because delta-8 is so structurally similar to delta-9, it tends to exert similar effects. But even this subtle shift in a single carbon bond can cause quite a difference in experience.

For example, both delta-9 and delta-8 bind to CB1 receptors; however delta-8-THC seems to have a reduced affinity for these receptors. Therefore, delta 8-THC may be more stable and less potent. It has been described as a “middle ground” between hemp, CBD and delta-9-THC. It has also been estimated to be anywhere between half to two-thirds as potent as delta-9.

Is Delta-8 Natural?

Delta-8 is a cannabinoid and occurs naturally in most cannabis strains, but typically only in trace amounts. This may equal to only about 1% in dried flower. Still, it is one of the four most prominent cannabinoids out of more than 100 naturally-occurring compounds.

According to PotGuide.com, “Cannabis and hemp plants grow very small amounts of delta-8 THC, making it far more rare than delta-9. However, it can be derived from either type of cannabis plant using special breeding, extraction, and processing methods.”

What are the effects?

According to PotGuide.com, “Delta-8 can be psychoactive for some consumers, just less so than delta-9. A good way to think about it generally is something like the ‘Weed Light’: many of the effects and benefits of delta-9, though toned down a few steps.”

“It is still euphoric and stimulates appetite. It can energize or relax the consumer depending on the larger terpene and cannabinoid profile, similar to delta-9. And yes, it can induce some of the typical heady, psychoactive experience.”

For many, however, Delta-8 may come with fewer unwanted side effects (like paranoia and anxiety).

“While many people use cannabis to help with social anxiety, delta-9 effects tend to be too racy or hard to focus under certain circumstances. When clarity is higher on the priority list, a regular cannabis consumer might reach for delta-8 above delta-9,” according to PotGuide.com.

What are the chemical differences between Delta-8 and Delta-9?

According to High Times, “Both Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC contain double bonds, yet Delta-8 contains the bond on the 8th carbon chain, while Delta-9 contains the bond on the 9th carbon chain, hence the names.”

“Besides the bonds, the Endocannabinoid System’s (ECS) receptors react relatively similarly, they both present a similar structure, and they also share many similar properties.”

“While they are different compounds with many similarities, there isn’t too much that separates the two. They both bind to the CB1 receptor and offer psychotropic effects; however, Delta-8 THC is half as strong, delivering a lower potency, which some find more tolerable and suitable for recreational use,” according to High Times.

According to Discover Magazine, “The difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 is subtle: Both will get you stoned, but the former is about half as potent as the latter.”

“Many people claim that Delta-8 is a smoother, less anxious psychoactive experience than the more familiar Delta-9. It also seems to have additional medicinal effects than regular THC, such as better pain relief, but these claims have yet to be weighed out in clinical trials.”

Delta-8 also appears to be more shelf-stable than delta-9.

Is Delta-8-THC legal?

According to the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, all derivatives, isomers, and cannabinoids in hemp are legal provided that the final products contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC.

“In the United States, the hemp derivation and lack of delta-9 THC ideally put delta-8 preparations into the same class as CBD products,” according to PotGuide.com.

“Unlike delta-9 THC, delta-8 itself currently has no federal scheduling. However, it is possible to fail a drug test from use of delta-8, as those tests do not test for specific types of THC, but rather THC metabolites.”

“THC metabolites are the result of the body processing any form of THC. Think of it as finding a Popsicle stick: you know someone ate a Popsicle, but can’t tell the exact flavor. Is the red from strawberry or cherry? If you need to pass a drug test, just be aware.”


In a 1995 study, published in Elsevier, researchers looked at the efficacy of delta-8-THC as a potential treatment for the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy in children. The study was conducted by Shaare Zedek Hospital, Bikur Holim Hospital and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

For the research, delta-8 was administered (18 mg/m2 in edible oil) to eight children, ages 3 to 13 with various hematologic cancers, who were being treated with different antineoplastic (anti-cancer) drugs for up to 8 months. 

“The THC treatment started two hours before each antineoplastic treatment and was continued every 6 hrs for 24 hours. Vomiting was completely prevented. The side effects observed were negligible,” according to the authors.

Another report by the National Cancer Institute found delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC and CBD all had the ability to stop tumor growth. In that report, the authors state that the potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include the following: antiemetic effects (anti-nausea), appetite stimulation, pain relief and improved sleep.

According to High Times, “In 1974, government researchers performed a study on mice to find out if delta-8 harmed the immune system. Instead, what they discovered were the cannabinoid’s cancer-killing abilities. One would think the discovery would be breaking news and more research would get conducted. However, other than a few studies, delta-8 has been kept mostly out of the public eye. It took decades for the government to even admit that delta-8 could kill cancer cells.”

According to High Times, “Delta-8 THC has been researched since the 1960s, and several studies have shown the cannabinoid to have several therapeutic benefits, including antiemetic (anti-nausea), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective effects.”


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