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Cannabis is an incredibly intricate plant with a whole lot going on under the surface. As more research is undergone and more discourse is had about the plant, the public understanding of the many cannabinoids will be less scattered and more universally understood. One of those cannabinoids that many may have heard of, but few probably fully understand is delta-8.
Delta 8 is a substance that has become increasingly popular due to its legalization in the 2018 Farm Bill, which "legalized" the compound. However the status of the legality of Delta-8, as well as its physiological effects, remain unclear, to even avid cannabis users.
Delta 8 THC is naturally occurring in cannabis plants, both hemp and marijuana. Although it occurs in very small concentrations, it can still be derived thanks to distillation. It has a unique molecular structure and exhibits unique effects when consumed.
Delta-8, like delta-9 (regular THC), binds to the body’s endocannabinoid system, which causes you to feel high. Chemically, delta-8 and delta-9 are similar in that they both have a double bond in their structures. This double bond is thought to produce the intoxicating effects that make you feel high.
Delta 9 is more commonly just referred to as 'THC.'
The two THCs are chemically different in the placement of the double bond. Both cannabinoids have a chain of carbon atoms, but delta-8 has the double bond on the eighth carbon, whereas delta-9 has it on the ninth.
Delta-8 binds to the endocannabinoid system in a slightly different fashion because of the location of its double bond. This is what is thought to make delta-8 much less potent than regular THC. However, more research needs to be done on delta-8 and how it interacts with the body.
Delta 8 is known to have a less profound effect which can serve people who enjoy using cannabis but do not like bouts of anxiety that may arise after steep amounts of THC. Delta 9 THC is absorbed quickly, and it can induce the feelings mentioned above quite fast after consumption. This is an important thing to note as it can alter your plans for the afternoon or evening.
Delta 8 THC is a slow kicker. It delivers a significantly smoother experience. After the consumption, the feelings of relaxation gradually come on, and there is considerably less risk of inducing anxiety.
Delta-8 will get you high, albeit not as high as common delta-9 THC. For those living in states where cannabis is illegal, delta-8 may be a legal way to experience some THC-like effects from cannabis.
Some consumers may even prefer cannabis products that aren’t as strong as common THC, even if they can legally obtain THC products. THC can cause negative effects for some, bringing on anxiety or paranoia. Delta-8 may offer a smoother, milder high.
Currently the legality of this cannabinoid is in a bit of a twilight zone.
The status of Delta-8 THC under federal law is not clear, due to a conflict between the law and a Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) regulation. Under the federal 2018 Farm Bill, all hemp-derived cannabinoids, including all Delta-8 THC derived from hemp, fall within the definition of “hemp,” which is no longer a controlled substance federally, and can be legally produced and sold, subject to a complex set of federal regulations. However, in Fall 2020 the DEA issued an “Interim Final Rule” which stated that “[all] synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule 1 controlled substances.”
Hence the confusion: Delta-8 THC, when manufactured from hemp-derived CBD (and thus not extracted directly from the hemp plant), is a controlled substance under federal law. Until this uncertainty is addressed by Congress, the DEA or the courts, there is some risk that Delta-8 THC remains an illegal “controlled substance” under federal law, despite the hemp-derived CBD from which it is manufactured being legal at the federal level.
You can receive delta-8 in the mail depending on which state you live in. Delta-8 isn’t legal in all states, and different producers may choose not to ship to certain states because of its hazy legality. Be sure to check a producer’s website to see if they ship to your state. Surprisingly, states that have legal, adult-use cannabis laws don’t always allow delta-8.
Commonly, producers will ship delta-8 anywhere in the U.S. except these states:
However purchase Delta 8 at your own risk and use with extreme caution. Most figures of authority will not be able to/interested in distinguishing Delta 8 from Delta 9 or other controlled substances.
Delta-8 is found in trace amounts in cannabis and hemp plants, and as hemp is legal to grow anywhere in the US and more readily available, the cannabinoid is often sourced from that.
Commonly, CBD is extracted from hemp and refined into an isolate, and then CBD isolate is synthesized into delta-8. As such, delta-8 requires more processing and is more expensive to make than CBD, but this increased production cost is balanced out by the high demand for it.
From what you’ve seen so far, it is easy to assume that Delta 8 and Delta 9 are two compounds with really similar properties and effects. In terms of molecular structure, Delta 8 and 9 are almost identical apart from a couple of electrons.
Delta-8 consumers report many of the same effects as THC, such as mild euphoria, happiness, uplifting feelings, and relief from some symptoms such as pain, although the compound is much less potent. Delta-8 can also help with insomnia.
Side effects may be similar to those of THC, including dry mouth, red eyes, getting the munchies, short-term memory, paranoia, or anxiety. It’s important to note that delta-8 hasn’t been studied extensively and more research is needed on the effects it has on the mind and body.
Because Delta 8 is a cannabinoid like THC or CBD, it can extracted and distilled into a concentrate which can be flavored to taste your preferred cannabis strain.
Delta-8 THC works better with terpenes because the terpenes can be used to enhance Delta-8 or even counteract some of its flaws. To give you a clear example, Leafly, the industry’s go-to source for all things related to cannabis and cannabis strains, shares that the Grape God strain uses myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and beta-pinene, which may help exhibit better sleep (thanks to myrcene), while also reducing pain and inflammation (due to both the THC and beta-caryophyllene).
To go further in-depth of these terpenes and how Delta-8 THC works better with them, one example included in a review by Dr. Ethan Russo (neurologist and pharmacologist who studies cannabis compounds) titled “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects” shared that Pinene helps counteract compromised memory caused by THC. And, there are many more terpenes that can be combined with Delta-8 THC to enhance its effects and boost its powerful benefits.
There are many different instructional blogs and videos about preparing to mix your Delta 8 with terpenes. The most crucial bit of information needed is the ratio - which we have found commonly is:
However, 10% my be too generous. If possible, try less like 6-8% and test your products flavor and aroma, and go from there. You can always add delicious terpenes more as you see fit.
If you are cooking your Delta 8 - this will most certainly burn off many of the terpenes and would be a waste. Be aware of the boiling points of terpenes whenever putting them in an oven. As the are VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds), they will combust at rather low temperatures.
Some products and companies will advertise their terpenes as 'Delta 8 Terpenes.' This is a marketing ploy, as terpenes used for Delta 8 would be the same used for any cannabis concentrate. The only true distinction terpene companies can make is their plant source. Most are botanically derived, but some are cannabis-derived. Being cannabis-derived means that it may keep the cannabis aroma while botanically-derived terpenes are going to smell more like food, flowers, and flavors. It's all up to personal preference - if you're looking for a tastier (and often more affordable) terpene blend for your Delta 8 concentrate, you'd want to go with a botanically-derived blend. If you prefer a "gassier" and "skunked" aroma that smells of cannabis, try cannabis-derived terpenes.
Thanks for reading! :)