Delta 8 THC is one of the many cannabinoids secreted by cannabis plants. Think of it as the cousin of delta 9 THC, the major intoxicating component in cannabis, but without the overwhelming effects. Delta 8 THC can make you feel relaxed and clear-headed — while still offering all the benefits of the THC experience.
Extracting delta 8 THC is a multifaceted process, in which the plant material goes through various refinement processes, including extraction, winterization, and decarboxylation.
You can use delta 8 THC like any other hemp-derived product. D8 can be vaporized using a standard vape pen or dab rig. It can also be infused into tinctures, edibles, or capsules.
But here’s the rub: The Delta-8 THC that’s being sold in stores across the country isn’t a natural product like CBD (or, for that matter, marijuana), says Ross, who describes it as a synthetic, which has the potential to contain toxins.
The problem is, because this product is so new, there is little research on its effects so far, and few regulations to guide or protect consumers. Here’s what you need to know so far before you chew, drink or inhale it:
What are Delta-8’s effects?
The answer is a qualified yes, but not in all states, and probably not for long. The legality of Delta-8 THC is part of the murky, constantly evolving story about the legality of all types of cannabis, including CBD. As of June, 2021, marijuana is legal for medical use in 36 states and legal for adult recreational use in 18 states, including New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Illinois. Hemp-derived Delta-8 THC, however, is in a different category. The 2018 Farm Bill of 2018 opened up the production of hemp for use as CBD, as long as it has a Delta-9 THC concentration of less than 0.3% (the bill makes no mention of the concentration of Delta-8 THC, which has created this legal loophole).
One thing the Farm Bill does state, is that aside from Delta-9, any “isomers” of any part of the hemp plant are considered legal. “It just so happens a smart chemist looked at it and said, ‘Wait a minute, Delta-8 is an isomer of CBD!'” says Sanders. “So we are able to convert CBD to Delta-8 completely legally.”
What exactly is Delta-8 THC?
Now, Delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid that is very similar chemically to both CBD and Delta-9 THC, but only occurs naturally in teeny, tiny amounts in the hemp plant, so the real growth is done in a lab. “Products that are made with Delta-8 THC have to be chemically manufactured,” explains Ross. “They take the hemp that has CBD in it and they put a chemical like acetic acid — or something much stronger and possibly even toxic — on it to turn the CBD into Delta-8 THC.” In this process, some Delta-9 THC is also created, she says, so the manufacturer then has to chemically strip out the Delta-9, which is illegal to sell at concentrations above that magical mark of 0.3%. (In a small study by the United States Cannabis Council (USCC), 15 out of 16 Delta-8 THC samples purchased across the country contained Delta-9 THC at much higher concentrations, but that’s another issue.)