People plugged into the world of cannabis-related news are probably well aware that there’s some controversy surrounding delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive compound that some claim is legal at the federal level because of certain loopholes.
But if you’re new to cannabis products, you might find the whole thing a bit confusing. Is delta-8 THC actually legal? How is it different from other forms of THC?
Below, we’ll dig deeper into delta-8, including its potential benefits and risks, whether it’ll get you “high,” whether it’s legal, and what kinds of alternatives are out there.
Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive compound that’s pretty similar to delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC is a compound in the cannabis plant that produces a “high.” It’s what people are usually referring to when they talk about THC.
Though delta-8 is similar to delta-9 THC, it has a slightly different chemical structure that makes it a lot less potent.
Like delta-9 THC, delta-8 produces feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and potential pain relief, but they’re a lot milder.
For people who don’t want to experience a pronounced “high,” the lower potency may be a benefit.
Unfortunately, researchers still don’t know enough about delta-8 THC to confirm that the benefits outweigh the risks. Experts have a much better understanding of delta-9 THC.
Because delta-8 is so similar to delta-9 THC, it produces some of the same side effects, like:
- red eyes
- dry mouth
- rapid heart rate
- trouble with coordination
- slowed reaction times
- memory loss
But delta-8 may also have additional risks because it’s something synthetically produced, meaning you might not know what’s really in it.
Additionally, according to an article published in the journal Chemical and Engineering News, products containing delta-8 may also contain delta-9 and delta-10 THC — a compound about which little is known.
These compounds probably won’t produce ill effects, experts say. But it’s unclear whether other by-products, including synthetic ones, are safe to consume.
Because delta-8 is so similar to delta-9 THC, it will also cause a “high.” However, some people describe it as milder than with delta-9 THC.
Here’s the complicated bit.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp containing less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC. That means there’s a loophole at the federal level for products containing higher amounts of delta-8 THC, as long as they come from hemp that doesn’t have more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC based on dry weight.
However, delta-8 THC doesn’t naturally occur in large amounts in hemp plants. That means that delta-8 is largely made by converting cannabidiol (CBD) or delta-9 THC into delta-8 THC synthetically, which is illegal.
Additionally, some state laws strictly prohibit the sale of products containing both delta-8 and delta-9 THC. You can find out about your state’s laws by looking at Norml.org‘s map of cannabis-related laws.
However, keep in mind that because delta-8 is synthetically made and not well regulated, there are safety concerns. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source note that there have been increased calls to poison control centers regarding delta-8, as well as reports of adverse events requiring medical care and sometimes hospitalization.