Delta-8-THC is currently legal enough to sell in most states. What is it, and how does it work?
Delta-8-THC is an analog of Delta-9-THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that’s most often referred to as THC. Delta-8 is very similar to Delta-9, with just one molecular difference: a chemical bond on the eighth carbon instead of the ninth. According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta-8-THC “exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than [delta-9-THC], the primary form of THC found in cannabis.” Dr. Peter Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School says Delta-8 has “a portion but not all of the psychoactivity as Delta-9.”
Is Delta-8-THC Legal?
Delta-8-THC, or D8, was legalized in December 2018 when the Farm Bill legalized the commercial cultivation of hemp. The cannabinoid is arguably legal when it’s sourced from hemp, which under the Farm Bill must contain <0.3 percent THC. Since hemp is now legal for cultivation and extraction, it provides a loophole for sourcing D8. The compound can also be extracted from Delta-9-THC, as outlined in this Leafly story about a Washington State company called Oleum Extracts, which creates D8 products for sale in an adult-use cannabis market. Oleum’s products are not legal to ship outside Washington because they’re sourced from cannabis, not hemp.
This grey area is confusing to many. If D8 is extracted from hemp, it’s (mostly) legal — the laws differ from state to state. It’s legal under Florida law, while California law regarding D8 is hazy. If it’s extracted from cannabis plants containing more than 0.3 percent Delta-9-THC, then that D8 concentrate is only legal in states with regulated recreational and medical cannabis.
When asked about the future of Delta-8’s legality, a DEA spokesperson told Rolling Stone that the agency is currently undergoing the rulemaking process regarding the scope of regulatory controls over cannabis and other marijuana-related constituents and would not be able to comment on Delta-8 until the process is complete.
What Are the Effects of Delta-8-THC?
Anecdotally, I can say that my experience with Delta-8-THC was a mild, slightly sedating high. I sampled products from two companies selling vape cartridges containing hemp-derived Delta-8 extract and flavored gummies containing 25-30mg of Delta-8.
Although I consume cannabis several times a week, I don’t have a super high weed tolerance. For the most part, I enjoy low-dose edibles and tinctures and save smoking flower and hash for the weekend. I love 3mg of THC as a daytime chill vibe; I feel super-functional, and it keeps my anxiety at bay. At night, 10mg of THC feels just right. When I tried a 25mg D8 gummy, it got me high, but in a super low-key way, very unlike what I’ve experienced with 25mg of Delta-9-THC. I drifted off to sleep and woke up feeling clear, with no brain fog or lingering fatigue.
D8 can provide the uplifting and motivating feel of cannabis, sometimes accompanied by a calming body sensation. Many consumers say that its lower potency is preferable to the Delta-9 high since it doesn’t give them paranoia or anxiety.
Where Can I Buy Delta-8-THC?
There are tons of brands catering to the quasi-legal market for this buzzy cannabinoid. A quick Google search brings up several companies shipping nationwide. Delta-8 is an exciting option if you live in a state that doesn’t have legal cannabis yet, or are interested in the psychoactive effects of cannabis but want to experiment with a mellow high first. It’s also significantly cheaper than Delta-9. One online retailer lists a pack of 16 25mg D8 gummies (400mg total) for just $29.99.
Delta-8 is getting plenty of attention from regulatory agencies, so we’ll continue to monitor its status as a (mostly) legal substance and keep you posted. Watch this space for more to come on Delta-8-THC.