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What Is Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol?

A guide to delta-8 THC

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-8 THC is a psychoactive ingredient found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. The Cannabis sativa plant is usually divided into two species, hemp and marijuana. Hemp is a cannabis plant that contains 0.3% THC, while marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC. 

Delta-8 THC products have not been approved and evaluated FDA for safe use. However, products containing delta-8 THC are marketed for therapeutic or medical uses. Similar to delta-9 THC, which is a major cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, the delta-8 THC provides intoxicating and psychological effects and may also cause you to feel high.

Is Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol legal in the UK?

No. Although delta-8 has fewer intoxicating effects than delta-9, it is not legal in the UK. In the UK, cannabis in marijuana form is illegal to possess, grow, distribute, or sell. It is a class B drug and people caught will get up to 14 years in prison for unlicensed distribution. Technically, there’s no mention of delta-8 in the UK’s drug licensing factsheet. However, given that delta-8 gives a psychoactive effect, it’s safe to assume that it’s not permitted in the UK. 

Many delta-8 THC products are created by creating a synthetic form of delta-8 and the artificial nature of this cannabinoid has led the US states to ban delta-8. Since delta-8 is largely made by converting cannabidiol (CBD) or delta-9 THC into delta-8 synthetically, it is illegal.

Will Delta-8 get you high?

Yes. Delta-8 is a type of THC which is the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis plants. Delta-8’s effects are similar to the more common THC compound called delta-9 THC. However, the “high” effect is not as strong as the delta-9 THC. This compound is also not as potent as the delta-9, but will still cause psychoactive effects as this can contain trace amounts of THC.

Effects of Delta-8

Delta-8 has the same structure as delta-9, therefore possess similar effects. Like delta-9, delta-8 THC will produce feelings of pain relief, euphoria, and relaxation but milder. For people who do not want to experience a strong “high” feeling, delta-8 might provide you with this benefit as it has lower potency.

The chemical compound THC remains in the body for approximately 48 hours after ingestion and in your blood for up to 36 hours. However, for some people, THC stays in the body for up to a month. For delta-8, effects can last anywhere from 3 to 8 hours depending on how much was taken and the bioavailability of the product. The amount of time for the body to completely remove amounts of THC differs for every person based on factors like metabolism and body fat.

What are the potential risks of Delta-8?

Several factors can influence the type and severity of the adverse effects of delta-8. However, since it has a similar structure with delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC causes the same common side effects as delta-9 THC like:

  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Red eyes
  • Increased heart rate

Some adverse effects caused by delta-8 may also include decreased psychomotor activity, low blood pressure, and lethargy. Also, since the amount of delta-8 in hemp is low, it’s usually made with other chemicals.

Benefits of Delta-8

In essence, delta-8 THC is the middle ground between delta-9 THC and CBD. It gets you high, but will not give a strong high effect. It also offers several health benefits typical of cannabinoids including relief from pain, nausea, depression, and loss of appetite. According to the National Cancer Institute, delta-8 THC binds to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system in the body. The ECS is responsible for regulating bodily functions such as mood, appetite, and pain. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, in 1973, delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC were given to six research participants. The research concluded that delta-8 THC was about two-thirds as potent as delta-9 THC and provided the same effects such as relaxation and euphoria.

Another study published in the Journal of Cannabis suggested that in 1995, researchers found that delta-8 THC was a more stable compound than the more well-studied delta-9 THC. This was after giving delta-8 THC to eight pediatric cancer patients two hours before each chemotherapy session. None of the patients vomited following their cancer treatment.

However, as delta-8 THC’s popularity dramatically grew in recent years, more recent studies are needed to know its potential benefits.

Does Delta-8 show up on a drug test?

Yes. A standard drug test will generally look for THC metabolites that are not just specific to delta-9 THC. If delta-8 or its metabolites are still in your system, it will show up on a drug test.  The test results will depend on the type of test used as well as a person’s biochemistry. THC also takes longer to be eliminated from the body if it’s used frequently.

Currently, there is no research existing to evaluate the probability of failing a drug test due to delta-8 THC. However, since it’s structurally identical to delta-9 THC, there’s a high probability that delta-8 metabolites will produce significant reactions on THC drug tests.

Is Delta-8 safe?

From a medical point of view, pure delta-8 THC is as safe as delta-9 THC. However, there is no safe amount as there is no guarantee of purity due to its lack of regulation. More research is needed to know the correct dosing of delta-8 THC.

An article published by GoodRX Health mentioned that in October of 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put out health warnings regarding delta-8 THC. From December 2020 to June 2021, Poison Control Centers received 661 calls about delta-8 consumption. Almost half of the calls were related to children under 18 years old. Most calls were about symptoms that are similar to the effects of consuming too much cannabis.

Delta-8 VS CBD

Aside from THC, there’s also a cannabinoid that is more well-known, has been extensively researched and has garnered the favour of many cannabis consumers. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive ingredient extracted from the hemp plant. If you’re looking for an alternative to delta-8 THC or delta-9 THC, you might want to consider trying CBD as this won’t give you a “high”. 

Since CBD (with less than 0.3% THC) is legal and readily available, it is one of the most popular and least stigmatized cannabinoids. Delta-8 THC on the other hand is still a rare cannabinoid so it is often artificially manufactured and converted from CBD. Like delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC, CBD provides relief from pain, anxiety, and insomnia, among others. CBD has also no known adverse effects and can’t be detected by drug tests. However, delta-8 THC can be detected by drug tests.

Although both CBD and delta-8 THC have potential benefits, CBD is a better choice as it is well-regulated and more research has been done on the extent of its health benefits.

The Takeaway

Delta-8 THC may be an effective alternative to delta-9 THC for people who want a milder “high” effect. However, delta-8 THC is not legal in the UK. This cannabinoid also is typically manufactured from CBD and may contain additional chemicals. While delta-8 THC is less potent than delta-9 THC, there’s still limited research on the potential benefits and side effects of this compound. Additionally, delta-8 THC is not well-regulated so products containing this compound may be difficult to evaluate.

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