Delta-8 is a cannabis component that has grown in popularity due to its resemblance to delta-9 THC, the principal molecule in cannabis that causes euphoria, happiness, sedation, symptom relief, and other effects. The majority of cannabis cultivars contain high levels of THC.
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The similarities between the two cannabinoids lie in their chemical structures and their names. THC’s scientific name is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-9 THC, or just delta-9. Delta-8 is short for delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC can cause effects similar to regular delta-9 THC—but they will be much less potent.
THC comes in two different forms: delta-8 and delta-9. When individuals talk about THC, they’re usually referring about delta-9 THC. (When we use “THC” without a modifier in this article, we’re talking about delta-9 THC.)
The legality of delta-8 is currently unclear. Hemp or cannabis can both be used to make it. Hemp can now be cultivated and extracted legally across the United Areas, thanks to the 2018 agricultural bill, making delta-8 legal in states where delta-9 THC is illegal—in some cases.
Nearly all delta-8 THC on the market today is manufactured from hemp-derived CBD, which makes it, in theory at least, part of a federally legal chain of origin.
People in states where THC is illegal crave cannabis products and are now looking to delta-8 because it may be legal in their state, even though it is less potent than regular THC. Many hemp-based extractors are ramping up delta-8 production to meet this new demand and shipping it all over the US.
Delta-8 vs. delta-9 THC: What’s the difference?
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.
The positioning of the double bond in the two THCs differs chemically. Although both cannabinoids comprise a chain of carbon atoms, delta-8 has a double bond on the eighth carbon, while delta-9 has one on the ninth. Because of the placement of its double bond, Delta-8 attaches to the endocannabinoid system in a somewhat different way. This is assumed to be the reason why delta-8 is so much less effective than ordinary THC. However, more research into delta-8 and how it interacts with the body is required.
Will delta-8 get you high?
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.
Effects of delta-8
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.
Dry mouth, red eyes, the cravings, short-term memory, psychosis, and anxiety are all possible side effects that are similar to THC. It’s crucial to note that delta-8 hasn’t been well researched, and further research on its effects on the mind and body is needed.
Delta-8 vs. CBD
Delta-8 has more similarities to THC (delta-9) than CBD, both in its chemical structure and because it gets you high. Delta-8 THC binds to the body’s endocannabinoid system more like delta-9 THC. CBD doesn’t bind as readily to the endocannabinoid system, making it non-intoxicating, although CBD can offer medicinal benefits for the consumer.
If you are looking for effects similar to THC but with a reduced potency, delta-8 may be for you. If you seek relief from certain symptoms and don’t want to get intoxicated, you may want to try a CBD product.
How to dose delta-8
For most people, especially moderate or experienced consumers, delta-8 will feel much weaker than regular THC. If you are new to cannabis, delta-8 could affect you strongly—it depends on your body chemistry.
To give a sense of delta-8’s potency relative to THC, delta-8 edible producers commonly measure and dose their gummies at more than twice the strength of THC gummies:
- THC gummies often come in 10mg gummies—people may take half a gummy or a full gummy for a dose, either 5mg or a full 10mg.
- Delta-8 gummies often come in 25mg gummies—so half of one would be 12.5mg, and a full gummy is 25mg.
In creating these standard gummies, producers are calculating that delta-8 is less than half as strong as regular THC, so a 25mg delta-8 gummy might equate to the effects of a 10mg THC gummy.
It’s worth repeating that there’s been very little research on delta-8. We don’t know how powerful its effects are or how they influence the body. The chemical composition of the cannabis, your body’s chemistry, your tolerance level, your set and setting, and the amount you consume all influence how you feel when using cannabis.
It’s always a good idea to start with a small amount and wait for the effects to kick in before adding more. The speed with which you experience such effects is determined on the mode of consumption. If you’re vaping delta-8, the effects should be noticeable in ten minutes or less; if you’re eating edibles, wait at least an hour or two before taking more.
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