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What is Delta-8 THC? Beginner Guide

Alien
Area 52
March 01, 2021 | Blog

Most people are familiar with THC by now — but in case you live under a rock, it’s the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

What most people don’t know is that there are a few different types of THC — delta 9 THC (what most people think of as THC), delta 10 THC, and delta 8 THC. 

Here, we’ll explore everything you need to know about delta 8 THC — including how it works, what makes it unique, and what effects you can expect. 

What is Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 chemical structure on white background

Delta 8 THC is short for Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol. It’s one of over 100 closely related compounds in the cannabis plant collectively referred to as cannabinoids

A cannabinoid is any molecule (natural or synthetic) that interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Most cannabinoids are non-psychoactive, which means they don’t make users feel high from using them. 

THC — delta 8 and delta 9 — are both considered active cannabinoids. 

THC activates the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain involved with regulating serotonin. By modifying serotonin activity THC temporarily alters our sensory perception and other aspects involved with higher executive function. 

Delta 8 THC is identical to delta 9 THC, aside from three distinct differences: 

  1. Chemical structure — delta 8 THC has a double bond in the 8th carbon chain instead of the 9th carbon chain.
  2. Effect profile — delta 8 THC is much more relaxing and less likely to cause anxious side-effects than delta 9 THC.
  3. Legality — delta 8 THC is regulated differently than delta 9 THC and legal in most US states (more on this later).

Where Does Delta 8 THC Come From?

This cannabinoid occurs naturally, but in very low concentrations. 

Delta 8 THC forms as a byproduct of delta 9 THC which is much more abundant in cannabis.

As delta 9 THC breaks down under exposure to UV light and oxygen, most of it is converted into CBN (cannabinol). The rest forms delta 8 THC. Most dried cannabis flower contains less than 1% delta 8 THC. 

The concentration of delta 8 THC can be increased by exposing the plant to UV light, which speeds up the conversion process. THC can then be extracted, concentrated, and separated into its delta 8 and delta 9 fractions. 

However, any product made from non-hemp cannabis plants is considered restricted and may not be legal to purchase depending on local state laws. Instead, most delta 8 products are made by from hemp — which is entirely legal throughout the united states.  

What Does Delta 8 THC Feel Like? 

Delta 8 THC is much smoother and clear-headed than delta 9. People who experience anxiety after using THC often turn to delta 8 THC instead for its more relaxing nature. 

Lower doses of delta 8 are more energizing. Many people use low doses (5–15 mg) while working or studying. At this dose, delta 8 is used to induce productive flow states and boost mental energy and stamina. 

Higher doses are much more psychoactive similar to the delta 9 form, but with a stronger body load. 

What’s The Dose of Delta 8 THC?

There is very little research specific to the delta 8 isomers to help elucidate the ideal dosage

Generally speaking, the equivalent dose of delta 8 is about twice the dose of the delta 9 version. 

The most commonly used doses of delta 8 THC can be split into three doses: 

  1. Low dose — 10 mg 
  2. Moderate dose — 40 mg
  3. Strong doses — 60 mg

The effects of a given dose can vary from one person to another, so it’s important to start with a lower dose first and increase once you’re familiar with how this cannabinoid affects your body individually. 

Is Delta 8 THC Legal?

Statue of justice balancing a scale

Delta 8 THC is caught in a bit of a “legal limbo.”

The United States federal government specifically lists delta 9 THC as a controlled substance — but there is no mention of the delta 8 isomers.

According to the 2018 Farm Bill, any product made from hemp (Cannabis sativa that produces less than 0.3% THC) is legal. This would include delta 8 THC products made from hemp — but not delta 8 products made from marijuana (Cannabis sativa that produces more than 0.3% THC). 

With that said, there are a few states that use different wording that specifically bans delta 8 THC along with all other forms of THC (natural and synthetic). 

States Where Delta 8 THC Is Banned: 

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. Colorado
  5. Delaware
  6. Hawaii
  7. Idaho
  8. Iowa
  9. Kentucky
  10. Louisiana
  11. Maryland
  12. Mississippi
  13. Montana
  14. Nebraska
  15. Nevada
  16. Rhode Island
  17. Utah
  18. Vermont

Types of Delta 8 THC Products

Cannabinoids can be integrated into just about everything — you can find delta 8 capsules, tinctures, gummies, cartridges, honey, hemp flower, and much more. The sky is the limit when it comes to designing cannabinoid-based products these days. 

With that said, most of these products are designed purely for novelty. The five standard delta 8 products to consider for ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and abundance on the market include:

1. Delta 8 THC Tinctures

Tinctures and oils are the most popular means of consuming most cannabinoids these days. They’re the most cost-effective, allow for precision dosing, and provide a rapid onset of effects through sublingual absorption. 

Sublingual absorption is achieved by holding the oil or tincture under your tongue. Here, a series of tiny blood vessels carry the active delta 8 directly into the bloodstream. This allows the effects to appear much faster than if you were to just swallow the oil or take a capsule. 

Make sure you’re familiar with the potency of the tincture you buy — they come in many different forms and potencies. The same amount of oil from one product may be way too strong when taken from a different label depending on the potency of the oil. 

2. Delta 8 THC Capsules

Capsules are usually made by injecting a delta 8 oil or distillate into a dissolvable gel capsule base. They’re easy to use and can be taken at the same time as most of your other supplements. 

Capsules are best for people who want to maintain a consistent hassle-free dose of delta 8 THC. Every capsule is exactly the same — there’s no need to mess around calculating and measuring oils. 

3. Delta 8 THC Gummies

Delta 8 gummies have all the same benefits as capsules — premeasured doses, fast absorption, long shelf-life, and lack of “grassy” hemp flavor. 

Many people prefer gummies to capsules because they’re simply a more enjoyable way to get all the same benefits. They come in a variety of fruity flavors and provide a pleasant, gummy texture to bite into. 

Just be careful how many gummies you eat. These delicious candies make it easy to keep coming back for more, but it’s important to remember delta 8 can be quite strong if you take too much. Make sure you’re familiar with the dose of delta 8 in each gummy and stick to the dosage guidelines listed above. 

4. Delta 8 Cartridges

Cannabinoids like delta 8 are rapidly and efficiently absorbed through the lungs.

Most people use vaporizers instead of smoking. Smoke damages the lungs and degrades a lot of the active ingredients you’re trying to consume. 

Delta 8 is available in cartridge form. These products are designed to work with an existing vaporizer to replace the reservoir and heating element once a cartridge becomes empty. 

The delta 8 space is relatively new, but the vaporizer industry is thriving through the popularity of other cannabinoids like CBD or delta 9 THC. As long as the cartridge is compatible, delta 8 carts can be used with the same devices. 

Most cartridges use a standardized 810 threading (it should list the threading somewhere on the side of your device). 

If you’ve got a Juul or another proprietary vape pen, it will be much more difficult to find delta 8 cartridges that fit your device. 

5. Delta 8 Distillate

Distillates are the purest form of delta 8 you’ll find. 

They’re made by removing everything except pure delta 8. They have a thick, resinous consistency that becomes more fluid when heated. 

It’s difficult to get delta 8 in pure form, so even the highest-grade concentrates still contain small concentrations of CBC, CBG, CBN, and CBD. 

To use a distillate, you can add it to the reservoir of a refillable vape pen, dab it in a dab rig, or eat it directly.

How Long Does Delta 8 THC Stay In The Body

The length of time delta 8 remains in the body can vary substantially. If you only take a small dose and don’t use delta 8 often, it should be completely cleared from the body within 3 days — usually closer to 24 hours. 

If you use delta 8 THC often in moderate to high doses, it can take up to 30 days to be completely cleared from the body. 

Delta 8 THC remains detectable in the hair for even longer — up to 90 days from the last time you used it. 

The amount of time delta 8 stays in the body depend on a few key variables: 

  • Frequency of use — the more often you use it, the longer it stays in the body
  • Your age — older people tend to metabolize compounds slower
  • Method of consumption — inhaled forms of delta 8 remain in the body the longest
  • Your individual metabolism — some people metabolize faster than others
  • The dose you used — the higher the dose, the longer it takes to clear from the body
  • Other supplements or medications — some compounds will slow the breakdown & elimination of delta 8

How Does Delta 8 THC Work?

Illustration of the Endocannabinoid System Reaction

There’s very little research available exploring the specific effects of delta 8 THC and how it works. With the research that is available, it’s clear that the mechanisms of action for delta 8 THC are almost identical to that of delta 9 THC. 

Most cannabinoids work through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — which is a widespread series of receptors found throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. The ECS is partly responsible for maintaining homeostasis (balance) throughout the body. 

There are two different receptor types that make up the ECS — delta 8 binds to both of them. 

Aside from regulating important neurological functions like the stress response, satiety, hormone regulation, and pain transmission, delta 8 causes an increase in serotonin activity at the 5HT2A receptor. This is thought to be the primary mechanism both delta 8 and delta 9 THC use to produce their euphoric and perceptual effects.

Summary: What is Delta 8 THC? 

Delta 8 isn’t a new cannabinoid, but it’s only recently become popular. 

This compound occurs naturally in the cannabis plant in trace amounts. As more research has become available on the cannabis plant and its many constituents, more attention is turning to delta 8 as an attractive alternative to the conventional delta 9 isomer. 

Delta 8 THC is smoother, maintains a clear-headed mindstate, and avoids many of the legal restrictions that prevent people from gaining access to the mind-altering benefits of the cannabis plant. 

Check out our lineup of premium delta 8 products to get started. 

We offer capsules, tinctures, vape cartridges, gummies, and more. 

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