What is Delta-8 THC?
While Delta-8 THC (or D8) has been a hot topic in the hemp industry for some time now, unless you happen to be an industry insider, you’ve probably never heard of the stuff. Consumers have been left in the dark about D8, an amazing cannabinoid that has the potential revolutionize how Americans experience hemp. D8 is a naturally occurring compound derived from the hemp plant that provides noticeable comforting and relaxing sensations within the body, while leaving the user clear-headed and in-control.
Research published by the NIH shows that D8 decreases anxiety, suppresses nausea, increases appetite, reduces inflammation, activates the immune systemand provides neuroprotective qualities. A 1975 study found that D8 decreased the size of tumors in cancerous rats. In 1995, oncology researchers published their use of D8, which had a 100% effective rate of eliminating nausea amongst pediatric cancer patients. In 2004, researchers found that D8 increased appetite and improved cognitive function in mice. A 2018 studyfound that D8 could reduce pain and inflammation in mice. At least one intrepid reporter asserts that D8 is a tremendous hangover remedy. As consumers continue to express more interest in D8, they can expect that there will be more research into the promising medical benefits associated with D8.
Chemically, D8 is very similar to Delta-9 THC: both substances have the same molecular makeup, but the chemical bonds that hold the atoms together are arranged differently. Both D8 and Delta-9 THC communicate with the body primarily via the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptors in the brain, which are responsible for sleep, pain and mood. D8 can also connect with the CB2 receptor, which communicates with the immune system. That tiny change in structure means that D8 and Delta-9 THC will affect the user in a different way.
The testimonies from people who have used D8 suggest that the psychoactive qualities of D8 are about 2/3 as potent as Delta-9 THC. This decrease in potency makes users feel much more clear headed and less likely to experience a loss of focus or productivity. Many users who have used both products reported that D8 leaves them feeling far less impaired, more engaged, and without any of the fogginess or anxiety that can be associated with Delta-9 THC.
Legally, the difference between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC is huge. Delta-9 THC remains a controlled substance under Federal law however, there are currently no Federal restrictions against D8. The 2018 Farm Bill authorized the production of hemp and removed hemp from the DEA’s schedule of Controlled Substances. The Farm Bill defined “hemp” as:
the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. (7 USC §1639o).
This Federal definition was very specific to focus only on “Delta-9 THC”, with no reference to D8. The Farm Bill specifically removed “hemp” from the definition of “marijuana” so that it would no longer be considered a scheduled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). (21 USC §802(16)). The Farm Bill also created an exception on the CSA to specifically allow any THC found in hemp. (21 USC §812(c) section (c)(17)).
The Federal definition of “hemp” specifically includes “all derivatives [and] extracts.” D8 is a derivative product which is extracted from the hemp plant. So long as the underlying plants meet the definition of “hemp” (which can be proven through a Certificate of Analysis (“COA”) which will show the specific cannabinoid levels for every crop), the extracted products, such as D8, are specifically excluded from the CSA. The Farm Bill ended the Federal statutory prohibition against hemp and its derivatives.