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This original article was written in April 2021. It has been updated with the latest information and laws relating to alternate cannabinoids like Delta 8.
Cannabis, sweet sweet Cannabis, has done it again!
You may have heard recently about a ‘new’ Cannabis product going around called Delta 8. If a friend hasn’t mentioned it to you as an alternative to your sleep aid, or evening wine or nightcap, then you’ve probably seen signs outside of CBD stores promoting the latest hype in the Hemp community.
There’s certainly a reason for all the hype. In these strange times of 21st century federal prohibition, Delta 8 is a completely legal form of marijuana. Its effects are nearly identical to Delta 9 THC (which you know as Weed), and it’s being sold at every CBD store, headshop, and even gas stations in your town.
What is it, exactly? What does it do? And most importantly: is it really legal?
What is Delta 8 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?
Many of us are aware of THC, the naturally occurring cannabinoid found in Cannabis plants. This compound is responsible for the psychoactive effects you experience when using weed, but what many don’t know is that Delta 9 THC – the single and particular compound responsible for those effects – isn’t the only hero in the Cannabis family.
Introducing Delta 8 Tetrahydrocannabinol: Delta 9’s younger, cooler brother. I use the term “introducing” very lightly, as Delta 8 has been around just as long as all the other cannabinoids, but is just now gaining popularity in the last year, and for obvious reason.
What is a cannabinoid?
Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds found in the plant matter of Cannabis. Scientists have identified just over 100 of them; the most well-known to us laymen being THC and CBD. Most of us identify each respectively by the one that gets you high, and the one that doesn’t. Simple enough!
THC is only legal in 19 states for recreational use, and approved for medicinal purposes in several dozen. It’s worth noting that more and more states join the bandwagon each year, legalizing or at least decriminalizing THC, and we’ve certainly come a long way since total prohibition!
Unlike THC, CBD products (as defined by the 2018 Farm Bill) face no federal prohibition at all. Not only is CBD legal in all 50 states, but is also recognized as an approved seizure medication. Epidiolex, a CBD extract, got the stamp of approval from the FDA in 2018.
So now we celebrate Cannabis’s new hero in the spotlight: Delta 8 THC, another psychoactive cannabinoid that is conveniently squeezing right into a comfortable legal loophole across the nation.
What does Delta 8 do, and why do people love it so much?
There are very few studies associated with this particular compound. Existing information points to Delta 8’s most notable effects being helpful for nausea, anxiety, pain, and even neuroprotective effects.
One small study in the 90s showed a group of children battling cancer who were given Delta 8 alongside chemotherapy treatments. When dosed with the Delta 8 THC two hours prior to starting the antineoplastic drugs, and continued every 6 hours for 24 hours, vomiting was completely prevented in all patients. Incredible!
Furthermore, studies within the last decade have shown Delta 8 to increase appetite and alleviate pain and inflammation in mice and rats.
I absolutely love the feeling I get when I take Delta 8. My mood becomes elevated, my thoughts become deeper and more intricate. It is without a doubt a very similar feeling to what you experience when you consume Delta 9, but it’s about 25% less potent. I have been taking Delta 8 for about a year now, and I like to recommend it to people who often experience paranoia or anxiety when they use Delta 9, or traditional marijuana. With the cooler little brother compound (Delta 8), you get all the desired effects minus the unwelcome dread often associated with too much THC. It truly is something special.
Our visitors rely on Delta 8 for a number of reasons including mood support, sleep support, and relief from anxiety. All of this is strictly anecdotal evidence and in no way supported by the FDA. Delta 8 is an unregulated product by the Federal Drug Administration.
At the perfect dose, psychoactive effects are minimal, but one can get very high if they over do it, so it’s important to work closely with a Cannabis expert before trying Delta 8 for the first time.
Why is Delta 8 legal if it gets you high?
Let’s take a close look at two things, to help you understand this better. First: the chemical make up of Delta 8 and how it differs from Delta 9, and second: the 2018 Farm Bill.
Delta 9 and Delta 8 are the same in that they both bind to CB1 receptors within the brain to cause psychoactive effects (learn more about our Endocannabinoid system here). Their major difference however, is in the way they each bind to those CB1 receptors. Due to its structural make up, D8 has a much less potent effect on the brain. While it does cause a head change, it’s of a lower intensity than D9.
It’s that key difference in the two – their different structural make up – that makes the ‘gray’ area of legality, not so gray.
The 2018 Farm Bill resulted in a change for hemp laws, and adjusted the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. The Farm Bill specifically states that hemp products need be excluded from the definition of Marijuana, “provided they contain no more than a .3% concentration of delta-9-tetrahyrdocannabinol (D9 THC) – marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical.”
So, in other words, there are no specific references to Delta 8 THC, but one could fairly infer that everything except products containing more than .3% of Delta 9, are federally legal. This explains why Delta 8 has taken over the country, with folks looking forward to a psychoactive effect without breaking any laws.
States have begun to ban alternate cannabinoids
Delta 8 is consistently being outlawed in several US states. Reasons vary, but one common denominator among many of them is that marijuana is already legal in the state, so they don’t take too kindly to unregulated competition popping up in unqualified bodegas. Some states simply banned the sale of the compound due to its psychoactive effects, and Delta 8 can only be sold by a licensed medical dispensary.
As of January 2022, 14 states have completely banned Delta 8 (and other alternate cannabinoids). The CSRA is still in the clear and holding onto its legal status. You can be certain we’ll be the first to let you know when that changes for South Carolina and Georgia.
One more important note: Delta 8 will indeed cause you to fail a urine test, since panels do not typically differentiate between different types of THC. If you are subjected to drug tests for work or civil liberties, it’s best you sit this one out. There’s a better herb for you on our shelves, and we’re happy to help you find it.