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What is delta-8 THC?

What is delta-8 THC?

Posted by Jim Higdon on Nov 6th 2021

What is delta 8?

What everyone needs to know

Here at Cornbread Hemp, our phone rings every day from consumers with questions ranging from CBD to other topics. Lately, we have been fielding calls from people asking about delta-8 THC. This is not too surprising because delta-8 is one of the fastest-growing segments of the hemp industry.1

We are here to answer all your questions about delta-8 THC.

What is delta 8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is a chemical component of the cannabis plant Cannabis sativa. It is a psychoactive substance and is only found in tiny amounts naturally. Cannabinoids degrade over time, and degradation can also be caused by light and heat. Delta-8 is a degraded form of Delta-9 THC.

Delta-9 THC is the most common form of THC. The difference between delta-8 and delta-9 is where the molecule contains a double bond. Delta-8 THC has a double bond at the eighth carbon chain, while delta-9 THC has a double bond at the ninth carbon chain. This is a small difference, but it means a great deal in terms of how these compounds interact with the human body.2

Some people compare the high experienced from delta-8 to that experienced from the delta-9 THC in marijuana. It’s certainly a different experience than you would have with CBD, which is not intoxicating. But unlike marijuana, delta-8 THC is legal (mostly) and available in head shops and other retail stores across the country.

Because it is only found in such tiny amounts in cannabis and hemp, companies are synthesizing delta-8 THC to produce enough to meet the current demand of the craze. Chemists can create delta-8 THC in the laboratory by taking CBD isolate and putting it through an acid bath. This changes the bonds within the molecular structure to change CBD into delta-8 THC.

According to Chemical and Engineering News, “Using simple chemistry reported in the 1960s, the industry got creative and started experimenting with ways to convert CBD into delta-8 THC. The resulting products target consumers who are looking to relieve stress and anxiety, especially those who don’t want to use traditional cannabis products or those who live in places where cannabis products are not legally available.”3 But is delta-8 legal?

Is delta-8 THC legal?

Delta-8 THC appears to be legal because of a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill, which defines legal hemp only by its delta-9 THC content. So, delta-8 THC is legal because the Farm Bill didn’t say it wasn’t. Because of this, you can buy delta-8 products in just about any head shop in America. Currently, there are no federal regulations on what a delta-8 THC product can or cannot have in it, other than limits on delta-9 THC levels.4

A few states have stepped in to make a confusing situation more confusing. For instance, in Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, or KDA, has issued a memo claiming that delta-8 THC is, in fact, still illegal because it is listed as a controlled substance by the DEA.5 

In fact, delta-8 THC is currently banned or restricted in 18 states and is under review in 4 more. Connecticut announced that only licensed marijuana businesses will be allowed to sell delta-8 THC products. Similarly, Michigan’s restriction of delta-8 THC sales and production treats the compound in a similar fashion to the state’s existing marijuana products.6

Making this even more complicated is the Federal Analogue Act of 1986, which was passed to combat synthetically made “designer drugs.” It states that any drugs that are similar in chemical structure, and that have a similar (actual or intended) effect similar or greater to a that of a controlled substance, and are intended for human consumption, must be treated as a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance.6 Does delta-8 THC fall under this law?

Well, the entity that would most likely argue that delta-8 THC is covered under the Analogue Act is the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. What is the DEA’s opinion of delta-8 THC? In a letter dated September 2021 addressed to the Alabama Board of Pharmacy, the DEA’s Chief of the Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section wrote, “Delta-8 THC synthetically produced from non-cannabis materials is controlled under the CSA as a “tetrahydrocannabinol.” The CSA, however, excludes from control “tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp (as defined under section 1639o of Title 7).”7

That means that the DEA says that delta-8 THC is legal as long as it’s derived from hemp (or hemp-derived CBD isolate). But if it’s made through some other synthetic means, it’s not legal.

Is delta-8 THC safe?

In September 2021, at the same time the DEA told the Alabama Board of Pharmacy that delta-8 THC was legal under federal law, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a notice warning about their safety: “Delta-8 THC products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safe use and may be marketed in ways that put the public health at risk.”8 

The FDA goes on to stress that the products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA. The governmental organization also raises concerns that some Delta-8 products are marketed for therapeutic or medical uses, in violation of FDA regulations, which can put consumers at risk.

There is no regulatory oversight and limited lab testing for delta-8 THC, making the end products potentially dangerous. Britt Erickson of Chemical & Engineering News writes: “Most products sold as delta-8 THC are not actually pure delta-8 THC. Such products typically contain a high percentage of delta-8 THC and small amounts of other cannabinoids, including delta-9 THC, and reaction by-products. Some of the cannabinoids are not naturally found in cannabis. In most cases, nothing is known about the health effects of these impurities.”9

“My concern is that we have no idea what these products are,” says Christopher Hudalla, president and chief scientific officer of ProVerde Laboratories, an analytical testing firm with facilities in Massachusetts and Maine. “Consumers are being used as guinea pigs. To me, that’s horrific,” he says.10

The FDA is not the only organization expressing concern about delta-8 THC. NORML, the cannabis rights group, issued a rare warning on delta-8 to say that many delta-8 products are “unsafe for consumption.”11

Is delta-8 THC synthetic?

All products on the market made with delta-8 THC are synthetic and not natural. In nature, delta-8 THC occurs in very small quantities. To get the large amounts of delta-8 THC required to make products with them, the compound must be synthesized from hemp-derived CBD isolate.

To make delta-8 THC, chemists run CBD isolate through an acid bath to change its chemical structure. Therefore, the final delta-8 THC product may have harmful by-products, according to the FDA and NORML. If consumed or inhaled, these chemicals can be harmful.

For anyone trying to make delta-8 THC at home, this would be complicated and dangerous. But a DIY scientist could produce their own Delta-8 with hemp-derived CBD isolate and items they have laying around the house, like battery acid.12 

To create a solution of Delta-8, there are a few methods that are used in the hemp industry. The making of D8 can be done through: “All cannabinoids have a similar genetic makeup. This makes it somewhat easy to coax one cannabinoid to degrade into another. This conversion is made possible with time, light, and heat. The most popular way of doing this is by soaking CBD in an acid.” 13

Is delta-8 THC dangerous?

In the wrong hands, delta-8 THC can be dangerous to produce. The chemicals involved can be harmful, and without proper ventilation and protection, the production process could cause serious injury. And, delta-8-THC is also dangerous to consume.

The FDA reports that National Poison Control Centers received 661 exposure cases of delta-8 THC products between January 2018 and July 31, 2021.

  • 39 percent of those cases were juveniles under the age of 18.
  • 18 percent were hospitalized, including some juvenile cases who ended up in the ICU.
  • Most experienced these adverse effects after ingesting a Delta-8-containing edible product.14

How long does delta 8 stay in your system?

Because delta-8 THC is so new, there is no research that looks into how delta-8 THC interacts with the human body, including how long delta-8 THC stays in your system. We can assume that delta-8 behaves like other cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids are lipophilic, which means they are fat soluble and are absorbed by the body's fat cells. Therefore, cannabinoids tend to stay in the bodies of heavier people longer than smaller people. The more fat cells you have, the more likely cannabinoids will be detectable in your system for a few weeks.

It's also unclear if delta-8 THC is detectable on drug tests. You should assume that it is detectable, and that it stays in your system for about one month.

While delta-8 THC is in your system, it can have a number of reported negative effects. The following is a list of adverse effects that have been observed in hospitalized Delta-8 users:

  • Lethargy
  • Uncoordinated movements and decreased psychomotor activity
  • Slurred speech
  • Increased heart rate progressing to slowed heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sedation
  • Coma15

Where is delta 8 available?

If you came to this site looking for delta-8 THC products, you have come to the wrong place. Cornbread Hemp does not sell delta-8 THC. There might be some trace amounts of delta-8 THC in our products that occur naturally, but Cornbread Hemp does not make any products with synthesized delta-8 THC.

Cornbread Hemp makes products from full spectrum hemp extract that is as close to the cannabis plant as possible. We aren’t concocting potions in a lab. Our focus is offering the most delta-9 THC we can, along with CBD, in keeping with the high standards of the USDA organic program.

Many people think that all delta-9 THC is illegal under federal law, but that’s not true. The delta-9 THC level is restricted to not more than 0.3 percent by dry weight. While not a lot, that 0.3 percent is not nothing. It allows Cornbread Hemp to make full spectrum products with a measurable amount of delta-9 THC.

Cornbread Hemp offers two products with 2mg delta-9 THC per serving: our 1500mg Whole Flower CBD Oil and our 1500mg CBD gummies. Both products contain 50mg CBD and 2mg delta-9 THC per serving. Why risk your health with delta-8 THC when you can get this measurable amount of delta-9 THC in Cornbread Hemp products?

Will delta-8 THC get you high?

Yes. Users report that delta-8 THC has a similar effect as delta-9 THC, just maybe not as strong. But why risk all the potential health problems of delta-8, when certain amounts of delta-9 THC are legal under federal law?

Delta-8 THC vs delta-9 THC

What’s the difference between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC, besides where the double bond occurs on the molecule? One big difference is that there’s been much more research on regular delta-9 THC than on the newly popular delta-8. Another big difference is that delta-9 occurs naturally, while delta-8 must be synthesized.

Full spectrum CBD products with naturally occurring delta-9 THC are safe to produce and consume. CBD products provide wellness benefits beyond what Delta-8 can. CBD can help support healthy sleep cycles and moods, alleviate pain caused by exercise-induced inflammation, and can generally improve the quality of one’s life. Customers frequently tell us that their doctors recommended CBD to them, and some of our best customers are doctors themselves.  

Why risk taking a potentially dangerous compound like delta-8 THC that has not been studied and may be harmful, when full spectrum CBD products are as close to the hemp cannabis plant as you can get? After all, if you’re like most people looking for full spectrum hemp extract products, you’re looking for a little peace of mind, not something that is going to make you more anxious about your health.

FAQ's

Can you get high using delta-8?

Some people report that delta-8 provides a slightly weaker high than marijuana. However, few human studies have been done on delta-8, so there is no expert opinion.

Where can I buy delta-8 THC?

Many reputable CBD sellers won't sell delta-8 THC because of its synthetic nature and questionable legality. But there are plenty of CBD stores, head shops, and convenience stores that will. You can also purchase it online.

Delta-8 THC: What is it?

Delta-8 THC is a compound in the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa. It is a psychoactive substance and is only found in tiny amounts naturally. Commercial delta-8 is synthetically made.

About the Author

Jim Higdon, Co-founder

a native of Lebanon, Kentucky. He holds degrees from Centre College, Brown University, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Jim published Cornbread Mafia in 2012, full author bio here.

References

1, 13, 14 Erikson, Britt. “Delta-8-THC craze concerns chemists.” Chemical & Engineering News. Pub: 30 Aug 2021. Accessed: 6 Oct 2021. https://cen.acs.org/biological-chemistry/natural-products/Delta-8-THC-craze-concerns/99/i31

2. “Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol.” Weedmaps. Pub: 9 June 2021. Accessed Nov 5, 2021 <https://weedmaps.com/learn/dictionary/delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol>

3, 8, 12 “5 Things to Know about Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC.” USDA Food and Drug. Pub: 14 Sep 2021. Accessed: 23 Sep 2021. < https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc>.

4, 5. Grady, Danielle. “Everything You Need To Know About Delta-8, The ‘Legal Weed,’ In Kentucky.” LEO Weekly. Pub: 4 Aug 2021. Accessed: 23 Sep 2021. https://www.leoweekly.com/2021/08/everything-you-need-to-know-about-delta-8-the-legal-weed-in-kentucky/.

6, 9, 10. Dunn, Brandon. “Delta-8 Legality Map.” Greenways Magazine. Pub: 21 Aug 2021. Accessed: 5 Oct 2021. https://mogreenway.com/2021/07/14/delta-8-legality-map/

7. Boos, Terrence. DEA letter to Alabama Board of Pharmacy. Pub: 15 Sept 2021. Accessed: 6 Nov 2021. https://cannabusiness.law/wp-content/uploads/DEA-letter-re-D8-to-Alabama.pdfNORML. “New NORML Report Highlights Concerns

11. Regarding Sale of Unregulated Delta-8 THC, Similar Products.” Pub: 13 Oct 2021. Accessed 6 Nov 2021. https://norml.org/blog/2021/10/13/new-norml-report-highlights-concerns-regarding-sale-of-unregulated-delta-8-thc-similar-products/

15. Calello, Monique. “Delta-8 THC poisonings: CDC issues national health advisory reporting cases of adverse events.” Staunton News Leader. Pub: 15 Sep 2021. Accessed: 5 Oct 2021. https://www.newsleader.com/story/news/2021/09/15/delta-8-thc-poisonings-cdc-health-advisory-reporting-cases-of-adverse-events/8346931002/

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