Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), is an active ingredient in cannabis plants. Most delta-8 THC products sold today contain this unregulated chemical from hemp and do not need childproof packaging, laboratory testing, or clear labeling to be compliant. As such, no federal regulations currently cover childproof packaging, laboratory testing, or precise labeling requirements for delta-8 products.
What Is Delta-8 THC?
Cannabinoids are chemicals found in cannabis plants that interact with the body. Cannabidiol and delta-9 THC are two of the most prevalent cannabinoids found within cannabis plants; delta-8 THC, however, which is considered a minor cannabinoid, is only occasionally observed within these plants.
Due to the rarity of naturally occurring delta-8 THC in hemp, manufacturers must create it through manufacturing. Usually, this involves using hemp-derived CBD with strong acids, which then transforms CBD into delta-8 THC - leading to claims that delta-8 THC is more natural than it is.
How Does Delta-8 Compare to Delta-9 THC or CBD?
Delta-8 THC, or delta-9 THC isomer, is an isomer of delta-9 THC with a nearly identical chemical structure. However, individuals can observe one distinction: when you expose cannabis plants to light or air, small amounts of delta-9 THC may transform into delta-8 THC. Delta-8 THC has received relatively little human research. Nonetheless, it is nearly identical to delta-9 THC, and some laboratory and animal studies have demonstrated that delta-8 can produce effects similar to those experienced with delta-9 THC.
Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC both cause mind-altering effects by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Studies suggest delta-8 THC forms weaker bonds with these receptors, making it less potent than delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC, commonly called "diet marijuana," is sold as a less concentrated form of delta-9 THC.
Delta-8 THC and CBD share little in common other than the fact they both come from hemp. CBD does not cause the same high as either; on top of this, delta-8 THC may sometimes be sold under different names like delta-8 CBD or delta-8 hemp - leading to confusion when purchasing it.
Is Delta-8 Safe?
Unfortunately, we don't know enough to know for sure. If the THC in delta-8 is produced safely and responsibly, Delta-8 should not harm healthy adults. The OTC (over-the-counter) hemp market is currently unregulated; therefore, products containing delta-8 CBD could potentially be contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, or mold.
Even more alarming is the revelation that chemical solvents used in converting CBD to delta-8 THC may cause cancer if not thoroughly removed from the final product - these solvents are known as residual solvents. Unfortunately, no regulations exist for delta-8 THC products sold over the counter.
Poison Control Centers received 661 calls between December 2020 and June 2021 regarding delta-8 consumption, with 39% of these calls related to children younger than 18. In October 2021, both Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration issued health warnings about the potential hazards associated with delta-8 THC consumption.
Some states allow the sale of delta-8 THC through licensed dispensaries, provided it meets the exact testing requirements as regulated cannabis products. As a result, these delta-8 products tend to be safer than their OTC counterparts.
What Are the Potential Advantages of Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC may offer the same advantages as delta-9 THC without as much of a high. This could make it ideal for those who wish to use THC for treating nausea, pain, and insomnia but don't desire the euphoria associated with delta-9 THC.
This potential benefit could be especially advantageous to children and the elderly; however, further research is necessary.
What Are the Potential Side Effects and Hazards Associated With Delta-8 THC Use?
Many people make the mistake of consuming too many CBD or hemp products, thinking they will get high. Unfortunately, side effects can arise, which makes managing them difficult.
These effects may include:
- Fear, anxiety, and panic.
- Struggling with body coordination
- Not thinking clearly
- Perceiving or hearing something that isn't there
- Having irrational thoughts or feeling like you are not yourself
To determine how delta-8 THC affects you:
- Start with a low dose.
- Gradually increase your dosage until your body adjusts and there are no side effects.
- Do not attempt to increase dosage while driving or operating machinery.
What to Do if Your Side Effects From Delta-8 THC Are Severe?
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, don't fret. These effects are usually temporary, and it may take several hours before you feel completely normal again if delta-8 THC was accidentally eaten in edible form. To remain calm and practice self-care during this period, try your best to stay relaxed.
If you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, or other severe symptoms from residual solvents, contact 911 immediately or go to the emergency department. Seizures, confusion, and fever could all be possible side effects from such exposure.
What Is the Safest Amount of Delta-8?
There is no safe level of delta-8 when obtained from an unregulated dispensary. However, more research is necessary to establish a standard serving size for even regulated delta-8 products.
Although it's too soon to tell how addictive delta-8 may be due to its recent inception. Given that delta-8 shares similar effects to delta-9 THC and similarly interacts with the brain, there could be similar risks associated with cannabis use - dependence and addiction included.
Like cannabis, delta-8 THC may pose serious health risks to specific populations.
- Persons who are pregnant or nursing
- People who are suffering from severe mental health conditions.
- People with underlying heart conditions.
If you fall within one of these categories, it is best to steer clear of all delta-8 THC products.
Is Delta-8 THC Legal?
The answer is complex. In 2018, Congress passed the 2018 farm bill that legalized hemp-derived chemicals. Technically, delta-8 products may be, legally, provided they contain hemp-derived CBD.
Many view this loophole as an attempt to abuse the farm bill in unintended ways. It appears that hemp CBD businesses are exploiting this loophole by increasing delta-8 THC production, which could allow them to sell OTC hemp-based products that cause people to feel "high."
Unfortunately, without adequate safety protocols, people could also become vulnerable.
Many states responded by banning the sale of delta-8 THC products due to concerns for public safety and health.
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