What You Need to Know Before Taking Delta-8 Products

What You Need to Know Before Taking Delta-8 Products

Did you know that more than 500 compounds make up cannabis?

Many of these are flavonoids, which are substances believed to have antioxidant benefits. It also contains terpenoids, the things that make cannabis aromatic.

Then, there are the phytocannabinoids, which give cannabis its “reputation.” You probably know at least one of these: cannabidiol, or CBD, which has taken the world by storm.

However, CBD is only of the 150 distinct cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, or delta-8 for short, is another.

While delta-8 products are not as popular as CBD goodies, they are becoming hot stuff.

So, what exactly is delta-8, and what kind of effects can you expect with its use? Is it even legal, and if so, can anyone use it? Are their benefits backed by science, or is it all marketing hype?

We’ll get to the bottom of all these questions in this guide, so be sure to read on!

Delta-8 Is a Phytocannabinoid

Phytocannabinoids are the compounds responsible for the effects caused by cannabis use. Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta-8-THC, delta-8, or D-8, is one such compound.

Phytocannabinoids like delta-8 are cannabinoids that naturally occur in the cannabis plant. Mammals also produce their own cannabinoids called “endocannabinoids.”

Cannabinoids, in turn, are substances that interact with cannabinoid (CB) receptors. CB receptors are present in the body of species with an endocannabinoid system (ECS). Almost all mammals have an ECS, and that includes human beings.

The role of the ECS is to act as a messaging system for many physiological processes. These include activities involved with appetite, memory, mood, and pain, among others. The ECS also plays a crucial role in homeostasis, the state of optimal functioning.

The ECS can do its job thanks to CB receptors, which mediate the actions of cannabinoids. CB receptors can either be CB1 or CB2 receptors. Cannabinoids, be it the “phyto” or the “endo” kind, attach to CB receptors to exert their effects.

The exact effects of cannabinoids depend on whether they bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are mostly in the central nervous system. On the other hand, the immune cells express the majority of CB2 receptors.

Delta-8-THC Is a THC Analog

The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that most folks know (or have at least heard of) is delta-9-THC. Delta-9-THC, also known as delta-9, D-9 THC, D-9, or just THC, is one of the most abundant phytocannabinoids.

THC is the primary psychoactive substance in cannabis plants. It’s the reason cannabis sativa and indica can induce “hallucinogenic” or “euphoric” effects.

The “THC” in delta-8-THC also stands for “tetrahydrocannabinol.” However, the exact definition of delta-8 is that it’s an analog of tetrahydrocannabinol.

As a THC analog, D-8 resembles D-9’s chemical structure and pharmacological activity. The chief difference is the location of each THC’s double carbon chains. Their carbon bond’s placement is also the reason for the “8” and the “9” in their names.

Delta-8’s double carbon bond appears on its 8th carbon chain. By contrast, delta-9’s double carbon bond is on its 9th carbon chain.

Delta-8 Is THC Nonetheless

Will delta-8 THC get you high? Yes, it will, because even if it’s only a tetrahydrocannabinol analog, it’s still THC.

For starters, both delta-8 and delta-9 THC have a binding affinity to CB1 receptors. However, D-8 THC has a binding affinity to CB1 receptors three times lower than D-9 THC.

Still, scientists believe this CB1 receptor interaction is how THC affects the psyche. It’s in this way that both types of THC can trigger a “high.”

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Other researchers also pointed out how D-8 THC’s psychotropic potency is only 50% to 75% of D-9 THC. This implies that delta-8 is less euphoric, intoxicating, or hallucinating.

THC Is a Regulated Substance

Before the 2018 Farm Bill became law, all cannabis species were illegal at the federal level. Back then, even hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) was part of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

The 2018 Farm Bill changed this, though, so today, hemp is no longer a controlled substance. Hemp-derived products are now also legal, so long as they contain less than 0.3% THC (based on dry weight). Do note that the law specifies this THC as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol.

Other than hemp, many parts of C. sativa are still part of the CSA’s “Marihuana” drug classification. The Food and Drug Administration regards these products as Schedule I drugs. According to the FDA, this is mostly due to THC being a psychoactive compound.

However, delta-9-THC has medical uses, some of which the FDA has even approved. For example, two prescription drugs use synthetic delta-9 as their active ingredient. These include Marinol and Syndros, which contain dronabinol.

The prescription drug Cesamet (nabilone) also has an active ingredient akin to D-9 THC. The drug’s main compound has a similar chemical and pharmacological profile as D-9.

The FDA approved all three medications for chemotherapy-induced nausea and emesis. Marketing dronabinol for treating HIV/AIDS-caused anorexia and weight loss is also FDA-approved.

The FDA has placed extra restrictions on how these drugs can get prescribed, though. For example, doctors can only give them to patients whose first-line anti-emetics failed. Only those who don’t respond to conventional treatments can take dronabinol or nabilone.

Scientific Findings on Delta-8-THC Show Promise

As a delta-9 analog, delta-8 may exhibit similar positive health effects. Unfortunately, scientists have done only a few studies to investigate delta-8 THC uses. Still, most of the existing studies show how this THC analog may be of therapeutic value.

Below we’ll take a closer look at the potential benefits of using delta-8.

May Be Helpful for Patients With Appetite Loss

One study found that delta-8-THC triggered an increase in food consumption in mice. The researchers also found that mice treated with D-8 ate more than those given D-9. Moreover, they noted that the delta-8-treated animals showed improve cognitive functions.

Those findings suggest that delta-8 may be helpful for patients experiencing appetite loss.

May Help Ease Nausea and Emesis

Delta-8’s similarity to delta-9 may also make it helpful for conditions involving nausea. The findings of a 1995 study on children aged 3 to 13 years old suggest that this is a possibility. The young patients who participated were undergoing anticancer treatment during that time.

The patients received delta-8 treatment two hours before their antineoplastic treatment. The researchers gave them D-8 every six hours within a 24-hour period.

No instance of vomiting occurred during the study. What’s more, there were negligible side effects observed after delta-8 administration. All those point out how delta-8-THC may be helpful for managing nausea and emesis.

May Be Helpful For Some Pain and Inflammatory Conditions

Two-thirds of patients using medical marijuana say they take cannabis for chronic pain. Their anecdotal reports indicate that taking cannabis is helpful for their conditions. They also claim that using these products makes them feel better.

Scientific findings tout delta-9-THC and CBD as cannabinoids that may help improve pain. Delta-9 may help by triggering the release of dopamine. Dopamine, in turn, is a hormone associated with feelings of pleasure.

There aren’t a lot of studies that specifically point out delta-8’s use for chronic pain. However, some believe that D-8, being similar to D-9, may bring the same results.

One D-8-specific study investigated its potential effects on pain caused by eye injuries. The researchers tested delta-8-THC on mice with corneal injuries.

The scientists found that D-8 THC helped improve eye injury pain and swelling.

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These are promising results, seeing as about 2.4 million eye injuries occur in the US each year. As such, the researchers suggest how D-8 can be a novel treatment for such eye conditions.

Federal Law Dictates Where You Can’t Use Cannabis Products

Keep in mind that the Farm Bill did not take away FDA’s regulatory authority over cannabis. The FDA still has powers over regulating cannabis-derived products, including oils and tinctures. These include cannabinoid-containing goods such as cannabis, THC, and CBD oils.

With that said, D-8 and D-9 products can still be illegal under certain situations. For example, you can’t use cannabis or cannabis-derived products on federal land. That includes national parks, forests, ski areas, and national monuments.

You should never move cannabis or cannabis-derived products across state lines, either. For starters, marijuana (and any of its parts) is still illegal in some states, such as Alabama and Idaho. Bringing any cannabis-related item into these states is against federal and state laws.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is also against federal and state laws. Now, remember that marijuana’s “influence” comes from its mind-altering THC content. As such, you should never use delta 8 or delta 9 THC on any federal-, state-, or city-owned road.

Where You Live Affects the Legality of Delta-8 Products

Medical cannabis (including marijuana) is available to the public in 36 states. The same goes for four territories, including DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Most of these places require patient registration or a medical cannabis card.

In these states and territories, THC is legal so long as the consumer abides by the medical cannabis laws. However, many of these places also have specific conditions for medical cannabis use.

For example, New York prohibits smoking THC-containing products. You can only ingest THC in this state, and you can’t ingest more than 10 mg of it.

Of those 36 states, 15 states, plus DC, have also legalized recreational cannabis. In these places, adults 21 years or older can possess marijuana, with most limiting it to one ounce. Adults in D.C. can possess up to two ounces, while adults in Maine and Michigan can carry up to 2.5 ounces.

In these places where marijuana is fully legal, it follows that THC, be it delta-8 or delta-9, is also legal.

The Exact Delta-8-THC Extraction Method Used Also Matters

The 2018 Farm Bill distinguished hemp from marijuana based on their delta-9-THC content. Under this law, hemp is cannabis with no more than 0.3% THC content. This means that hemp-derived products shouldn’t make a consumer high.

Now, remember that delta-8 products are only legal if they meet that criteria. The thing is, D-8 THC occurs in cannabis in far lower concentrations than D-9 THC. This low availability means that it can take a lot of hemp plants to produce delta-8-THC goods.

Because of this, some delta-8 products may contain “illegally-derived” D-8 THC. The Department of Justice says that producing D-8 by altering CBD is one such way. There’s a federal ban on such practices, so they’re prosecutable under federal law.

As such, even if a product’s D-8 content comes from hemp, it’s still illegal if it’s a synthetic CBD-derivative.

With that said, make sure you find out how a merchant produces delta-8 before you buy their items. One way to do this is to check out more in-depth lab tests about their D-8 THC products. Steer away from those with synthetically-derived delta-8-THC contents.

Using Delta-8 Can Trigger a Positive Drug Test Result

Standard drug screening methods can detect THC metabolites. Delta-8-THC produces these metabolites, just like delta-9-THC. However, drug tests don’t look for metabolites that are only specific to delta-9.

This means that using delta-8, even if it comes from hemp, can result in a positive drug test result. So, if you’re looking for work or you’re about to get tested, avoid using any THC-containing product.

Enjoy Legal Delta-8-THC in Moderation

As you can see, delta-8 products may be helpful for health woes like appetite loss or nausea. What’s more, delta-8’s lower psychoactive property may make it easier to use. This is especially true if you’ve tried weed before and found the “high” it delivers to be overwhelming.

As a final reminder, be sure to buy only legit products and to use them in moderation.

Interested in more health and lifestyle guides like this? Please feel free to browse our other blog categories then!

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