Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in cannabis. Although it’s not typically found in significant amounts, delta-8 THC has received a lot of attention recently due to its ambiguous legal status around the country. So what is delta-8 THC and how does it differ from its well-known cousin delta-9 THC?
Delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid that has a low affinity for the CB1 receptor, unlike delta-9 THC. It’s because of this low binding affinity that delta-8 THC is considered less psychotropic or “potent” than the delta-9 THC you find in most cannabis. (For more information on CB1 receptors and the endocannabinoid system, check out our article, “How Does Marijuana Work in The Body”).
Although delta-8 THC is structurally different, it has similar effects to that of delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC research has shown that the most common effects people experienced from delta-8 THC were relaxation, euphoria, and pain relief while instances of negative effects such as anxiety or paranoia were almost non-existent.
In 2018, a federal Farm Bill was passed which allowed for the cultivation and sale of hemp and its byproducts, except for delta-9 THC. As this law made no mention of delta-8 THC, which can be converted from hemp CBD, people began producing and marketing it without any legal framework to do so.
For a time you could find delta-8 THC products in grocery stores and gas stations around Michigan, but in 2021 hemp and all of its byproducts were placed under the jurisdiction of the Cannabis Regulatory Agency. This means that all delta-8 products must adhere to the state’s lab testing laws and regulations in order to be eligible for purchase.
While there are fewer clinical trials that focus on delta-8 THC than there are for delta-9, studies have found its effects are similar to that of delta-9 with about half the potency. While delta-8 THC may have more specific uses, benefits, or drawbacks that emerge with further research, delta-8 is similar enough that taking lower doses of delta-9 THC should have a similar effect overall.
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