People often refer to delta-9 THC when they talk about THC. This chemical is responsible for the high that marijuana users get. It’s not the only compound in cannabis.
There are more than 500 chemicals in cannabis plants, including 100 cannabinoids like CBD and THC.
Some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. However, federal law still lists the plant as a Schedule I drug. This is a category reserved for drugs that are highly addictive and do not provide any medical benefit, per the Drug Enforcement Administration
The legality of individual plant compounds such as delta-8 THC falls within a gray area.
A loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill means that delta-8 THC is not regulated at the federal level. The bill legalized hemp. Hemp is defined as cannabis plants containing 0.3 percent or less delta-9 THC — levels too low to cause a psychoactive effect. The bill doesn’t address delta-8 THC levels. This omission makes it legal for vendors and others to sell the compound without oversight.
Recent months have seen 14 states block the sale of delta-8. These include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Utah, and Alaska. But not all states view the compound as a concern. In May, a section of a Texas state bill that would have prohibited delta-8 was removed. This kept delta-8 THC legal in Texas.
What makes delta-8 THC different from delta-9 THC
Both delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC can be found naturally in cannabis. Chemically, they are very similar. The only thing that separates them are the locations of double bonds, which can be found on the eighth carbon of delta-8 THC and the ninth carbon in Delta-9.
Scientists know that all forms of THC can bind to the cannabinoid receptors within the body’s endocannabinoid system. This is what causes the infamous high. Delta-8, however, binds to these receptors slightly differently than delta-9 THC because of the double-bond. This makes it less potent. Scientists aren’t certain how the compounds differ.
Are delta-8 THC products safe?
Delta-8 THC is still a mystery. Products containing the compound can be easily cut with toxic materials that consumers don’t know about.
Except for delta-9 THC, there is much less research done on individual cannabinoids than there is on cannabis as a whole.
For example, when people smoke marijuana, they inhale all the compounds in the plant. Scientists don’t know enough about Delta-8 THC to determine its long-term effects just by itself.
THC is extracted by manufacturers using solvents such as dichloromethane. This produces toxic fumes when heated. These chemicals may be found in products that are ingested, smoked, or vaped, especially in unregulated markets.