What's Up with Delta 8 THC?
By now, most cannabis lovers understand that cannabis has much more to offer than just THC; they search out unique cannabis products based on terpene profile, extraction process, and cannabinoid profile versus total THC content. Delta-8-THC is yet another piece of an unsolved puzzle—exactly how many cannabinoids are there and what can they be used for?
In previous posts we've explored the variety of cannabinoids and some of their different uses. Delta 8 THC is comparable to delta-9-THC but with a lower psychotropic potency. In other words, it has a "mellower" effect than "regular" THC.
Given the lower level of intoxication caused by Delta 8 THC, the applications are appealing; it can be ingested at greater or equal doses to delta-9-THC but feel more like "microdoses". For example, a 12 ounce drink containing 10mg Delta 8 THC might feel like a drink with just 5mg of delta-9-THC.
So what's all the fuss about Delta-8-THC if the perceived level of intoxication (often measured by subjective criteria like depersonalization, derealisation, drowsiness, amnesia, and altered internal and external perceptions) of Delta-8-THC is anecdotally reported to be lower than delta-9-THC? It comes down to legality: how should Delta-8-THC be regulated given its psychotropic properties?
Is Delta-8-THC Legal?
In short, yes. The United States legalized cannabis with less than 0.3% THC in 2018. However, they specified that decarboxylated delta-9-THC (the intoxicating cannabinoid) is what is measured as total THC in this legal definition of "hemp". Therefore, we would infer that delta-8-THC (also intoxicating) is legal as long as it's extracted from hemp. Of course, this is not legal advice and should not be read as such; it's merely our opinion.
One caveat exists: is delta-8-THC the result of "synthesis" (because that would make it illegal)? We think it can be argued that CBD undergoes "processing" i.e. isomerization, a chemical process, but not "synthesis." It's not created from simpler materials. Delta-8-THC is NOT "synthetic" THC, which only emulates the compound to interact with the brain’s sensory receptor.
Delta 8 THC Regulation
Similarly to CBD, delta-8-THC is "unregulated"; meaning, the FDA has not established criteria or rules for incorporating cannabinoids into dietary supplements, food, and cosmetics. Obviously, the industry is not waiting around for a notoriously slow, unelected governing body to give its stamp of approval. This does not mean that unregulated cannabinoids are unsafe (for example CBD is about 400 times safer than caffeine) as they are often characterized by fear-peddling media outlets and unknowledgeable regulators.
CBDa is naturally occurring in hemp, which is federally legal and regulated as an agricultural product. State-regulated programs only regulate delta-9-THC, which is what makes delta-8-THC so appealing—businesses can sell their infused products without jumping through ridiculous hoops and the state's adult use licensing bungle.
Is Delta-8-THC Safe?
It can be, when used correctly, just like delta-9-THC. But caution should be taken. The safety profile is yet to be determined and the chemistry used to create delta-8-THC from CBD is new to people. However, if solvents are removed and the distillate is purified there is no reason to believe delta-8-THC is somehow less safe than delta-9-THC. Unlike with CBD, caution should be taken when consuming delta-8-THC since it may impair your ability to operate machinery for example.
Delta 8 THC in Chicago
In Chicago, a few establishments serving delta-8-THC have already popped up. Early adopters of delta-8-THC could face some initial backlash from regulators but it seems the cannabinoid is here to stay, for now. Should the trend continue, we may see legal cannabis roll out the way it was intended - equitable, low barrier to entry, and free from market manipulation.
In related news, the Illinois Senate will soon vote on the "CBD Safety Act" which aims to develop labeling requirements and regulation for "cannabinoid-infused" products. This will include rules for products containing delta-8-THC so we may see changes to how delta-8-THC businesses in Chicago are able to operate. Stay tuned!