What is Delta 8 THC?
If you're cannabis nerds like us you've probably already heard of delta 8 THC and how it's sweeping through the industry. There may also be some hesitancy toward showing love for this minor cannabinoid. So let's dig a little deeper...
When you store weed for a long time, especially at room temperature, it begins to degrade, both in flavor and potency. First, the terpenes, being the most volatile, evaporate and then the cannabinoids begin to degrade. It can take over a year to see a few percentage point difference in cannabinoid content. Exposure to oxygen, heat, and light speeds up degradation. That's why storing cannabis in a dark, cool place helps preserve the terpene and cannabinoid content.
Delta 9 THC will eventually degrade to CBN and in very low concentrations to delta 8. That explains why older weed is less potent. CBN is considered 'non-intoxicating' and delta 8 is generally considered to be 50% less potent than delta 9.
Another fun fact: since delta 9 oxidizes (degrades via exposure to oxygen) to CBN and delta 8 does not, delta 8 is actually considered to be more thermodynamically stable.
Hemp-derived CBD can be processed into delta 8 THC, which is the main reason this cannabinoid has garnered so much interest.
Now, let's take a look at some common misconceptions of delta 8:
1. It's "synthetic"
It's not synthetic in the sense that it's not a synthetic cannabinoid, like those first synthesized by John W. Huffman. "Synthetic" cannabinoids have a similar chemical structure to naturally-derived cannabinoids from the cannabis plant but they're created in a lab from simpler materials (look up JWH-018). They emulate a cannabinoid so the chemical binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and activates the receptors to produce a biological response. Synthetic cannabinoids tend to have a greater affinity for these receptors than naturally-derived cannabinoids which makes them much more potent.
Delta 8 THC is an actual, naturally-derived cannabinoid that has gone through isomerization; it's not a synthetic cannabinoid. The reality is, we consume many naturally-derived compounds on a daily basis that have gone through some form of isolation/purification i.e. synthesis (like Vitamin C and decaffeinated tea) without thinking twice about it.
2. It's illegal
First off, Cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional. Also, delta 9 THC is illegal but you don't see the DEA busting down the doors of "legal" cultivators/dispensaries. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized all derivatives/isomers derived from cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC but only factored in decarboxylated delta 9 THC. This language created a loophole, hence the growing popularity of (unregulated) delta 8 THC infused products.
3. It's not as pure as regular THC
As an infuser, if you're sourcing extracts and distillates from an accredited lab with trained chemists on staff there is no reason to believe that the same level of purity can't be achieved for delta 8 as delta 9. As long as the delta 8 distillate is tested for residual solvents and potential byproducts that may have been created during the catalyzed cyclization of CBD then the product is no less safe than regulated delta 9 THC.
4. It doesn't have any of the potential adverse effects of regular THC (like anxiety or paranoia)
Not exactly...This would be the equivalent of comparing a light beer to vodka and claiming that it can't get you plastered drunk. Since delta 8 is less potent it just requires higher doses to reach the point of intoxication/potential adverse effects. The likelihood of overdose is lower but that doesn't mean it can't happen.
Read more about Delta 8 THC.