Delta 8 has become the most discussed cannabis product on the market in recent months. In part, because of claims that it has therapeutic benefits similar to CBD and “regular” THC without the intense pschoactive effects. And also in part because of the controversy surrounding its legality.
Its popularity continues to grow as more Delta 8 products become available online and based on testimonials from those who are using it for both medical and recreational purposes.
But what exactly is Delta 8? How is it different than the more well-known cannabinoids CBD and THC? The purpose of our Delta 8 Beginner’s Guide is to explain the basics in layman’s terms so that you can make your own decisions about trying and using it.
What is Delta 8?
Delta 8 THC (short for delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of over 100 cannabinoids that are produced naturally by the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are the active compounds that come from both marijuana and hemp.
They interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to promote homeostatis, or overall balance and wellness. Each individual cannabinoid has unique properties, effects and potential therapeutic benefits.
Unlike the better known cannabinoids CBD and Delta 9 THC (the technical name for the THC that most are familiar with), very little Delta 8 THC is produced by the plant itself. However, recent advancements in extraction and conversion processes have made it possible for hemp-derived CBD to be converted into Delta 8 THC in a lab. It’s this lab-produced version that is found in Delta 8 products on the market today.
In terms of its effects, Delta 8 THC can probably best be described as a less potent, more uplifting and clear-headed version of Delta 9 THC.
The difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9 is very small from a scientific perspective. A double carbon bond exists in the 8th position of the molecular chain for Delta 8 versus the 9th position for Delta 9.
What are the Potential Benefits of Delta 8?
According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta 8 THC has antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic and neuroprotective properties.
Based on the very limited research to date and feedback from current users, Delta 8 products may be an option worth considering for those:
- Seeking relaxation from a natural product that is more potent than CBD but less potent than THC
- Who have benefitted from using Delta 9 THC but don’t want the intense high or stoned feeling that comes with it
It’s highly recommended that you consult with your physician before using Delta 8, especially if you have medical conditions or take prescription medications.
What Does the Research Say?
Medical research into the benefits and effects of Delta 8 is still very scant. Much remains to be learned about Delta 8 and other cannabinoids from controlled human trials and research. Our review of research studies mentioning Delta 8 THC yielded only a few results.
Antiemetic (effective against vomiting and nausea) – In this 1995 study, Delta 8 completely prevented vomiting with negligible side effects in children who were being treated with cancer drugs.
Reduced pain and inflammation – the topical application of Delta 8 and CBD reduced corneal pain and inflammation in this 2018 study conducted with mice. The results supported reports noted by the researchers that activation of the endocannabinoid system may be analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory.
Appetite stimulant – this 2004 study found that Delta 8 given to mice in very small doses caused “increased food consumption and tendency to improve cognitive function” without side effects. It led the researchers to conclude that a low dose of THC may be a “potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of weight disorders.”
Will Delta 8 Get You High?
Based on reports from users, using Delta 8 can indeed result in psychotropic effects similar to Delta 9 THC. Most report feeling a “mild, clear-headed high.” The intensity of those effects vary by person and also depends on how much you’ve consumed.
Assuming that you want to avoid the effect of feeling an intense “high”, it’s recommended that you take Delta 8 in very low amounts. This is especially true if you’re just starting out and not sure of what to expect.
Over time, you’ll get a better understanding of how your body reacts to Delta 8 and be better able to decide how much you should be taking for your desired results.
What are the Best Delta 8 Brands?
The recent surge in the popularity of Delta 8 products has resulted in an increase in the number of companies now selling them online. While having more options is generally good for consumers, it can still be hard to know which brands are safe and reputable.
Here is our list of the best Delta 8 brands based on our research and feedback from members of our Facebook groups. As always, we encourage you to do your own research and only buy from reputable brands that make third-party lab reports readily available to you.
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How Much Should You Take?
As is true with any cannabis-based product, there is no “right” amount to take that works best for everyone. The effects of Delta 8 and other cannabinoids such as CBD are very individualized. In fact, you can expect to get different effects depending on how much you take and how you take it. You’ll need to do some experimentation to find your optimal dosage or “sweet spot” amount that produces the effects you desire without unwanted side effects.
The most important thing to remember from this article is to start low. This means starting with one short pull if you’re vaping, a quarter or half of a gummy (you can cut them into pieces), or just a couple drops of tincture depending on its potency. By starting low and increasing slowly over time, you’ll be able to find how much works best for you.
When you are just starting out, it can be helpful to keep a dosing log of how much you are taking and the effects that you feel. Keeping a record of your experiences can help you find your optimal dose more effectively.
For more detailed information on how much you should take, please visit our Delta 8 Dosage Calculator & Dosing Guide page.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Can Delta 8 Make You Fail a Drug Test?
Yes, using Delta 8 products can absolutely cause a positive result for THC on a drug test. This is due to the fact that Delta 8 produces the same metabolites as regular Delta 9 THC that can trigger a positive test.
As with any cannabis-derived product, your chances of testing positive depend on a variety of factors including duration of use, the type of test and your body chemistry.
But the bottom line is that you should not use Delta 8 or any cannabis product if you are unwilling to accept the risk of testing positive on a drug test. In the case of Delta 8 specifically, the risk is high.
Are Delta 8 Products Legal?
The legality of Delta 8 in the United States is currently a topic of much debate. The 2018 Farm Bill which was signed into law in December 2018 explicitly legalized all derivatives and extracts from the hemp plant. To be legally classifed as being from hemp, the levels of Delta 9 THC must be less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
What remains unclear is the classification of Delta 8 not only in terms of the 2018 Farm Bill but also subsequent rules from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Specifically, it’s not clear whether Delta 8 should be treated as being synthetically-derived or classfied the same as Delta 9 THC. There is hope that there will be more definitive clarifications coming in the months ahead.
In the meantime, users should be aware of its uncertain legal status. You should also know that your state and local laws may also be more restrictive. If you have concerns from a legal perspective, we recommend that you consult a local attorney.
How Do You Use Delta 8?
If you decide that you want to try Delta 8, the first decision you’ll need to make is how you want to take it. The 3 most common ways for beginners to use Delta 8 are: (1) tinctures, (2) gummies and (3) vaping.
Each of these delivery methods differ in terms of onset speed, duration and intensity of the effects. Let’s discuss each of these different delivery methods to help you choose the one that may be best for you.
Sublingual drops, or tinctures, have always been the most popular way that users take CBD oil. So it’s not a surprise that Delta 8 tinctures are also a popular choice.
Just like CBD tinctures, Delta 8 tinctures have a carrier oil (usually MCT coconut oil or hemp seed oil) and are taken by holding the drops under your tongue for at least 45-60 seconds. You can also just swallow the liquid right away which can have slightly different effects.
The effects from tinctures are normally felt in 15-20 minutes and last for up to 4-6 hours. Tinctures are a good choice if you don’t need immediate relief and want the effects to last longer than vaping. They have higher absorption rates than gummies so you’ll find they are more cost-effective over time.
Another popular way of taking Delta 8 is in the form of Delta 8 gummies. Gummies are easy to consume and dose accurately. They are also a good choice if you don’t want to choose a specific strain or you don’t like the idea of vaping. Each gummy typically has between 10-25 milligrams of Delta 8 THC.
Gummies have the slowest onset time of the different delivery methods. It can take up to an hour to feel any effects because of the pass through the digestive system. The good news is that when it does kick in, the effects can last for up to 4-8 hours.
Because of the absorption through the digestive tract, gummies tend to have more of a “total body” effect. Gummies have the lowest bioavailability, or absorption rate, of the different methods. So generally you’ll need to consume more milligrams of an edible to get the same effects as vaping or tinctures.
Another popular way of using Delta 8 is vaping. Most online stores and local shops who sell D8 products carry Delta 8 vape cartridges in a variety of different strains and terpene blends. Different strains have unique effects so you’ll want to choose the strain based on the effects that you’re seeking. The reported effects of each strain are sometimes listed on the store’s website or you can research strains online to help you make your choice.
To use a vape cartridge, you’ll need a vape pen or box mod. If you don’t already have one, they are readily available online and at local vape shops.
Vape cartridges are popular with users because of the large variety of strain options. The ability to choose the strain and blend of terpenes allows you to customize the effects for your needs. A potential downside is that you often have to do some experimentation with different strains to find the one that works best for you.
When you vape Delta 8, the effects are typically felt immediately and can be more intense than other methods. Because of the rapid onset speed, vaping is a popular choice for those seeking fast relief. The effects from vaping normally last for between 2-3 hours from your last puff.
What is Delta 8 Flower and is it Safe?
Delta 8 flower are dried buds of the hemp plant that have been sprayed with Delta 8 distillate. Users typically consume D8 flower by either smoking it or using a dry herb vaporizer.
The safety of Delta 8 flower is questionable and varies by vendor. In order for D8 distillate to be sprayed onto flower, it has to be thinned out. Cutting agents used for this thinning process can be harmful if not done correctly. Additionally, spraying often has in inconsistent coverage which can result in inconsistent results for the user.
As an alternative to taking Delta 8 flower, you can use a combination of regular hemp flower and a separate D8 product. If you really want to try D8 flower, it’s highly recommended that you view full-panel third party lab reports of the final product. This will help ensure that it doesn’t contain potentially harmful solvents or pesticides.
We love to hear about and share the experiences of users with others. Please consider leaving a comment below to help others who are interested in learning more about Delta 8.