Delta 8 THC 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 and based on testimonials from those who are using it for a variety of reasons.
But what exactly is Delta 8 THC? How is it different than the more well-known cannabinoids CBD and THC? And is it even legal?
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 THC?
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 cannabis extraction and conversion processes have made it possible for pure Delta 8 THC to be isolated and made into products for consumers.
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 THC?
According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta 8 THC has antiemetic (reduces nausea), anxiolytic (reduces anxiety), appetite-stimulating, analgesic (pain-relieving) 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 THC 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 THC 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 THC 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.”
What are Users Saying about Delta 8 THC?
Many users have shared their personal Delta 8 experiences with us in our Facebook groups. This anecdotal feedback can be helpful for beginners and will give you an idea of what others are saying. But since all cannabis products affect everyone differently so don’t assume that you’ll have similar results.
- “I have depression and anxiety. Delta 8 has been the answer to my prayers.”
- “Love Delta 8! Been using gel caps and cartridges for about a month. Takes anxiety way down and noticeable reduction in neck pain.”
- “Makes me feel relaxed. I can literally feel my anxiety melt away. It’s amazing.”
- “Has been the best thing for my anxiety and overall temperament.”
- “Delta 8 relaxes me without causing anxiety. I like the calming effects as well as better sleep.”
- “It’s relaxing and euphoric for me. I enjoyed taking it late afternoon/early evening to wind down and it helped my sleep a lot.”
- “Delta 8 has been nothing short of a godsend. It has helped so tremendously with bipolar symptoms of mania, anxiety, depression and insomnia. I have been using for over 3 months and vape as needed.”
- “I love Delta 8. For me, it’s pretty much the good parts of THC without the disconnect I sometimes feel. I can use it and still work and be 100% focused. I vape CBD, THC and Delta 8 and find the best relief is when I do a bit of all 3.”
Will Delta 8 Get You High?
Based on reports from users, taking too much Delta 8 THC can indeed result in psychotropic effects similar to Delta 9 THC. The intensity of those effects vary by person and also depends on how much you’ve consumed.
Some users have reported feeling a “mild, clear-headed high” whereas others say they’ve experienced the higher anxiety, nausea and paranoia that you might expect from using high doses of Delta 9 THC in marijuana.
Assuming that you want to avoid the effect of feeling an intense “high”, it’s recommended that you take Delta 8 in 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.
Can Delta 8 Make You Fail a Drug Test?
Yes, using Delta 8 THC 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 THC 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 THC 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 THC 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 2021.
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) vaping, (2) gummies and (3) tinctures.
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.
The most popular way of using Delta 8 is vaping. Most online stores and local shops who sell D8 products carry 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.
Another popular way of taking Delta 8 is in the form of gummies. They are a good choice if you don’t want to choose a specific strain or you don’t like the idea of vaping. Gummies are also easy to consume and dose accurately. 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.
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 THC products are now becoming readily available in tincture form. Just like CBD tinctures, Delta 8 tinctures have a carrier oil (usually MCT coconut oil) and are taken by holding the drops under your tongue for at least 45-60 seconds.
The effects from tinctures are normally felt in 15-20 minutes and last for up to 4-6 hours. Tinctures are a good choice for those who 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.
Delta 8 THC Dosage Tips
- As is true with any cannabis-based product, there is no “right” dosage or amount to take for optimal results. The effects of Delta 8 and other cannabinoids such as CBD are very individualized. And you can expect to get different effects depending on how much you take. 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 on dosage. This means starting with one puff 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 the optimal amount that works best for you.
- If you experience headaches, nausea, or any other undesired effects, you’re probably taking too much. Try lowering the amount you are taking to find your sweet spot.
- If you choose gummies as your delivery method, give it at least an hour and a half before you even consider taking more. A classic beginner mistake is to take a gummy and then think that you need another one after 30-45 minutes because you haven’t felt anything yet. In most cases, your body just hasn’t yet metabolized the first one.
- 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 dosage more effectively.
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 THC 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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