What cannabis consumers need to know about Delta-8 THC

Published Feb 1, 2021 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / HighGradeRoots

It’s not uncommon for cannabis enthusiasts to want to try out just about every hot, new product that hits the scene. It is encouraged and often even expected that consumers are up for each new challenge as it comes, but not all pot products are equal. In fact, many goods that you’ll find sold at your local dispensary might not be made of cannabis at all, despite almost no indication to the contrary, which brings us to the topic of Delta-8 THC.

What is Delta-8 THC?

The name Delta-8 THC might have you believe that this product is derived from cannabis like it’s more popular alternative Delta-9 THC, but the truth is that this cannabinoid is only produced in small amounts by most cannabis strains. Instead, it’s extracted from hemp flower, where it can be found in far more substantial quantities.

What is the difference between Delta-9 THC and Delta-8 THC?

Delta-9 THC is extracted from cannabis plant materials, and it comes with a heavy boost of euphoric benefits. The 9 in Delta-9 stands for the placement of a specific chemical bond, which is only one space over in the Delta-8 THC. The two cannabinoids are similar in structure, which allows them both to provide sedating stereotypical high effects, but Delta-8 offers a unique experience.

Though Delta-8 THC is structurally similar to Delta-9 THC and therefore interacts with the body in the same way, its results are quite different from its predecessor. Delta-8 is often referred to as weed light because the effects are similar but far milder than those that consumers would expect to receive with Delta-9 THC.

Is either one better than the other?

This is a question that doesn’t have a one size fits all answer because, for some, Delta-8 THC is superior, but for others, the effects of the milder cannabinoid aren’t enough to provide a satisfactory result. This one has lighter effects, which could be either a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, but this cannabinoid didn’t get popular because it has any sort of one-up over Delta-9 THC.

The rise in popularity of Delta-8 THC

After learning of the less than spectacular effects of Delta-8 THC, you might be wondering how a product like this has gotten so popular, but the reality is that, for the most part, its success comes down to politics. In many states, Delta-9 THC is strictly regulated or entirely prohibited, whereas Delta-8 is not restricted by either state or federal laws. Where hemp flower products are legal, so is Delta-8, which makes it a risk-free legal alternative for those who reside in illegal states.

Is there a place for Delta-8 on the global cannabis market?

Many view Delta-8 as merely a go-between an alternative and temporary solution to a problem that should soon be over. While it is true that some consumers will make the switch to the more potent version of this cannabinoid once it’s legal to do so, there is also an important place for less intoxicating options on the market today. Microdosing has become wildly popular, and some just don’t tolerate the intensity of regular cannabis-derived THC.

Like almost all cannabis elements, Delta-8 is an incredibly important tool for consumers, and it is likely to stick around for far longer than prohibition.

Study finds that 77 of cannabis users prefer milder doses of THC

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