What the experts want you to know about Delta-8

Published Jul 16, 2021 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / yehor

Delta-8 is one of the hottest, new products on the market, especially in countries that still have yet to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Consumers are lining up in droves to purchase delta-8 carts, oil, flower, and other concentrates and are more than happy to pay top dollar for the wonderous, new cannabinoid that offers a legal way to indulge in the euphoria that would otherwise be achieved with regular delta-9 THC.

It seems like an incredible loophole that should help to ease the needs of consumers while they await legal weed to become a reality. Still, some say that we should question its validity, and it’s not just anti-green politicians who are sounding the alarm.

What is delta-8 THC really?

Delta-8 became popular once legal countries produced an overabundance of CBD flowers, leaving CEOS, farmers, and green business owners to wonder, what could be done with it all? As much as CBD has certainly become a widespread market all on its own, as people become more aware of what it can do, there’s really only so much you can do with it. It’s not a hit with recreational consumers either, who seek out a more stereotypical “high”, something that CBD alone cannot provide.

The health-focused side of the cannabinoid industry is going strong, but it’s a huge moneymaker in the grand scheme of things. Limited options and an oversupply led many producers to realize that the best way to go about things would be to chemically change the relatively boring cannabinoid into something slightly more functional. That’s where delta-8 comes into the equation, a synthesized cannabis element that is created through a unique process that turns pure CBD into a weak mock version of delta-9 (regular THC).

It might sound like magic, and technically it’s quite a feat to take on. Not too long ago, the idea of synthetic cannabinoids was little more than a fantasy, and these days you can buy it almost anywhere, even convenience stores. It’s a whole new world, and for the most part, the people are satisfied with the product, which sits somewhere between THC and CBD-like effects.  It’s providing a legal way to indulge, and since it’s less potent than its predecessor, those who are new to the scene can fear less about potential adverse effects.

No matter how you slice it, delta-8 is shaping up to be one of the best-selling cannabinoid products in the world, but some experts say that this sudden acceptance of a product that’s barely been studied is something to be cautious about. A lot of the apprehension comes from not fear of delta-8 but concern regarding what else might be lurking around in delta-8 carts and concentrates. Synthesized cannabinoids are relatively new, and we don’t know too much about them, but we can be certain that there’s a whole lot more than delta-8 in these legal pot products.

What’s in delta-8?

Even if consumers really were just taking delta-8, we couldn’t say for certain the type of effects it could have, especially when it’s used long-term. There is just not enough evidence to say that this cannabinoid is as safe as other more naturally produced alternatives and that alone is enough to make some second guess its potential. What makes this all the more confusing is the way that delta-8 is created. Synthesized cannabinoids don’t always act in the way you’d like to expect, and we know this because of a few experts who have tried to find out how and why it all works.

In some cases, there may be regular THC left behind. In fact, it might happen more than we realize due to the types of plants that are typically harvested for the purpose of making delta-8. Hemp is a highly regulated industry with strict THC maximums, something that can be thrown off by mother nature herself. Even under the best circumstances, it is not uncommon for hemp farmers to accidentally cultivate a crop that contains way more than the allowable amount, which means that the plants must either be destroyed or repurposed.

So, to save time, money and avoid waste, these two potent plants are often shipped off to delta-8 producers, who then work their magic to “convert” the CBD into something that can be legally sold and purchased. This is a huge concern, especially for those who are using delta-8 to avoid failing a drug test, but it’s not the only visible issue here. That’s right! There’s a lot more than pure THC hiding in your favourite delta-8 carts, and we aren’t entirely sure what all of it actually is.

The process of synthesizing CBD can create so much more than the delta-8 cannabinoid. In fact, this unnatural method of converting cannabidiol can lead to the creation of brand new, never before seen cannabinoids. Many of which could be capable of doing anything from causing nausea to inducing a really potent buzz. Sadly, we aren’t sure why because this is all so new. Much more research will be needed before we can fully quell the fears that currently surround delta-8.

Is delta-8 safe?

As of now, all the data we have thus far seems to suggest that delta-8 is just as safe as any other cannabinoid on the market. It’s not toxic regardless of dose, and most would say that the milder range of effects makes it the safest choice especially for first-time recreational consumers. The concerns surrounding delta-8 do not stem from the cannabinoid itself, so much as our lack of understanding everything that’s in it and all potential side effects of those unknown elements, which is enough of a reason to proceed with caution.

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