What Is Delta-8-THC? A Complete Guide to Weed “Alternative”

For most people, THC means the standard delta 9 version that enters their lungs when they smoke or vape weed.

However, delta 9 THC is just one form of the THC molecule. The cannabis plant can produce a few of its analogs.

In this article, we provide an all-around guide to delta 8 THC, a cannabinoid taking the cannabis market by storm due to its smoother cognitive effects and legal status than delta 9.

Delta 8 THC usually comes as a distillate, which is then infused into various formats, such as tinctures, edibles, capsules, concentrates, and vapes.

Read on to learn about one of the most intriguing cannabinoids in the wellness space.

What Is Delta 8 THC?

Cannabis Delta 8 THC plant

Delta 8 THC is short for delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol.

It’s an analog of the delta 9 THC version from marijuana.

This means that both substances have a similar chemical makeup; there is, however, a slight difference between the arrangement of their atomic bonds. For delta 8 THC, the double bond is located at the 8th chain, while for delta 9 THC, this bond is at the 9th chain.

This subtle difference makes delta 8 THC about half as potent as delta 9. As a result, Delta 8 is also less likely to cause anxiety and paranoia.

Cannabis companies infuse delta 8 THC into typical cannabis formats, including tinctures, edibles, and vapes.

Delta 8 THC has several potential health benefits, including:

  • Reduction of stress and anxiety
  • Appetite boost
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduction of nausea
  • Mood elevation
  • Potential aid as a supportive cancer treatment
  • Prevention of nausea and vomiting
  • Reduction of inflammation

Does Delta 8 THC Get You High?

Many people joke that delta 8 THC is diet weed or cannabis light because of its lower potency. Yes, delta 8 THC is milder than delta 9, but it DOES get you high. However, the high is smoother, clearer-headed, and focused more on the body than cerebral sensations.

The way delta 8 THC will make you feel depends on the dose. Lower amounts, such as 5–10 mg, can provide mild stimulation and are good for daytime use.

Higher doses, upwards of 30 mg, can induce moderate intoxication, a slightly lazy vibe, and deep relaxation. In addition, many people combine delta 8 THC with other cannabinoids and terpenes to leverage the whole-plant synergy.

You can also add a few drops of delta 8 tincture into your morning coffee to boost concentration or melatonin to promote healthy sleep cycles.

What Delta 8 THC Feels Like

  • Elevating
  • Giggly
  • Productive (low doses)
  • Sedating (high doses)
  • Relaxing

Is Delta 8 THC Safe?

To date, no study has reported any severe or life-threatening effects from taking delta 8 THC. The cannabinoid has a decent safety profile. The major problem with delta 8 THC extracts isn’t the active compound itself. It’s the lack of laboratory testing and the presence of contaminants in such products that could make them dangerous.

Higher doses of delta 8 THC are associated with euphoria, warped perception of time, and motor function impairment. Therefore, you should never drive a vehicle after taking delta 8 THC.

Another concern is that delta 8 might raise blood pressure similar to delta 9, which may be a risk factor for people with heart disease — especially in the smoked and vaped form.

Delta 8 THC can also interact with prescription medications such as blood thinners, anti-cholesterol drugs, and diabetes medications.

Possible Side Effects of Delta 8 THC

  • Temporarily increased blood pressure
  • Warped perception of time
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Problems falling asleep
  • Anxiety and paranoia (very rare)

Is Delta 8 THC Legal?

Theoretically, delta 8 THC is legal on a federal level because it can be extracted from hemp.

Hemp and its derivatives were legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, which made a clear distinction between hemp and marijuana. No federal agency has taken a stance against the legality of delta 8.

Except for the DEA, which has recently issued a negative statement on the extraction methods involved in the production of delta 8 THC distillates.

Here’s what you need to know about the legal status of the THC compound:

  • Delta 9 THC is federally illegal. Therefore, only individuals living in the states with legalized marijuana for recreational use can legally purchase delta 9 THC-infused products.
  • Delta 8 THC is legal on a federal level, but some states have already banned its sale.
  • Delta 8 THC is usually made from hemp, so it meets the conditions set out by the 2018 Farm Bill.
  • Delta 8 THC is made by converting CBD into delta 9 THC and then synthesizing delta 8 from it.
  • Synthetic extraction of THC is illegal. However, all hemp-derived products are extracted with natural methods.

The following states have banned delta 8 THC:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

Top Delta 8 THC Vendors: The Most Reputable Companies in This Space

1. Area52 (Editor’s Choice)

Delta 8 THC Products by Area 52

Area52 specializes in premium delta 8 THC based on a pure distillate. In addition, the brand provides organic plant extracts for health-conscious users who want to improve their cognitive functioning. Area52’s products are gently extracted without toxic acids; each batch is tested by a third-party laboratory, with up-to-date certificates of analysis available on its website.

Products offered by Area52:

  • Delta 8 THC Tincture
  • Delta 8 THC Gummies
  • Delta 8 THC Vape Carts

2. Finest Labs (Runner Up)

Delta 8 THC Products by Finest Labs

Finest Labs is a relatively new company that offers low-strength delta 8 THC products for beginners and those who benefit from lower doses of delta 8 in their routine. The potency of these extracts doesn’t exceed 500 mg, which makes it a decent pick if you’re just getting started with such products. Like Area52, these delta 8 THC products come from organic hemp and are tested for purity and safety in an independent laboratory.

Products offered by Finest Labs:

  • Delta 8 THC Tincture
  • Delta 8 THC Gummies
  • Delta 8 THC Vape Carts

3. Delta 8 Pro

Delta8Pro Products

Delta 8 Pro is one of the trailblazers on the market. The company has been making cannabinoid-based extracts since 2008. They offer a wide range of delta 8 THC products, including tinctures, edibles, concentrates, and delta 8 THC hemp moon rocks. However, Delta 8 Pro doesn’t have any vegan or cruelty-free products, raising ethical concerns in some consumers.

Products offered by Delta 8 Pro

  • Delta 8 THC tincture
  • Delta 8 THC vape carts (Sold Out)
  • Delta 8 THC disposables (Sold Out)
  • Delta 8 THC flower (Sold Out)
  • Delta 8 THC moon rocks (Sold Out)

What Are the Health Benefits of Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC interacts with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) similarly to delta 9 THC. By engaging with the ECS, delta 8 THC can help regulate nausea and vomiting, ease stress, reduce pain and inflammation, boost appetite, and protect neurons in the brain against damage.

Delta 8 THC for Anxiety

According to one study, delta 8 THC had less harmful psychoactive effects than delta 9 THC, highlighting it as a potential alternative for managing anxiety disorders. However, more longitudinal studies on humans are needed to prove these benefits on a broad scale further.

Delta 8 THC for Lack of Appetite

A study that analyzed the impact of delta 8 and delta 9 THC on rodents’ appetite found that delta 8 THC had a more significant effect on their appetite than delta 9.

Delta 8 THC for Pain

One study has examined subjects with nerve pain; they were administered daily doses of delta 9 THC for 7 months. At the end of the study, over 90% of the patients reported their pain was significantly reduced. That being said, no study has yet analyzed these effects with regards to delta 8 THC. But given that delta 8 is about half as potent, it could provide similar results in higher amounts.

Delta 8 THC for Nausea

Are products rich in THC are generally considered safe and effective for health problems like nausea and vomiting — but does delta 8 THC work in the same way as delta 9 THC? For now, the antiemetic properties of delta 8 THC have only been mentioned by the National Cancer Institute. However, many anecdotal claims from people who have been successfully using delta 8 THC to manage nausea and vomiting.

Delta 8 THC for Neuroprotection

Several studies have reported that delta 8 THC has neuroprotective properties that could potentially help prevent degeneration in the brain cells. Neurodegeneration is associated with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The protective actions of delta 8 THC are possible thanks to its interaction with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors.

How to Take Delta 8 THC

Delta 8 THC comes in the same forms as CBD products. You can find it in tinctures, gummies, concentrates, vapes, and pure distillate.

Here we briefly cover each format:

Delta 8 THC Tinctures

Delta 8 THC tinctures are made from a d8 distillate suspended into a carrier base such as food-grade oils. They are taken under the tongue to speed up absorption and avoid the first-pass metabolism in the liver.

Delta 8 THC tinctures are taken under the tongue. Once you’ve measured out your dose, hold it there for about 60 seconds before swallowing. The tincture will absorb through the tiny capillaries in your mouth.

These products are available in different concentrations, from 300 mg to 3000 mg of delta 8 THC per bottle. In addition, some tinctures offer flavored versions to make consumption more enjoyable.

Delta 8 THC Gummies

Gummies are the hottest category of delta 8 THC products. You can choose from different flavors, shapes, and formulations, with either pure delta 8 THC or complementary ingredients such as melatonin, turmeric, ginger, or lemon balm. Each gummy contains a fixed amount of delta 8 THC, which makes dosing easier. However, they need more time to kick in than tinctures, usually producing their effects within 2 hours from ingestion.

Delta 8 THC Vapes

Vaping is the fastest and most effective delivery method for delta 8 THC. The effects usually take hold within minutes after you finish inhaling. They also deliver the most delta 8 THC to your system out of all consumption methods.

There are three categories of delta 8 THC vapes, including:

  • Delta 8 THC Cartridges – delta 8 carts are infused with a d8 E-liquid. You can attach them to your vape tank’s threading, which is reusable; the tank itself can be disposed of when empty.
  • Delta 8 THC Vape Pens – these vape pens contain delta 8 THC E-liquid and are disposable. They offer a convenient and easy way to vape delta 8 THC. You just need to put your lips around the mouthpiece and start inhaling. Once you’re through, you can throw the pen into a trash bin.
  • Delta 8 THC E-liquids – delta 8 THC E-Liquid contains a blend of delta 8 THC and cannabis-derived terpenes. The formula is then thinned down with vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol to produce dense vapor. The experience is smoother on the throat and lungs than dabbing delta 8 concentrates.

Delta 8 THC Concentrates

Delta 8 THC concentrates are vicious, concentrated, and resinous forms of this cannabinoid. They are made by extracting THC from cannabis and converting it into the delta 8 isomers. The process isn’t efficient because the end product contains less delta 8 THC than pure distillate. But on the other hand, it also comes with other cannabinoids and terpenes, so you’re getting the much-desired entourage effect.

Delta 8 THC vs. Delta 9 THC: What’s the Difference?

Cannabis Delta 8 THC on a container and a stethoscope

Delta 8 and delta 9 THC are different versions of the THC molecule. Earlier in the article, we briefly covered the main differences between them. Here we’ll have a more detailed comparison.

Let’s start with the positives and negatives of delta 8 THC.

Pros & Cons of Delta 8 THC

Pros Cons
  • Delta 8 THC offers a smoother psychoactive experience
  • Delta 8 THC is a stronger appetite stimulant
  • The experience is more clear-headed
  • Anxiety and paranoia are very rare
  • Delta 8 THC is legal on a federal level
  • Delta 8 THC has a longer shelf life than delta 9 THC
  • Lower potency may be a downside for some users
  • Delta 8 THC is difficult to extract and less efficient than delta 9 extraction.

As mentioned earlier in the article, the subtle difference between the arrangement of the atomic bonds in Delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC makes delta 8 twice less potent. So you need to use twice the amount to experience the same intensity of effects.

The cognitive effects of delta 8 THC are also less trippy in higher doses, which reduces the likelihood of anxiety and paranoia.

That being said, you can still experience dry, red eyes, dry mouth, fatigue, and impairment of motor functions. Therefore, you should never drive a vehicle or operate any heavy machinery when using delta 8 THC.

Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 THC: Comparison Chart

Delta 8 THC Delta 9 THC
Psychoactive Effects Mild-Moderate Moderate-High
Price $$ $
Concentration in Cannabis Less than 1% Up to 30%
Affinity to Cannabinoid Receptors CB1 & CB2 CB1 & CB2
Regular Dose 10–40 mg 5–20 mg
Appetite Stimulation Strong Stimulant Moderate Stimulant
Potential to Cause Anxiety Unlikely Very Likely
Legal Status Legal-Grey Area (allowed in most states) Illegal

Can You Fail a Drug Test After Taking Delta 8 THC?

The chemical composition of delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC is strikingly similar. Standard drug tests aren’t designed to distinguish between different versions of THC, so yes, taking delta 8 THC before a drug test can lead to a false-positive result. It’s best to abstain from using it if you know of an upcoming drug screening at work.

How to Buy Delta 8 THC Products

The delta 8 THC space is largely unregulated, and nothing seems it will change anytime soon — or, at least, until the federal government decriminalizes all forms of cannabis for recreational use. Delta 8 THC brands are working to achieve certain quality standards in the industry. Still, there’s no shortage of fly-by-night companies that are simply looking to capitalize on a booming market.

There are many mislabeled products in local smoke shops and vape stores, so you need to research your potential vendors. The fastest way to get high-quality delta 8 THC products is to find a trustworthy online store.

An article posted by LA Weekly describes some of the important parameters to check when searching for delta 8 THC online:

  • The source of delta 8 THC – delta 8 THC can be extracted from hemp or marijuana. The only federally legal products are the ones made from hemp. But even then, mass-produced hemp can yield poor-quality extracts due to contamination with toxins in the soil or pesticides that have been sprayed on the plants. The best source of delta 8 THC is organic hemp that is grown on local farms.
  • Extraction method – CO2 extraction is the golden standard for hemp-derived products. Since delta 8 THC is converted from CBD, the major cannabinoid must be gently extracted without additional heat or aggressive solvents.
  • Third-party testing – companies that sell delta 8 THC should provide certificates of analysis (COAs) for their products. These certificates are issued by third-party laboratories that check the product’s THC content and purity, including the results for pesticides, heavy metals, zinc chloride, and zinc bromide.
  • Reputation – reputable brands have a lot of positive reviews all over the internet. If there are no reviews of the company or have many negative reviews, it’s better to look for another source of delta 8 THC.

Buying Delta 8 THC Online vs. Near Me: Which Is Better?

The legal status and the lack of anxious side effects have created a thriving market for delta 8 THC. As a result, you can find these products virtually everywhere nowadays, from dispensaries to vape shops, head shops, and even gas stations.

If you like the idea of the light buzz created by delta 8 THC, you’re probably wondering where to buy the best products — should you check out local vendors or look at online stores?

Buying delta 8 THC online offers a few advantages over local shopping.

First, you have more options for doing research; you can look into lab reports, read user reviews, and check the company’s reputation among the cannabis community on social media groups and expert forums. Finally, you can compare different brands by reading third-party rankings if you want to get a full picture of your potential vendor.

Shopping for delta 8 THC online also gives you access to hundreds of different products in the comfort of your home, not to mention better prices. In addition, since there’s no middleman involved in running an online store, customers can take advantage of special discounts, coupon codes, and loyalty programs.

How Much Delta 8 THC Should I Take?

Delta 8 THC is considered about half as potent as delta 9 THC. Single doses between 5–30 mg induce psychoactive effects on the verge of getting the user high. Amounts upwards of 30 mg can produce a light high; the closer to the upper limit (60 mg), the higher the intensity of effects.

Delta 8 THC Dosage Chart (By Weight)

Weight Mild Effects Moderate Effects Heavy Effects
80 lbs (35 kg) 5 mg 10 mg 20 mg
100 lbs (45 kg) 6.5 mg 13 mg 25 mg
120 lbs (55 kg) 7.5 mg 15 mg 30 mg
140 lbs (65 kg) 9 mg 18 mg 36 mg
160 lbs (72 kg) 10 mg 20 mg 40 mg
180 lbs (82 kg) 12 mg 24 mg 45 mg
200 lbs (90 kg) 13 mg 26 mg 50 mg
220 lbs (100 kg) 14 mg 28 mg 56 mg
240 lbs (108 kg) 15 mg 30 mg 60 mg
260 lbs (118 kg) 17 mg 33 mg 65 mg

Can You Build Tolerance to Delta 8 THC?

Yes, you can build a tolerance to delta 8 THC — just as with any psychoactive substance. Tolerance builds up when you need a higher dose of a particular compound to experience the same effects. The bad news for delta 8 THC users is that tolerance builds much faster than delta 9 THC from marijuana. But on the other hand, 2 weeks of “fasting” on delta 8 should bring your tolerance levels back to normal.

Final Thoughts on Delta 8 THC: Yay or Nay?

Delta 8 THC has been known to scientists for over 40 years, but thanks to the recent breakthroughs in extraction methods, it has finally appeared on the commercial scene.

Hemp-derived delta 8 THC contains less than 0.3% delta 9 THC, making it legal on a federal level. This has created a boom on delta 8 THC products, garnering the attention of health-conscious cannabis consumers who would like to benefit from the plant without getting too buzzed.

On top of smoother cognitive effects, delta 8 THC provides similar benefits to easing pain, inflammation, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting. Delta 8 THC can also improve appetite and protect the brain cells against damage.

As researchers invest more time and money into exploring the properties of delta 8 THC, it may soon become the hottest cannabinoid on the market. Let’s just hope that individual states accept delta 8 THC just like they have accepted CBD — instead of banning it.

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