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What is Delta-8 THC, and How Is It Different From Delta-9?

What is Delta-8 THC, its effects, benefits, and legality? This article answers questions about this cannabinoid and explores its future scientific research.

Jason SanderJason Sander · Feb. 19, 2021 · 4 min read
What is Delta-8 THC, and How Is It Different From Delta-9?

Delta-8 THC has been getting some significant attention lately. How different is it from its cousin delta-9, how does it relate to other cannabinoids? And most importantly, will the DEA make it illegal?

For almost as long as the U.S. government has been prohibiting cannabis - 84 years to be exact - consumers have been finding ways around these ridiculous laws. There have been unsafe and dangerous legal products that produce a high, such as K2, Salvia, Spice, and even bath salts. And inevitably, the common thought is that the DEA and other agencies will eventually swoop in and make a substance illegal.

The latest of said substances is Delta-8 THC, which is the less potent cannabinoid cousin of Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in cannabis that gets you high. Delta-8 THC has been legal for a while now, but the recent cannabis policy reform has led to much advancement with the plant medicine. Delta-8 is getting some serious attention, even from national publications like Rolling Stone. So what is Delta-8, exactly, how is it consumed?

What Exactly is Delta-8?

Cannabis has been consumed by humans for centuries, and the plant is full of compounds called cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Cannabinoids specifically interact with the endocannabinoid system. While there are over 400 compounds in cannabis, the common cannabinoids include Delta-9 THC, CBD, and Delta-8. Delta-9 and CBD are more widely studied than their relative Delta-8, and so not as much is known about the latter. This could change quickly soon.

Delta-9 has many similarities to Delta-8, but it does have some noteworthy differences. While Delta-8 is not as psychoactive as Delta-9, the two cannabinoids are different only by a handful of atomic bonds. Delta-8 can produce a decent effect of its own. One of the most noticeable differences is that Delta-8 only occurs naturally in the cannabis plant in trace amounts, usually, less than 1% in most dried and cured flower. Cannabis companies are isolating and concentrating more compounds like Delta-8, as each one can potentially offer specific effects and benefits. By extracting, isolating, and refining dried cannabis flower, Delta-8 can be distilled and made into cartridges and other products.

What Are the Effects and Benefits of Delta-8?

While everyone is of course different, the common theme is that Delta-8 offers similar relaxing and even slightly sedative effects as its cousin Delta-9. It seems that Delta-8 lacks the mind-stimulating and mentally uplighting effects that consumers recognize with Sativa-dominant cultivars. Most consumers also report that there is less feeling of the munchies with Delta-8, but that there is some noticeable appetite stimulation - which could be beneficial for treating symptoms of many conditions.

“While everyone is of course different, the common theme is that Delta-8 offers similar relaxing and even slightly sedative effects as its cousin Delta-9."

As previously mentioned, Delta-8 has fewer psychoactive properties than its relative Delta-9, the most abundant compound found in cannabis. Delta-8 has been shown to bind to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our brains, which could lead to some significant medical benefits. A study conducted back in the 1990s shows us that children under 13 with hematologic cancer displayed a significant reduction in side effects associated with chemotherapy and other treatments - most notably that vomiting and nausea were nearly non-existent.

So, Is Delta-8 Legal?

Delta-8 became legal along with the 2018 Farm Bill which states hemp plants may be lawfully grown provided they test at under 0.03% Delta-9. Essentially, the Farm Bill removed hemp and derivatives of cannabis under the set Delta-9 limit from the definition of illicit cannabis. Around a year later, online retailers started selling Delta-8 products like concentrates, edibles, and cartridges.


Delta-8 distillate is a hot item on cannabis social media at the moment, and for the most part, it’s legal in 38 states. Delta-8 is legal if it is derived from hemp, as is the case with CBD. However, the process of synthetically altering CBD into Delta-8 is a grey area, and it likely would be deemed illegal by most federal law enforcement agencies.

Altering hemp-derived CBD synthetically is likely the least expensive method of producing Delta-8, which again, only exists in trace amounts naturally. This process is banned at the federal level, which is why most legal experts would likely recommend against doing it - thus creating the grey area of legality surrounding Delta-8. Hopefully, it won’t happen under a Biden administration, but many legal cannabis advocates are saying they think it’s only a matter of time before a blanket ban on all Delta-8 products is federally implemented.

Advancements in Legal Cannabis Will Lead to More Benefits for Everyone

With the above-stated studies indicating Delta-8 is effective, stable, and valuably beneficial, Delta-8 is yet another addition to the long list of areas that require much-need study with cannabis medicine. There are over 100 cannabinoids and around 600 total compounds in cannabis, and we are just scratching the surface of their potential benefits. Delta-8 is just one of those many compounds. As cannabis policy reform advances, science will refine applications and multitude of uses of the compounds found in one of the world’s most important plants.

HashDash - Educating Tomorrow’s Cannabis Consumer

We hope you found value in our content about the compound Delta-8 THCX. Be sure to check back to our blog often, because we post fresh content every week! Connect with us on social media: @hashdash on all platforms, except for Instagram where we are @hashdashdotcom.

Here at HashDash, we are compiling an entire information database that will continue to answer your questions regarding all things cannabis, as well as where to find the best dispensaries in your area. Be sure to sign up for HashDash if you haven’t already to discover your cannabis matches. As always, thanks for reading, and happy responsible consuming!

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.
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