What Exactly Is Delta-8? Why You’re Hearing About It | Healthline (2022)

What Exactly Is Delta-8? Why You’re Hearing About It | Healthline (1)Share on Pinterest

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People plugged into the world of cannabis-related news are probably well aware that there’s some controversy surrounding delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive compound that some claim is legal at the federal level because of certain loopholes.

But if you’re new to cannabis products, you might find the whole thing a bit confusing. Is delta-8 THC actually legal? How is it different from other forms of THC?

Below, we’ll dig deeper into delta-8, including its potential benefits and risks, whether it’ll get you “high,” whether it’s legal, and what kinds of alternatives are out there.

Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive compound that’s pretty similar to delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC is a compound in the cannabis plant that produces a “high.” It’s what people are usually referring to when they talk about THC.

Though delta-8 is similar to delta-9 THC, it has a slightly different chemical structure that makes it a lot less potent.

Like delta-9 THC, delta-8 produces feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and potential pain relief, but they’re a lot milder.

For people who don’t want to experience a pronounced “high,” the lower potency may be a benefit.

Unfortunately, researchers still don’t know enough about delta-8 THC to confirm that the benefits outweigh the risks. Experts have a much better understanding of delta-9 THC.

What are the potential risks of delta-8?

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Because delta-8 is so similar to delta-9 THC, it produces some of the same side effects, like:

  • red eyes
  • dry mouth
  • rapid heart rate
  • trouble with coordination
  • slowed reaction times
  • anxiety
  • memory loss

But delta-8 may also have additional risks because it’s something synthetically produced, meaning you might not know what’s really in it.

Additionally, according to an article published in the journal Chemical and Engineering News, products containing delta-8 may also contain delta-9 and delta-10 THC — a compound about which little is known.

These compounds probably won’t produce ill effects, experts say. But it’s unclear whether other by-products, including synthetic ones, are safe to consume.

Here’s the complicated bit.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp containing less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC. That means there’s a loophole at the federal level for products containing higher amounts of delta-8 THC, as long as they come from hemp that doesn’t have more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC based on dry weight.

However, delta-8 THC doesn’t naturally occur in large amounts in hemp plants. That means that delta-8 is largely made by converting cannabidiol (CBD) or delta-9 THC into delta-8 THC synthetically, which is illegal.

Additionally, some state laws strictly prohibit the sale of products containing both delta-8 and delta-9 THC. You can find out about your state’s laws by looking at the Norml.org map of cannabis-related laws.

However, keep in mind that because delta-8 is synthetically made and not well regulated, there are safety concerns. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) note that there have been increased calls to poison control centers regarding delta-8, as well as reports of adverse events requiring medical care and sometimes hospitalization.

Delta-8 vs. delta-9 vs. CBD

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Potential benefitsPotential risks & side effectsImpairing effects?Legality
Delta-8• pain relief
• euphoria
• relaxation
• red eyes
• dry mouth
• rapid heart rate
• trouble with coordination
• slowed reaction times
• anxiety
• memory loss
• other unknown risks due to synthetic nature
yes• not federally legal
• state laws vary
Delta-9• pain relief
• euphoria
• relaxation
• red eyes
• dry mouth
• rapid heart rate
• trouble with coordination
• slowed reaction times
• anxiety
• memory loss
yes• not federally legal
• state laws vary
CBD• pain relief
• anxiety relief
• insomnia relief
• changes in appetite
• changes in weight
• fatigue
• diarrhea
no• federally legal
• state laws vary

If you’re looking for a federally legal alternative to delta-8 that will not give you a “high,” you may want to consider trying CBD.

Below, we suggest a few full-spectrum options. Full-spectrum CBD has small amounts of THC but not enough to produce psychoactive effects when taken in small doses.

How we chose the best CBD products

When choosing CBD products, we keep the same general criteria in mind. Each product featured:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made by a company that discloses the source of their hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, molds, and heavy metals, according to the COA

When making our selections, we also consider:

  • company certification and manufacturing processes
  • CBD potency
  • whether products contain quality ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$100
  • $$$ = over $100

CBD products to consider

Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Tincture, High Potency

  • Price: $–$$$ (depending on potency)
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 750 milligrams (mg) to 6,000 mg per 15-milliliter (mL) to 120-mL bottle
  • COA: available online

This high potency CBD from Lazarus Naturals is one of the brand’s most popular selections. It’s all natural, gluten-free, vegan, and contains no added flavors, so you should expect an earthy taste when using this tincture.

Reviewers love the potent tincture and say it works better than other products they’ve tried. Customers also appreciate Lazarus Natural’s assistance program, which helps veterans, people from low income households, and people with disabilities by offering a 60 percent discount.

Use code “Healthline10” for 10% off your first order. One-time use only.

SHOP NOW AT LAZARUS NATURALS

Cornbread Hemp Distilled USDA Organic CBD Oil

  • Price: $–$$$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 375, 750, or 1,500 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available online

Cornbread Hemp’s CBD oil is USDA certified organic with hemp extract from the flower only. It contains no additives or preservatives.

Customers report that the oil is effective, helped produce a sense of calm, and improved their sleep. One person complains that the taste of the oil is too strong.

Use code “HEALTHLINE” for 25% off on first purchase.

SHOP NOW AT CORNBREAD HEMP

Vena Full Spectrum CBD Drops

  • Price: $$–$$$
  • CBD type: full-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 1,500 mg or 3,000 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available via product page

Vena recommends taking one full dropper a day of their Full-Spectrum CBD Drops. The mint-flavored oil is a good choice for people who don’t like the earthy taste of unflavored CBD. When you buy Vena’s CBD products, they also come with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

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Reviewers say they like the minty taste and describe it as refreshing but not overpowering. Only a handful of customers complain that the product didn’t produce any noticeable effects.

cbdMD Tropical Gummies

  • Price: $$
  • CBD type: broad-spectrum
  • CBD potency: 750 mg per 30-mL bottle
  • COA: available via product page

Some folks prefer CBD gummies compared to CBD oil. cbdMD fruity chews come in a mix of strawberry, raspberry, orange, and tropical. The gummies are vegan and gluten-free. They contain organic ingredients, including organic oil, juices, and sweeteners.

cbdMD recommends taking one or two gummies in the morning. The brand also offers a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Reviewers say the gummies taste great, and they like that the typical earthy CBD flavor is not prominent.

Shop now at cbdMD

CBD safety and side effects

According to research, CBD is considered safe, but that doesn’t mean adverse reactions aren’t out of the realm of possibility. Some people may experience:

  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • appetite and weight changes

Talk with your doctor before taking CBD or other cannabis-related products — especially if you’re taking any supplements or prescription medications. It’s possible for CBD to interact with certain medications, including those with a grapefruit warning.

While some brands recommend consuming CBD with meals for better absorption, one 2020 study suggests that taking CBD alongside high fat meals can increase your risk of experiencing side effects.

Don’t take CBD if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

What is delta-8?

Delta-8 is a chemical found in the cannabis plant in very small amounts. Because it occurs naturally in such small amounts, the delta-8 THC you find in commercial products is usually synthetically made from CBD or delta-9 THC.

Learn more

Is delta-8 the same as THC?

Delta-8 and delta-9 THC have similar molecular structures, but they’re not exactly the same. Because delta-8 has a different structure, it may produce milder effects than delta-9 THC.

That said, more research is needed to better understand the effects of delta-8.

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Learn more

Is delta-8 the same as CBD?

Delta-8 and CBD are both cannabinoids, but delta-8 has more in common with delta-9 THC than CBD.

Unlike CBD, delta-8 produces psychoactive effects.

Learn more

Is delta-8 safe?

There’s some concern surrounding the safety of delta-8 THC. That’s because it’s poorly regulated, and products containing delta-8 THC may contain additional compounds, including synthetic by-products that may cause adverse effects.

Learn more

Why is delta-8 legal?

It’s a common misconception that delta-8 is legal. In actuality, some states specifically prohibit it. It also isn’t necessarily federally legal, as it’s synthetically produced and not well regulated.

Learn more

Will delta-8 make you test positive for THC?

It’s possible. If you undergo drug testing, it may be best to avoid cannabis-derived products, including delta-8 products and CBD products.

Learn more

Will delta-8 get you high?

Because delta-8 is a form of THC, it has psychoactive effects and can get you high. While it’s reportedly less potent than delta-9 THC, it still has intoxicating effects.

Delta-8 THC may be an alternative to delta-9 THC for people who want a milder “high” than they get with regular THC. While delta-8 THC reportedly produces less potent effects than delta-9, more research is needed to better understand the potential side effects of this compound.

Additionally, because delta-8 THC is poorly regulated, there’s concern that the contents of products containing delta-8 THC may be difficult to assess.

Until better regulatory standards for the production of delta-8 THC exist, you may be more comfortable opting for delta-9 THC and CBD products.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.

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FAQs

What is Delta 8 and what does it do to you? ›

Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects.

Delta-8 THC has psychoactive and intoxicating effects, similar to delta-9 THC (i.e., the component responsible for the “high” people may experience from using cannabis). The FDA is aware of media reports of delta-8 THC products getting consumers “high.”

What does Delta 8 make you feel? ›

Most will describe taking Delta 8 as a very pleasant and uplifting experience. It tends to bring a deep feeling of relief and peacefulness to its users. Some might even say it gives them a floating feeling, as if all of the weight has been taken off of them.

How many hits of Delta 8 do you need? ›

The ideal approach to delta 8 THC, especially for beginners, is to take between 2-3 puffs while taking a break of 30 minutes to gauge the intensity of the effects, which lasts for a maximum of three hours. Additionally, one should use a quality vape pen for the best vaping experience.

How long are the effects of Delta 8? ›

When you vape Delta-8 THC from a cartridge or vape oil, you'll typically experience the effects immediately. This can happen as quickly as 5 or 6 minutes after taking Delta-8 THC, and it peaks around 30 to 90 minutes afterward. The effects will last for approximately 4 to 5 hours after consumption.

Is delta-8 natural or synthetic? ›

Delta-8, as it's usually referred to, occurs naturally in very small trace amounts, so most commercial delta-8 is completely synthetic, derived from cannabidiol in hemp.

How long does delta-8 stay in your urine? ›

Delta 8 can remain detectable in the blood or urine for as long as 30 days or as short as two days. There are a lot of factors that can either shorten or prolong the amount of time it takes for delta 8 to be completely cleared from the body.

Can Delta-8 put you in a coma? ›

Any child who ingested or has otherwise been exposed to products containing delta-8 THC or other forms of THC should be seen immediately by health care professionals. THC use in children can cause low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, severe sedation, coma and psychological effects.

Can you take Delta-8 everyday? ›

Delta-8 is a Great Cannabinoid for Daily Use

Hence, if you want to get as much out of it as possible, daily dosing is ideal. To further elevate your experience, we highly recommend combing delta 8 THC products with your daily consumption of CBD products such as with the Pinnacle Hemp Maxx 1:1 CBD/Delta 8 tincture!

Is Delta-8 same as CBD? ›

Is delta-8 the same as CBD? Delta-8 and CBD are both cannabinoids, but delta-8 has more in common with delta-9 THC than CBD. Unlike CBD, delta-8 produces psychoactive effects.

Is delta-8 same as CBD? ›

Is delta-8 the same as CBD? Delta-8 and CBD are both cannabinoids, but delta-8 has more in common with delta-9 THC than CBD. Unlike CBD, delta-8 produces psychoactive effects.

Can delta-8 put you in a coma? ›

Any child who ingested or has otherwise been exposed to products containing delta-8 THC or other forms of THC should be seen immediately by health care professionals. THC use in children can cause low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, severe sedation, coma and psychological effects.

Are there any benefits to delta-8? ›

Summarizing the Benefits of Delta 8 THC

Not only is delta 8 THC a potent relaxant that can relieve stress, but it can also improve your focus and sleep patterns, ease pain, reduce anxiety, boost appetite, and relieve nausea and vomiting.

Can you take delta-8 everyday? ›

Delta-8 is a Great Cannabinoid for Daily Use

Hence, if you want to get as much out of it as possible, daily dosing is ideal. To further elevate your experience, we highly recommend combing delta 8 THC products with your daily consumption of CBD products such as with the Pinnacle Hemp Maxx 1:1 CBD/Delta 8 tincture!

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