What is THC Delta 8 THC?
Most people are aware that THC Delta 9 (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. Did you know there is another form of THC known as Delta 8 Tetrahydrocannabinol? Other names you may run into include: THC delta 8, D-8-THC, or Δ8-THC
Delta 8 is a milder psychoactive cannabinoid that is very similar to Delta 9 THC. While Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most common compound known among cannabinoids, it is not the only psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.
How is Delta 8 THC Different from THC Delta 9?
Having a lower psychotropic potency than regular THC makes D8-THC more suitable than the latter for use in the medical field.
Tetrahydrocannabinol was first discovered in 1969 at Weizmann Institute of Science Israel by Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni. Also very vaguely referenced, there were multiple forms of THC discovered at that time. Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC were the two prominent discoveries, though.
Delta 9 THC is formed in cannabis when Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (also known as THCA) is exposed to heat, in a process known as decarboxylation. However, THC Delta 8 forms a bit differently.
Unlike other cannabinoids, THC Delta 8 isn’t produced through decarboxylation. Neither is it created in cannabis plants by cannabinoid-synthesizing enzymes. Instead, it is formed as THC Delta 9 degrades over time.
The compound delta 8 THC exists as an analog of delta-9-THC, since they have a similar structure with only subtle noticeable differences. While these two compounds might have many similar possible therapeutic properties, like easing pain and nausea, or appetite stimulation (the munchies), D8-THC has a lesser psychoactive effect when compared to that of delta-9-THC.
Key takeaways when it comes to the differences between D8 and D9 THC:
- Delta 8 THC forms when THC Delta 9 in cannabis is stored for long periods.
- As an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol, Delta 8 THC has an almost identical chemical make up to that of Delta 9 THC, minus a few atomic bonds
- Because Delta 8 THC only forms as regular THC degrades, only tiny amounts of the cannabinoid occur naturally in cannabis
Are There Benefits of Delta 8 THC?
There aren’t many studied benefits of Delta 8. In fact, the FDA has issued multiple warnings over using it due to about 2400 negative interactions reported, as of 2022.
As a cannabinoid, THC Delta 8 is also more chemically stable than THC Delta 9. This is thanks to the fact that unlike the latter, THC Delta 8 does not degrade over time to become cannabinol (CBN).
What Does a THC Delta 8 High Feel Like?
Many argue that by rarely inducing side-effects like anxiety or paranoia, THC Delta 8 is more suitable for therapeutic use than regular THC. However, it is important to note that THC Delta 8 is still a psychoactive cannabinoid, however mild it may be.
Most people report that the THC Delta 8, when smoked as a concentrate, is quite harsh on their lungs. It begins to work almost immediately, and the feeling of being ‘high’ is no where strong as when smoking Delta 8 THC.
Related: Does CBD Get You High?
People have reported that they experience a much less intense ‘high’ and the high doesn’t last as long. Anecdotal evidence reported from individuals seems to conclude that one smoking session will only leave the user high for about 10-20 minutes at most.
When using THC Delta 8, people often report feeling high sensations that are 50% less intense than when using regular THC. However, users still report feeling classic stoned sensations synonymous with marijuana. As a result, THC Delta 8 is not suitable for use when working, driving, or when engaging in activities that require a high degree of concentration.
Potential D8 THC Side Effects
Thanks to having near-identical therapeutic properties to THC without inducing anxiety or paranoia, THC Delta 8 is sometimes promoted as the superior therapeutic cannabinoid. However, users should beware of some potential side effects.
As a rule, D-8-THC highs can still feel uncomfortable to some people. Evidence also suggests that D-8-THC may increase the heart rate. Naturally, this may be of concern to users with pre-existing cardiovascular problems.
Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/002432059500194B
National Library of Medicine: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/delta8-THC
Mersiades, A. J., Tognela, A., Haber, P. S., Stockler, M., Lintzeris, N., et al. (2018). Oral cannabinoid-rich THC/CBD cannabis extract for secondary prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a study protocol for a pilot and definitive randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial (Cannabis CINV). BMJ Open 8(9). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020745.
Goncalves, J., Rosado, T., Soares, S., Simao, A. Y., Caramelo, D., Luis, A., et al. (2019). Cannabis and Its Secondary Metabolites: Their Use as Therapeutic Drugs, Toxicological Aspects, and Analytical Determination. Medicines 6(1); 31. DOI: 10.3390/medicines6010031.