What is Delta-8-THC?

PUBLISHED Jul 17, 2020
delta-9-THC molecule



THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, has long been one of the most commonly known cannabis molecules, and for good reason. THC is the component within the cannabis plant that produces it’s more easily identified psychoactive effects, though it isn’t the only cannabinoid that can spark mental and physical benefits. Delta-8-THC, a close relative of delta-9-THC, has exploded onto the market, offering advantages to users and manufacturers alike. 




Delta-8-THC is an analog of delta-9-THC and only differs by a small structural contrast. To understand this difference, first, let’s look into the makeup of a molecule. The word “delta” refers to the location of the double bond within each cannabinoid. These cannabinoid molecules contain many carbon chains, and the location of their double (delta) bond alters their effects. Both delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC’s chemical name is derived from the location of this double bond. Delta-8 THC’s double bond is located on the 8th carbon chain, and delta-9 on its 9th carbon chain. This small variation produces a significant shift in effects from one molecule to the other. 




Delta-8-THC, despite being so similar to delta-9, is actually much more stable with a longer shelf life. Delta-8 does not oxidize to become CBN, like delta-9-THC does, and although it binds to the same CB1 receptors, it does so in a different way due to its molecular structure. This could be the reason many users claim it can contribute to a more “clear-headed” feeling than D9. 


Delta-9-THC is responsible for that classic “stoned” feeling that many cannabis users look for, however there are some who do not enjoy that effect. Under certain circumstances, Delta-9-THC can cause increased paranoia, anxiety, and other less-than-desirable effects. Delta-8, as reported from those who have tried it as well as certain preliminary studies, can produce many of the positives of THC like pain reduction, increased appetite, focus and relaxation without the negatives. 


Delta-8-THC has shown significant promise in addressing pain, anxiety, loss of appetite, and nausea, in addition to being a less-risky option for those who are prone to the negative side effects of traditional THC, or delta-9. Delta-8, however, has demonstrated less potency than delta-9-THC in certain studies, which can be a positive or a negative aspect, depending on the user. Delta-8 also works best when combined with other cannabinoids, producing what some refer to as the entourage effect. It also should be noted that when Delta-8 is combined with CBD, it reduces its psychoactive effects further. 




With delta-8-THC possessing such unique benefits, many consumers, brands, and manufacturers are looking to this minor cannabinoid for use in their products. Delta-8 can be found in both marijuana and hemp plants, and the good news is that hemp-derived cannabinoids can be much easier to acquire and use than marijuana-derived ingredients. 


As you may or may not know, the difference between hemp and marijuana is merely a legal definition, and both are cannabis plants. Hemp is defined as any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC, and marijuana as any cannabis plant with greater than 0.3% THC. Both plants contain the same compounds at different concentrations, and there is no discernable difference between cannabinoids or terpenes from hemp versus those from marijuana. 


In the 2018 Farm Bill, all hemp and its “derivatives, isomers, and cannabinoids” were made federally legal so long as the hemp contains less than 0.3% delta-9-THC by dry weight. Therefore, hemp-derived delta-8-THC is legal to purchase and use for product formulations including consumer favorites like vaporizable extracts and oils.




Utilizing delta-8 in your products can increase their value and appeal, as well as their stability. A high delta-8 product can produce effects a consumer would otherwise not experience from hemp-derived formulations.


Vape products that contain high concentrations of delta-8 are gaining popularity every day due to their quick delivery of active ingredients. These cartridges typically contain other beneficial cannabinoids and terpene blends to support the overall desired effect. Custom formulations can also include delta-8-THC with other cannabis ingredients for more therapeutic applications. 


Other ingestible delta-8 products, like oils and gummies, could provide an even different profile of effects, considering research that shows delta-8 converts into 11-hydroxy-THC when consumed and digested.  




Delta-8 has only just begun its transition into mainstream cannabis products. Keep an eye out for more developments into the world of minor cannabinoids, including CBN, CBG, CBC, THCV, and more. The combination of the federal legalization of hemp and the increase in cannabis research means we can expect more dedicated focus on minor cannabinoids and other components of the cannabis plant along with more of the commonly known molecules of today: THC and CBD. 


To learn more about Delta-8-THC bulk ingredients, download our free guide “Delta-8 THC: A Legal Opinion”.



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