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is Delta-8 THC Legal? What You Need To Know

Is Delta-8 THC legal?

The short answer is “kind of.” The long answer is a little more complicated, but we’ll break it down for you.

Basically, there are no specific federal laws that address delta-8 THC specifically, so it’s up to the discretion of local law enforcement officials and prosecutors to decide whether or not to pursue charges against someone caught with delta-8 THC.

For the most part, delta-8 THC products, especially those made from legal hemp are not on the radar of law enforcement, as a result, delta-8 THC lives in a legal gray area.

In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about delta-8 THC including where it comes from, some of its effects, its complicated legal status, and how to shop for high-quality delta-8 products.

Article Highlights:

  • Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8 THC) is a naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant.
  • Delta-8 THC is an isomer to delta-9 THC, which means they have the same chemical components with a different arrangement of atoms, as a result, they both produce psychoactive effects, but with slightly different characteristics.
  • Delta-8 THC products from hemp plants are considered legal federally legal as it’s considered a distinct compound from delta-9 THC from marijuana plants.
  • The legal landscape of delta-8 and delta-9 varies by state. However, many states still have access to hemp-derived products as long as it remains under the 0.3% delta-9 THC content by dried weight threshold.

What Is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol is a psychoactive substance found in cannabis plants (hemp and marijuana). However, it only naturally exists in very small quantities (less than 0.1%), making it a minor cannabinoid.

Like its more famous counterpart, delta-9 THC—which is the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana—delta-8 THC is a psychoactive compound that is known to produce a mild high.

Delta-8 became popular as “light weed” because of its milder high compared to traditional THC. In comparison, delta-8 products are said to give people fewer chances of experiencing some of the discomforts from the marijuana high such as anxiousness and paranoia.

Some people say that delta-8 THC gives them a more clear-headed high, while others say it makes them feel more relaxed. The effects vary from person to person.

Delta-8 THC is sold in various forms, including as an oil, delta-8 THC gummies, and smokable products.

How Does Delta-8 THC Compare To Delta-9 THC?

Delta-8 THC is an isomer of delta-9 THC, which means that it has a similar chemical structure but with a slightly different arrangement of atoms.

Where they differ is in the location of the double carbon bond. In delta-8 THC, it’s on the eighth carbon chain, while in delta-9 THC, it’s on the ninth.

This slight difference is so minuscule that sometimes third-party lab tests have a difficult time distinguishing between the two, but it’s significant enough to yield different effects on the body.

They’re both psychoactive, meaning they can interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the brain, specifically the CB1 receptors to influence one’s mood and cognitive function. However, delta-8 is said to be half as potent as delta-9.

So if you’re looking for a stronger high, delta-9 is probably your best bet—that is, if it’s legal in your area. However, if you’re looking for something a little more mellow, delta-8 might be right up your alley.

How Does Delta-8 THC Compare To CBD?

CBD and delta-8 THC are both cannabinoids found in hemp plants.

CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid in hemp, while delta-8 THC is present in much smaller quantities.

Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning even in large doses, CBD doesn’t produce the “high” associated with marijuana use. Many people turn to CBD for sleep, relaxation, and pain, and while delta-8 THC is a better option for those trying to combat sleepiness and want to experience mild euphoric effects.

Some people find that using a combination of CBD and delta-8 THC provides the best of both worlds.

How Does Delta-8 THC Get You High?

Is Delta-8 THC Legal? 2

When it comes to getting high, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. In order to understand how THC produces its signature effects, we need to take a closer look at the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

This system is made up of receptors and chemical messengers that are scattered throughout the body, with the highest concentration in the central nervous system.

THC interacts primarily with receptors CB1 receptors, which are concentrated in the brain, which explains why THC products have such strong psychoactive effects. The CB1 receptor signals the release of serotonin, a hormone that can elicit feelings of euphoria and relaxation, alter one’s sense of visual and audio senses, as well as increase appetite, and reduce nausea [1].

Health Risks: Is Delta-8 THC Safe?

There isn’t a ton of research on the safety of delta-8 THC specifically, but most cannabinoids including THC and CBD have been found to be well tolerated by most people. There are people who have negative reactions to THC, but they’re rare. The most common negative reactions come from improper dosing or poor quality delta-8 THC products from shady manufacturers.

Some adverse events of consuming delta-8 THC may look like this:

  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Trouble standing
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor short-term memory
  • Anxiousness
  • Paranoia

For the most part, these instances are uncommon and the adverse effects of delta-8 THC are should wear off within 4–6 hours, depending on the dose and method of consumption.

Generally speaking, delta-8 THC is safe for most people. However, it’s always important to start with a low dose and increase slowly to see how your body reacts. And, as with any cannabinoid, be sure to buy from a reputable source to ensure you’re getting a high-quality product.

Because delta-8 THC is a psychoactive substance that can slow down your reflexes and impair judgment, you should not drive or operate large machinery under the influence.

Delta-8 THC Legal Status (Federal)

Delta-8 is typically produced by extracting and refining CBD oil made from hemp plants because delta-8 exists in the cannabis plant in such low quantities naturally.

In 2018, the US government introduced the Farm Bill, which legalized the production and sale of hemp plants and their derivatives, as long as the cannabis plants contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dried weight. The law determined that at these amounts, the plant cannot produce a psychoactive effect. There isn’t any mention of delta-8 THC or any other isomers of THC, which is why many people interpret delta-8’s legal status.

Since delta-8 THC can also come from marijuana plants, which are defined as cannabis plants with greater than 0.3% THC, delta-8 products derived from marijuana are still technically a controlled substance.

To make sure you’re purchasing a legal delta-8 product, always refer to the third-party lab tests to verify that its delta-9 THC content is within the federal legal limits.

Is Delta-8 THC Legal In Your State?

The legal status of delta-8 THC is currently in flux. Most states will place delta-8 derived from the hemp plant as a hemp product, which is legal under the Farm Bill.

Delta-8 THC isn’t listed as a controlled substance in the eyes of the federal government, but some states have specially banned the compound.

You may find that some online vendors won’t mail delta-8 THC products to certain states because of this reason. It’s best to check with your local state laws to make sure your package doesn’t get intercepted or get charged with possession of a banned compound—though this instance is very rare.

In Texas, the legal status of delta-8 THC seems to fluctuate. In May 2021, The Texas Department of State Health Services attempted to ban delta-8 THC. However, the Texas Supreme court denied the request. The same story took place in Virginia.

Because of these fluctuations, it’s important to stay on top of your local laws on these issues and voice your concerns with local legislators.

Delta-8 As A Synthetic Compound & Controlled Substance

In response to the growing cases of hospitalizations and injury from synthetic cannabinoids in the early 2000s sold under the names “spice” or “k2,” the US government listed all synthetic cannabinoids as a public health risk, making them illegal.

This is where more clarity is needed in defining a synthetic compound and the future of whether delta-8 THC will become legal without any confusion.

Technically speaking, delta-8 is found in the cannabis plant naturally, but in very low quantities (less than 0.1%), making it a very difficult compound to extract and make into products on a commercial level.

Most delta-8 products are made by a chemical reaction transforming CBD into delta-8, but this is much different than the lab-made THC sold as “spice.”

On a federal level, the Drug Force Administration (DEA) doesn’t consider delta-8 THC a synthetic compound as it has not led to the same public health concerns of hospitalizations and permanent injury.

How To Shop For Legal Delta-8 THC Products

Legal delta-8 THC products can be found online and in some smoke shops. When shopping, make sure the product is hemp-derived. You can usually find this information on the company’s website. It’s also important to check lab tests to verify the contents and safety of the product.

The certificate of analysis should read that it has less than 0.3% delta-9 THC and that it’s free from harmful chemicals such as heavy metals and solvents.

Potency is another important factor to consider when shopping for delta-8 THC products. It’s best to start low and build up your doses with experience. If you’re used to taking delta-9 THC products, you may find that you need double the amount to feel the same level of effects of delta-8 as it is known to be a much milder cannabinoid.

Concluding Thoughts: Is Delta-8 THC Legal?

So is Delta-8 THC legal? The short answer is yes — in most states, it is perfectly legal to buy, sell, and consume products containing delta-8 THC from hemp.

Delta-8 THC products live in a bit of a grey area for the time being, but it’s considered legal throughout most of the United States under the Farm Bill.

However, there are a few caveats. First, it is important to check your local laws to be sure that delta-8 THC is legal in your state. Second, because delta-8 THC is derived from hemp, it is subject to the same restrictions as other hemp-derived products. That means that it can only be sold and consumed by people over the age of 21.

It is important to remember that delta-8 THC is a relatively new substance on the market, and the legal landscape could change, so stay informed about your local cannabis news.

Most people enjoy delta-8 products made from hemp as an alternative to marijuana, for its lighter psychoactive effects and for its legal status in areas where recreational cannabis is still illegal.

Only shop for delta-8 and CBD products from trusted brands that prioritize the transparency and safety of their products. You should always check the lab tests to verify the contents and safety of the product. The certificate of analysis should read that it has less than 0.3% delta-9 THC and that it’s free from chemicals.

Resources Cited:

  1. Huestis, M. A., Gorelick, D. A., Heishman, S. J., Preston, K. L., Nelson, R. A., Moolchan, E. T., & Frank, R. A. (2001). Blockade of effects of smoked marijuana by the CB1-selective cannabinoid receptor antagonist SR141716. Archives of general psychiatry, 58(4), 322-328.