What is Delta-8 THC?

delta 8 thc

Table of contents

  1. What Is Delta-8 THC?
  2. Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC: What’s the Difference?
  3. How Delta-8 THC Affects the Body
  4. Health Benefits and Uses
  5. Side Effects and Risks
  6. Delta-8-THC in cannabis is not reputed to trigger these side effects at the same level as Delta-9-THC.
  7. How to Use Delta-8 THC
  8. Alternatives to Delta-8 THC
  9. The Bottom Line: Should You Use Delta-8 THC?
  10. Frequently Asked Questions

Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8-THC) is a minor cannabinoid  that is found in small quantities in the cannabis plant. There are products high in delta-8-THC, but this is made from hemp-derived CBD using a variety of chemical processes, some of which may be quite dangerous. Believed to produce a milder effect than delta-9-THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), this cannabinoid has exploded in popularity, particularly in states where there are no legal avenues to access cannabis. However, the cannabinoid is still intoxicating, and the manner in which it is made may be quite dangerous due to industrial and chemical byproducts.

There is no federal oversight of Delta-8-THC, and Delta-8-THC products are not labeled for FDA approval. The FDA have actually issued warnings about delta-8-THC products and have sent companies warning letters for making misleading medical claims. Delta-8-THC is not necessarily completely illegal (yet), but it is not necessarily safe, at least when it comes to the synthetically-produced, derived from CBD version.

So, is the cannabinoid safe for use? Delta-8-THC, when in cannabis and not made using industrial methods, could be considered relatively safe. The delta-8-THC products on shelves, however, are a different matter. They are not necessarily made to high standards, and the chemical processes used to make them could leave undesirable byproducts that can cause harm.

Learn all about the benefits and risks of Delta-8-THC and how it stacks up against its chemical counterpart, Delta-9-THC. 

What Is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8-THC is a cannabinoid similar to Delta-9-THC, but is generally considered to be less potent. Many Delta-8-THC users report that the cannabinoid gives them a floating, weightless feeling similar to other cannabis products, but with less of the brain fog. 

Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC: What’s the Difference?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and Delta-8-THC are nearly identical in structure and have similar psychoactive effects. Delta-9 and Delta-8 are alike in that both cannabinoids bind to the same cannabinoid receptors in the human nervous system. 

The relatively obscure Delta-8-THC and the very popular Delta-9-THC molecules have little more than two atoms’ worth of variance. Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol appears to be similar in therapeutic effectiveness to Delta-9-THC.

However, one key difference is that Delta-8-THC is one of the dozen-plus minor cannabinoids, whereas Delta-9-THC is a primary cannabinoid. Delta-8-THC appears in very slight concentrations in the cannabis plant, but the relatively sparse cannabinoid is on course to become one of the plant’s most popular elements.

How Delta-8 THC Affects the Body

One of the reasons for the rise in popularity of Delta-8-THC is that it is not nearly as psychoactive as Delta-9-THC, the cannabinoid that notoriously “gets you high.” The National Cancer Institute concurs that Delta-8-THC will leave medical cannabis patients with a softer psychoactive footprint, concluding: “This agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC), the primary form of THC found in cannabis.”

These properties make Delta-8 THC potentially very useful for children, those particularly sensitive to Delta-9 THC, and those seeking something more tolerable for chronic pain relief during the daytime. However, these potential therapeutic effects apply more to naturally-occurring delta-8-THC, not the synthesized version made by transforming CBD.

Health Benefits and Uses

Delta-8-THC offers many of the same potential therapeutic benefits as Delta-9-THC, if we are looking at the non-synthesized version. Here are some therapeutic purposes of Delta-8-THC:

Pain Relief

THC performs double duty by reducing pain and related inflammation. Different forms of the cannabinoid may even help difficult-to-treat and severe pain associated with chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) and cancer treatments like chemotherapy.  

Digestive Benefits

Delta-8-THC may stimulate appetite while simultaneously reducing nausea and vomiting in some people. However, more evidence exists on the ability of Delta-9-THC to help with digestive disorders


Soothing minor anxiety is one of the main reasons people turn to Delta-8-THC. The cannabinoid provides a natural alternative to prescription anxiety medications, but you should first consult your medical professional. 

Side Effects and Risks

Compared to Delta-9-THC, Delta-8-THC may come with fewer psychoactive side effects, but the jury is still out. Delta-9-THC side effects can include paranoia and anxiety, and Delta-9-THC has even been blamed for triggering dizziness and headaches, conditions that can negate the benefits medical cannabis patients seek. 

Delta-8-THC in cannabis is not reputed to trigger these side effects at the same level as Delta-9-THC.

You may, however, experience these side effects when using Delta-8-THC:

    • Dry mouth
    • Fatigue
    • Red eyes

People who consume Delta-8-THC edibles are more likely to experience severe side effects than those who use other ingestion methods. In some cases, edible side effects have led to emergency room visits.  The delta-8-THC in these products is not necessarily safe.

Risks associated with Delta-8-THC include drug interactions. As with all forms of cannabis, avoid using Delta-8-THC if you are taking blood thinners, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or any other drugs your doctor deems incompatible.

Due to limited studies on Delta-8-THC, other potential side effects and risks are still unclear. 

How to Use Delta-8 THC

In general, we would recommend avoiding most delta-8-THC products on the market. Those who decide to use Delta-8-THC the same way you would use any other non-standardized, non-FDA-approved product made by industrial processes: with caution and responsibility.

Administration routes include:

    • Vaping (which usually delivers the fastest results)
    • Smoking
    • Edibles
    • Topicals
    • Sublingual tinctures

As with all cannabis consumption, the ingestion method you choose can directly impact your health. So, even though vaping or smoking may get you the effects you seek faster, it is not the best ingestion method from a health perspective. Applying topicals may be the safest way to use Delta-8-THC, as you are not directly ingesting anything or breathing anything in. 

E-cigarette; vape pen; vape pens; disposable vapes; vapor; vaporizer; vaping; vaporizing; cannabis vaporizers; vaping marijuana.

Dosing Guidelines

Dosing all forms of cannabis is dependent on several key factors, notably your experience level. Always consult with your doctor for specific dosage instructions, but consider these guidelines depending on your level of Delta-8-THC experience:

    • Beginners: Start low at 5 milligrams (mg) or less and do not exceed 15 mg
    • Intermediate: Up to 20 mg
    • Advanced: Up to 40 mg

Again, your ingestion method is an important factor in dosing. In general, start with a lower dose for all edible products and experiment with slightly higher doses for topicals. 

Alternatives to Delta-8 THC

The most obvious alternative to Delta-8-THC is another hemp product, specifically those containing CBD. Some popular CBD products include:

    • CBD oil
    • CBD tinctures
    • CBD gel capsules
    • CBD gummies
    • CBD edibles
    • CBD gels, creams, and lotions

However, the federal government has also failed to regulate CBD, and it remains a substance with little oversight, much like Delta-8-THC. One difference is that CBD is legal in all 50 states, while Delta-8-THC is only legal in a growing patchwork of states. Delta-8-THC is sometimes mislabeled and illegally-marketed,  so be wary of any specific medical claims and even cannabinoid content.

If cannabis is legal in your state, Delta-9-THC may be another alternative to Delta-8-THC, and the cannabis plant is likely far more well-tolerated compared to chemically-synthesized delta-8-THC

The Bottom Line: Should You Use Delta-8 THC?

We would generally recommend avoiding using most if not all delta-8-THC products that are made by changing the structure of CBD using chemical and industrial means. We would recommend people utilize well-grown and tested cannabis and lab-tested, high-quality CBD products where possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Delta-8 THC legal?

Delta-8-THC is unregulated at the federal level but legal in some states, including New Jersey and California. However, the compound remains illegal in otherwise cannabis-friendly states like Washington and Colorado. Delta-8-THC is legal in some states like Florida, where recreational cannabis remains illegal. 

There is no apparent rhyme or reason to the constantly evolving legal status of Delta-8-THC. Legal changes are occurring quickly, as there is a push to ban Delta-8-THC in many states. It is arguable that many of the dangers delta-8-THC present are a result of making cannabis illegal, or mismanaged and disjointed regulation in places where it is legal but difficult to access.

Do Delta-8 products contain Delta-9-THC?

As Delta-8-THC products are unregulated, they could contain Delta-9-THC or other unexpected ingredients. It is likely that Delta-8-THC products, like other hemp products, including CBD oil, have trace amounts of delta-9-THC as well. 

The best way to ensure that you’re purchasing a good quality product with the ingredients listed is to visit a licensed cannabis dispensary. A doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana will also help.

What does Delta-8 THC help with?

There is no definitive evidence to suggest what delta-8-THC can help with, especially when it comes to synthetically-produced delta-8-THC. Any potential benefit could be cancelled out by the harms. 

Experience Delta-8-THC and Delta-9-THC together naturally in the flower when you apply for a medical marijuana card. Leafwell’s on-call physicians are ready to meet with you online and guide you step-by-step through the application process. 

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