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.” The FDA is also concerned that delta-8 THC products likely expose consumers to much higher levels of the substance than are naturally occurring in hemp cannabis raw extracts. Thus, historical use of cannabis cannot be relied upon in establishing a level of safety for these products in humans.
Here are 5 things you should know about delta-8 THC to keep you and those you care for safe from products that may pose serious health risks:
The FDA is actively working with federal and state partners to further address the concerns related to these products and monitoring the market for product complaints, adverse events, and other emerging cannabis-derived products of potential concern. The FDA will warn consumers about public health and safety issues and take action, when necessary, when FDA-regulated products violate the law.
4. Delta-8 THC products often involve use of potentially harmful chemicals to create the concentrations of delta-8 THC claimed in the marketplace.
A combination of factors has led the FDA to provide consumers with this information. These factors include:
From December 2020 through July 2021, the FDA received adverse event reports from both consumers and law enforcement describing 22 patients who consumed delta-8 THC products; of these, 14 presented to a hospital or emergency room for treatment following the ingestion. Of the 22 patients, 19 experienced adverse events after ingesting delta-8 THC-containing food products (e.g., brownies, gummies). Adverse events included vomiting, hallucinations, trouble standing, and loss of consciousness.
2. The FDA has received adverse event reports involving delta-8 THC-containing products.
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta-8 THC, is a psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis sativa plant, of which marijuana and hemp are two varieties. Delta-8 THC is one of over 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant but is not found in significant amounts in the cannabis plant. As a result, concentrated amounts of delta-8 THC are typically manufactured from hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD).
If you think you are having a serious side effect that is an immediate danger to your health, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency room. Health care professionals and patients are encouraged to report complaints and cases of accidental exposure and adverse events to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
The answer is a qualified yes, but not in all states, and probably not for long. The legality of Delta-8 THC is part of the murky, constantly evolving story about the legality of all types of cannabis, including CBD. As of June, 2021, marijuana is legal for medical use in 36 states and legal for adult recreational use in 18 states, including New Jersey, Connecticut, California and Illinois. Hemp-derived Delta-8 THC, however, is in a different category. The 2018 Farm Bill of 2018 opened up the production of hemp for use as CBD, as long as it has a Delta-9 THC concentration of less than 0.3% (the bill makes no mention of the concentration of Delta-8 THC, which has created this legal loophole).
Now, Delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid that is very similar chemically to both CBD and Delta-9 THC, but only occurs naturally in teeny, tiny amounts in the hemp plant, so the real growth is done in a lab. “Products that are made with Delta-8 THC have to be chemically manufactured,” explains Ross. “They take the hemp that has CBD in it and they put a chemical like acetic acid — or something much stronger and possibly even toxic — on it to turn the CBD into Delta-8 THC.” In this process, some Delta-9 THC is also created, she says, so the manufacturer then has to chemically strip out the Delta-9, which is illegal to sell at concentrations above that magical mark of 0.3%. (In a small study by the United States Cannabis Council (USCC), 15 out of 16 Delta-8 THC samples purchased across the country contained Delta-9 THC at much higher concentrations, but that’s another issue.)
Once Delta-8 is created, it can be ingested in a number of ways, similar to CBD and marijuana: as a smokable hemp flower sprayed with a Delta-8 extract, in tablets that dissolve under your tongue, in vape cartridges, and in edibles such as gummies and treats. There are even cafes that sell drinks and pastries infused with Delta-8 THC.
Is Delta-8 legal?
Once all this is done, what’s left is Delta-8, which is very similar to Delta-9 THC, with just one chemical bond in a different spot. According to a report by the USCC, Delta-8 has “a lower affinity” to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, so it is less potent for getting you high, though the USCC report says it still may have up to 75% of the psychotropic potency of Delta-9.
Confused? Yeah, it’s confusing. Here’s a little primer on plant biology that may clear it up: Hemp and marijuana are closely related plants in the cannabis family. They each contain more than 100 cannabinoids, chemicals that have various effects on the brain and body. The two most well-known cannabinoids are Delta-9 THC, which has a psychoactive effect, making you feel high (it’s what makes weed weed), and CBD, which does not make you high but is often used to relieve anxiety and pain. Under legal guidelines, cannabis plants that have more than 0.3% concentration of THC are known as marijuana; plants with less than that are known as hemp.
Delta-8 THC, a trendy new cannabinoid being touted as “marijuana lite,” has managed to squeeze through a legal loophole and onto the shelves of CBD shops, head shops and convenience stores across the country. “Many people are interested in Delta-8 THC because it sounds like it has a lot of health benefits, it’s stronger than CBD, it’s relatively cheap, you don’t have to go to a dispensary to get it and it does give you a little bit of a high — though it’s weaker and usually shorter-acting than marijuana,” explains Michele Ross, PhD, a neuroscientist who studies the medical uses of cannabis and other plants, and the author of CBD Oil for Health. “But as a scientist and an educator, I really urge people to do the research before they try it,” she says.
What are Delta-8’s effects?
But making a complicated story even more twisty, some feel the push to ban Delta-8 in some states may be about more than health and safety: Sanders points out that many of states that have banned Delta-8 THC, including Colorado and Arizona, are ironically states where adult recreational use of marijuana is legal, and he believes the legal-marijuana industry — which has to follow strict regulations and collect sales tax — is trying to protect its turf.
While a few small human and animal studies have indicated that CBD may control seizures, reduce anxiety and relieve pain, there are few if any studies showing that Delta-8 will have the same effect. It does, however, give you a high, though the strength of the high may vary depending on the product and the person taking it. “I tried a piece of Delta-8 caramel, and it felt just like I had taken an edible with weed in it,” reports one Gen-X female user, who asked to remain anonymous. “I’m pretty sensitive to THC, and I can’t say it felt any different. I also had the munchies, just like with weed.”
Delta 8 is currently all the rage right now among cannabis enthusiasts. You can find any number of Delta 8 THC-infused products across the internet. They range from tinctures to softgels to gummies to all sorts of other edibles.
Where Does Delta 8 Come From?
This article contains affiliate links to products. Discover may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
What Does Delta 8 Do?
While Delta 8 products are legal on a federal level, there have been over a dozen states that have moved forward with banning them.