Twenty-nine states across the country having some form of a marijuana dispensary, but you don’t have to turn to the “demon weed” to relax.
In a growing trend across the U.S., Delta-8 THC is mellowing people out without the need for a medical card or a trip to a state allowing marijuana for recreational use. Even in places like Texas, which have some of the strictest state laws on the books concerning marijuana sales, Delta 8 sells like gangbusters.
Delta 8 is the general name for an extract from the legal hemp plant with a near-identical chemical formula as the main ingredient in marijuana, Delta-9 THC.
This chemical compound turns out to be just as safe as its cousin, Delta 9, and is just as versatile. It also packs a bit more punch than the much-ballyhooed CBD.
However, just like CBD and Delta-9 THC, you’ll find Delta 8 in edibles, vapes, joints, tinctures, and blunts.
In the following article, we’ll fill you in on why this new product is storming the nation in popularity and why it’s different from both CBD and marijuana.
Delta 8 or Delta 9? What’s the difference?
Well, a funny thing happened with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The massive omnibus bill covered a wide range of topics — everything from food stamps to determining milk price.
But one major change would have ripples throughout the economy and spark one of the fastest-growing segments of the marijuana industry. The bill made legal the distribution and farming of hemp.
Growing and selling most hemp was illegal, thanks to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. This sweeping piece of legislation was an attempt by Congress to get tough on drugs. But the bill was like using a sledgehammer for a golf ball putt.
The Controlled Substances Act banned almost all products related to the production and sale of marijuana and hemp, even those with no pharmacological use.
But the 2018 Farm Bill did away with that and set a new federal definition of what marijuana is or what to consider a marijuana derivative. Effectively, the bill set in stone the composition of Delta 9 THC. And it also regulated how potent that chemical had to be to be considered grass.
Filling the Void
With the Farm Bill’s passing, small businesses and entrepreneurs stepped up to fill the empty pipe left vacant by the new legislation.
Chemists started to tinker with the chemical make-up of Delta 9. They found that a similar compound, Delta 8, had many positive effects of your standard THC found in marijuana but less the psychoactive properties.
Delta 8 and Delta 9 are only different from a couple of atomic bonds, hence the closeness in names. Delta 8 THC occurs naturally but in such small bits that it is really an afterthought in the chemical formulation of marijuana. Both Delta 8 and Delta 9 are cannabinoids. Two of the hundred such chemical compounds are found in hemp and marijuana.
Wunder co-founder Christian Peterson told Discover Magazine that “Delta-8 has the double bond on the 8th carbon in the chain, while Delta-9 has the double bond on the 9th carbon in the chain.” His San Francisco company sells Delta 8 in a variety of beverages as an alternative to alcohol.
With chemical extraction through massive amounts of hemp and synthesizing, Delta 8 is mass-produced and added to a wide range of products.
These same people developed CBD oil that people claim does everything from sooth arthritis to calm your dog’s separation anxiety.
However, Delta 8, due to its ability to still propagate a soothing high, is now the fastest-growing sector of the hemp industry. It is estimated that Delta 8 contributed more than $10 million to the hemp economy in the United States alone last year.
When Delta 8 is extracted, it becomes an oil. That oil is then used on or in combination with a number of products.
When ingested or smoked, the high is described as soothing but without the silliness (or paranoia) associated with smoking weed. It is described as natural ways to relax by many of its users.
Delta 8 also won’t make you run to the fridge to chow down. Although it may pick up your appetite, Delta 8 won’t give you the so-called “munchies.”
Smoking Delta 8
Since Delta 8 is oil, how are people rolling joints and blunts of the hemp derivative? Businesses are taking buds from the ordinary hemp plants and then spraying them down with Delta 8 oil.
They then are selling the product as loose buds and joints. Even in places like Georgia, where the sale of marijuana products is illegal, you can find jars of Delta 8 that look like fat buds in a jar. Again, these truck stop boutiques are legal since the compound is Delta 8, not its cousin Delta 9.
Consumers say they are soothed and relaxed after smoking Delta 8. They also say that they are clear-headed and have a lot less anxiety. Some go as far as to describe Delta 8 as “marijuana light.”
Heard All This Before?
At this point, you are probably wondering, “Aren’t these the same claims I saw on that CBD oil I just bought?”
Well, yes and no. While marketers are making some of the same claims about Delta 8 as they did with CBD, the general claims are slightly different. But just like CBD, there isn’t a large swath of clinical or scientific data on the effects of either Delta 8 and CBD or cannabidiol.
However, if a man walks in the door with a wet raincoat and an umbrella, you don’t need a weatherman to know if it’s raining either.
In other words, there are a great number of non-peer-reviewed studies and anecdotal evidence that CBD and its related products are great for some ailments.
Among those are pain relief, sleep disorders, and anxiety in some people. Your dog’s digestion? You’d have to ask Fido.
And physicians say that not enough is known about CBD, or Delta 8, to recommend it for children are adults younger than 21. Most of this is because there is no apparent consensus on what is a suitable dose.
Also, some people do register side effects from CBD products, especially when mixed with other medications. These can include irritability, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
Are These Products Legal?
As of right now, Delta 8 and CBD are legal. They are both considered a supplement by the Food and Drug Administration. That gives them a lot more leeway for packaging and sale than if they were classified as a drug, like Delta-9 THC.
Since the 1970s, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I drug. That puts it on the same level as amphetamines and opioids like cocaine and heroin.
Well, anyone with any sense knows that its placement on Schedule I has more to do with a conservative reaction to the counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s than it does with public health.
But starting with California, marijuana and Delta-9 THC have slowly become decriminalized across the country. States have set up their own systems of regulating the sale of marijuana, convinced of its medicinal properties and enticed by marijuana’s potential to become a moneymaker through heavy tax levies.
The Justice Department of the federal government has so far turned a blind eye to state sales of marijuana both for medical and recreational use.
Since marijuana became legal in 2014 in Colorado, the Centennial State has reaped some $1.63 billion in sales tax. ]That figure was generated from nearly $10 billion in sales, $2.19 billion of those sales made in 2020 alone.
So the consumer demand for marijuana and like products is high. This is especially true in states where legislatures have not approved recreational marijuana.
Only 15 states have approved marijuana for recreational use compared to 36 states for medical use.
The reason for the slow pace of change is that critics of marijuana and its derivatives contend that it leads to greater drug use, especially in the midst of an ongoing opioid crisis, and that few clinical studies cement its position as a pharmacological solution to treat many ailments.
Of course, this lack of studies is due to marijuana’s placement on Schedule I, limiting its research funding potential. Law enforcement across the country also have been slow to admit that their drug policies don’t work, and the war on drugs, especially marijuana, was lost decades ago.
CBD vs. Delta 8
Currently, CBD is only approved for one over-the-counter medication. The FDA has approved Delta 8 for none. But with the popularity of CBD oil remains high, the FDA is looking to crack down on manufacturers who are making wild therapeutic claims about CBDs effectiveness.
The FDA is concerned that unscrupulous vendors’ inaccurate claims about their product lure in unsuspecting consumers searching for a miracle homeopathic remedy.
Delta 8, so far, has yet to reach the claims frenzy as CBD. The compound is booming in sales by doing exactly what it says it will do: provide stress relief similar to marijuana without the psychoactive side effects.
And since the Farm Bill clearly states that hemp sales are legal, Delta 8 manufacturers believe they are on solid ground with their product’s legality.
Vaping Delta 8
One of the most popular ways to consume Delta 8 is through vaping. These products were originally called e-cigarettes.
The products were first used to derive nicotine from a product other than cigarettes. A vape pen is a small device with a battery used to vaporize liquid, which in turn you inhale.
And while nicotine-laced flavors are still some of the most popular vaping styles, you can buy oils for vaping, including both CBD and Delta 8.
A good amount of Delta 8 is sold for vaping. It is produced in cartridges for individual vaping pens or as a liquid for you to make your own or fill your vaping cartridge.
Vaping is not without its dangers, though. Parents and experts worry that vaping is not suitable for children and can irritate young lungs.
Also, there have been terrible mishaps where defective batteries on vaping pens have malfunctioned. These mishaps have caused terrible fires and inflicted burns on unsuspecting people carrying the pens on their persons.
That said, for Delta 8, vaping is one of the most effective ways to deliver its therapeutic effects. A few hits off the vaping pen, and Delta 8 starts to relax the body within minutes.
And without the addictive properties of nicotine, vaping Delta 8 is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes or ingesting other tobacco products.
Other Delta 8 Products
Besides vape cartridges, Delta 8 has already found its way into a host of other products.
One of the most popular of these is soft drinks. Just like beer, the marketing won’t say what the product will do to you, but as we’ve already discussed, it is understood that this range of soft drinks is made to smooth you out.
The most popular of these drinks are made with seltzer. They come in a variety of flavors, including Watermelon, Lemon Ginger, and Orange. And unlike beer or alcohol-tinged seltzers, these drinks are low-cal.
Some Delta 8 drinks only have about 60 calories.
Another popular way people are consuming Delta 8 is through gummies. Several companies offer these chewables, either making them more candy or fruit-like, depending on your preference.
Flavors of gummies include apple, lemon-lime, melon, and orange.
Other companies are going the hard candy route instead of soft gummies. This melt-in-your-mouth, slow-release product comes in flavors like lemon, pina colada, banana, and strawberry.
And of course, Delta 8 is available in confectionaries just like its grandfather, the pot brownie.
Is Delta 8 Right for You?
If you are suffering from anxiety, stress, or trouble sleeping, you may want to consider trying Delta 8 instead of CBD oil. And you might also want to turn to Delta 8 if you are looking to relax recreationally but don’t want to be incapacitated or sunk into the couch, pondering a sandwich.
And while a good deal of Delta 8 research still needs to be done, it appears so far that the compound is no more harmful to you than a small spliff or a goodly dose of CBD.
Delta 8 could be a great alternative to both CBD and Delta-9 THC.
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