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What is Delta-8? The Ultimate Guide to Delta-8 THC

Dr. Saira Zulfiqar, PharmD

Written by: Dr. Saira Zulfiqar, PharmD

Updated on December 30, 2023

What is Delta-8 The Ultimate Guide to Delta-8 THC

Interested in cannabis products and have just stumbled upon the Delta-8 THC? The newly discovered Delta-8 THC has become overtly prevalent in a short period due to its properties and potential benefits that users have experienced. To help you understand its immense popularity and why is Delta-8 (D8) legal in some states, there are some things that you have to first know, including what Delta-8 THC is and how it works.

Knowing the basics about a psychoactive compound before trying it is always better. So, here is a complete guide to Delta-8 THC.

What is Delta-8 THC?

Let’s start with what is Delta-8 THC. THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, a part of the cannabis plant that induces the typical “high” associated with the use of the cannabis plant and its products. THC percentages in the hemp plants are typically what decide its legality as well. D8 THC is a type of THC along with Delta-9 THC, Delta-10 THC, and THC-O, etc.

Delta-8 THC is found in lesser concentrations naturally compared to Delta-9 THC. It formulates when Delta-9 THC is oxidized after aging. Its concentration usually accounts for less than 1% of the cannabis plant naturally. It has several psychoactive effects, but compared to the Delta-9, it produces a more energetic effect with a clearer head.

Most Delta-8 products available online are usually made synthetically by converting the Delta-9 THC through a series of chemical reactions. The FDA sometimes flags such products containing impurities that can harm human consumption. However, the natural form of Delta-8 THC can carry other forms of THC that might or might not be legal. This is why sourcing your Delta-8 THC products from reliable sources is paramount for your safety.

Consuming Form of Delta-8 THC

People experienced with THC use are always finding new and exciting ways of experiencing their favorite cannabinoids. The same is true for D8 THC. Several Delta-8 products are widely used and readily available over the internet. Here are some of the common consuming forms of Delta-8 THC products.

Consuming Form of D8 THC How is It Used?
Delta-8 THC Cartridges & Concentrates Delta-8 THC Cartridges and concentrates are one of the most popular ways to use it. It is discrete and convenient. In this form, Delta-8 THC is usually smoked.
Delta-8 Tinctures In a tincture form, the Delta-8 is liquid. It can be used to dose directly on the tongue and is a great way to control dosage.
Delta-8 THC Gummies Delta-8 THC gummies can be consumed easily by chewing and are ideal for people who want to avoid side effects from inhalation or smoking.
Delta-8 THC Capsules Delta-8 THC capsules contain a cannabinoid that can be conveniently used and is an ideal way to control dosage.

Psychoactive Effects of Delta-8 THC

Let us see how and what Delta-8 does in terms of psychoactive effects on the human body. We know that it produces milder psychoactive effects compared to other forms of THC while producing the potential therapeutic benefits associated with THC use. Here are some of the psychoactive effects produced by Delta-8 THC on the human mind:

Mild Euphoria

Users of Delta-8 THC have expressed that it produces a very mild and controlled sense of euphoria that does not overpower you compared to other cannabis products. The elevation in mood does not bring about extreme bouts of happiness.

Relaxed Mental State

Many people report a state of relaxation and calm that is subdued and is a controlled psychotropic experience.

Cognitive Clarity

The use of Delta-8 THC is linked with cognitive clarity, and with the proper doses, many people are lucid and do not report any significant cognitive distortion.

Potential Benefits of Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 THC has been associated with a wide variety of advantages and benefits. Though it has psychoactive properties, the person using it usually can keep a clear head and their wits about them while enjoying these benefits. Studies have suggested that it may aid with the management of health conditions. Here are some of the potential benefits of Delta-8 THC:

Anxiety & Stress Management

Molecules regulate the endocannabinoid system in the human body that is naturally present and the cannabinoids that are present in the cannabis plant. Delta-8 THC can also interact with this system, regulating stress levels and helping alleviate anxiety. However, there is limited data present, and more research is needed.

Alleviation of Chronic Pain

Delta-8 THC is known for its analgesic properties- which come from its ability to manipulate the cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system. Anecdotal evidence stresses that Delta-8 THC might be able to help with conditions of chronic pain like arthritis and neuropathic pain.

Help with Depression

Early research shows that Delta-8 THC can help increase the production of neurotransmitters that aid in mood regulation. This can then help alleviate the symptoms of depression. However, there is no concrete evidence present, and depression should always be treated with help from mental and medical health professionals.

What are the Risks or Side Effects of Delta-8 THC?

To understand fully what does Delta-8 do in the human body, we have to discuss the Delta-8 side effects. The THC types have very similar effects on the body and also carry not-so-different sets of risks with their use. Delta-8 THC products are especially more significant as they are not regulated and often carry impurities that can cause additional side effects, leading to serious health issues and concerns. Here are some of the commonly reported Delta-8 side effects:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Loss of Balance
  • Coordination Issues
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory Loss
  • Appetite Changes
  • Loss of Consciousness

FDA has reported a wide range of risks associated with the impurities coming with Delta-8 THC products. These impurities can cause severe damage due to prolonged or extensive exposure. Some of such culprits can include:

  • Heavy Metals and solvents can cause digestive tract issues and even organ damage.
  • Pesticides and herbicides that cause serious respiratory issues and longer topical exposure can cause skin irritation.
  • Unidentified Chemical Residue that comes from synthetically formed Delta-8 THC processes and can cause unpredictable effects on health.

This is why it is important to choose Delta-8 THC products from reliable sellers that prioritize independent lab testing and follow sanitary manufacturing practices.

What’s the Legality of Delta-8 THC?

To understand why Delta-8 is legal on some levels and states, we have to delve deep into the cannabis product landscape in America. The legal status of Delta-8 THC on a federal level is unclear at best. In the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and many of its non-psychoactive substances were legalized. However, the definition of these products can be interpreted in different manners and is defined by THC content.

Hemp products containing less than 0.3% THC by dry weight are considered legal, and any other products originating from this hemp are also considered legal under the Farm Bill.

Delta-8 THC’s legal status thus becomes a murky legal debate. On the state level, 22 states and Washington DC have declared Delta-8 THC use legal, while three states allow regulated use of these products. On the other hand, 15 states have explicitly banned Delta-8 THC. The ban originates from concerns ranging from public health, law enforcement regulations, and rules governing taxation and revenue.

Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 vs. CBD

A common confusion for people is the difference between different types of THC and CBD. Now that you understand what Delta-8 THC is, it will be easier for you to comprehend this difference. Both of these compounds are naturally found in a cannabis plant. While THC produces the ‘high’ associated with the cannabis plant, CBD is its cousin that does not produce mind-altering effects.

THC also presents in different forms and has a whole family of molecules classified under its label. This makes Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC brothers with little difference in how they affect the human body. However, Delta-8 THC produces milder psychoactive effects compared to Delta-9 THC and can be formed synthetically by exposing aged Delta-9 THC to different chemicals.

The legal status of all three also varies due to their properties and federal and state-level regulations. Below is the table highlighting the differences between Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC vs. CBD.

Delta-8 THC Delta-9 THC CBD
Type Natural and Synthetic Natural Natural
Chemical Structure The same carbon backbone with a double bond at C8 The same carbon backbone with a double bond at C9 Different from THC
Source Cannabis (Not Legal) or Hemp (Legal) Cannabis or Hemp Usually Hemp
Legality Gray Area federally but legal in 22 states + DC Primarily illegal (federal), legal (in some states) Primarily legal (Hemp less than 0.3% THC)
Psychoactive Effects Induces a calm and relaxed state Euphoria & altered perception Non-psychoactive
Potential Benefits Pain relief and increased appetite Pain relief, nausea, appetite stimulation Anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic & mood regulatory properties
Side Effects Some coordination issues and mind-altering effects Increased heart rate, memory impairment, coordination issues Drowsiness and appetite changes

Does Delta-8 THC Show Up On Drug Tests?

Yes. Delta-8 THC can show up in drug tests. However, why and how are two questions that need to be addressed. Usually, Delta-8 THC is not something that is tested for commonly. Your employer or an officer of the law can potentially use tests that look for THC use or metabolites that are produced after using THC.

These tests often cannot differentiate between different THC forms, thus making it difficult to prove which THC form you consumed. But, with highly specialized equipment, you can differentiate between different THC forms.

The tests commonly used by the authorities include blood, urine, saliva, and even hair tests. The THC use can be detected for different durations in each of these samples, considering when you last used the Dleta-8 THC and how effective is your metabolic rate.

Urine testing, which is most commonly used, can detect its use up to 30 days after use. For chronic heavy users, it can be tested even longer, while daily users can test positive up to 15 days after use. People who might have used it once can test negative as soon as three days, while moderate frequency users can test negative after a week.


While exploring the world of Delta-8 THC, many crucial points emerge for its potential users. First, it provides milder psychoactive effects compared to Delta-9 THC, making it palatable for those looking for THC benefits without the mind-altering effects. Second, there are a lot of legal nuances involved with its use. Its legal use is gray under federal law, but you might want to see if your state allows its use or not before going down this particular THC adventure.

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Dr. Saira Zulfiqar, PharmD
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