If you ask most people who follow the cannabis industry what THC is, they will likely tell you. Of course, depending on their experience with that compound, they will have very different opinions about it. Some people love it, and appreciate the many benefits it has conferred upon them. They either don’t mind the high it gives or absolutely love it. Others don’t quite like it, either because they have had negative experiences with its psychoactive effects, or because it is generally a controlled substance, or both.
What most people don’t know, even those who know a thing or two about cannabis, is that THC isn’t a monolith. It’s actually one of a group of compounds that are isomers or analogs of each other. These different analogs are the same in that they have the same number and type of atoms, they are all structured differently.
For that reason, they don’t interact with the body in the same way. When most people talk about THC, what they are really talking about is delta 9 THC. It is the dominant cannabinoid in marijuana and is responsible for the intense highs that bring some euphoria and others paranoia.
Delta 8 THC
But delta 9 THC is not the only THC out there. There’s THCa, an acidic form of THC, delta 8, delta 10, and many others.
You might be a little stumped about the numbers in the names. They have a nerdy angle to them, but for the edification of the nerds among our readers, we will explain it. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a compound consisting of a chain of carbon atoms bonded to other atoms via single and double bonds.
The number in after ‘delta’ describes the number of the carbon atom on the chain where a double bond occurs. So delta 9 THC has a double bond on the 9th carbon in the chain while delta 8 THC has it on the 8th one.
Because of this subtle difference, as specified by Fresh Bros, delta 8 THC is significantly less psychoactive than delta 9 THC, achieving only about 60% of the potency. Meanwhile, it features all of the benefits of THC. For people who enjoy THC but feel like it is too intense, this is a boon. And for those who love CBD (a non-psychoactive cannabinoid) but feel that it lacks excitement and want to try something a little more psychoactive, delta 8 THC is an excellent alternative.
For the reason above, delta 8 THC has grown quite popular, and is manufactured in many forms, including delta 8 gummies, vapes, and edibles, among others.
What is the legal status of delta 8 THC?
With all the misinformation online, it is easy to get confused about the legal status of this relatively new kind of THC. After all, THC is considered a controlled substance at the federal level, so it is normal to feel a bit of discomfort at the thought of buying it over the counter. The short answer is that delta 8 derived from hemp is technically legal, but let us take a closer look at the matter and dispel all doubt on the matter.
There are two particular kinds of cannabis to take note of here: hemp and marijuana. From a scientific standpoint, they are both cannabis. However, from a legal standpoint, they are different. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC while marijuana has higher levels.
In 2018, the Farm Bill was passed into law, specifying that all cannabinoids derived from hemp are considered legal, so long as they do not contain more than 0.3% THC. To be specific, the law was referring to delta 9 THC. That is how a budding industry formed around CBD, CBG, and others, all of which are derived from hemp.
Delta 8 occurs in negligible amounts in nature. However, it can be synthesized from CBD. If the CBD is derived from hemp, it is legal, and therefore the delta 8 synthesized from it is also legal. As such, it is okay to sell delta 8 gummies and other delta 8 products without fear of legal repercussions.
Interesting related article: “What is CBD?“