Cannabinoid hype is still going strong in 2021, with hundreds of new hemp-derived products appearing on the market almost daily. A simple Google search for CBD oil, for example, will yield millions of results, with page after page listing new brands, both in the US and globally.
Furthermore, we also see a surge in scientific research regarding the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids. The results of this research will more than likely influence the legal status of these substances, and soon enough we might get something similar to the 2018 Farm Bill.
However, we’re still not quite there yet. The most popular psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD and Delta-9 THC are still not legal across the United States. Moreover, the FDA doesn’t view products made from these substances as safe for human consumption. But there is one other cannabinoid that could become the “next big thing” in the world of hemp-derived products, the so-called Delta-8 THC.
So, what will the potential Delta-8 THC market look like? Can it generate revenue like CBD and other related products? Let’s find out.
What is Delta-8 THC?
The full name of this compound is Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol. Structurally it is quite similar to Delta-9 THC, i.e. the form of THC we associate with getting high. In other words, when doctors are talking about the substance in marijuana that causes harmful psychoactive effects, they’re talking about Delta-9. And indeed, the two compounds do have a similar effect on the human body. They both cause a mild state of euphoria, sedation, happiness, and symptom relief.
Of course, there are some differences between the two. First off, Delta-8 is not found in cannabis plants in any significant amounts, unlike Delta-9. Furthermore, Delta-8 is not as potent as Delta-9. In fact, people who tested both compounds suggest that Delta-8 produces a more clear-headed high, which results in less anxiety and edginess, says Adam Wathen of Area 52. In short, it is nowhere near as psychoactive as Delta-9 but does provide the same pain and anxiety relief properties.
Legal Status of Delta-8 THC
Whether Delta-8 THC is completely legal or not is a question we still have no answers to. On the face of it all, it should be. After all, it is a substance derived from hemp, not cannabis. As such, it counts as a substance that is legal to use on a federal level. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, cultivation and sale of hemp and hemp-related products are not deemed illegal since January 2019, since hemp was no longer classified as a Schedule I substance.
However, Delta-8 THC is still a substance that is synthetically derived from the plant. The Drug Enforcement Administration has released an Interim Final Report in 2020, stating that any synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol still counts as a Schedule I substance. Of course, the IFR has not yet been approved, nor implemented. In addition, no federal body has been regulating the production, distribution, marketing, or possession of Delta-8 products anywhere in the US.
To put it simply, the legal status of Delta-8 THC is murky, at best. Until we get direct word from the federal government, the answer will stay up in the air. However, that didn’t stop manufacturers from making and selling new products. The question is, do they sell supplements with CBD?
Current Sales Trends
Almost daily, new brands are appearing with Delta-8 THC products. These include edibles, vapes, pills, extracts, tinctures, and other products. In fact, some brands tend to infuse their current CBD products with Delta-8 for an extra boost. In short, there is definitely a growing interest there.
We don’t have any raw numbers, but early reports do show a trend. Some retailers report a jump in sales with the addition of Delta-8 to their products. And this addition seems to appear more and more with each passing day. These retailers claim that the lack of regulation or legal enforcement contributed to this surge of Delta-8 demand.
Another contributing factor is just how ‘rare’ Delta-8 is. Most people want a CBD product that contains other cannabinoids that are not easy to find or extract. The harder the substance is to derive, the more value it has.
The Impact on the Current CBD Markets
Of course, there are several things to consider. For instance, not all CBD brands decided to include Delta-8 in their products. In fact, it’s quite telling that the majority of established CBD manufacturers refuse to do so, despite the demand.
As we stated earlier, even CBD products aren’t completely legal on a federal level. So, adding a substance that still needs to undergo research is a risk. Moreover, while there are mainstream food and drug manufacturers who are looking into CBD, none have shown interest in Delta-8.
But it doesn’t end there. Delta-8 THC sales seem to mostly happen via two main channels. The first is online sales, with the product going directly to the consumer. The second channel includes small, independent shops that sell vaping gear and products. Of course, for Delta-8 to reach a wide customer base, it needs to be in popular grocery chains and national pharmacies. And while these channels started selling CBD products a long time ago, they have yet to offer any Delta-8 stuff.
Naturally, we can’t exclude the user feedback. Yes, there definitely are customers willing to buy anything with Delta-8. However, not everyone will rush into buying a new substance just because of clever marketing.
Let’s compare the sales practices of Delta-8 to those of CBD. The main reason behind so many people wanting to try CBD products is credibility. In other words, most established CBD brands openly list the contents of their products, as well as third-party lab testing results. They are taking every single step to make their products as safe for consumption as possible. However, Delta-8 is, in a sense, brand new. It lacks the trust which CBD brands have built over the years, as well as in-depth scientific research to back up its properties.
The development around the Delta-8 THC market is definitely interesting. Just like CBD and other cannabinoids, it has its fair share of issues, with the most important one being its legal status. And while that hasn’t stopped some CBD manufacturers from using Delta-8 in their products, others still choose not to do it.
Ultimately, we will have to wait and see. Early research into the safety of Delta-8 THC consumption seems positive, and with more data, we might see this new market expand and grow. And if CBD’s boom is any indication, the Delta-8 market might benefit the US economy with millions of dollars down the road.