Peter Grinspoon is a primary care physician at Harvard Medical School. He’s also on the board of the advocacy group, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. He tells Inverse that Delta-8-THC does have “vast” potential, as do many of the less-famous cannabinoids. “I’m really excited to see what we come up with when we start breeding up, in evaluating all these different cannabinoids,” he tells Inverse. “I think Delta-8-THC is a perfect example.”
Delta-8 THC is a powerful cannabinoid native to the cannabis flower. Delta-8-THC is an isomer of CBD, which is a derivative of hemp and CBD, a cannabinoid found in hemp, and is found in our products with less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC. In other words, Delta 8 THC is sort of a middle ground between hemp, CBD and THC-Delta-9.
According to The National Cancer Institute, Delta-8 THC is defined as "an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties." They also stated that "this agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC), the primary form of THC found in cannabis."
A range of preclinical and clinical studies are uncovering some of the unique properties and therapeutic potential of delta-8-THC.
What is the difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9?
While Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC have similar names, they are distinctly different compounds with distinctly different characteristics, and there are clear-cut reasons why Delta 8 THC was made fully federally legal by H.R. 2: The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 and Delta 9 THC was limited to a maximum content of 0.3%.
PAIN AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS
A 2018 preclinical study published in “Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research” found that delta-8-THC may help to diminish pain and inflammation in corneal injury in mice. The research found that delta-8-THC, applied topically, assisted in pain reduction, and reduced inflammation through its effects on the CB1 receptors.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, delta-8-THC displays anxiety-reducing qualities similar to delta-9-THC. While there is currently little clinical literature investigating its anti-anxiety potential, consumption of delta-8-THC results in a very calm, focused high, without the anxiety or paranoia that can sometimes accompany delta-9-THC.
The nausea fighting potential of delta-8-THC was reported in a 1995 study published in “Life Sciences.” The study followed eight pediatric cancer patients over two years and found that no vomiting occurred when patients ingested delta-8-THC before and for 24 hours after cancer treatment. The study reported very few side effects.
Delta-8-THC may also help to stimulate the appetite. Research conducted on mice and published in a 2004 edition of “Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior” found that a low dose of delta-8-THC administered to mice over 50 days resulted in a 22% increase in food intake compared with controls. The research also reported that delta-8-THC increased food intake significantly more than delta-9-THC, which is a reputed appetite stimulant.
While the Farm Bill only gives a limit on Delta 9, hemp contains a few versions of THC, including Delta 8, THCA and THCV. Each version brings unique effects to the table.
Delta 8 THC exists naturally in cannabis (hemp & marijuana), but in such small quantities that it cannot be extracted and put into products at prices many people can afford. Luckily, one of the great things about cannabinoids is how closely many of them are structurally.
These structural similarities allow cannabinoids to be changed from one to another fairly simply via chemical reactions. While many people want to call these cannabinoids “synthetics” that’s not an appropriate name for them. “Conversions” or “derivatives” is the more appropriate name, as not only do these compounds exist naturally, but many of these cannabinoids will change into each other naturally with the application of heat, time, and light. In fact, all cannabinoids start as CBGA and naturally synthesize into other cannabinoids during the maturation of the cannabis plant. And a conversion of THCA to Delta 9 THC with the application of heat is a conversion performed at home by anyone who smokes marijuana.
Quick chemistry lesson for the uninitiated: The delta part of the name refers to the double bond, so both Delta 8 and Delta 9 contain double bonds, the difference is where that double bond is located. Organic chemistry deals with carbon atoms – a lot of carbon atoms, chains of them – and the respective “8” and “9” in the names of these cannabinoids refer to the location of that double (Delta) bond in the chain. Delta 9 has a double bond on the 9th carbon in the chain, Delta 8 on the 8th. So, what this really boils down to is that a double bond is going to have more electrons than single carbon bonds and will interact differently with the endocannabinoid system. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but when we’re talking about subatomic particles, the location of that double bond can be very significant. THCA – THCA exists in the stems, leaves, and flowers of the cannabis plant. It is the only one of the four types of THC that has no psychoactive or mind-altering properties. It is the source of the other 3 types of THC. This process is stimulated by applying heat and light to THCA. Sunlight and natural aging can cause the conversion of small amounts of THCA to its counterparts.
THCV – THCV is another byproduct of THCA breakdown. While it is similar to Delta-9 THC, it has some distinct differences. One significant difference between THCV and its better-known cannabinoid cousin: It actually functions as an appetite suppressant instead of making you hungry. It can, in fact, even limit the actions of Delta-9 THC.
In fact, delta-8 THC can become delta-9 THC because the latter is much more stable. The ‘delta-8 bond’ does not prefer this position and will actually switch to the more stable delta-9 position and the molecule changes. This transition is part of the reason there is a higher concentration of delta-9 THC than delta-8 because over time all of delta-8 will become delta-9.
Will Delta 8 show up on a drug test?
Delta 8 THC metabolites may trigger many drug tests looking for Delta 9 THC metabolites. As a precaution, you should not take this product if you need to pass a drug test.