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The Truth About Delta 8 THC

Added 23 September 2021

Delta 8 THC is becoming very popular with people trying a range of new cannabis products in the market. Almost everyone wants to try new cannabinoids in their isolated forms even though the cannabinoids are present already in the hemp or marijuana flowers in minimal amounts. 

From gas stations to local shops, they are sold everywhere and often referred to as the “legal high”. 

All the hype makes one wonder — Is delta 8 THC safe or is it just a marketing ploy? 

You’re about to find out...

What is Delta 8 THC?

cananbis buds

Delta 8 THC is one among the hundreds of cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant. According to many companies, it’s similar to delta 9 THC or tetrahydrocannabinol that produces the “high” or psychoactive effects, but it’s smoother with relatively few side effects. 

What is the difference between Delta 9 and Delta 8 THC?

delta 8 vs delta 9 THC

Delta 8 THC is very similar to its counterpart delta 9 THC except for one difference in the chemical composition. While delta 9 THC displays a double bond on its 9th carbon, delta 8’s bond is at its 8th carbon chain. That’s about it. 

Although the difference is pretty much negligible, delta 8 THC is much milder than delta 9 THC. So much that delta 8 THC is sold as a legal high in most stores while delta 9 THC is yet to be legalized in many locations. 

Another difference is in the way delta 8 THC is manufactured, but we will get to it later. Learn more about delta 8 THC here.

How does it feel to ingest or smoke Delta 8 THC?

joint

Supposedly, delta 8 THC makes you less anxious than delta 9 THC. Suffice it to say that it’s perfect for those looking to experience THC but are worried about its side effects. Roughly speaking, delta 8 THC is about half as potent as delta 9. 

However, make note that too much of anything is too bad. You may not like delta 8 THC in high doses because you’ll experience the same effects produced by delta 9 THC. Unless a physician prescribes it to you, there’s no reason to consume high doses of delta 9 THC. 

Delta 8 THC may also make you feel hungrier than ever (munchies), just like delta 9 THC. 

Many manufacturers tend to paint delta 9 THC in a bad light while portraying other cannabinoids as the holy grail. 

What strains are high in Delta 8 THC?

cannabis buds

Very few hemp strains contain higher than usual doses of delta 8 THC. As mentioned already, delta 8 THC is present only in minimal amounts in most strains. 

Even if the breeders want to cultivate strains containing large amounts of delta 8 THC, it would be a laborious process because a) They can’t identify the enzymes producing it and b) They can’t identify strains containing delta 8 THC in large doses specifically. 

Can I grow Delta 8 THC at home?

Since you can’t identify exclusive strains containing large amounts of delta 8 THC, it’s tough to grow delta 8 THC at home. Even if they identify such strains, you’d need to grow loads of buds because it’s a minor cannabinoid. 

Imagine you’re so enamored with delta 8 THC that you put in the effort to grow large amounts of cannabis. Can you make delta 8 THC then? Maybe...only if you’re a pro at storing the buds in conditions that are conducive to producing delta 8 THC. And, that brings us to manufacturing…

How is Delta 8 THC manufactured?

Delta 8 THC is a byproduct of the infamous delta 9 THC. It can also be extracted from CBD. Bearing this in mind, delta 8 THC can be manufactured in several ways. While one technique is slow, safe, and depends on natural factors, the other techniques involve using harsh chemicals to derive the cannabinoid faster with more purity.

One natural method suggests aging hemp flowers. Typically, aged cannabis flowers contain higher amounts of delta 8 THC compared to fresh buds. Some companies store fresh buds in such a way that it produces delta 8 THC. They also subject it to oxygen and UV rays to speed up the process. 

The technique described above is slow and not very profitable, considering that the material contains small amounts of delta 8 THC in the first place. 

The other processes involve converting the other cannabinoids such as delta THC and CBD into delta 8 THC through chemicals or solvents. First, they extract cannabinoids from the hemp plant. The extract is induced to heat or decarboxylation to derive potent CBD. 

Depending on the manufacturer’s choice, they can use different methods to extract CBD isolates:

  • Oil extractions 
  • Solvent extractions
  • Solvent-less extractions

Oil extractions

Considered one of the oldest ways to extract almost anything, oil extractions typically use carrier oils like olive oil to derive cannabinoids. The oil is heated gently and later subjected to other processes such as distillation and winterization to produce CBD isolates. Similar to your DIY Canna Butter project, this is a simple way to extract good-quality CBD isolates. 

Solvent extractions

This method requires solvents to extract CBD. Most companies use Ethanol because it’s adept at breaking down the extract and separate CBD. However, removing the ethanol from the final product is another process that has to be followed carefully. 

Solvent-less extractions

Some processes like the Supercritical CO2 Extraction method use CO2 without the need for solvents. This process is expensive because it requires sophisticated equipment. But, since there are no solvents involved, this process is considered cleaner. 

After the process of preparing the CBD isolate, the next step is to convert it into delta 8 THC. Described as Isomerization, CBD isolates are dissolved in specific acids. Depending on the acid, it can take more than 72 hours to convert the CBD to delta 8 THC. 

Finally, the acids are neutralized to eliminate unwanted residue, leaving delta 8 THC behind. It’s either sold as an isolate or infused with oils and edibles. 

Throughout the process, several solvents and acids are combined with the initial extract to arrive at the final stage — a concentrated form of delta 8 THC. The acids should be neutralized and the solvents should be eliminated so the final product is safe. 

As you can surmise by now, the process is fairly complicated, which is why delta 8 THC products are often expensive. Moreover, they need to be tested frequently by third-party laboratories to check for residual solvents that can be dangerous if the manufacturer fails to conduct the procedures appropriately. 

Is Delta 8 THC safe?

So, manufacturers have two choices — Natural and Synthetic processes, as described above.

Now, is it safe? 

Well, that depends on the route the manufacturer takes. As mentioned already, a variety of solvents and acids can be used. Every combination yields different results and byproducts. This chemical synthesis may include acids like hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid

Some manufacturing facilities don’t consider safety precautions and use harmful substances, according to the FDA. The FDA further reiterates that some delta 8 THC products are risky due to potential contaminants, not to mention unsanitary conditions during the processing. 

So, the answer to the question “Is Delta 8 THC safe?” depends on how the manufacturer chooses to produce it. The onus is on you, the customer, to only go for products that you deem safe. 

How to use Delta 8 THC safely?

Some manufacturers produce excellent concentrates of isolate cannabinoids, so there’s no reason to panic and throw away your delta 8 THC products. Some processes like Supercritical CO2 extraction separates cannabinoids and guarantees a solvent-free final product. Many other processes can be used to separate cannabinoids efficiently but they are expensive. 

Therefore, always go for branded companies with a solid reputation in the industry. Do not purchase anything from vendors without lab certificates. 

In some instances, the manufacturers supply partial information in the lab certificates. For example, they may include cannabinoid potency tests and exclude residual solvent tests. Trustworthy companies will mention the technique they use to extract cannabinoids. 

It’s also important to check for contaminant testing including microbes, heavy metals, and pesticides. To put it simply, you want to see a full lab report rather than half-baked information. Do not hesitate to reach out to the manufacturer when in doubt. 

What are the alternatives?

bud

If you’re really worried about safety, it’s best to stick to traditional hemp flowers. Sure, delta 8 THC concentrations are minimal, but that’s the beauty of it! Rather than opting for synthetic concentrates in high doses, using natural buds with low concentrations seems like a better idea. 

There’s no reason to look for a specific cannabinoid unless you’re directed by a physician. For instance, some doctors suggest consuming CBD or THC in high doses, depending on the illness. But other than that, looking for specific cannabinoids might not be as beneficial as consuming all the cannabinoids together or the plant as a whole. 

Moreover, hemp and even cannabis containing a mixture of all cannabinoids are better than isolated cannabinoids. Don’t take our word for it; trust science. Research by the University of Arizona Health Sciences suggests that the pain-relieving effects are amplified when terpenes and cannabinoids are used together. Even the "Entourage Effect" (cannabinoids working together in unison) supports this theory. 

Delta 8 THC may be milder and better than delta 9 THC, but it’s up to you to decide whether you want to take the risk. 

Is Delta 8 THC legal?

Yes, delta 8 THC is legal in many states. But, it’s vague. Hemp was made legal for cultivation and distribution according to the 2018 Farm Bill. Since then, many companies have sold hemp products including delta 8 THC because it’s not mentioned in the bill. 

Due to this legal loophole, many unscrupulous companies can sell delta 8 THC without lab reports. Even synthetic versions are sold although it’s not regulated by the FDA. 

Hopefully, many more companies will take the route of natural cannabinoid extraction in the future. 

Conclusion

Delta 8 THC is a cannabinoid that performs very much like a lighter version of delta 9 THC. Delta 9 THC is the cannabinoid that produces psychoactive effects, but delta 8 THC is not that strong. 

There are several ways to extract delta 8 THC but it totally depends on the manufacturer’s choice. While some ways are safe, they are expensive and vice versa. It’s best to go only for branded companies with lab reports or use hemp flowers if you want to experience the benefits of all cannabinoids. 

 






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