There’s a lot of buzz around Delta 8 right now, but I’m concerned people aren’t educating themselves about this new cannabinoid before using it.
Almost weekly, someone asks me about Delta 8 products. What are they, should I try them?
I appreciate that people look to me for guidance, so I thought I’d put together a few tidbits about Delta 8.
If you’re not aware, Delta 8, short for Delta-8-THC, is a close relative of Delta-9-THC. That’s main compound in psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”). As you might guess, the two compounds are very chemically similar with somewhat similar effects. They both make you high but in slightly different ways. I’ll get into that below.
After Congress legalized hemp, a lot of people grew it and made CBD extract. Way too much CBD. It sat around rotting in warehouses. Then somebody figured out how to turn it into Delta 8, and realized that the laws technically didn’t ban it. It’s probably legal. Maybe.
The tl,dr, if you’re going to skim, is that the CBD market is unregulated and full of shady characters. You need to do your research before buying. That becomes even more urgent when you turn CBD into Delta 8, often as a quick cash grab to make up for falling profits. Buyer beware.
Not a puritan
Right at the outset, let’s make my beliefs clear: I oppose the War on Drugs, I think people should be free to get high for both recreational and medical reasons, and I’m also concerned about the quality, safety, and lack of regulations around these products.
As a freelance hemp consultant, I’ve also written a few articles on the topic of Delta 8. Rather than linking my friends to one of those articles, I thought it might be more useful to share my thoughts and concerns directly, without anyone paying for it (except my Patreon donors).
I’m not representing any brands here, and I don’t have a financial stake in whether Delta 8 products continue to exist. I don’t work for any brands that make Delta 8, but I think it could be useful for some people … if it’s real and safely made.
With that out of the way, let’s get into a few key points about Delta 8.
Delta 8 is artificially created in a lab
Delta 8 exists in hemp and cannabis plants, but only in miniscule quantities. Much too little to use directly.
Farmers grow cannabis that’s high in THC and other cannabinoids. There are also strains of hemp grown for their CBD content, or because they are high in CBG, and so on. There’s no such thing, currently, as Delta 8 hemp.
In order to create Delta 8 products, chemists take raw CBD and apply heat, pressure, and potentially additional chemicals in the lab. I’m not a chemist, but hemp experts told me that some of these could leave residues behind which might not show up on standard third-party tests. The process is also very wasteful, with most of the CBD ending up in the trash.
Overall, I think that there’s too big an emphasis on “natural.” I take several prescription drugs, made by the dreaded “Big Pharma,” in order to improve my body’s natural chemistry.
Still, this is a deal breaker for some people.
Lack of regulations and safety precautions
The internet is full of totally fake products. When I worked for Ministry of Hemp, we’d get messages all the time, often from older folks, that were fooled by fake CBD companies. Amazon, in particular, is full of fake CBD.
This is possible because the market is completely unregulated. The government asked the Food and Drug Administration to develop regulations for CBD and similar products, but they’re dragging their heels. Unless you claim your CBD cures cancer, chances are you can get away with almost anything in this market.
Unsurprisingly, when you add a quick cash grab onto an already shady industry, you get a lot of questionable choices by some companies. Very questionable. When Leafly tested three Delta 8 products from a head shop, they found only 2 of them were legitimate. The same article notes that while one of the products had a real QR code leading to a certificate of analysis, some products have stolen QR codes so that they create a fake aura of authenticity. This is a very confusing and scary situation for consumers.
Don’t smoke Delta 8
I mentioned up above that there are no Delta 8 rich strains of hemp or cannabis. That hasn’t stopped pre-rolls and “flower” (nugs) from showing up for sale.
How is this possible if the strains don’t exist? First, companies create the cannabinoid in the lab, as I explained above. Then they spray it onto industrial hemp flower … after adding additional chemicals to make it stick.
To put it bluntly, smokable Delta 8 is created by adding adhesives to extract. This scares the crap out of me, given there’s absolutely no oversight into what chemicals get used. After the recent scare around black and gray market vape cartridges, you couldn’t pay me to smoke this stuff. Stick to gummies or oil if you try it.
Delta 8 is a weak, unproven version of THC
I’m already seeing social media accounts for hemp brands fill with unproven claims about Delta 8, such as the idea that it never causes paranoia, unlike THC.
Right now, there’s almost no research into the effects of taking large quantities of this new cannabinoid. Some people do seem to report getting less paranoid from it than with regular THC. That could be some key chemical difference, or it could just be that Delta 8 products are pretty weak.
Yes, they will get you high. But most people require quite a bit more to feel the effects versus conventional cannabis. A lot of people with experience with real THC find this stuff pretty boring.
Also, you’ll still fail a drug test from Delta 8. They just aren’t that precise.
Update: Since publishing this article yesterday, I’ve heard from multiple people that experienced paranoia or anxiety after consuming Delta 8. Brands that claim it never causes these side effects are lying to you.
The bottom line: Proceed with caution
I’ve tried Delta 8 and I wasn’t too impressed. The first time I tried it, I was actually caught off guard and had a bad experience because nobody warned me it would get me stoned. My assistant at Ministry of Hemp had a similar experience; she took so much without realizing it that she was still hung over 24 hours later. I understand why companies feel like they can’t talk directly about its effects, but a lot of the marketing is downright dishonest and unethical.
Since then I’ve tried it a few times. To me, the high feels oddly ungrounded and isolating. It’s neither very cerebral or very body focused, just kind of foggy feeling. Sometimes it feels nice to take some if I’m in a lot of pain or can’t get to sleep, and other cannabinoids aren’t helping enough. I strongly prefer CBD and conventional THC.
But a lot of people can’t access Delta-9-THC (“marijuana”) because of prohibition. And there are people who say it makes them feel high without paranoia. I’m happy for them and want it to be available. Of course, it’s anyone’s guess how long that will be since it’s already getting banned in many states.
People are curious and the hype can be compelling. Already, even newer “designer cannabinoids” like Delta 10 are showing up. It’s natural to want to try new things, especially for folks of a certain mindset.
My advice is be careful. Start low and go slow, and always research the products carefully. And when in doubt, just go for the THC or CBD instead.
Released under a Creative Commons licenseDelta 8 FAQ: What You Should Know Before Trying Delta 8 by Kit O’Connell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://kitoconnell.com/2021/06/29/delta-8-faq/.
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