Delta-8 THC vs. CBD – What are the differences
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If you are keeping track of the cannabis world, then you know that there are frequent product trends that crop up. Some of the more eccentric items in recent years include weed cologne and 24k gold rolling papers. Many of these fads receive a lot of attention for a short burst of time but eventually fade into obscurity. Other trends in cannabis involve discoveries of different strains or compounds. These trends are certainly less frequent but still occur from time to time. A recent example of this is the buzz surrounding the Delta-8 THC compound. Whether its popularity will outlive other cannabis fads is yet to be known. However, should you come across it, it’s best to be equipped with as much information as possible including how Delta 8 THC compares to CBD.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Found in a variety of typical cannabis products including gummies, tinctures, and vapes, Delta-8 THC is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Delta-8 is closely related to Delta-9 THC and actually resembles its chemical makeup. Delta-8 THC is normally synthesized from cannabidiol or CBD that is extracted from hemp. This process often yields a high percentage of Delta-8 THC along with smaller amounts of other cannabinoids and by-products of the synthesis. Not much is known about the resulting impurities in the final products and what their health effects might be.
Delta-8 THC surfaced when an oversupply of hemp caused prices to fall. In order to turn the increased supply of hemp into profit, producers began to think up possible solutions. A creative workaround that they devised came from chemistry that was recorded in the 1960s. producers began to experiment with ways to convert CBD into Delta-8 THC. The original target market for the resulting product were people looking to combat anxiety and stress, but who were not interested in the traditional cannabis products that were on the market.
With that said, because of the limited laboratory tests conducted, many of the products that are marketed and sold as Delta-8 THC are rarely pure Delta-8 THC. Rather, they will include a high percentage of Delta-8 THC along with other cannabinoids including Delta-9 THC. Further, some of the cannabinoids that can be found in these products are not naturally found in cannabis.
How does it differ from Delta-9 THC?
As previously mentioned, Delta-8 THC closely resembles Delta-9 THC. In fact, Delta-8 THC is an isomer of Delta-9 THC. An isomer is when two or more compounds have the same formula but with a different arrangement of atoms in the molecule along with other properties. In the case of Delta-8 and Delta-8 THC, the only difference between the two molecules is the location of a double bond between two carbons.
To clarify, Delta-9 THC is the main psychoactive component found in the cannabis plant. It is the compound that will get you “high”. While both Delta-8 and Delta-9 are forms of THC, when people refer to THC, they are usually talking about the Delta-9 that is found in high concentrations in marijuana.
Both Delta-8 and Delta-9 will produce a euphoric feeling or buzz, though Delta-8 will have a much milder effect than the “high” associated with Delta-9 THC. In fact, many people refer to Delta-8 THC as “marijuana-lite” or “diet weed”, because of its minimal effect compared to Delta-9. Some of the common Delta-9 THC side effects including paranoia, anxiety, and drowsiness are less severe in Delta-8 THC.
How does it differ from CBD?
Although Delta-8 THC is synthesized from CBD, the chemical process produces a compound that more closely resembles that of Delta 9-THC. In fact, both Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC produce similar effects, with the main difference being the level of potency.
Unlike Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, CBD does not produce a psychoactive or euphoric high. This is because, to be truly considered hemp CBD, the product must contain less than 0.3% THC. This amount of THC is so negligible that it will not have any psychoactive effect.
CBD and THC both interact with your endocannabinoid system. However, because of the psychoactive component found in THC, they will each produce different effects. For example, one potential benefit found in both is that they help manage anxiety. With that said, because of the psychoactive nature of THC, it may have the inverse effect of aggravating the user’s anxiety. Of course, each person will react to THC differently.
As for CBD and its effects, there are still many questions regarding long-term use and the research is still emerging. However, the effects of CBD are much more well-known and documented than those of THC-8. For instance, we know that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to combat anxiety and sleep disorders.
What are the effects of Delta-8 THC?
One study, published in 2022, collected data via an online survey that was completed by over 500 participants to determine the effects of Delta-8 THC on participants. Many of the participants consumed Delta-8 THC by ingesting edibles, using tinctures, or smoking from a vape — all methods that are suggested to be safer than smoking.
Approximately half of the participants said that they use Delta-8 THC to treat health or medical condition, while a third said they use it exclusively to treat a health condition and do not use it recreationally. The list of conditions mentioned include anxiety, chronic pain, depression, panic attacks etc. Many of these conditions are also commonly treated with Delta-9 THC. The study found that the effect of delta-8 THC was milder than that of Delta-9 THC. Further, Delta-8 THC appeared to provide a similar level of relaxation and pain relief.
Apart from those similarities, Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC differed in important ways. Though Delta-8 THC appeared to cause lower levels of euphoria, it also generated fewer cognitive distortions in participants, which are often attributed to Delta-9 THC including an altered sense of time, short term memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. Participants were also much less likely to experience distressing mental states like anxiety or paranoia.
Although the findings in this study are hopeful, they should be received with caution as this is one study and much more research is required before any definitive claims can be made.
Is Delta-8 THC legal?
In Canada, Delta-8 THC is legal given that the legalization of cannabis encompasses Delta-8 THC. With that said, while you are free to use it without fear of prosecution, it is important to note that it is a product that is not well-understood. Because of the lack of research and trials conducted on the effects of this substance, consumers are essentially the test subjects.
As previously discussed, much of the Delta-8 THC currently circulating is not pure and contains other by-products that are also not well-understood. It is a compound that is not regulated and therefore, should be approached with extreme caution. Though it boasts many positive qualities and could have great therapeutic potential, it is best to exercise skepticism until science proves it unnecessary.
For now, the best bet for ensuring a cannabis product is safe before purchase is a COA or Certificate of Analysis. This certificate is an authenticated document for quality control of CBD products. It verifies that the product you are purchasing meets standardized specifications. This certificate also lists the amounts of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids found inside the product.
Based on anecdotal evidence, Delta-8 THC certainly shows promise as a treatment for many health and medical conditions. While it is synthesized from CBD it bears a greater resemblance to THC-9. It also produces similar effects to those experienced with Delta-9 THC, though to a lesser extent. Further, it appears to lack certain adverse effects that users experience with Delta-9 THC such as anxiety and paranoia. With that being said, the research on Delta-8 THC is very minimal. As such, it is best to wait until the science confirms that it’s safe to consume.
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