What even is Delta 8 THC?

By Dharma D8   |   May 06, 2021

When it comes to cannabis, it’s not unusual to hear names and terms that sound as if they are the catchphrase of a cartoon character like “Maui Wowie.” It's also not uncommon to hear of long-winded terms that sound more clinical and scientific, like "delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol.” It's easy to clarify that Maui Wowie generally refers to a different strain of a cannabis plant. But what about other more complex terms and names associated with cannabis? We, here at DharmaD8, are big believers in education and want to make sure that you know all there is to know about Delta 8 THC. That’s why we want to go over what delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly called Delta 8 THC or D8) is. So, let’s get started.

The basics of Delta 8 THC

Let’s start by going over some of the basic things you need to know about D8.

As you have probably already figured out, Delta 8 THC is found in industrial hemp  plants. It’s one of over 100 different chemical compounds that are called cannabinoids. These compounds are able to do something almost nothing else can; they interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). If you've never heard of the ECS before, that may not sound like that big of a deal. But it's not something to take too lightly. The ECS is made up of receptors that help your body regulate certain functions, like mood and appetite. Because cannabinoids, like D8, interact with the ECS, they can have certain effects on these functions.

Delta 8 THC is actually best known for being a variation of another very well-known cannabinoid. It is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta 9 THC). You can tell just from the name that they are quite similar. Their names stem from the fact that they are built in almost the exact same chemical structural way. They do, however, have one minor difference in their structure. That difference is enough to make them distinguishable and have them cause slightly different effects.

We'll give you an example of a Delta 9 THC. This D9 figure shows you the main structure of the compound. And this shows the structure of D8 THC. Delta-8-THC has a double bond between the carbon atoms in a different spot than the Delta-9-THC. D9 THC also has a double bond but in a different position.

Delta 9 THC binds with the ECS receptors really tightly. This causes the psychoactive feelings of euphoria that cannabis is so famous for. D8 also binds with the receptors, but the shape makes it, so the bind isn't quite as tight as Delta 9 THC's. It still causes feelings of euphoria; they’re just a bit different from Delta 9 THC's. Most people familiar with both effects describe Delta 8 THC's effects to be less intense and more of a bodily high. Of course, this also varies from person to person.

But, you may be thinking, if it is psychoactive, is Delta 8 THC legal? The quick answer is yes! But there is a more complex answer is one that we'll need to explore more here. D8 can be found in every kind of cannabis, as can Delta 9 THC. This includes the hemp and marijuana variations of cannabis. Marijuana, as you likely already know, is not federally legal. As in 1970, marijuana was listed under the Controlled Substances Act, making it nationally illegal at a federal level. While more discussions in 2020 brought about bills like the MORE Act to move to decriminalize marijuana, it has yet to see a result at the time of this publication.  But, there is a bright side. In 2018, hemp specifically and all of its cannabinoids were made federally legal by the Farm Bill. D8 is found in hemp. Therefore derived products from hemp could be interpreted as reasonably legal. But this is only at the federal level.

Individual states may determine a different mindset. Some states have made hemp itself or D8 as a named compound illegal. So, be sure to research your local laws about Delta 8 THC and hemp before really diving into anything.

So, those are the basics of D8. It is found in cannabis and can interact with the ECS, it could cause a feeling of euphoria, and it is technically federally legal. Now that we’ve covered all of that, there are a few more things that you need to know about Delta 8 THC.

What else to know about Delta 8 THC

The next thing that we should talk about when it comes to D8 is the kinds of effects (other than the psychoactive ones) that you might experience while using it. So, let’s get started.

Could help with cognitive functions

When the psychoactive effects of cannabis are shown on TV and in movies, it is usually represented with forgetfulness and some general silliness. So, the idea that any cannabinoid could help with cognitive functions may seem a little odd if you aren't super familiar with the potential benefits of cannabis. But there is actually a fair amount of research that has looked at cannabis's potential to help with many cognitive diseases. Lately, that research has started to turn its eye to Delta 8 THC. One study found that D8 was able to help decrease certain symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This all needs to be researched a bit more, but the current research is still really encouraging.

Could help with pain

This is something that has been gone over time and time again when people are trying to legalize medical marijuana. There have been a lot of studies that have suggested that cannabis, in general, could be a good pain-killer alternative. Delta 9 THC and a couple of other cannabinoids are pointed to as the main reasons for this. But Delta 8 THC could be able to help as well. For example, this study suggests that D8 was able to reduce corneal pain and inflammation in mice. Plus, since Delta 9 THC is so often thought of as an anti-inflammatory, it’s not hard to think that D8 could have a similar effect since it’s so close to being the same compound.

There you have it, an explanation as to what Delta 8 THC is and all of the main things you need to know about it! Now it’s time to make a few decisions. The first is whether you are ready to give it a try. The second is what kind of D8 product you want to give a go. Here at DharmaD8, we have Delta 8 THC products for just about everyone. Whether you prefer something new and unusual (like our D8 Caramels), or you would like something that is a bit more traditional (like our D8 cigarettes or Delta 8 CBD), there is always something for someone.

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