Delta-8-THC Is A Good Thing, But Is It Legal?

  • Delta-8-THC offers numerous medicinal benefits and a much longer shelf-life than delta-9-THC. But is it legal? In this short post, we’ll discuss where D8 THC comes from, how it’s being used in medicine, and its legal status in the U.S.

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What is Delta-8-THC?

Delta-8-THC is a cannabinoid compound known for having numerous medicinal benefits. The resinous flower clusters of the cannabis plant produce cannabinoids in abundance. The buds from modern medicinally-potent cannabis strains consist of up to a 30 percent cannabinoid content. However, D8-THC usually makes up less than one percent of the total cannabinoid content. 

So what’s the big deal with this minor cannabinoid?

D8-THC offers many of the same medicinal properties as delta-9-THC, the highly intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana. However, D8-THC has a less pronounced effect on the user’s state of consciousness. That means used at the same dosage, D8 doesn’t make the user as high as D9 does. 

So what, if D8 is only found in trace amounts? The big deal is that CBD, the major non-intoxicating cannabinoid, can be chemically converted into D8-THC. And CBD can be extracted from hemp. And both hemp and CBD are federally legal. What you end up with is an intoxicating cannabinoid that doesn’t require the cultivation of marijuana. 

Furthermore, although D8-THC is less intoxicating than D9 it offers a much longer shelflife. Over time, D9-THC naturally converts into CBN as it oxidizes. And CBN just isn’t as useful in medicine as THC is. The fact that it’s stable and that it offers similar benefits to both CBD and D9-THC makes D8-THC a very promising medicinal compound. 

What are the medical benefits of delta-8 THC?

CBD interacts mostly with CB2  receptors throughout the immune system and major organs. D9-THC specifically interacts with CB1 receptors located mainly in the brain. However, because of its ability to interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, D8-THC is considered to have a wider ranger of medicinal benefits than either CBD or D9-THC.

D8 is similar to CBD in that it alleviates anxiety, pain, inflammation, nausea, sleeplessness, and seizures. Furthermore, its ability to induce a sense of well-being much as D9 does makes D8 an ideal candidate for treating depression.  

One of the most promising uses of D8-THC, however, might be its effectiveness at reducing vomiting and nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, especially in children for whom D9-THC might pose excessive risks. 

In 1995, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, in collaboration with Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hebrew University carried out a  clinical study in which D8-THC was administered to children aged 3-13 with hematologic cancer. According to the report, after the application of D8-THC, the vomiting and nausea associated with chemo were completely eliminated. 

The researchers involved in the study determined that because of the extremely mild intoxicating effects of D8-THC, higher amounts could be administered to the children. In fact, the children in this study seemed to be resistant to any psychoactive effects.  

Years later, In 2018, the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research published a preclinical study on D8-THC. Authors claimed that when mice with corneal injuries received a topical application of delta-8-THC, inflammation was significantly reduced.

Is Delta-8-THC Legal? The Jury Is Still Out.

As federal hemp and marijuana laws in the U.S. remain in flux, D8-THC is floating in a rather murky area of cannabis policy. 

Hemp-derived CBD is now widely available in the U.S., even in states where marijuana is still illegal. And, as we mentioned, D8-THC can be produced from hemp CBD. This conversion process is what places D8’s legality in question. 

On Aug. 20, 2020, in an interim ruling, the feds maintained that all “synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol [THCs]” remained Schedule I controlled substances and, as such, was illegal. However, the National Hemp Association is questioning this ruling. The trade group claims that D8-THC, because it is made from natural CBD, does not qualify as being “synthetically derived.” 

Even if marijuana is decriminalized or legalized, unless D8-THC is deemed to not be “synthetically derived,” then it could very well remain a Schedule I substance. That being said, if the history of the flouting of federal cannabis laws is any indication, then D8-THC will continue to be readily available in the U.S.

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