In the last few months, sales of Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8 THC) have been through the roof. Delta-8 THC comes from the cannabis sativa plant, which produces hemp and marijuana.
People have said it has similar physiological effects as Delta-9, however, it is less potent and creates a high while still leaving the individual clear-headed.
Some users have reported that it induces lower levels of paranoia and anxiety. There are many online stores selling products that contain Delta-8 THC in the UK. It is rare you will find Delta-8 THC in significant concentrations. This results in some confusion around Delta-8 THC.
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Differences between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC
While Delta-8 THC may be a good alternative to Delta-9 THC, there are still some differences between them. The main difference is due to the location of a critical chemical bond.
Delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC both contain double bonds in their molecular chain. Delta-9 THC has the bond on the 9th carbon chain. On the other hand, delta-8 THC contains double bonds that bond on the 8th carbon chain.
While this is a subtle contrast, it has noticeable effects on how the body’s endocannabinoid receptors bind and respond to the molecule. Delta-8 THC is also more stable. Delta-9 THC is easily oxidised to turn into cannabinol (CBN) or delta-8 THC. Delta-8 also promotes a longer shelf life and is half the strength of delta-9 THC.
Dividing the cannabis industry
The popularity of delta-8 THC is also leading to a divide in the cannabis industry on the marijuana and hemp sides. Some consumers say it is an alternative for those looking for an intoxicating high without the stress and frustration resulting from consuming these highly potent THC supplements.
Others speculate that delta-8 is a knock off of the actual product, promoted by unethical extractors looking to offload surplus CBD and selling intoxicating supplements in areas without legal access to delta-9 THC.
There is also some fear that this product’s popularity threatens to undermine the hemp industry by alarming the politicians who legalised hemp and its extracts without recognising some of those extracts could give users a high just by following widely available instructions online.
The situation has resulted in cannabis entrepreneurs struggling to decide whether to join forces with delta-8 while it is popular or stick to the common cannabinoids where the legal status is more transparent.
Is it legal?
In the UK, the issue of legality surrounding delta-8 THC remains uncertain. In the government’s factsheet for cannabis and cannabinoids, there is no mention of delta-8 THC as a controlled substance or an exempt product.
Considering that, the products are likely to be unregulated and of questionable quality. It could be best to await more clarification on the topic before trying it out.
What does this mean for the cannabis industry?
It is unclear whether the momentum of delta-8 THC will remain. Some cannabis entrepreneurs are casting doubt and labelling it as a fad, while others are excited. We know for sure that the legalities surrounding delta-8 THC in the UK need to be clarified. It is difficult to determine the outcome of the current divide as it comes down to whether delta-8 THC continues to grow in popularity or fades away.