The 2018 Farm Bill has opened the door for hemp-derived products that don’t exceed the 0.3 percent THC threshold to enter into the market. As a result, hemp-derived Delta-8 products rapidly gain popularity among recreational and medicinal cannabis users.
You can find a wide variety of Delta-8-infused products online and in retail dispensaries. They range from gummies to tinctures to vape cartridges to various edibles. Yet, many people still don’t know what Delta-8 is, how it works, and if it can deliver the type of effects they might be looking for. This is because Delta-8 is still a novel cannabinoid, unlike CBD and THC, which are mainstream cannabinoids.
Here’s a handy guide to answer everything you need to know about Delta-8.
What Is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, though in very small amounts. It goes by several names, such as D8, Delta-8 THC, or Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol. It is derived specifically from hemp instead of the marijuana plant. Delta-8 is among hundreds of naturally occurring cannabinoids, including:
- Delta-9 THC
The cannabinoid is a close cousin to delta-9 THC since it has almost similar molecular structures. However, the slight difference in chemical bonds between the two leads to unique effects for each cannabinoid.
Unlike delta-9 THC, Delta-8 has no resemblance to cannabidiol (CBD). Contrary to THC analogs, CBD does not bind to CB1 neuroreceptors, which are responsible for the psychoactive high when you smoke or consume THC.
Will Delta-8 Lead to a Psychoactive High?
One of the often-asked questions about Delta-8 is whether or not it will get you high. The answer is yes. After all, Delta-8 is a psychoactive compound. But it’s not what you’d experience with delta-9 THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis.
For beginners, the psychoactive effect is far more mild and mellow. Think of Delta-8 as a middle ground between delta-9 and CBD. Consumers mention that they experience effects comparable to those felt when taking CBD but also a mellow high as if they’ve taken some mild cannabis.
While delta-9 THC induces a reality-changing head high, Delta-8 users experience a more body-oriented high. Thus, Delta-8 produces what users consider a more enjoyable and manageable level of intoxication than that of delta-9 THC.
What Are the Effects of Delta-8?
To explain the various effects of Delta-8, let’s first look at how its chemical structure interacts with the endocannabinoid system to produce those effects.
Delta-8 and delta-9 THC boast a single set of double bonds as part of their molecular structures. The difference lies in the position of that double bond. For Delta-8, that bond is located on the 8th carbon chain. In contrast, delta-9 THC has it on the 9th carbon chain. This slight difference in chemical structure leads to markedly different effects resulting from how the body interacts with the two molecules.
The Endocannabinoid System
The human body has a system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It is a system of cell-signaling receptors that regulates various processes across the body. All animals, whether vertebrate or invertebrate, have the endocannabinoid system. So it’s not only restricted to humans.
The ECS contains two primary forms of cannabinoid receptors, namely:
CB1 receptors are found across your central nervous system and in brain cells. These receptors are responsible for the psychoactive effects of consuming cannabis. Typically, delta-9 THC affects CB1 receptors strongly. That’s why you will experience a cerebral high after using marijuana. Delta-8 binds to the CB1 receptors, but not as strongly as delta-9. Consequently, the effects are far less intense, leaving you with a clear head and the ability to concentrate.
CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are located in the immune system and inside your body organs. Delta-8 binds to CB2 receptors and is synthesized to produce a more relaxed high.
Here are some of the effects that you get from consuming Delta-8:
- Focus and clarity
- Physical relaxation
- Uplifted mood
Potential Side Effects
Given the close similarity between Delta-8 and regular THC, it leads to potentially similar side effects, such as:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dry mouth
- Red eyes
- Memory loss
- Loss of coordination
- Slow reaction times
As you can see, you can expect a few different effects after consuming D8. Of course, the effects may vary from one person to another. The only way to know how your body responds to D8 is to try it yourself. And just like with any psychoactive substance, you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machines after taking Delta-8 THC.
Does D8 Work With Other Cannabinoids?
Delta-8 combines with other cannabinoids to produce the entourage effect. The reduced potency of Delta-8 makes it more favorable for pairing with non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBN, CBD, and CBG.
This synergy increases the overall potency and delivers more benefits that Delta-8 could not offer on its own. So if you want to discover the full potential of the entourage effect, Delta-8 should be in your cannabinoid lineup.
Ways to Consume Delta-8
Delta-8 products come in different formats that determine your consumption method. Here are the different ways to enjoy Delta-8.
Delta-8 is available in the form of oil tinctures. Fill the dropper with the right amount and squeeze it under your tongue. Hold it there for about one minute to allow for the absorption of D8 through capillaries, and then swallow the remaining bit. The sublingual method bypasses the digestive system, and the effects kick in after 45 minutes to one hour.
The most widely available D8 products are edibles, especially gummies. They come in different fruity flavors. The edible form offers an exact dose of D8 per gummy. Because the gummies have to be metabolized in the gastrointestinal system, they have a delayed onset of up to two hours. So, D8 edibles require some patience.
Delta-8 also comes in the form of vape cartridges. Vaping provides the highest bioavailability among the consumption methods. If you want to experience a quick onset of effects, you should try out this method of consumption.
The Delta-8 enters your bloodstream via the lung tissue. You will experience the effects within the first few minutes after a puff or two. Because the high produced by the D8 alone may feel somewhat bland, many users prefer using D8 vape carts blended with other cannabinoids and terpenes to produce the entourage effect.
You can smoke D8 in the form of dabs or flowers. Smoking boasts high bioavailability, just like vaping. However, it is less safe and efficient because of combustion.
Bear in mind, though, that Delta-8 flowers are not natural Delta-8 plants. Instead, hemp CBD strains are infused with Delta-8 distillate for an added cognitive change.
Capsules have the lowest bioavailability of all consumption methods. You swallow Delta-8 capsules just like any other prescription pill. Once swallowed, they are metabolized by the digestive system and take a while before the onset of effects.
The duration of the effects, though, can last for several hours. The good thing about Delta-8 capsules over other types of D8 products is that they are flavorless and odorless. Thus, consumers don’t have to experience any harsh aftertaste stemming from the Delta-8 distillate.
Delta-8 topicals include creams, salves, balms, lotions, and transdermal patches. When applied to the skin, the Delta-8 binds to the skin’s endocannabinoid system, helping control homeostasis in it. You won’t get high from applying Delta-8 topicals.
Transdermal patches are placed on the skin for hours or even days. They slowly release the Delta-8 into your bloodstream. The patches are novel products that aren’t easy to find yet, especially in the Delta-8 space.
Picking the Best Consumption Method for Delta-8 THC
With the different consumption methods available, how do you choose the best way to take Delta-8? Well, you need to take into account the following factors:
The best Delta-8 consumption method is the one that matches your lifestyle preferences. This is because certain products match certain users. If you’ve never tried vaping before, you might find this delivery method quite difficult to learn.
Tinctures may be annoying with all the accurate measurements you need to take each time you squeeze the dropper inside the bottle. And while they’re tasty to eat, edibles require patience with their delayed onset of effects.
Thus, choosing your ideal consumption method requires regular experimentation. Try various types of Delta-8 products and decide which one to stick to.
Time of the Day
When do you intend to consume your Delta-8? Some products are more potent and suitable before bedtime. Other forms can be micro-dosed, such as vapes and tinctures, making them suitable for daytime use.
Onset & Duration of Effects
Do you want a faster or delayed onset of Delta-8 effects? The key aspect here is the bioavailability of the Delta-8 product.
Bioavailability refers to how fast Delta-8 is absorbed into the bloodstream to produce effects. Different Delta-8 products have varying levels of bioavailability. The higher the bioavailability, the faster the onset of effects, and vice versa.
For example, capsules and edibles have the lowest bioavailability as the digestive tract synthesizes them. So the effects can be delayed for up to two hours.
Sublingual products like oil tinctures are more bioavailable because the administered dose is absorbed into the bloodstream via capillary action in your mouth. The effects start to kick in after 45 minutes.
Vapes and smoking are the most bioavailable delivery methods. When you vape or smoke Delta-8 dabs or flowers, the effects kick in almost instantaneously.
Delta-8 products also vary in terms of the duration of their effects.
- Vapes last 3-4 hours
- Oil tinctures last for up to 6 hours
- Edibles and capsules last for up to 10 hours
Delta-8 products vary in terms of potency. Depending on your desired potency, you can decide on the type of product and consumption method. For example, capsules and gummies are ultra-concentrated compared to vapes and tinctures. Products that you can vaporize or smoke also have a quicker onset than those you ingest.
What to Look for When Shopping for the Best D8 Products
You need to know what to look for if you want to locate the best Delta-8 products. Here are some common traits shared by the finest-quality Delta-8 products:
The most impactful phase of Delta-8 production is perhaps at the growing stage. A good Delta-8 brand grows its hemp organically. Organic hemp is free of pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals. When shopping for D8 products, find out how the respective brands cultivate their hemp.
Another important factor is how the Delta-8 cannabinoid is extracted from raw hemp. There are multiple ways in which cannabinoids are derived from hemp. Some brands use butane or ethanol as their main extraction solvents. The problem with these solvents is that they leave residual amounts in the finished products.
Instead, search for Delta-8 products derived through the C02 extraction process. The CO2 solvent leaves no residue and is widely regarded as the best solvent for extracting D8.
Third-party Lab Testing
The cannabis industry is subject to heavy regulation to keep consumers safe. One of the regulations is that all cannabis-derived products should undergo lab testing and be accompanied by a certificate of analysis (COA). Make sure you’re buying Delta-8 products that have been tested by an independent, third-party laboratory and have lab reports available. The lab reports are the only way to prove the Delta-8 products are safe, potent, and pure.
The Bottom Line
Delta-8 is popular among hemp enthusiasts because of its mild psychoactive effects than regular THC. If you desire a little energizing effect with a mood-enhancing vibe, use a smaller dose. But for more body-oriented and heavier intoxication, you will need to increase the dosage a little bit.
Even so, avoid taking a large dose for the first time. Doing so beyond your tolerance may lead to several side effects, like sleepiness, impaired judgment, and balance and coordination problems. The recommended advice is to start with a low dose, preferably 10 mg of Delta-8, before increasing.