A High Less High? Here’s the Straight Dope on Delta-8 THC, the “New” Cannabinoid

Have you heard about delta-8 THC? It’s the “hot, new” cannabinoid that’s causing quite the (legal) buzz in the cannabis world. Actually, scratch that: It’s not new, it’s currently legal—sort of—and it’s definitely not the same buzz as its close cousin delta-9 THC, aka “regular” THC.

So, what’s the story behind delta-8 THC? Strap yourself in and we’ll give you the straight dope!

Delta-8 THC: Cannabinoid Basics

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If you’re a cannabis fan, you’re intimately acquainted with the natural chemical compounds called cannabinoids (even if you don’t know it). Delta-9 THC—for the purposes of clarity, just “THC” here—is the primary cannabinoid in marijuana, and it’s the one responsible for its psychoactive high. And CBD, the second most abundant cannabinoid, is responsible for a faint energizing “buzz,” along with some very potent medicinal effects.

Of course, they’re not the end of the story. We’ve written previously about CBG: a non-intoxicating cannabinoid with some intriguing therapeutic effects. The list goes on and on; thus far, researchers have isolated roughly 150 cannabinoids in all!

But in a sense, all cannabinoids are alike in that they interact with one of our body’s regulatory networks called the Endocannabinoid System. Responsible for helping modulate our sleep, appetite, memory, metabolism and other processes still, it’s a supremely important system when it comes to our body’s proper functioning. And because the cannabinoids in marijuana “speak the same language” as this regulatory system, cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and all the others play a huge role in modulating bodily processes.

Delta-8 THC: Is It Just “THC Lite”?

Which—finally—brings us back to the topic of delta-8 THC. What sets it apart from regular THC? Chemically speaking, not much: It binds to the receptors of the Endocannabinoid System much like THC, only not as strongly. That means that the euphoric high is diminished.

How much? At the moment, that’s an open question. Because there’s nearly no research on delta-8 THC, it’s impossible to know with certainty. However, users describe it as “much weaker” than THC. And manufacturers of the few delta-8 THC edibles on the market tend to dose them at roughly twice as strong—in terms of mg per dose—than THC. This suggests—totally unscientifically—that delta-8 THC is half as strong as THC.

What else might delta-8 THC do for us? Preliminary reports indicate that it’s an appetite stimulant, an anxiolytic—an anxiety reducer—an analgesic, and a neuroprotectant. In other words, it displays many of the same qualities as THC. Does it deliver these therapeutic effects—just like its psychoactivity—at a lesser intensity than THC? Again, for the moment that remains unknown.

Delta-8 THC: What’s Its Legal Status?

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Here’s an interesting wrinkle to the delta-8 THC story. As you’re likely aware, hemp—the cannabis plant’s wild and recently federally legal cousin—contains only trace amounts of THC. But it does contain delta-8 THC. This creates a legal loophole through which delta-8 THC can legally be harvested and sold.

Will it last? Probably not; last year, the DEA released an interim rule affirming that all forms of THC remain Schedule I substances. That said, many producers are still shipping the quasi-legal delta-8 THC to many states. Weirdly, some adult-use cannabis states don’t allow delta-8 THC. Go figure.

Should you seek out delta-8 THC? If you’re interested in a milder, potentially more sustainable high—or enjoy microdosing cannabis—definitely! And if you’re interested in finding it, let us know! Our budtenders at our Seattle dispensary and Des Moines dispensary will help!

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