Two delta-8 THC joints

Delta-8 THC products are taking the market by storm right now and it’s easy to understand why. As a close substitute to delta-9 THC (a Schedule-I Controlled Substance per the D.E.A.), delta-8 THC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid that can replicate the effects of delta-9 THC and make users feel intoxicated.

As a minor cannabinoid, there are still a lot of questions about delta-8 THC:

  • What is delta-8 THC?
  • Is it legal?
  • Will it make me fail a drug test?

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid produced by the cannabis plant and is considered a minor cannabinoid and only appears naturally in small (<1% of dry weight) concentrations.

What’s the Difference Between Delta-9 and Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is an isomer of delta-9 THC meaning that while their molecular formulas (C₂₁H₃₀O₂) are the same, the arrangement of their atoms is different.

Notice where the double bond is in the two molecular diagrams below. Delta-8 THC has a double bond between carbon atoms 8 and 9. Delta-9 THC has a double bond between carbon atoms 9 and 10.

While it may seem a negligible difference, this double bond placement has caused a big stir in the hemp industry.

What are the Effects?

Users say that delta-8’s intoxicating effects are similar to delta-9 THC, with some minor differences.

A delta-8 THC high is:

  • Less potent

  • More clear-headed

  • More energetic

According to the National Cancer Institute, delta-8 THC is:

  • Antiemetic – a drug that helps prevent or manage nausea and vomiting.

    • In a 1995 study following eight pediatric cancer patients, researchers found that no vomiting occurred 24 hours after treatments when patients ingested delta-8 THC beforehand and in six-hour increments after the treatment.

  • Anxiolytic – a drug used to help reduce or relieve anxiety.

  • Appetite-stimulating

  • Analgesic – a drug with pain-relieving properties.

  • Neuroprotective – to help preserve both the neuron’s structure and function.

Side Effects?

Because delta-8 THC is considered a minor cannabinoid, there isn’t much research completed or being conducted on its use. What we do know is based mainly on animal studies, which while helpful, don’t always give us a good idea about how a substance will affect human beings.

Why Is It Less Potent than Delta-9?

Whereas delta-9 THC is really good at binding to human’s CB1 receptor— part of our endocannabinoid systemdelta-8 THC isn’t as good a ‘fit for said receptor.

Delta-8’s poor fit means that the cannabinoid doesn’t latch onto our receptors as readily and as a result, users feel a less intense intoxication compared to a similar dose of delta-9.

Is Delta-8 THC Legal?

The following isn’t intended to be legal advice and should not be referred to as such. 

Yes and no.

The 2018 Farm Bill reaffirmed that it was federally legal to grow, cultivate, and transport industrial hemp (cannabis with lower than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight) across state lines. Judge James Gilbert ruled that hemp-derived products fell under this umbrella too the KAB vs United States Postal Service case.

Given that delta-8 THC is derived from hemp, it is legal as far as the Farm Bill is concerned. Here’s where it gets murky.

In late 2020, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) issued an “Interim Final Rule” that stated, “ [all] synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol(s) remain schedule 1 controlled substances.” Because 2020 was an election year, this rule was put on hold while the new administration transitioned in. There have been indications that the new administration will allow this “Interim Final Rule” to go into effect this year. Hence there is a bit of confusion about the current and future legality of delta-8 THC.

A handful of states have advanced legislation that outlaws synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol(s) derived from industrial hemp, ostensibly to get out ahead of the incoming DEA rules.

As of this update in 2023, delta-8 THC is still available for purchase in several states, though more states are attempting to regulate the cannabinoid via legislation.

Is It Legal in My State?

At the time of this update in July 2023, if you live in one of the following 13 states, you can not purchase delta-8 THC.

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado – Legal, but no shipping from out of state
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

Additionally, several states have chosen to regulate the production and sale of delta-8 THC. These include

  • Minnesota
  • Louisiana
  • Kentucky
  • South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Vermont

If you don’t see your state on this list, you can likely find hemp-derived delta-8 THC at a local or online retailer.

Related: Is CBD Legal?

Where Can I Buy Delta-8 THC Cartridges?

Vaping cartridges are another story entirely. Because of the “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,” the United States Postal Service will no longer be carrying vaping cartridges or accessories. This is on the heels of announcements from the two private domestic shipping companies, UPS and FedEx, who announced that because of the complexities and red tape involved they will no longer be transporting delta-8 THC cartridges either.

Private courier companies may step up to fill this shipping vacuum, though all vape cartridge prices will likely increase as a result.

Will Delta-8 THC Make Me Fail a Drug Test?

Yes, it will.

Even though most delta-8 THC is derived from industrial hemp, urine analysis, and other generic substance-use tests are not sophisticated enough to discern between different THCs.

These tests work by detecting the presence of molecules called THC metabolites. When we consume tetrahydrocannabinol, our bodies break them down into smaller compounds. These THC metabolites have unique signatures and when they’re present in the body, they show on a drug test regardless of their precursor.

So whether you’re taking delta-8 THC, delta-9, or even full-spectrum CBD products there is a chance that these metabolites will show up during screening, regardless of the concentration, and cause you to fail a drug test.

Where Does Delta-8 THC Come From?

There are a number of ways to create delta-8 THC from industrial hemp and all of them require a bit of science, some specialized equipment, and a lot of know-how.

Warning: Delta-8 THC is created using chemical solvents and acids. The conversion process should only be performed in the safety of a well-equipped lab by knowledgeable technicians to ensure not only your own safety, but the quality and safety of the final product. You are not Walter White, do not try this at home. 

With Solvents

To convert CBD isolate into delta-8 THC, you start by dissolving your isolate in sulfuric acid in glacial acetic acid. Once dissolved, let it stand at room temperature and time will do the rest. After three days your CBD converts in 15% delta-9 THC, 54% delta-8 THC, 10% delta-8-iso THC, and 10% CBD.

Once the conversion is complete, add the solution to water and add sodium bicarbonate to raise the pH level.

Desired cannabinoids are extracted with petrol ether, washed with water, and heated to evaporate any residual solvents. You can use chromatography— a method of separating liquids by passing it through a medium in which the components (CBD, delta-9, delta-8) move at different rates to increase your delta-8 THC yields.

Without Solvents

Not a fan of solvents? Don’t worry because there’s a conversion for you! You can convert CBD isolate into delta-8 THC with anhydrous Zinc Chloride (ZnCL₂) and an oxygen-less environment.

Heat your CBD isolate with a small amount of Zinc Chloride, apply heat, and stir. After two hours, your CBD will turn into 40-50% delta-8 THC.

We need more specialized equipment to purify both our solvent and solventless final products and remove delta-9 THC.


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