Delta 8 products are a hot commodity right now. They are marketed as a legal alternative to cannabis and offer a relaxing yet functional high. Some have given delta 8 the nickname “weed light” as its effects are slightly milder than “regular” delta 9 THC.
The 2018 Farm Bill effectively legalized hemp-derived compounds, provided they contain less than 0.3% delta 9. Therefore, it is possible to buy delta 8 online and in physical stores in many places. However, some states have moved to ban the substance amid concerns about potential side effects. So, are delta 8 products safe, and what do you need to know before buying them? We explain.
What Is Delta 8 THC?
Delta 8 is an isomer of delta 9 THC, the main intoxicating compound in cannabis. It has the same molecular formula, but its structure is slightly different. Whereas delta 9 has a double bond between its ninth and tenth carbon atoms, delta 8’s double bond is located between its eighth and ninth carbon atoms.
This slight difference reduces delta 8’s impact on cell receptors in the brain, producing a milder high than delta 9. Most experts consider it to be around half as potent. Users report feeling relaxed and euphoric while remaining clear-headed and functional. Other potential benefits include relieving pain and nausea.
Some also say delta 8 products are less likely to cause anxiety and paranoia than delta 9. However, there have been numerous reports of side effects from people who have overconsumed delta 8. Therefore, it is necessary to exercise caution, especially when using delta 8 for the first time.
How Are Delta 8 THC Products Made?
Since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, delta 8 products have become hugely popular. Although it is a form of THC, it is technically legal as long as it comes from industrial hemp. However, hemp does not naturally produce enough delta 8 to extract cost-effectively. Therefore, most manufacturers create delta 8 products using CBD as a starting point.
They extract CBD from hemp using either a solvent, such as hexane or ethanol, or “solventless” methods, such as CO2 extraction. CO2 extraction is best because it is high-yielding, environmentally friendly, and safe. Most importantly, it does not leave potentially harmful residues in the products, whereas solvent-based extraction methods can.
Once the CBD is removed from hemp, manufacturers convert it to delta 8 using a reaction called cyclization. It relies on potent chemicals that must be thoroughly purged from the end product before use.
Are Delta 8 Products Safe?
Due to its semi-synthetic nature, some have expressed concerns about delta 8 products’ safety. Because the industry is unregulated, there is currently little oversight. Therefore, some companies sell poorly-made items that contain residual solvents or chemicals from the cyclization process.
As a result, Delta 8 has been banned in several states, including:
- Rhode Island
However, it is still legal and widely available in most places. So, how can consumers ensure they buy safe delta 8 products and minimize the risk of side effects?
Using Delta 8 Products Safely
The best way to ensure delta 8 products are safe is to purchase them from a well-established, reputable brand. First, look for a company that is clear about its manufacturing processes and choose one that uses CO2 extraction rather than solvents. Whenever possible, seek those that use organic hemp grown in the USA or EU.
Next, check the product’s ingredients list and ensure it doesn’t contain harmful additives. For example, if you want to vape delta 8, avoid pens with thinning agents like propylene glycol and PEG 400.
Lastly, read a product’s lab report to see whether it contains as much delta 8 as it should and is free from contaminants. Most legitimate brands have these reports produced by independent, third-party labs and publish the results on their websites. Of course, it is also necessary to consume delta 8 responsibly to reduce the risk of side effects. Go low and slow when using it for the first time, and allow plenty of time for the effects to kick in, especially with edible delta 8 products like gummies.
It is also best to use the products at home or in a safe environment until you know how they affect you. While delta 8 THC isn’t as potent as delta 9, it can still alter your perception and make certain activities unsafe. It should go without saying that you should not drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of delta 8 or any other mind-altering substance.