🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
If you’re keeping a pulse on the cannabis industry landscape, then it’s likely that Delta-8 THC has made its way onto your radar. Delta-8, or D8 as it’s also called, is a close cousin of the cannabis plant’s most preeminent cannabinoid, Delta-9 THC. While D8 may only vary slightly in molecular structure from its analog Delta-9, it delivers a uniquely enjoyable experience with meaningful therapeutic value.
Like Delta-9 THC, D8 is produced within the mature trichome heads of flowering female plants, but only in trace amounts. In fact, there are only such tiny amounts naturally present that D8 requires additional processing in order to be made available in usable dosages.
As of writing, only solvent-based means have been employed to generate the required amounts of D8 needed for its effective use in cannabis products. A common approach to making useful amounts of D8 is converting CBD into D8. Let’s look at how it’s made.
How D8 Is Synthesized
Although D8 is produced naturally within the cannabis plant, it’s not present in high enough amounts to be isolated and extracted by itself with solventless methods. Therefore, a process to synthesize D8 from other cannabinoids (namely CBD) is currently the most common way to produce this up and coming cannabinoid.
The process of converting a molecule or compound from one form into another is called isomerization, and that’s how D8 is made. The most popular practice is to isomerize the cannabinoid CBD into D8. This involves dissolving CBD in an acid. Hemp flowers are a common source of the CBD that’s used to make D8. This is the reason that hemp farmers are an integral part of D8 production, and why D8 is flourishing in markets where hemp flowers are in high supply.
One gram of CBD is dissolved into 10ml of glacial acetic acid. Once this is dissolved, the solution is left to stand at room temperature. After about 3 hours, the CBD will be converted into 52% Delta-9 THC, and 2% D8. If allowed to sit for 3 full days, the solution transforms even more drastically. After 3 days you’ll have 54% D8 with just 15% Delta-9 THC. This amount of D8 is practical for application in cannabis products, much more so than the negligible amounts that naturally occurs in flowering cannabis plants.
The last step involves removing the reagents and solvents that still exist in the solution. This is a critical piece of the puzzle in order to make D8 safe for consumption. If not done properly, the D8 isn’t safe.
Isomerizing CBD requires reagents and acids, plus solvents, so it’s clearly not something you’d accomplish with the type of processes we use at home for solventless extraction. This process requires a trained lab technician and specialty equipment. Unfortunately, for now, there’s not a way to produce D8 in a solventless fashion.
What Are the Effects of D8 THC?
The effects of D8 are somewhere in between the effects of Delta 9 THC and CBD. After taking D8 the results are undeniable. Seasoned cannabis users will be able to perceive the uniqueness of the experience. It’s not like other cannabis products out there! D8 makes you feel good, but not stoned. A dose of 50mgs or more of D8 will likely induce a head change without an overpowering sense of being high. You feel relaxed but not sedated.
D8 can be great for the workday, because it can bring on a burst of uplifting energy. While this subtle sense of euphoria is present, the feeling is not necessarily intoxicating. You feel focused and creative, and yet mellow at the same time.
It’s also thought to have analgesic and appetite-stimulating properties along with neuroprotective traits. It can also be good for treating nausea. As with most aspects of cannabis science, much more work will need to be done. De-scheduling cannabis at the federal level will unlock a windfall of dollars to fund such research and experiments.
How Do You Consume It?
After D8 has been aggregated then it’s available to infuse into other cannabis products. Currently gummies, vape carts, and oils are common ways to consume D8. You can even find dabs that are D8-enriched, but these pale in comparison to the solventless rosin dabs we know and love.
Gummies are ideal for the accurate and consistent dosing, ease in consuming discreetly and on the go, and they’re available at an economical price point. Many online stores, and also local dispensaries, have a variety of D8 brands for sale. D8 is also common among CBD suppliers.
As with anything cannabis-related, lab testing to find out the exact amounts of cannabinoids present, as well as to verify the lack of contaminants, is ideal. It’s always best to consume cannabis only if you can verify with lab testing that it’s safe.
Since D8 is a hemp-based product that can easily be formulated to contain less than .3% Delta-9 THC, it’s available for purchase from online suppliers and can ship within the USA. That said, there are states that have actually determined that D8 is not legal. Find out if you’re in a state that D8 is (legally) not available.
Is D8 Legal?
Similar to many things in cannabis, D8 exists in a legal gray area. In some states it’s legal, in some states it’s not. It is a derivative of the hemp plant and can be extracted without including amounts of Delta 9 THC over .3% (which is the legal limit). But at the state level, cannabis legality doesn’t guarantee D8 legality. For example, in Colorado, a pioneering leader in the cannabis industry, D8 is illegal. The legal landscape around D8 is confusing to say the least.
The states that currently ban D8 include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island and Utah.
However, D8 remains listed as a Schedule 1 drug federally, so along with delta-9 THC, it is technically illegal in all 50 states. The loophole involves the 2018 Farm Bill. D8 manufacturers have interpreted the 2018 Farm Bill as the legalization of cannabinoids like CBD and D8, because Delta-9 is the only cannabinoid explicitly listed as illegal. So the Farm Bill opened the door for D8 to make its way into the broader market.
Delta-8 THC is an exciting new entrant into the world of cannabis products and it’s giving cannabis users a new way to experience a plant that we know and love. With a unique set of effects and some promising therapeutic benefits in need of further exploration. Even if you are a dedicated solventless dabber, D8 is worth a second look.
D8 is proving that cannabis is still full of many surprises, and she still has a lot to teach us. Who knows, D8 may become your favorite cannabinoid yet.
What do you think about Delta-8 THC? Let us know in the comments!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a cannabinoid?
A cannabinoid is a compound produced naturally within the cannabis plant. Some are psychoactive and some are not. Our bodies also produce cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids. There are at least over 100 known cannabinoids produced in the cannabis plant, the most famous including Delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC and CBD are other examples of cannabinoids.
What is Isomerization?
Isomerization is the process of transforming one molecule into another by modifying its chemical structure. The most common way to produce Delta-8 THC is to isomerize it from another cannabinoid, CBD.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid that exists naturally in the flowering cannabis plant, but only in small amounts. Delta-8, or D8 as it’s also known, has unique effects and therapeutic benefits that are just being discovered.
What is a solvent?
A solvent is a substance that can dissolve another substance. Usually in liquid form, solvents are used in the process of isomerizing Delta-8 THC from CBD. Solvents are also often toxic to human health if consumed and therefore need to be carefully removed before Delta-8 is added to products.
What is an acid?
An acid is any hydrogen-containing substance that is capable of donating a proton (hydrogen ion) to another substance. Acids often dissolve other substances. Glacial acetic acid is used in isomerizing Delta-8 THC.