You live in a state where delta-9 THC is not legalized medicinally or recreationally, but you can pop into a headshop and snag some delta-8 THC. Will your purchase get you feeling footloose and fancy free?
According to Riley Kirk, Ph.D., aka @cannabichem on Instagram and TikTok, yes, it does get you high, and provides users with a similar body and head high to Delta-9, making it a great alternative for those who live in states that have not legalized medical or recreational marijuana and want to use cannabis as medicine.
This is possible thanks to science: Delta-8 is an isomer of delta-9 — meaning they have the same formula, but a different arrangement of atoms in the molecule and thus different properties. The “delta” refers to the position of a double bond in the molecule. Delta-9 THC has a double bond between the ninth and 10th carbon molecule. The double bond in delta-8 THC occurs between the eighth and ninth carbon in the molecule.
The high also might come from small traces of delta-9 THC that often appear in Delta-8 products.
“There's been evidence that delta-9 THC is found very often with Delta-8 products,” she says. “It's not usually just pure delta-8.”
However, you can’t smoke delta-8 since it’s synthesized in a lab and thus does not appear in flower form, although it is made from hemp, specifically leftover CBD. According to Kirk, delta-8 is often found in edibles like gummies and beverages.
Delta-8 also doesn’t bind as tightly to the CB1 receptor — the receptor in the brain that makes us feel high — as delta-9. In fact, delta-8 binds one-third less than delta-9, which is why it usually comes in a higher dosage to compensate. For example, delta-9 THC gummies tend to come in 5 milligram to 10 milligram doses per serving, while delta-8 gummies tend to be dosed at around 20 milligrams.
“I think this is to compensate for the slightly less activity so people feel more like [they’re consuming] traditional edibles, because it's actually an increase in dose, it's not an increase in potency of the actual molecule,” Kirk says. “There can be concerns of people taking in too much Delta-8 THC because they're not really sure how to dose themselves. Maybe they're taking Delta-9, and they're trying to compensate with Delta-8 and it's just not the same.”
However, less psychoactivity is good if you have, say for example, chronic pain and you don’t want to be on a different dimension during your 9-to-5.
“It might be more applicable to people using it while also being functional in their everyday lives,” Kirk says.
So, if you don’t have access to delta-9 THC and can find delta-8 that comes from a manufacturer with transparent lab practices, have a happy high.