Δ8-THC (Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol): Effects, Benefits & More


Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC) Header

This post is part of a series on cannabis compounds. For more information and a listing of all other cannabinoids, see our Cannabis Compounds overview.

Of the compounds within cannabis, the most often cited is Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to simply as THC. This psychoactive compound is the star in the marijuana world as it is responsible for the 'high'. It is less common knowledge that Delta-9 is not the only THC-named compound in the plant.

Through an aging process, this compound oxidizes into an isomer known as Δ8-THC. These two phytocannabinoids are analogs that share the same structural formula but have a slightly different arrangement of atoms. The molecular similarities provide similar therapeutic avenues with different psychoactive effects.Delta-8 THC Molecule

Activity: Psychoactive (Approx 50% less potent than Δ9-THC)
Formula: C21H30O2 
Molecular Mass: 314.4617 g/mol 
Boiling Point: 200 °C (392 °F) 

Like all other major cannabinoids, the synthesis of Δ8-THC begins with CBGA. From this stem cell molecule, THCA develops in mature cannabis. The harvested plant containing THCA is then decarboxylated via heat and time exposure into Δ9-THC. From there, an aging process through oxidation takes place, transforming the compound into Δ8-THC.

Because this lesser-known cannabinoid is created through oxidation, the resulting molecule is stable when exposed to air. This makes it an interesting compound for use in pharmaceutical applications. The molecule has shown promise in several studies but still has not seen widespread recognition or use.

What Are the Effects of Delta-8 THC?

The primary observations around the use of this compound focus on the lower potency, resulting in less significant psychoactive properties. Delta-8 has been observed as far less likely to induce anxiety in high doses when compared to its parent cannabinoid delta-9. This lower potency combined with a highly useful set of benefits led researchers to research and ultimately patent the conversion:

Based on information disclosed in US-issued patents:

  • 8-THC, for the most part, produces similar psychometric effects as does Δ9-THC, but is generally considered to be 50% less potent"
  • 8-THC] "has been shown in some cases to be 3-10 times less potent"
  • 8-THC has also been shown to be more (200%) effective an anti-emetic than Δ9-THC"

Anecdotal experience notes:

  • An article published by marijuana extractor Evolab said that Delta-8 generally compared to traditional THC as being "more upbeat, energetic and productive".
  • Leafly cites the compound as delivering "a semi-sedative physical sensation without much whimsical mental stimulation". Important to note that this product consumed also included small amounts of delta-9.

Also notable - combining Δ8-THC with CBD diminishes the psychoactive effects even further. This points to the combination being an effective medicine while minimizing unwanted psychoactive effects.


What Are the Benefits of Delta-8 THC?

The National Cancer Institute cites Δ8-THC as possessing a range of beneficial therapeutic properties:

  • Antiemetic - Suppression of nausea and vomiting response.
  • Anxiolytic - Reduces stress-related anxiety response.
  • Appetite-Stimulating - Increasing the desire to eat.
  • Analgesic - Pain relieving, anesthetic, and sedative properties.
  • Neuroprotective - Reducing build-up of unwanted proteins in the brain, reducing brain inflammation, protecting from oxidative stress on the brain.

Most notable are the anti-nausea effects of the compound. A widely referenced 1995 study saw delta-8 administered in high doses to children ranging from 3-13 years old. All of these children suffered from hematologic cancers (blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma) that had been treated with antineoplastic (anti-tumor) medications for up to 8 months.

The children were administered Δ8-THC before and after their antineoplastic treatments for up to 24 hours. Vomiting in all cases was completely prevented with negligible side effects.

How is this Cannabinoid Extracted?

Delta-8 THC is primarily found in only trace amounts in dried cannabis flower. These buds often contain less than 1% of the compound, meaning traditional means of smoking or vaporizing won't due. In order to produce a substantial amount of the molecule, a specialized extraction, isolation, conversion and refinement practice must be performed.

An example of the potency of a Delta-8-THC distillate, we look to manufacturer Oleum who produces a product called AquaTek D8. A sample batch resulted in the following chemical make-up:

Delta-8-THC = 58%
Delta-9-THC = 7.9%
Cannabidiol (CBD) = .35%

What is the Legal Status of Delta-8 THC?

Legal Statue

Since the compound shares such a close molecular design with delta-9 THC, it currently falls under the same legal status thanks to the Federal Analogue Act. This means not only that the public has a tough time accessing the compound, but research on the substance is difficult to conduct.

Currently, unless you live in a recreational or medically legal state, delta-8 THC is not accessible. Even more difficult is the fact that even in these states, the product is not widely available. Those who need the substance will have to search long and hard to come by it.

Where Can You Find Delta-8 THC?

If you're looking to try this molecule in a potent form, you'll need to head to a state where marijuana use is legalized. There are some companies creating boutique products. For example, Oregon-based Oregrown creates a distillate that is available for sale across the state.

For CBD users, some high-end full-spectrum products contain trace amounts of Delta-8. As with trying to find a product with any non-CBD cannabinoid, it comes down to looking over lab reports until you find a product you're happy Delta.

The downside to this legal route is that you'll likely only ever find very trace amounts of the molecule. Delta-8 is generally found in small quantities in relation to the amount of Delta-9. Since overall THC levels are restricted in CBD products, the amount of Delta-8 will almost always be negligible.


Originally Published: September 17, 2018 | Last Updated: September 27, 2018

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