The Deets on Delta 8

The Deets on Delta 8: Is Delta 8 Federally Legal?

The first recorded use of cannabis by humans dates back to 2,500 years ago in China. Since then, humanity’s relationship with the plant has had its ups and downs.

Modern science reveals that cannabis plants, and the hundreds of chemical compounds found within them, have many positive medicinal qualities. Medical marijuana legalization has allowed scientists to research the versatile plant and uncover what makes it so special.

The discovery of cannabinoids helps explain how and why one plant can provide such intense and varied effects. Most people have heard of cannabidiol, known as CBD, and tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC.

But did you know that there’s more than one kind of THC? There’s Delta 9 THC, which is the version most people know. Then, there’s Delta 8 THC.  

Are you curious about the differences between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC and wondering if Delta 8 legal or illegal? Find out here.  

What Is Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC (delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol) is a plcannabinoid found naturally occurring in cannabis plants just like Delta 9 THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Delta-8 is similar to Delta 9 THC with a few important differences

For one thing, Delta 8 THC does not appear as abundantly in marijuana as Delta 9 does. That means to access it requires the use of modern extraction processes by cannabis manufacturing companies.

So why have manufacturers decided to focus on Delta 8 THC? Its powerful medical properties and close association to Delta 9 THC make it stand out from other cannabinoids. 

What Are Cannabinoids?

Marijuana plants contain 400+ unique organic compounds that vary from strain to strain and plant to plant. Scientists classify around 80-100 of these chemicals as cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids form in the resin glands, known as trichomes, on the leaves and flowers of marijuana plants. They work together with other chemicals like terpenes to give each strain of cannabis its distinct smell, flavor, and effects.

How Do Cannabinoids Work with the Body?

The human body has something called the endocannabinoid system. It helps regulate the other systems of the body when they become imbalanced

The body performs regular checks of its systems. When it notices something is wrong, it calls on the endocannabinoid system to fix it.

The endocannabinoid system uses chemical compounds called endocannabinoids that act as neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter passes signals from one nerve cell to another.  

Endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors to affect one system of the body without affecting the others. There are two known cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. 

The body can use this system to regulate pain, sleep, appetite, memory, inflammation, mood, digestion, immune function, temperature, reproduction, and more.

Does Delta 8 THC Work the Same Way?

Delta 8 THC is a cannabinoid and can affect the body’s endocannabinoid system just like an endocannabinoid.

Delta 8 THC binds to the CB1 receptor specifically to produce very strong health benefits. These benefits often work better than pharmaceutical interventions with fewer negative side effects.   

But why do cannabinoids like Delta 8 produce a greater effect than endocannabinoids on the body?

The endocannabinoid system also includes enzymes that clean up excess endocannabinoids. The body performs another assessment and senses the balancing of the unbalanced system. Then, it releases two enzymes that break down the two kinds of endocannabinoids produced by the body.

These enzymes cannot break down cannabinoids. Therefore, the cannabinoids remain in your system longer and get to oversaturate the receptors.  

Delta 8 THC vs Delta 9 THC

Delta 8 and Delta 9 are both forms of tetrahydrocannabinol with an important difference at the molecular level. The molecular chains of both Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC have double bonds, but its location differs by one molecule.

Delta 8 THC has a double bond on the 8th carbon chain. Delta 9 THC has a double bond on the 9th carbon chain. That’s where the names Delta 8 and Delta 9 come from.

Shelf Life

Delta 8 THC is a more stable cannabinoid than Delta 9. Delta 9 THC oxidizes into Delta 8 or CBN (cannabinol) over time.

Delta 8, on the other hand, never oxidizes or degrades into any other form.

Strength of the High

Delta 9 THC is the cannabinoid that gives cannabis its psychotropic effects. It produces a strong high that can make some users anxious.

Delta 8 THC also produces a psychotropic effect, but with a clearer feeling and more energy.

Binding to Cannabinoid Receptors

Both Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC bind prefer to bind to CB1. It’s the CB1 receptor that mediates Delta 9’s psychotropic effects.

Since Delta 8’s molecular structure slightly differs from Delta 9, it also binds to CB1 in a different manner. The difference in how the two cannabinoids bind may have something to do with why Delta 8 produces a calmer high with less anxiety.

Delta 8’s structure may also affect how it interacts with the brain’s neural pathways and other receptors as well. Scientists need to conduct more research to know for sure.

How Is Delta 8 THC Made?

Delta 8 THC manufacturers synthesize the cannabinoid by converting either CBD gummies or Delta 9 THC. They may do this through the use of a chemical catalyst and through fractional distillation or isomerization.

Fractional Distillation

The fractional distillation process requires fresh hemp flower and a thin film distillation. Scientists then use specific temperatures, vacuums, and other specialized scientific equipment to convert CBD or Delta 9 THC to Delta 8 THC.


Isomerization requires a solvent like sulfuric acid mixed with glacial acetic acid. You place the fresh cannabis buds in the mixture and let it sit at a certain temperature for the correct amount of time.

Eventually, the CBD transforms into both forms of THC. The concentrate then requires further processing to separate the newly created cannabinoids.

Percentage of Delta 8 THC

Some manufacturers can create concentrations containing 80% to 99% Delta 8 THC with less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC. High-quality Delta 8 THC concentrates should contain no additives and no leftover solvents.

The Medical Benefits of Delta 8 THC

Delta 8 THC offers many medical benefits much like its cousin Delta 9 THC.

Research shows that Delta 8 has powerful anti-cancer properties. Delta 9 may slow down the rate of tumor growth, but Delta 8 could reverse it. One study showed that Delta 8 actually shrunk cancerous tumors in lab rats.

Delta 8 THC shows strong pain-relieving properties. It also works to reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Delta 8 very effectively combats nausea and vomiting, especially in patients with cancer. It can even stimulate the appetite.

The best part about Delta 8 is that patients get all of these medical benefits without the strong high or anxiety associated with Delta 9 THC.

Learn more about the benefits and risks of Delta 8 THC in this review from the makers of 3chi Delta 8. 

The Federal Legality of Delta 9 THC

Federal law does not specifically state whether Delta 8 THC is legal or illegal.

Congress passed the Farm Bill in 2018, which legalized industrial hemp production in the United States. In January 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published the final rule regarding the Domestic Hemp Production Program.

The Hemp Rule sets federal regulations for hemp production across the States. It also spells out rules for the production of hemp-derived products including extractions of CBD and other cannabinoids like Delta 8 THC.

Limiting Delta 9 THC

The USDA chose to keep the Delta 9 THC limit at the previous 0.3%. The hemp industry lobbied to increase the limit to 1%, but that would conflict with the current federal definition of hemp.

Hemp must contain 0.3% or less Delta 9 THC. Anything percentage higher the law considers marijuana, so it no longer falls under the same rules.

Standard of Negligence

The USDA allows manufacturers a little wiggle room before penalizing them for producing hemp with too much THC. This is called the standard of negligence.

The new rules raise the hemp industry’s standard of negligence to 1.0% from 0.05%. Producers with crops that test above 0.3% but below 1.0% will not face an immediate penalty. If they test within that limit twice in one year, they will receive a penalty or have to destroy their crops.

Testing for Total THC

The Farm Bill defines hemp solely on how much Delta 9 THC it contains, 0.03%.

The new Hemp Rule expands that limit to include Delta 9 THCA (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). It also now requires testing to include the decarboxylation of the plant.

THCA turns into THC when exposed to heat, called decarboxylation, or over time through oxidation. Forcing hemp producers to test for both means their crops will more often surpass the 0.3% THC limit. 

Is Delta 8 Federally Legal?

The 2018 Farm Bill states nothing regarding Delta 8 THC specifically. It’s not even included in the required testing to show total THC levels. Since so little Delta 8 occurs naturally in hemp, lawmakers didn’t feel the need to include it.

The process used by manufacturers to produce Delta 8 THC may be a different story. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers any tetrahydrocannabinol derivatives Schedule 1 controlled substances. Even those from hemp with less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC.

So, technically, Delta 8 THC producers and sellers fall under regulation by the DEA.

States Where Delta 8 THC Is Legal

Delta 8 as a naturally occurring cannabinoid remains in a legal grey area federally, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal in every state.

Delta 8 THC is currently legal in the following U.S. states:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Patients who cannot access legal medical cannabis in these states may be able to find relief through Delta 8 THC products.

States Where Delta 8 THC Is Illegal

11 states chose to pass laws making Delta 8 THC illegal. They include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah

It’s surprising to see that states with legal recreational cannabis would choose to make Delta 8 THC illegal. Perhaps to prevent competition against their budding cannabis industries with a high focus on Delta 9 THC.

What Delta 8 THC Products Can You Buy?

You can purchase a variety of products with Delta 8 THC just like other cannabinoids and Delta 9 THC. Here are a few examples:

  • Beverages
  • Concentrates like wax and budder
  • Distillate cartridges and syringes
  • Edibles like gummies
  • Oil
  • Oil vapes
  • Vape cartridges

Notice that you cannot buy Delta 8 THC-specific flowers. That’s because no strains of cannabis exist with enough Delta 8 THC to feel its effects.

Manufacturers only produce it through extraction to form a concentrate. That means you cannot find Delta 8 THC flower anywhere.

Where Can You Buy a Delta 8 Cartridge?

Delta 8 THC can provide the same medical benefits as Delta 9 THC without the heavy-hitting high. You can shop for a Delta 8 cartridge to use with a vape pen online.

As long as you live in one of the states where Delta 8 THC is legal, you can have it shipped straight to your front door!

Be sure you purchase from a reputable manufacturer with high-quality Delta 8 THC for sale. Do your research and buy Delta 8 THC online from someone that guarantees products with less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC like 3chi.

Stay Up to Date on the Latest Trends in Health, Technology, and More!

The confusing legal state of Delta 8 THC does not mean you can’t enjoy its effects. Just follow the news so you know if the rules change.

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Christophe Rude
Christophe Rude
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