What is Delta 8 THC – All the Hype

Most people are familiar with THC and CBD, whether from personal experience or strictly from a learning perspective.  However, THC and CBD are just 2 of over 100 cannabinoids, compounds found in cannabis. There’s a lot more to this magic plant. One of the most recent cannabinoids to capture the public’s attention is Delta-8 THC. While it’s been around for quite a while, it’s only now starting to gain popularity. This is due to its relatively mild effects compared to its more popular cousin Delta-9 THC (marijuana).  Here’s what you should know about it, what it does, its legal status, and how delta 8 THC appears on a drug test.

delta-8 thc drug test

What is Delta-8 THC and how is it different from Delta-9 THC?

Firstly, let’s take a look at Delta-8 THC as it relates to the widely popular Delta-9 THC, marijuana.  The D8 strain is considered a minor cannabinoid. This means it binds to the 8th carbon compound rather than the 9th carbon compound.  This compound difference means that you are going to be getting a different, more gentle, kind of high.

The actual level of Delta-8 THC (D8) naturally found in cannabis is very low — less than a fraction of a percentage point. While it is more shelf-stable, the only way to produce D8 is through careful extraction into a distillate. This new, extracted distillate, D8, can be vaped, made into tinctures, food, or added to CBD flower to smoke.

The effects of THC (the tetrahydrocannabinol in cannabis) is the main distinction between D9 and D8.  Delta-8 THC is becoming well known for its more mild high, providing the user with about half the potency while eliminating paranoia and nausea. Both are common side effects and complaints of D9.  Basically, it helps you enjoy an easy high without the negatives.

What are the effects of taking Delta-8-THC?

Recent studies have been done on the effectiveness of taking Delta-8 THC.  Currently, it’s thought that D8 could potentially be an alternative for young people or seniors who are looking for a safer way to enjoy the effects of THC without the same potency and the psychological side effects that it brings with it.  Some of the scientifically proven effects include:

Increase in appetite

According to a study done in mice and Delta-8 THC mice saw an increase in appetite when taken regularly.  For those that suffer from a lack of appetite and are searching for regulation for that, it’s thought to be helpful.


Delta-8 THC has long been known for its antinauseant properties. Not only during a high but when used in microdoses to eliminate nausea when sick. Delta-8 THC is known to be helpful to cancer patients suffering from vomiting and nausea from chemotherapy. 

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Cancer Fighting Properties

In 1974 the National Cancer Institute conducted tests on mice to find the effect that Delta-8 THC has on the immune system. Surprisingly, they found that not only did D8 stop tumor growth but that in some cases, tumor size decreased. This medical finding stayed relatively unexplored until 1995. Studies in Jerusalem at Shaare Zedek Hospital, Bikur Holim Hospital, and the Hebrew University looked at eight children between the ages of 3 and 13. The research found that, when administered every 6 hours for 24 hours, Delta-8 THC completely eliminated nausea and vomiting in all patients with no or negligible side effects. Overall in this study, D8 was successfully used in 480 successful cancer treatments.

Light sedative

One of the most popular elements of this cannabinoid is that its sedative side effects are lighter than D9.  This means that it can help promote easier sleep, but it doesn’t have the same drowsy, couch-lock that D9 is known for.

Soothes pain

While more research is needed, it’s thought that this tetrahydrocannabinol, D8, can help ease and soothe pain, be it from cancer treatments and other chronic health conditions, or even injury recovery.

The important thing to remember is that Delta-8-THC is still a drug, all things considered.  While it can have some great positive effects and help ease the stronger side effects of chemotherapy as well as help with severe anxiety, it’s not a miracle drug. 

Whether it’s this derived cannabinoid or its cousin Delta-9, it’s still a drug that causes you to get high.  It is carefully regulated and under a lot of observation for a reason — because, compared to D9, little is known about it and its long term effects, especially on children, seniors, or other at-risk individuals who are considering it. However, initial research has shown that D8 can be part of successful pain management.

Does Delta-8-THC have side effects?

Just like D9, there are some side effects of Delta-8-THC to be aware of, especially if this is used by senior citizens or others that have pre-existing medical conditions.  The main side effect of D8 is that it can constrict the blood vessels and increase blood pressure as a result.  This is often followed directly by a significant drop in blood pressure and a slowing heart rate to match.  The sudden spike and fall can sometimes be hazardous for those who have pre-existing issues, especially with blood pressure or heart rate.

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Then there’s the fact that, while Delta-8-THC is a “lighter” version of THC, it’s still THC.  That is, the anxiety and paranoia might be lighter, but they can still occur.  Likewise, it is still possible to experience hallucinogenic and paranoid effects.

Is Delta-8-THC considered legal?

The difficulty is mostly due to the fact that it basically straddles two worlds of tetrahydrocannabinol.  Delta-8 THC can be derived in two ways. If it comes from the plant Cannabis sativa, it would absolutely be considered illegal, no questions asked.  However, D8 can also come from the hemp plant, which is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. Despite its federal legality, Delta-8 THC is listed as a Schedule 1 drug under Drug Code 7370 by the DEA. However, in 2018, the Department of Justice released this article referring to a Ninth District Court appeal in 2004 and enjoining enforcement of Drug Code 7370 with respect to products that lie outside of the definition of marijuana in the controlled substances act. Therefore the DEA does not enforce Drug Code 7370, outside of Delta-9 THC.

Since hemp has a low intoxication level and it meets the legal requirements as being below 0.3% Delta-9 THC, there are no legal issues in and of itself across most states.  That being said, there are some hemp varieties that are considered illegal, especially because many growers are changing and adapting their hemp crop for a stronger level.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is still looking at the most recent data in order to determine when Delta-8-THC is legal and when it isn’t, and how to distinguish between it and D9 on a test.

Since there is so much suspicion around the source of Delta-8-THC, its potency, and its use, the general rule to keep in mind is that, as far as a drug test is concerned, it would most likely be considered illegal, though all eyes are on the DEA and USDA to see what the formal ruling is going to be in the future.

While certainly interesting, especially if you know a thing or two about tetrahydrocannabinol and its properties as they vary from strain to strain, there is still much to be learned about Delta-8 THC as well as its potential positives, side effects, and other issues as they relate to its legality on your classic drug test in the future.  

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