This close cousin of standard THC is legal in most states—and it’s gentler on your mind.
Cannabis is a more complex plant than most give it credit for, including its main psychoactive compound, THC. What we usually think of as THC, which has been the main target of cannabis prohibition for decades, is delta-9-THC. But many people have been replacing it with its close cousin, delta-8-THC, with many reporting getting similar therapeutic properties, as well as some gentle psychoactive effects. Like delta-9-THC, it’s a naturally occurring cannabinoid—but unlike delta-9-THC, it’s available to purchase wherever hemp products may be purchased.
“Delta-8-THC is responsible for improving the lives of countless individuals who seek a natural, side-effect-free solution to real health issues,” explains Justin Journay, CEO of 3Chi, which sells carefully crafted baked goods, gummies, and tinctures online. “Being that it is federally legal, those who are unable to qualify or afford medically sanctioned delta-9-THC are able to utilize delta-8-THC products to get relief.”
Delta-8-THC is a great fit for THC users who want better, more affordable access, as well as CBD users who want a more powerful product. Here’s what you need to know.
What is delta-8-THC?
Delta-8 THC is a chemical compound that’s very, very close to delta-9-THC—but with a few differences. It’s still reportedly used by many who suffer from pain, nausea, and anxiety. It occurs naturally in cannabis. The two molecules even look almost identical. But your body processes delta-8-THC in a different way.
Whether or not you’re a cannabis user, you have an endocannabinoid system, which helps send signals to different parts of your body through specific kinds of receptors. Chemically, delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC are similar in that they both have a double bond in their structures. It’s this double bond that’s thought to produce the intoxicating effect that makes you feel high when interacting with your endocannabinoid system.
But the two THCs differ in the placement of their double bond—falling on the eighth carbon atom in its chain for delta-8-THC and on the ninth for delta-9-THC. It’s this difference that affects how delta-8 binds to the endocannabinoid system differently and is thought to be responsible for the much less potent high produced from consuming delta-8 versus delta-9.
Emerging research backs up its therapeutic potential: A 2018 trial published in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics even calls a synthetic version of delta-8-THC a “potent anti-inflammatory” with effects similar to prednisone.
Why is delta-8-THC legal?
The short answer is that delta-8-THC is legal for the same reasons that you’ve seen an explosion in CBD products over the last couple of years: The 2018 farm bill finally allowed industrial hemp production in the United States. Products derived from hemp are legal on the federal level provided they don’t contain more than trace amounts of delta-9-THC, although some states still include delta-8-THC in their anti-cannabis laws.
While it only occurs in trace amounts in cannabis, delta-8-THC can be derived from other cannabinoids through some basic chemical reactions. 3Chi creates its delta-8-THC in a lab, you may have already done some cannabinoid chemistry at home: Some cannabinoids turn into others when smoked, for example.
What does delta-8-THC feel like?
While delta-8-THC has similar effects to delta-9-THC, it’s said to virtually eliminate unpleasant side effects like paranoia.
“Its effects are a perfect hybrid of CBD and delta-9-THC, giving it a similar buzz and all the medicinal effects of delta 9-THC without the laziness, anxiety, paranoia, or mental fogginess,” explains Journay.
Experiences are going to vary from person to person, but for the most part it’s like a lighter version of delta-9-THC. It still has psychoactive effects, but they’re milder—so you’re not going to end up locked in a couch or a crisis.
“Delta-8-THC users report feeling far more active and outgoing with increased confidence and almost none of the anxiousness and paranoia associated with delta-9-THC usage,” says Journay.
Where to buy delta-8-THC
Delta-8-THC is available at many retailers, but 3Chi has some great products available online, too.
Baked Edibles: 3Chi stocks some of the most classic cannabis baked goods, like cookies, brownies, and cereal treats, all baked fresh in their bakery. Their chocolate chip cookies are even vegan.
Gummies: For more convenient consumption, 3Chi’s vegan gummies are available both with just delta-8-THC or with a cozy combination of delta-8-THC and CBN, another minor cannabinoid with therapeutic effects.
Tinctures: Broad-spectrum products contain a host of minor cannabinoids for a more potent, well-rounded product. 3Chi’s tinctures contain a variety of cannabinoids along with terpenes in addition to delta-8-THC—giving it both full-plant power and a more traditional cannabis taste.
Prefer to vape? Keep an eye out for 3Chi’s delta-8-THC vape cartridges at local retailers.