By Emily Ledger
Despite thousands of years of cannabis use and cultivation, our knowledge of the plant’s compounds remains shockingly underdeveloped. While we may know that there are over 100 cannabinoids produced by the plant, most of us have only heard of a couple of them – THC and CBD.
This lack of knowledge even extends to the scientific community, where cannabis research has been severely stunted for decades due to the prohibition of the plant. However, another cannabinoid has become the subject of increasing interest – Delta-8 THC.
What is Delta-8 THC?
‘THC’ has become the most well-known cannabis compound, however, this shortened term actually refers to delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the most prevalent of the cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant as well as the psychoactive compound known for producing a ‘high’ in cannabis users. However, delta-8 THC is a different compound altogether.
The structure of this compound is similar to that of delta-9 THC – in fact, there are only a few bonds difference between the two cannabinoids.
As an analogue of THC, delta-8 THC has also been found to produce a high similar to that of the more common delta-9 THC. however, it has a lower psychotropic potency than its more common cousin. Like other cannabinoids, it has also been found to have promising medicinal and therapeutic potential.
Delta-8 THC is one of the four most common cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant, however, it is still only naturally present in extremely small quantities. Yet, this hasn’t stopped some companies from developing ways to successfully extract the cannabinoid for product developments.
Delta-8 THC Products and Legality
While delta-8 THC may still be largely unknown, product retailers in the USA, and increasingly in Europe, are beginning to catch on to its potential. A number of companies are now selling vape products dedicated to the compound, which some recreational users claims gives a milder high with less anxiety and paranoia.
While this may all be well and good, the question of its legality remains somewhat uncertain. It is argued that, in the USA, the compound was essentially legalised at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, there is much dispute over these claims.
Here in the UK, the issue of legality remains unclear. There is no express mention of this particular cannabinoid in the government’s factsheet for cannabis and cannabinoids as either an exempt product or a controlled substance. Therefore, products available to purchase from the UK are likely unregulated and of questionable quality – it might be best to wait for more clarification on the subject before trying your luck!
Potential Medical Properties of Delta-8 THC
While the retail market for delta-8 THC may not be as refined (or perhaps as legal) as we might hope, there have been some promising developments in research. Some studies have found that this cannabinoid may have antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.