Of all the beneficial extracts of the hemp plant, cannabidiol (CBD) is probably one of the most well-known. The world, until recently, had only heard of CBD and THC as the two different cannabis derivatives. Up until recently, for most people, THC essentially meant Delta-9, the famous hallucinogen of marijuana that gives users a “high”.
And then came Delta-8—the new kid on the block in the world of cannabis. It is one of around 100 cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Delta-8 THC is generally perceived less potent and milder version of its sister compound Delta-9 THC. It may give you a buzz, but in a lower intensity compared to Delta-9.
Since then, it has taken the market by storm – even before researchers could wave the green flag of safety. But the question still pricks many consumers: Is Delta-8 safe?
In this article, we’ll try to answer that question with as much detail as we can.
A Review of Delta-8 THC’s Safety
Delta-8 THC is found only in trace amounts in the cannabis plant. The natural extraction method used to derive that scanty amount of THC from cannabis can be quite expensive, yielding very little THC. Therefore, almost all companies working with Delta-8 THC opt for a chemical synthesis process. They extract it directly from CBD oil to cut costs and ensure greater productivity.
To convert CBD oil into Delta-8, an isomerization process is utilized. This converts CBD to its isomers, but with a different chemical formula. The molecules formed, thus, may possess psychoactive properties.
What The Delta-8 Producers Proclaim?
Delta-8 THC is touted to be a powerful cannabinoid that has a lot to offer. The high delivered by Delta-8 is perceived as less bumpy and more pleasant compared to Delta-9. Most research surrounding Delta-8 vouch for its innumerable benefits and great potency. Various reviewers have published reports based on personal experiences along with the effects of its daily use.
But, of course, there are risks involved. That is why the federal government is against any conversion techniques of cannabinoids to procure Delta-8 THC.
A few American cannabis companies like Exhale Wellness have come up with new and safer techniques to create a safe ambiance for testing and making Delta-8 THC products. Their attempts have helped Delta-8 THC pass the test of safety with dignity — with its halo of therapeutic properties intact.
The legalities surrounding the use of Delta-8 in numerous US states corroborate the statements advocating its safety. Unless a product is safe, no government will possibly give it the nod to do the rounds of the market.
Research conducted on people by observing them under the impact of Delta-8 has fetched satisfactory results. No study has been conducted on its long-term consumption since it’s a new product category.
The data on Delta-8 that research provides us is mostly designed to prove its potency or usage against various bodily conditions. Every psychotropic substance comes with a handful of side effects. This makes trusting the absolute safety of Delta-8 THC difficult.
Delta-8 THC’s Safety Studies
The number of tests on the safety of Delta-8 THC is rather low. Any drug test has to undergo a random or controlled clinical trial to classify for certain criteria. In the case of Delta-8 THC, information regarding its safety has been handpicked from snippets circulating the web, from various websites.
The only trial to be conducted for Delta-8 THC was stopped midway. Research papers on Delta-8 THC analyzed it from the sidelines. They never delved deep into it. A few wrote about its effects on humans. However, the safety factor of Delta-8 THC was never touched upon.
The very first and, sadly, one of the few research articles (A. Abrahamov and R. Mechoulam, 1995) on Delta-8 THC was published in the Journal Life Sciences. It declared Delta-8 THC as an “efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology.” It was conducted on a group of eight students. Two of them reported irritability on consuming the compound. One was under the euphoric effect of Delta-8 THC. However, no subject suffered any severe side effects that would put the claims of its safety at stake.
In another trial conducted on animals, the subjects were given various amounts of Delta-8, ranging from 97mg/kg to 3150mg/kg. The subjects reportedly showed only some signs of depression and slow respiratory activity. Their responses to stimuli were slower and they were under the euphoric prowess of the drug. It also acted as an anesthetic to pain in the body.
Another study (L.E. Hollister, 1973) in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics compared two input methods of Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC—oral and intravenous.
The two compounds were introduced into the subjects in both ways and the effects were observed. The intravenous consumption of both Delta-8 and 9 brought about similar changes in the subjects. Delta-8, however, was noted to produce milder effects than its sister. The oral administration caused dizziness, dry mouth, and blurred vision in the case of both compounds.
So, is Delta-8 THC Safe?
The available studies point to the positive impacts of Delta-8 THC. However, the lack of adequate research regarding its side effects is what makes it so difficult to clear the air around the safety concerns over the use of Delta-8 THC.
The evidence of its positive impact on consumers is a huge milestone in the market career of this compound. The absence of any proven nasty side effects makes consumers place their trust in Delta-8 THC. The lack of legal restrictions on the usage of Delta-8 THC further helps brush off any doubts about its danger.
But we need to keep in mind that no research vouches for the lack of long-term effects. The absence of side effects in the short term cannot justify long-term consumption. Strong evidence brought about by research conducted over longer periods will be able to advocate for its safety in chronic users.
More research is expected to be carried out in the coming years, thanks to the growing market of this product. Not only is the research on its side effects scanty, but we are also oblivious of Delta-8 THC’s interaction with other medications in the human body.
Delta-8 gummies, vape juices, and tinctures are often loaded with hemp-based terpenes and flavonoids. Companies also sell products containing pure Delta-8 THC isolates.
So, until we have more scientific proof of Delta-8 THC’s safety — both in the short and long term — we can for now make peace with the fact that it is milder, less psychoactive, and less potent than Delta-9 THC.
However, it is better to not consume it along with alcohol or any other substance or medication. And, definitely talk to your medical professional before using it for any specific health condition.