The cannabis smoked today hasn’t changed much from what the free souls of Woodstock rolled up a generation ago. From the 70s to 2020, the potency has increased dramatically — but otherwise little has changed in the way users interact with the plant they love. That all changed late last year with the introduction of Delta-8 THC.
Most people are aware that THC is the active ingredient in cannabis. It’s the little chemical that gives the buzzed, high feeling. More specifically, it’s actually Delta-9 THC that does this. And it’s Delta-9 THC that’s been so tightly federally regulated for decades.
Its own worst enemy
Since it’s been around so long, cannabis also comes with a pretty well-established list of drawbacks. Excluding the stereotypes of the lazy stoner, there are two very real factors holding the industry back: The numerous side effects, and the fact that it’s illegal in most states here in the US.
Both of these present their own set of challenges for the communities who actively interact with cannabis. The main two being recreational users, and the doctors and researchers who want to capitalize on the numerous medical benefits. Side effects of cannabis, including the infamous drowsy comedown, the fogginess and feelings of anxiety or paranoia, are only getting more pronounced as the concentration of Delta-9 THC increases. These are difficult to address, and can be a big turn off for many users. Potential first-time medical users are especially wary about the stronger psychoactive effects.
The second problem, legality, has been a point of contention among states for decades now. In many places, the chances of legalized cannabis is extremely low. It is simply too polarizing, and the nonpolitical issue seems to only be getting more political.
What about the rest of the cannabis plant?
This is where science steps in. Two years ago, the US government passed the 2018 Farm Bill. It was a long and complicated bill. But crucially, the language of this bill removed certain THC strains from the controlled substance list. That included pretty much every THC that wasn’t Delta-9. This immediately had the cannabis community buzzing, because it opened the door for legal alternatives to be developed and made viable.
Recently, in late 2019 companies began offering a new strain, Delta-8 THC, which is a close cousin of our friend Delta-9. What makes this new compound so incredible is it’s many similarities to Delta-9, minus the overwhelming side effects.
“I’m you, but better” – Delta-8 THC to Delta-9 THC, probably
The two chemicals provide similar effects. Both reportedly stimulate appetite, reduce nausea, and soothe pain — but delta-8 is far less potent than delta-9 in its psychoactive effects. This means fewer of the unpleasant symptoms like paranoia and anxiety. It also means smaller crashes on the other end. All with a milder, more relaxing high. In fact, is often described as a clearer and more energetic high than cannabis. This makes it ideal for active users and potentially for first-time medical patients who don’t want to feel the confusion and distortion that concentrated doses of Delta-9 cause.
A Cloudy Future
Delta-8 has given countless users who weren’t otherwise able to access medical cannabis the chance to benefit from this amazing set of therapeutic effects. Recently, the DEA made it unclear if delta-8 is going to stay legal permanently.
Community feedback will help determine if Delta-8 stays where it is now. Click here to give your input directly.
At this point it is impossible to say what will happen. But the community continues to rally around delta-8, and the response is promising.