Whenever a brand-new new product enters the market, it immediately raises some red flags. Is it safe? What don’t we know about it? Add to that a name like Delta-8 and the word cannabis, and you have a genuine lightning rod for scrutiny and misinformation. Both sides want to make claims that Delta-8 is or isn’t a certain thing, and the truth seems to get lost somewhere in the middle. There are a ton of articles out there that explain what this new THC compound looks like, but few have gone into the concrete science around the safety of consuming Delta-8. This article aims to do just that.
If you’re here, I assume you are already somewhat familiar with Delta-8. That means I’m not the first to tell you that Delta-8 is a promising alternative to cannabis, closely related but distinct in several important ways. If that sentence was novel, think about clicking here to get a little more background before proceeding.
The question of safety can be broken down into two main groups.
- What does Delta-8 do when consumed? That encompasses the following: How intoxicated do you become? How paranoid? Is it harming the body?
- What is it doing in the long-term? That includes: Is it addictive? Does it affect the brain permanently?
Both of the next sections will attempt to answer those questions.
When you’re on Delta-8
The immediate good news is that it appears to be impossible to overdose on Delta-8 — or on any part of the cannabis plant. The stuff simply isn’t strong enough. But don’t let that fact misguide you: Delta-8 can be potent in high doses. Most people speak in terms of comparing the effects to delta-9. And yes, while a similar dosage will almost always lead to a less powerful high, Delta-8 still produces strong high feelings at the correct doses. That is one of its biggest distinguishers from CBD.
The high typically allows users to remain more focused and coherent than cannabis. In smaller doses, it has been widely reported to boost energy levels — making it very different from cannabis in that way. It is simply a completely different kind of high. In fact, the effects are commonly compared to the soothing feelings of CBD.
A Middleground of Sorts
The next and most noticeable difference of Delta-8 THC is the significantly-reduced feelings of anxiety and paranoia. The data isn’t terribly substantial here — both compounds spent most of their history as federally controlled substances. But the overwhelming number of user reviews and growing data overwhelmingly points to this being the case. It is a scientific fact that Delta-8 has significantly lower psychoactivity than Delta-9. And it’s that psychoactivity that produces those feelings in higher doses, along with the fogginess and increased distortion.
From a medical standpoint, Delta-8 doesn’t interact with the CB1 receptors in your brain the same way. Those receptors are uniquely responsible for psychoactivity. Instead, Delta-8 also interacts with the CB2 receptor, which interacts with CBD and other minor cannabinoids to monitor energy levels and relaxation. Those are just two among dozens of other feelings that the endocannabinoid system regulates. If you want to learn more about this very specific set of pathways inside the human body, click here.
Is it Harmful?
Delta 8 is not harmful. Delta 8 interacts with a set of the body’s natural receptors, and mimics compounds that have been found to naturally exist inside humans. All the evidence seems to point to the fact that there is no measurable harm during consumption, and the high feelings wear off within a few hours. Any changes to the body only happen over a long period of time or from habitual use, much like cannabis.
What About Twenty Years Later?
That brings us to the long-term implications. Typically this is the major cause for concern, as cannabis has been thought to lead to some measurable changes down the road after heavy use. The data is sparse, and even close non-existent when talking about Delta-8, but I will lay out what we do know, and what the numbers point to.
Cannabis is addictive, but perhaps less so than conventional wisdom may allude to. Furthermore, Delta-8 appears to be significantly less addictive, because of the way our bodies quickly build up a tolerance.
Roughly 1 out of 10 users become addicted to cannabis, making it only mildly addictive. Far more common are people growing a habitual addiction, meaning they crave the high feeling, but aren’t physically addicted in the same way someone might become an alcoholic. It won’t affect their relationships, finances, and mental health if they aren’t able to consume. That doesn’t mean there are no side effects. Users have reported feeling lethargic, irritable, and experience a total loss of appetite after quitting cannabis. Prolonged cannabis use also appears to make people less motivated, though there is no concrete evidence of such a claim. In all likelihood, it is simply the case that many people snowball into a lazier lifestyle after using it daily.
Delta-8, by contrast, appears even less dangerous as an addictive substance. That would make sense, because it is far less potent as a psychoactive. But unlike cannabis, users appear to build up a tolerance to the mental high of delta-8 much more quickly, meaning it has a kind of built-in protection against abuse. It isn’t something you can smoke all day every day and stay high in the same way. This is part of the appeal for medical users. They could potentially remove the high feeling entirely and still enjoy the same medicinal benefits through consistent dosages.
Addiction is Always a Factor
Cannabis can be addictive — nearly every drug can. But it has been shown to be one of the least addictive substances, and a lot of that is because the cannabinoids are natural and far less harsh than pharmaceuticals or other synthetics. On top of that, delta-8 by all accounts appears to be LESS addictive than cannabis, and more difficult for recreational users to abuse. And there is little evidence to show that frequent delta-8 use among adults affects your body or mind in the long-term.
Harm is also relative. Alcohol has been proven time and time again to permanently damage your liver and brain over time, and is quite literally classified as a toxin. Comparatively, Delta-8 looks extremely mild.
Delta-8 appears to be a promising alternative to cannabis, and is growing in popularity rapidly. However, the DEA recently made the future of delta-8 uncertain. Delta-8 is still around. But it may not be permanently. If you’d like to give your two cents, or support delta-8, click here and comment on the DEA website. Want to learn even more about delta-8? click here. If you’re excited and would like to try delta-8 for yourself, then check out some of our latest delta-8 products.