What is Delta-8 THC?

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There has been a lot of interest and discussion regarding delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta-8, or simply d-8. Let’s take a dive into what exactly d-8 is, what it does, and how it is made.

As its name implies, d-8 is closely related to THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. (The THC in cannabis’ full name is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Now all cannabinoids are chemically related, but some are more like CBD (cannabidiol) or CBG (cannabigerol). All cannabinoids share the same elements (carbon, oxygen, hydrogen), but in different configurations. While CBG may be the mother of all cannabinoids, (meaning all other cannabinoids are made biosynthetically from CBG by the cannabis plant), and contains all the building block elements of CBD and delta-9 and delta-8 THC, its three-dimensional configuration (structure) is much different from the cannabinoids made from it. In contrast, the structure of delta-8 and delta-9 THC is different in only the placement of one hydrogen. Very similar indeed.

Now this subtle difference between d-8 and d-9 THC has rather large effects on the pharmacology of the two compounds. Both are psychoactive, but d-8 rather less potent. 2 to 10 times less potent. It also seems to have a milder effect than good old d-9-THC, making it a nice substitute for those seeking a THC effect without the anxiety or paranoia. The simple moving of one hydrogen thus has huge effects: this is typical of medicines in general (the entire field of medicinal chemistry deals with making small changes to a base structure). As with all medications, various populations experience different effects. But the bottom line is that d-8 is similar to d-9, but less potent and gentler to the psyche.

Cannabidiol (CBD) can be converted to delta-8 via heat and acid. Thus, commercial d-8 is a semisynthetic derivative of hemp. Methods for converting CBD to d-8 have been published, but most folks keep their procedures to themselves. The key is to produce d-8 rather than d-9: a challenge indeed.

So, there’s your short primer on d-8. We hope you find it informative.