There are hundreds of cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. However, the most widely known is Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) due to its psychoactive compound that produces the feeling of being high.
Slowly gaining in popularity but for different reasons is Delta-8 THC, a lesser-known variation of Delta-9. But with research on Delta-8 ramping up and new market opportunities for its use being considered, we might be hearing more about this up-and-coming cannabinoid in the new year.
The difference between Delta-9 THC and Delta-8 THC
Depending on the strain, the psychoactive effect that Delta-9 THC produces in cannabis can be very potent. In fact, research shows that much of the cannabis sold legally in the U.S. contains high concentration levels of THC. It is for this reason that marijuana is commonly used to treat certain medical conditions. However, along with the benefits, there can be unwanted side effects of too much Delta-9 THC, such as anxiety, dizziness and paranoia. Today, cannabis products containing more than 0.3% of Delta-9 THC are considered illegal at the federal level.
Delta-8 THC, a double-bond isomer of Delta-9 THC, claims to produce a similar mind-altering effect as its cannabinoid cousin but with substantially fewer psychotropic properties. In fact, some studies claim that Delta-8 THC produces a more clear-headed high, allowing users to experience the benefits of CBD, but with a more energized and productive mindset.
Over the past year, scientific efforts to concentrate Delta-8 THC in hemp plants while at the same time minimizing the Delta-9 THC content have been successful. As a result, Delta-8 THC can be kept well under the 0.3% legal limit for many hemp products, allowing it to be more widely used in products such as vape cartridges, tinctures and edibles. Moreover, with Delta 8-THC providing similar therapeutic benefits to Delta 9-THC but with less psychoactive properties, it can be administered to children going through cancer treatments to help treat extreme nausea. Delta-8 THC is also proven to be more shelf-stable, making it an improved option for use in prescription medications.
Delta-8 TCH and the Drug Enforcement Administration
Under U.S. federal law, regular THC remains a Schedule I illegal substance. However, a cannabis plant containing Delta-9 THC that is at or below 0.3% is legal at the federal level. In August 2020, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration updated its list of controlled substances. But the list created some confusion for the legalization of Delta-8, primarily regarding how it is sourced. For example, if Delta-8 THC is extracted from cannabis Sativa, it is considered illegal. But, if it is a derivative of hemp, then it is considered legal as per the 2018 Farm Bill. However, some state laws could be more restrictive and criminalize Delta-8 THC — even as a derivative of hemp. In addition, some states might deem all marijuana-derived Delta-8 THC as legal at the state level but not at the federal level.
Ideally, hemp-derived Delta-8 THC from CBD could fall into the category of a semisynthetic substance, but the new DEA rule doesn’t delve into that area, and the 2018 Farm Bill had already deemed hemp as not being a controlled substance. And while the DEA may not have intended to give hemp-derived Delta-8 THC the green light inadvertently, it has certainly expanded the hemp market.
Today, claims regarding products containing Delta-8 THC are still being researched, as are quality control measures. As an insurance professional with clients in the cannabis and nutraceutical industry, it’s important to stay informed regarding updates and changes in both federal and state laws and regulations.
Norman Ives ([email protected]) is a cannabis practice leader and wholesale insurance broker at NutraRisk, a division of Worldwide Facilities. As a wholesale insurance broker and program manager, NutraRisk specializes in insurance coverage for the nutraceutical and cannabis industries.
This article is republished here with consent from Worldwide Facilities.
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