There’s no denying the popularity of Delta-8 THC, whose products are presently being sold at the price of traditional Delta-9 THC products, and the practical legality of CBD products.
There are both positive and negative aspects of Delta-8 THC, but most of the information out there is incomplete marketing bullshit or vape bros on reddit. The really good stuff from the real expert is in the 47-minute video, which you’re encouraged to watch in full.
In the meantime, but these are the top three things that you’re not being told about Delta-8:
- It’s not made from Delta-8 THC plants, it’s made in a lab by concentrating CBD isolate in a lab through a process called ‘isomerization’ and only exists as distillate.
- It occurs naturally in tiny amounts, but has never been consumed by humans or animals at the concentrations being used now.
- Right now it’s going great for everyone involved.
A really good mainstream article about this was just written by Mike Riggs and published at Reason.com, but the reason that article is so good is that his source is Dr. Christopher Hudalla, founder and chief science officer at ProVerde Laboratories.
As a cannabis lab, ProVerde and Dr. Hudalla are at the cutting edge of what’s being produced and consumed both by regulated and unregulated producers, in all forms, and made from every possible type of cannabinoid, so it’s one of the best objective resources for both consumer trends and product safety concerns.
Dr. Hudalla first spoke publicly about Delta-8 THC in October 2020 at the Analytical Cannabis Expo East as part of a presentation provocatively titled, “Rumpelstiltskin’s Modern Day Fairtytale: The Allure (and Hazards) of Delta-8 THC.”
As the lab founder and chemist Hudalla points out in his ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ presentation, the conversion of CBD into Delta-8 THC is not actually a new discovery, and has in fact been known since 1966, with one process being patented in 2004 and studied since then.
With some basic familiarity about how selective breeding has increased the production of cannabinoids like CBD and CBG, Delta-8 THC has not been selectively bred from a plant, it’s been made by a chemical process.
In the Reason.com article by Riggs, the discussion with Eric Steenstra, the President of the Vote Hemp trade association lays out another reason that Delta-8 products started to be produced: the (pre-COVID) CBD industry needed a way to profitably recycle all of its unsold CBD isolate.
Then, when the FDA made it clear that hemp-derived CBD could not be marketed as a nutritional supplement, “you had all these people producing all this CBD, and there were suddenly way more producers than purchasers,” Steenstra says. The prices of hemp and hemp-derived CBD isolate plummeted and remain low. “Lots of people couldn’t sell their hemp flower and a lot of producers were sitting on CBD isolate trying to figure out what to do with it.”
The phrase, ‘human guinea pig’, has a negative connotation, and so you won’t hear it being used by those making and selling Delta-8 THC products, but even the safest producers and most conscientious consumers are pioneers for a cannabinoid that’s never before been consumed at such high concentrations by humans or animals.
Again, the concern voiced by Hudalla and others is not that Delta-8 THC itself is dangerous, or that it’s an inherently sketchy or dangerous innovation.
The layman’s takeaways are instead: making Delta-8 itself is complex and Delta-8 products can produce compounds which are both unknown and untested; producers and labs aren’t testing for contaminants they may not even know exist; and there’s no regulation of Delta-8 THC products.
A lab test will only show what the product is being testing for, and there are Delta-8 related compounds for which labs can’t even test.
However, right now it seems like Delta-8 is a win for everyone involved.
Retailers who sell CBD products — especially those crushed by vape regulations — are benefitting from the de facto legality of Delta-8 THC, while their CBD product-makers are finding ways to incorporate or substitute Delta-8 THC into existing CBD hemp products to boost the price.
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A retail store owner in Downtown Burlington that primarily sells CBD products said that Delta-8 products are keeping him afloat, producing return customers, and boosting sales of other products.
“I’m on track doing great right now and it’s because of Delta-8…I said to myself, this is what it’s gonna be like when THC is legal, it’s gonna be phenomenal. Phenomenal feeling to see people so happy that they can buy something with the word THC on it…I just had a person come in and buy $100 of Delta-8 product and $30 CBD product that otherwise would have been maybe a $20 sales.”
On a molecular level, Delta-8 and Delta-9 are almost identical; however, from a legal standpoint, because only Delta-9 THC is banned by federal regulations, producers, distributors, and consumers are treating Delta-8 THC as a totally legal cannabinoid.
That availability gives consumers both confidence and access to a wide variety of Delta-8 THC products, the most popular of which are gummies and vaporizers, which are advertised widely on podcasts and national digital media websites, including Barstool Sports, who recently highlighted 3Chi Delta-8 products as part of recent 4/20 promotions.
Delta-8 ‘flower’ products like joints are becoming more common, although it’s a bit misleading as these products are CBD hemp flower that has been sprayed or dipped (again, there’s no such thing as Delta-8 flower).
As far as user experience, I’ll break the fourth wall to say that this author has tried Delta-8 THC products before and found that the effect was very similar to Delta-9 THC.
Until or unless there’s a major safety issue or discovery, the biggest threat to Delta-8 THC is presently its own popularity and the unlikeliness of maintaining its unregulated status.
With four states approving delta-9 THC sales in 2021 alone, a new Farm Bill coming in 2022, and the Biden Administration providing its first hemp policy updates this fall, it’s unlikely that this kind of Delta-8 regulation and product availability will last.