Living in today’s cannabis culture is vastly different from a few decades ago. Legalization in much of the United States and other countries worldwide opened many doors in this bustling industry. With technological advancements and the rewards of scientific research, cannabis no longer is looked upon as a viable threat to humanity.
In contrast, as science and medicine come together, current studies discern the medicinal benefits derived from the complex cannabis plant. One such category constantly evolving is the study of cannabinoids and their effects on the endocannabinoid system found in all mammals.
While scientists have identified over 100 different cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, only a few are notably recognized. THC and CBD are the prominent two cannabinoids commonly associated with influencing CB receptors in the body. However, several other identifiable cannabinoids also play an important role in medicinal influences.
Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol is one of the cannabinoids that hit the headlines a few years back, herald as ‘The New THC.’ Discovered initially back in 1941, Delta-8 came into the spotlight with the passing of the United States 2018 Farm Bill legalizing hemp. Touted as an alternative to Delta-9-THC, this chemical compound reacts differently with bodily CB receptors.
Classified as a secondary or minor cannabinoid, Delta-8 appears in small amounts in cannabis plant strains, usually less than 1%. However, science is discovering Delta-8-THC as a beneficial contributor in many medicinal treatments. Taking a closer look at Delta-8 reveals an effective cannabinoid with ample potential in the future.
The History of Delta-8-THC
The chemical composition of Delta-8 THC dates to the early 1940s where it was first discovered along with Delta-9-THC and CBD. However, it was not until 1965 that Dr Raphael Mechoulam, the ‘Father of Cannabis,’ synthesized the cannabinoids. While Dr Mechoulam’s research continued in Israel, other countries, including the United States DEA, deemed cannabis an illegal controlled substance in the 1970s.
Dr Mechoulam persevered in cannabis research while much of the world stagnated in cannabis prohibition. In early 2001, he filed a patent regarding a process referred to as isomerization, which synthesizes cannabidiol (CBD) into Delta-8-THC. This chemical transformation became a best-seller when hemp became legal in the United States with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.
According to US federal law, all hemp plant-derived cannabinoids, terpenes, and products such as CBD oils, gummies and tinctures with less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC are deemed legal. As the hemp industry wavered through its infancy, many producers capitalized on the Delta-8-THC loophole and began marketing the cannabinoid as the ‘Legal THC’.
Unfortunately, the federal FDA legal status required regulations of the new crop to be overseen by individual state agriculture departments. The initial influx of people wanting to get in on this new cash crop left state agriculture branches scrambling for regulation.
It has taken nearly four years, but there are currently fifteen states with issued bans in hemp cultivation on Delta-8. Six others have pending legislation on the cannabinoid as well as other related THC isomers. These regulations not only affect hemp producers but also impacts the medical cannabis industry.