A look at the safety profile of D8 THC
Delta 8 THC has exploded in popularity since its arrival on the legal cannabis scene just a few short years ago. And out of all of the new legal THC’s that have become available in the last few years, Delta 8 is by far the most popular and the most widely studied, but is Delta 8 THC safe?
In this article we’re going to address any safety concerns you have about Delta 8, as well as teach you how to shop for quality Delta 8 THC products.
What is Delta 8 THC?
Delta 8 THC is one of seven THC isomers that can be found in hemp and cannabis plants. Delta 8 is chemically similar to its more notorious sister-compound, Delta 9 THC, but it appears to be less potent than Delta 9 when it comes to its ability to intoxicate.
Delta 8 offers a smoother, more manageable high than Delta 9 THC, with fewer adverse effects. It is popular with some people that find Delta 9 to be a little too overwhelming, as well as with those that can’t access legal cannabis in their state.
Early scientific research and anecdotal evidence suggests that Delta 8 THC may share many of Delta 9 THC’s psychoactive effects and therapeutic properties. This is supported by the fact that Delta 8 is already popular among users looking for a legal way to get high, as we as people looking for pain and anxiety, but want to avoid addictive, pharmaceutical alternatives.
Delta 8 THC effects
You can learn more about the effects of this hemp-derived cannabinoid here, in an article entitled “does Delta 8 THC get you high?“, in which I share my personal experiences of using Delta 8 and how it made me feel. Spoiler alert – yes, it does make you high!
A recent study polled over 500 people from 38 different US states, asking them to compare Delta 8 THC to cannabis. Their results showed that:
- 71% of Delta 8 THC users experienced “a lot” or “a great deal of” relaxation
- 68% experienced euphoria
- Over half got relief from pain
- 81% experienced skewed thinking or a hard time concentrating
- 74% had no anxiety
- 84% had no paranoia
Delta 8 side effects
Known side effects of Delta 8 THC are mild and infrequent. They include mild adverse events such as red eyes, dry mouth, impaired thought, and impaired motor function. However, far fewer people report experiencing feelings of anxiety and paranoia when using Delta 8 against Delta 9.
In 2021 the FDA issued a statement, warning that Delta 8 THC has serious health risks, based on reports between December 2020 and July 2021, involving over 20 people who experienced vomiting, hallucinations, trouble standing, and/or passing out, after consuming Delta 8 products.
In September 2021, the CDC also issued a warning about possible adverse events connected to Delta 8 THC.
Within the first six months of 2021, the National Poison Data System recorded 660 cases of exposure to Delta 8. Of these, 119 people (18%) required hospitalization and 258 (39%) were children. The CDC also warned that products may not be tested well for contaminants and that mislabeling is also an issue as many products contain higher THC levels than permitted by federal law.
It’s important to note that there have been no cases of death or addiction and it appears that the majority of adverse side effects are due to accidental dosing (children) and overdosing (classic whitey symptoms!).
Delta 8 is often packaged into colorful, delicious gummies, so buyers need to be careful with their dosing and make sure they pout them away somewhere safe, away from curious, young mouths.
We should also bear in mind that, due to the fact that concentrated Delta 8 hasn’t been around for very long, it’s impossible to comment on any Delta 8 long-term effects.
Is Delta 8 safe to consume?
More research is needed to confirm the safety of the Delta 8 THC compound, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it may have a more favorable safety profile than Delta 9. Adverse events, such as anxiety and paranoia, seem to be more common with Delta 9 than Delta 8 THC.
However, because of the lack of regulation in the market, the safety of Delta-8 THC products is also connected to how the products are being manufactured. Ingesting a contaminated D8 product could have health consequences far beyond those caused by ingesting the cannabinoids themselves.
In order to better understand the risks posed by contaminated products, let’s take a quick look at how Delta 8 THC is made.
How is Delta 8 THC made?
Delta 8 THC occurs in cannabis and hemp plants naturally but it’s only present in very small amounts. This means that the Delta 8 sold to us is semi-synthetic, as it’s usually created in a lab through a chemical process called isomerization.
Manufacturers make Delta 8 THC by taking another (more abundant) cannabinoid, like hemp-derived CBD, and then transform it using a chemical reaction. Many potentially harmful chemicals can be used in the production of Delta 8, including heptane, hexane, cyclohexane, toluene, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, and p-toluene sulfonic acid.
As mentioned previously, the biggest worry surrounding the safety of products like Delta 8 THC is that this manufacturing process is completely unregulated, so literally anyone can start making Delta 8 in their basement.
An uneducated manufacturer won’t know what kind of chemical byproducts they’re creating during this chemical process and definitely won’t know how to properly clean the Delta 8 solution, to remove all traces of contaminants, before putting it into products to sell to you and me.
Companies are not legally required to disclose what chemicals they use in production, nor are they required to test for all solvents. The race to produce cheaper Delta 8 solutions doesn’t take your safety into account and, unfortunately, some Delta 8 vendors just want to make a fast buck.
The massive importance of third-party product testing
I always stress the importance of third-party testing, but in the case of Delta 8 products, you really need to know what to look out for within these tests.
Most CBD and THC brands will link to some sort of third-party lab reports online, but you should always open them up and read them. Around 80% of the time, you’ll find that these lab reports verify the product’s potency only, and if you want to ensure that your Delta 8 product is as safe as possible, then you should be looking at the other 20%.
A third party lab report for a Delta 8 product should provide information about purity and safety of the product, showing that it passed tests for pesticides, microbials, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and especially residual solvents. It’s vital that D8 manufacturers work together with cannabis testing labs, so they know what potential contaminants may be present and therefore which residual solvents to test for.
Buying Delta 8 THC: Top tips for buying safer products
Here are our three top tips for buying safer Delta 8 THC products.
1 – Buy your Delta 8 products online
There are many advantages to buying your Delta 8 online, including;
- You have tons more choice when it comes to brand and product type
- The quality of CBD and Delta 8 brands available in gas stations or convenience stores is generally much lower than what’s actually available on the market
- The gas station isn’t responsible for making sure that your Delta 8 products are safe. You are. Buying online gives you the time and extra information you need in order to know a good product from a bad one.
Buying direct also means you can develop a relationship directly with the brand, offer constructive feedback, and reach out with any questions you have, directly influencing future product availability.
2 – Buy Delta 8 from established brands and reputable companies
Only buy from brands you recognize and trust. Rather than choose a cheaper, new brand that’s just appeared overnight, opt for a more established company that actually has something to lose if they distribute shady products.
A reputable Delta 8 brand will provide you with lots of information to help you make an educated decision about product selection and they should make their comprehensive third-party lab reports easily accessible to all.
Accept the fact that the best Delta 8 product will probably not be the cheapest Delta 8 product. Instead you should value a company that focuses on quality ingredient sourcing and can prove it in the lab results.
3 – Never buy Delta 8 without checking third-party lab reports for potency AND purity
You may be attracted to a specific Delta 8 brand based on their marketing, flavors, or price, but just be sure to confirm the existence of comprehensive third-party lab testing, before even considering their products.
I have a list of trusted suppliers of Delta 8 here (Best Legal Highs), but don’t just take my word for it. Do your own research into the brand as things can change quickly and lab reports can expire. Always check the lab reports for yourself and make sure that the products you’re interested in have been tested for residual solvents and other contaminants.
Frequently asked questions
Is Delta 8 safe to smoke?
No-one knows if it’s safe to smoke Delta 8, because it hasn’t been studied enough to confirm it either way. However, smoking anything is inherently bad for your lungs, because when you burn any kind of plant matter (from wood to hemp to tobacco) it produces carcinogens.
My biggest concern, when it comes to smoking Delta 8 flower, is how did they get the Delta 8 onto the flower. Did they put it into a solution and spray it onto the flower? In which case, is this solution safe to burn and inhale? I’m going to try and find out!
If you’ve never tried smoking Delta 8, then I should also warn you it’s very harsh compared to normal (uninfused) CBD flower.
Is Delta 8 THC safe to vape?
Again, little is known about the safety of the Delta 8 compound but, as long as you know that you’ve sourced good quality Delta 8, and can vouch for the ingredients in the vape cart, then vaping Delta 8 shouldn’t be any more dangerous than vaping any other type of THC.
Is Delta 8 THC legal?
Delta 8 THC is legal at the federal level, thanks to the 2018 Hemp Farming Act. However, at least 19 states have taken steps to regulate or ban all forms of tetrahydrocannabinol, regardless of whether they are hemp-derived. You can learn more about the legality of Delta 8 THC in your state, by checking out our easy-to-read chart here (updated Jun 2022).
Summary: Making a safer future for Delta 8 THC products
In my opinion, the relative safety of consuming Delta 8 THC is more down to product quality as opposed to the safety of the compound itself. With each new THC isomer that is released, a new testing standard also needs to be shared across the board, so that cannabis testing labs know what to test for, and customers know what to look for.
It goes without saying that until the hemp industry is regulated, it’s up to us to ensure that we stay educated and informed before experimenting with new cannabinoids. Learning how to be a savvy Delta 8 shopper will help make your Delta 8 experience a much safer one.