Is Delta-8 THC legal? [State-By-State]

Delta-8 Legal Map

If you’ve used cannabis plants in any form at any point in your life – be it dry herbs or CBD tinctures – you must have heard of the latest hype over D-8 THC extracts.

Delta-8 THC is the milder, more docile sister of Delta-9 THC and a more therapeutic cannabinoid than CBD. It offers all the goodness of these two cannabinoids, coupled with a mild high – JUST enough to help you relax, unwind, and nicely buzzed – but NOT enough get stoned!

Technically, cannabis’ main psychotropic cannabinoid D-9 THC is a Controlled Substance, as per the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. Unfortunately, D-8’s closeness to D-9 THC makes it difficult for consumers to be sure of its legal status. It’s confusing, to say the least!

All this confusion stems from the fact that cannabis is, broadly, of two types – hemp, which is legal, and marijuana, which is NOT legal. The latter is illegal due to its high Delta-9 THC content.

In other words, any hemp extract is legal under federal law.

So, what about the D-9 THC products available everywhere nowadays? Is that legal?

The Short Answer: Yes. Hemp-derived D-8 THC products, containing less than 0.3% D-9 THC is legal in all 50 states of the USA.

But what if the extract contains more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC?

Then, it is illegal.

Confused already? Well, here is the longer answer…

What’s Δ8THC? What Makes It Different From Δ9THC?

To start this discussion, we must first understand what makes THC (irrespective of the isomer) so vulnerable to legal regulations.

THC is psychoactive, having some unique mood-altering properties.

But these properties are what make this type of cannabinoid so desirable so many.

But the side effects of some of these isomers, especially Δ9THC, can be quite erratic and can negatively impact a user. Again, people with a certain genetic predisposition for violence or other mental issues, like schizophrenia, could develop these conditions sooner under the highly psychotropic effects of Δ9THC.

The discovery and presence of Δ8THC in cannabis plants are what helped the industry strike the balance. With Δ8THC, you can get a bit high, but without the drastic and adverse risks that Δ9THC poses.

So, if the Δ8THC is extracted from natural hemp, the effects will be milder than marijuana-extracted Δ8THC.

Note, that the disheartening regulations surrounding THC are basically around Δ9THC, and not Δ8THC, as its effects aren’t as strong or adverse as the former. Δ8THC doesn’t cause strong mood-altering or psychotic effects; it does not cause paranoia, anxiety, or depression.

So, how are the two compounds different?

Δ8THC is an isomer of Δ9THC. Its molecular structure is similar to delta-9 THC, but with different C-bonding properties.

Each is a chemical analog of the other.

So, regardless of the differences in their carbon bonding, they both have similar psychoactive effects, besides their shared antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.

However, that slight difference in the position of the C=C double-bond in their molecular structures makes their effects so much different.

The “Delta” in their name signifies the double-bond between two carbon atoms and the numerical tells you the position of that double bond.

So, let’s discuss the effects of Δ8THC in a bit more detail.

1. Effects of Δ8THC

Just like Δ9THC, Δ8THC, too, has a set of good and (somewhat) undesirable effects on individuals consuming them. However, the side-effects of Δ8THC are much less intense, making it a viable option for both medicinal and recreational uses.

1.1 Benefits of Δ8THC

#1. Anxiolytic Effects

Δ8THC is known for its ability to curb anxiety and feelings of agitation in the consumer, making it a far safer alternative to synthetic psychiatric medications.

Besides, unlike its cousin Δ9THC, it works like a relaxant and not an excitatory agent. Anecdotal reports and some research do indicate its highly tranquilizing and anxiolytic properties.

#2. Antiemetic Effects

Another great characteristic of this chemical compound is its ability to counter nausea, which is sometimes caused by marijuana use. Several independent studies, conducted on pediatric cancer patients, exhibited the compound’s efficient antiemetic properties, with “negligible” side effects.

#3. Appetite-Stimulating Effects

Δ8THC is intrinsically known to have highly effective orexigenic or appetite-stimulating properties. Unlike Δ9THC, Δ8THC does not disrupt the mental and physiological balance or create complications.

According to a 2004 study, one of the most promising properties of Δ8THC is its capacity to heighten appetite among people with eating disorders. It showed that small doses of this compound could efficiently stimulate improved eating habits and, thereby, boost their weight. In fact, the study exhibited that its appetite-stimulating power to be as high as its mood-destabilizing counterpart, Δ9THC, but with fewer and milder side effects. This is a suitable solution for people with chronic appetite loss due to medical conditions like AIDS and cancer.

#4. Analgesic Effects

Yet another therapeutic property, almost common to all major cannabinoids, is pain relief. Δ8THC’s analgesic or painkilling potential is seen to be at par with Δ9THC. Coupled with its anti-inflammatory property, this compound has a wide range of medicinal purposes.

According to a 2018 study, delta-8 THC proved to be an efficient therapeutic agent in treating corneal pain and inflammation in cauterized eyes. Note that its transdermal/topical use was only investigated in this study.

#5. Neuroprotective Effects

Although research on this compound is in its initial stages, Δ8THC seems to share this common feature with most other cannabinoids. It has been found to trigger improved brain activity in people with neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other similar diseases associated with aging.

Apart from diseases that develop with age, it’s also effective in dealing with brain or spinal cord injuries. In a 1987 study, researchers found a small dose of Δ8THC was potent enough to improve brain activity in mice.

1.2 Side-effects of delta-8 THC

Although significantly fewer studies have been done on Δ8THC, there are some known side-effects as well. Nevertheless, these side-effects were found to be fewer in and less intense than its mood-altering analog Δ9THC. You must remember that Δ8THC’s therapeutic properties far overweigh these side-effects.

Still, here are a few side effects that you should bear in mind while consuming products containing Δ8THC:

  1. Increased heart rate
  2. Drowsiness
  3. Problem reading, thinking, or speaking (rarely and only when consumed in very high doses)
  4. Redness of the eyes
  5. Racing thoughts (also rarely and when consumed heavily)

[Note: These side effects were noticed among animal subjects. There is clearly a shortage of human research and trials on this cannabinoid.]

Bear in mind that unlike Δ9THC, Δ8THC doesn’t give you a racy feeling. Anecdotal evidence proves that Δ8THC makes humans more relaxed and focused and not excitable.

According to an animal study, Δ8THC (along with Δ9THC) could temporarily increase your blood pressure, followed by a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate.

This seemingly serious health hazard has, however, been refuted by some scientists, who believe that the human body doesn’t always respond to cannabinoids like THC in the same way as animals do.

A 2018 systematic review clearly established this by illustrating the variations in Δ8THC’s effects among animals and humans. It revealed that while Δ8THC slows down animals’ heart rate, it increases the rate among humans.

So, Is Δ8THC Legal?

The legal status of Δ8THC is undeniably a bit complicated and, let’s face it, confusing.

However, it’s quite simple if you bear in mind that THC can be either legal or illegal depending on the intensity of its psychotropic effects.

Since the government can’t possibly check every batch of every product made by every brand to see how psychotropic they are, the authorities have made the law somewhat simpler for everyone to follow without defying it.

With the introduction of the 2018 Farm Bill, all hemp-derived products are legal. According to the law, as long as Δ8THC is extracted from natural hemp, which contains less than 0.3% Δ9THC, it is legal.

While some will call it a loophole, others call it the right opportunity to make the most of both worlds – CBD and THC.

But this means that any kind of synthetic Δ8THC or Δ8THC derived from marijuana are obviously illegal, as they would either contain high levels of Δ9THC or have other artificial chemicals that could prove inappropriate for human consumption.

Δ8THC can be synthetically produced using nothing more than raw chemicals or by treating other cannabinoids, like Δ9THC or CBD. In both types of synthetic production, Δ8THC is rendered illegal.

Sometimes, however, synthetic Δ8THC is unavoidable, as obtaining natural Δ8THC from hemp isn’t exactly easy or simple. This compound, which is one of the 100-odd minor cannabinoids found in hemp, is available only in minute traces in the natural form.

To avoid legal hassles, many companies manufacture Δ8THC products by synthetically converting CBD into Δ8THC. They choose CBD, and not Δ9THC, to avoid the legal hassles. However, despite being a cheaper and more stable option, this is still unethical as per the DEA.

Unfortunately, there’s no way for the authorities to verify whether companies extract Δ8THC directly from hemp or synthetically produce it from other cannabinoids. That happens to be a prolonged and ongoing dispute between the Hemp Industries Association and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Most of the products you buy from unreliable sources possess high levels of Δ9THC. This would mean that they are illegal and can get you very high! Choose to buy Δ8THC products from reliable sources and reputable brands like 3chi.

Only that will ensure you’ve got the good stuff!

So, if you’re looking to buy Delta-8 we recommend you check out these amazing guides for Delta-8 vape carts or Delta-8 THC tinctures.

State by state legal status

Although Δ8THC is federally legal, a few states explicitly ban its use, even if companies obtain the compound directly from natural hemp.

These states include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah. Δ8THC is still legally out of bounds for people in these states.

Apart from these 11 states, no other state legally obstructs its citizens against selling, distributing, buying, or consuming Δ8THC products.

Our Takeaway

If you’re concerned about the legal status of delta-8 THC, always buy from reputable manufacturers and retailers, who obtain their products from ethical, legal, safe, and sustainable sources. Some certified dispensaries can also be relied on to provide you with authentic, safe, and lab-tested products.

Although D-8 is legal at the federal level, 11 state laws do not allow its sale and/or use. It is deemed illegal in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah.

So, if you reside in any of these states, you have only two choices: Move, or don’t consume D-8.

It’s safe to say that you can easily utilize the benefits of Δ8THC, without experiencing the ill-effects of delta-9 THC, as long as you reside in a state that doesn’t explicitly bar its citizens from gaining access to safe, potent, and lab-tested Δ8THC.

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