“Will Delta-8 THC Get Me High?”
The internet’s most common questions about Delta-8 THC, answered by cannabis science educators and journalists.
The internet is teeming with questions about Delta-8: What is Delta-8 THC? Does Delta-8 THC get you high? Is Delta-8 THC legal? These are all common inquiries about the lesser-known, alternative cannabinoid that’s gaining favor amongst Covid-era US shoppers.
Over here at Hempire, when we first hit Google for Delta-8 THC info, we saw a big hole where researched, verifiable claims should be. It was a little unsettling: how is it that there’s so much conflicting information and so few trustworthy, plainspoken sources?
After sorting through the top articles and feeling unsure as to what’s what, we decided to assemble the resources to create the fact sheet that we wish we found when we first started researching Delta-8 THC. We brought together cannabis science educators and journalists to survey the peer-reviewed literature and assemble a science-backed FAQ.
We hope you’ll find it useful in answering the internet’s most common questions about Delta-8 THC.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is an organic compound produced by the cannabis plant that’s mildly psychoactive when consumed.
It’s an isomer of the therapeutically and recreationally relevant Delta-9 THC—the psychotropic chemical largely responsible for the cannabis “high,” often simply referred to as “THC” in popular culture.
Categorized as a cannabinoid, Delta-8 THC interfaces with the mammalian endocannabinoid system.
The mammalian endocannabinoid system is composed of CB1 and CB2 receptors—those peppered throughout the body in locations ranging knees, groin, brain, and elsewhere in between.
Where CB1 receptors are associated with cannabis’s intoxicating properties, CB2 receptors are not. Rather, CB2 sites are known for clear-headed attributes, including anti-inflammatory responses and immune-system modulation.
Like Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC bonds with both CB sites. Also like Delta-9 THC, it demonstrates a higher affinity for CB1 receptors.
Yet, studies observe Delta-8 THC to be roughly 50% less psychoactive than Delta-9.
Additionally, where some Delta-9 THC consumers report instances of anxiety, paranoia, and other undesirable side effects, these traits have not been linked to Delta-8 THC.
What is the difference between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC?
From a microscope’s point of view, not a whole lot.
Cannabis researcher and weed-science educator Emma Chasen says Delta-8 THC “is arranged in space similarly to Delta-9, however it has a double bond where Delta-9 does not.”
Though similar at the molecular level, studies observe Delta-8 THC to deliver only half the psychoactive impact you’d see from Delta-9 THC.
While Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC look a lot alike and share a mutual affinity for CB1 receptors over CB2 sites, they can be distinguished from one another by the things they do inside our bodies.
According to Chasen, scientific literature observes that “Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC elevate [neurotransmitter] acetylcholine in different areas of the brain.”
Chasen clarifies, referencing a 1987 study in which “Delta-9 THC elevated acetylcholine in the cortex, hippocampus, striatum, midbrain, and medulla-pons. Whereas Delta-8 THC elevated acetylcholine in only the cortex and hippocampus.”
The study posits that these distinct neuro-signaling pathways could explain why Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC elicit differing psychoactive responses while sharing a similar hierarchical preference for CB sites.
Chasen adds that “Delta-8 THC is rather shelf stable” next to Delta-9 THC. Where Delta-9 THC breaks down to the sedating cannabinoid CBN when exposed to light and/or oxygen, Delta-8 THC doesn’t.
This means we can safely assume that Delta-8 THC cartridges will retain their potency for longer than Delta-9 THC products—especially convenient if you, like many, are a medicine-cabinet cannabis consumer.
Will Delta-8 THC get you high? Is Delta-8 THC psychoactive?
You bet. Delta-8 THC will get you high. But not, like, holy-shit-where-am-I? high.
Consuming Delta-8 is often characterized as uplifting and mildly euphoric, minus the concentration losses, anxiety, and sleepy vibes common to Delta-9 THC. Think slightly baked but not zonked.
The word “mild” comes up a lot in descriptions of Delta-8 consumption.
Is Delta-8 THC legal?
The short answer to a slightly different question: Hempire will not ship Delta-8 cartridges to Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, or Nebraska.
Otherwise, you can fill that shopping cart and rest comfortably knowing the feds won’t bust down your door because you did.
Delta-8 THC is neither regulated nor banned in most of the United States (a forthcoming state-by-state guide will be linked here when it goes live). Yet, it’s widely available for purchase online thanks to interpretations of the 2018 Farm Bill that leave hemp-derived cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC in a gray area between state and federal rules.
For more information on this topic, check back for our state-by-state legal guide to Delta-8 THC. Before making a purchase, consult local regulations.
How does Delta-8 THC compare to CBD?
CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid celebrated for its numerous therapeutic benefits. It interacts with a variety of receptors within the human body in addition to the mammalian endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short.
A fast-emerging staple in American medicine cabinets, people shop CBD for anxiety therapy, inflammation relief, and even seizure control (amongst additional reported and potential benefits).
Experientially, CBD consumption is described as calming and restorative both in body and mind. These effects are traced to a variety of locations and receptor families.
Compared to Delta-8 THC, CBD is a tame molecule when consumed—most notably, it lacks weed’s characteristic high.
Where CBD is non-intoxicating, consumptive studies of Delta-8 THC dating back to the 1970s observe a mild psychoactive response. Most commonly, both science and anecdote report mood improvements as well as a heightened sense of well-being. Yet, this all occurs apart from the negative side effects and strong sensations of impairment we can see with Delta-9 THC.
In sidestepping side effects that can scare off people who might otherwise benefit from cannabis consumption, CBD and Delta-8 THC are alike.
In terms of ECS interactions, where Delta-8 THC pairs with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD solely binds with secondary CB1 sites and avoids CB2 receptors entirely. More curious yet, CBD will only bind with these secondary sites in the presence of a primary CB1 agonist—observably, Delta-9 THC.
To visualize this relationship, conjur an image of Velcro: picture THC molecules as the hooks and CBD as the loops. Seated sticky-side-down in a primary CB1 receptor site, THC provides the temporary holding power for CBD to link up with the ECS at secondary CB1 locations.
Without a primary CB1 agonist, CBD will move on to other parts of the body and find different receptors to hang out with. Numerous receptors love CBD— everyone’s favorite dinner guest at the house of chemical polyamory. For instance, CBD modulates inflammation at receptors exterior to the ECS.
Despite CBD’s ability to circulate outside the confines of the ECS, it also figures into the holistic framework of cannabis’s entourage effect (that is, the phenomenon by which numerous chemicals native to the cannabis plant—including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids—work together to create the wide variety of effects we see across the many thousands of differing hemp and cannabis species).
In true entourage fashion, when CBD’s ECS binding-requirements are satisfied via a helper, the molecule balances or enhances the cannabis high, or even ameliorates Delta-9 THC’s least-fun side effects (anxiety or panic). Meanwhile, calling to mind words like synergy and reciprocity, Delta-9 THC will increase CBD’s therapeutic benefits when they meet in ECS land.
Theoretically, when we consider these synergistic improvements to therapeutic efficacy alongside Delta-8 and Delta-9’s similar receptor preferences, it seems feasible to speculate that future research may very well identify Delta-8 THC as a primer for CBD’s many benefits.
While Delta-8 is yet to be studied in this capacity, we see this as an area ripe for future research and expect to learn more about the subject as cannabis knowledge evolves.
Until then, we’ll be here at the outer rim of weed science with our binoculars pointed into the unknown.
What does Delta-8 THC do?
Beyond delivering a mild high without common cannabis-related side effects like paranoia, Delta-8 THC possesses promising therapeutic potentials—most notably, perhaps, as an antiemetic.
Cannabis researcher Emma Chasen details a 1995 study in which children undergoing chemotherapy were given Delta-8 THC to curb related emetic or vomiting responses.
“After administration [of Delta-8 THC],” summarizes Chasen, “the children did not experience any hallucinatory or intoxicating effects and vomiting completely stopped.”
Helping cancer patients keep down food while going through chemo is no small miracle, but Delta-8 THC’s potential use cases don't stop there. Also of interest to cancer patients is a 1975 study that linked Delta-8 THC treatments to reduced tumor masses and increased survival times in mice with lung cancer.
Speaking anecdotally, some consumers report reductions in anxiety following Delta-8 THC consumption. That said, peer-reviewed studies are needed to substantiate these observations.
For more information, check back in soon: we’ll delve into this topic at greater length in a future post to be linked right here.
Is Delta-8 THC natural?
Yes. Delta-8 THC is a naturally-occurring compound native to cannabis and hemp plants.
Is Delta-8 THC safe?
As of the time of this writing, we lack sufficient scientific evidence to make statistically-confident determinations one way or the other. This is generally true of many if not most cannabinoids.
Cannabis is a sorely under-researched plant, though that’s quickly changing with the push toward responsible weed regulations in America. As adult-use cannabis laws go online across the country, scientists, product manufacturers, and lawmakers are all hungry for a better understanding of cannabis and its byproducts. Yet, we’re still searching for answers to many of weed’s mysteries.
Be that as it may, we have tens of thousands of years of human-cannabis interaction to draw from. To this day, not a single death is attributed to cannabis consumption.
There’s absolutely no reason to believe that Delta-8 THC is any more dangerous than the cannabis plant itself—a plant we trust to be about as risky as oregano or basil when consumed responsibly and in moderation. And way more fun.
To be blunt, you’re more likely to develop health problems from a typical American diet than consuming cannabis from time to time. Pizza and burgers are certainly far more dangerous than Delta-8 THC. (No hate, cheeseburger. We see you. We eat you 🙏)
However, for legal reasons, we advise new consumers to consult a doctor before trying Delta-8 THC and to discontinue use should unwanted side effects arise.
Does Delta-8 THC have any side effects?
Existing scientific literature doesn’t extend itself to substantiate negative side effects related to Delta-8 THC consumption.
As of now, the Delta-9 THC found in adult-use weed is better-linked to undesirable responses like paranoia and confusion.
Regardless, we advise a doctor’s consultation prior to consumption. And we can’t stress it enough: if you experience undesirable side effects after vaping Delta-8 THC, immediately discontinue use.
How is Delta-8 THC made?
While Delta-8 THC is found in small amounts within the cannabis plant itself, these concentrations are so very tiny that we must rely on lab science to upscale a pure consumer product that delivers reliable, repeatable outcomes.
Put simply, to create a consistent, quality experience, we convert common and abundant hemp-derived cannabinoids into Delta-8. The product of this conversion process is purged of unrelated chemicals, resulting in isolated Delta-8 THC molecules and nothing else.
To render a vapable product from isolated Delta-8, we reintroduce aromatic, all-natural terpenes—those found in cannabis and across the plant kingdom—as well as cannabinoids CBN and CBC.
Where can I buy Delta-8 THC?
Right here! See our banner ads for current deals and sales.
Is there such a thing as full-spectrum Delta-8 THC?
No. Full-spectrum products are concentrations of the entire hemp or cannabis plant.
At the time of this writing, neither nature nor science have provided a cannabis species that natively produces the dominant concentrations of Delta-8 THC that would be needed to create a full-spectrum concentrate.
Delta-8 THC is a single chemical found amongst hundreds in the cannabis plant. To arrive at a pure, potent product, we convert common, hemp-derived cannabinoids and isolate the resulting Delta-8 THC from the rest of the plant...
… quite the opposite of full-spectrum, but potent and effective all the same.
What is Delta-8 CBD?
There is no such thing as Delta-8 CBD. This question arises when we conflate the THC and CBD cannabinoid families. Delta-8 refers to the position of a double bond on the THC molecule’s carbon chain.
If you have additional questions, feel free to drop ‘em in the comments below. We’ll do our best to find answers!