Meet delta-8 THC, a cannabinoid produced by all varieties of the cannabis plant. Unlike its close cousin delta-9 THC, our understanding of delta-8 and its effects on the body are still largely unknown. Let’s explore the question “Is delta-8 THC safe to use?” and, in particular, hear what experts are saying.
Concerns and Risks Associated with Delta 8 THC
Unlike delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC is notably less psychotropic, causing only a mild euphoria. However, because it has the ability to activate CB1 receptors in the brain in a similar fashion as delta-9 THC, it still can cause side effects such as paranoia — albeit they appear much milder in most cases.
The concerns experts are having with delta-8 THC mostly stem from the fact cannabis plants only produce trace amounts of it. They produce so little that the delta-8 THC cannabinoids in delta-8-based cannabis products are actually other cannabinoids like CBD that have been chemically transformed into the delta-8 molecular shape. Some of these processes can be very dangerous to human health.
Physical Side Effects
If you’ve consumed marijuana before and felt side effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, and changes in appetite, you are already familiar with the physical side effects delta-8 can have. Now, you most likely felt those side effects to the degree you did due to delta-9 THC. This means that you may not feel side effects so strongly with a delta-8 product. However, you may if it lacks cannabinoids like CBD, which tones down THC cannabinoids’ influence on the body.
The greatest area of concern, besides the manufacturing processes used to create delta-8 cannabinoids, is their ability to interact with medications metabolized by the CYP enzyme system. Potential drug interactions are a concern with pretty much any cannabinoid-based cannabis product, however.
Mental and Cognitive Impacts
While delta-8 is unlikely to impact cognition to the degree delta-9 THC can, side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and cognitive impairment can still very much occur. Because delta-8 is intoxicating, it’s not recommended you drive or use heavy machinery when using it.
As with any cannabis product that contains cannabinoids, dosage, individual tolerance, and product quality will all greatly influence how you feel and react to these items.
Lack of Standardization and Quality Control
The biggest issue with most cannabis items, but certainly delta-8 products in particular, is the lack of regulations and standardization these products see. Product quality control is all over the place, and this is one of the reasons it’s so important that your delta-8 product has an up-to-date certificate of analysis (COA).
These products interact with key cell receptors and a biological system whose health is essential to homeostasis and survival. The last thing we want to see is contaminants in these items, especially because cannabis plants can effortlessly uptake hazardous chemicals due to their phytoremediation properties.
Is Delta 8 THC Safe to Smoke?
While we know it’s a major part of the cannabis world, due to health concerns, we cannot advocate smoking delta-8 THC through combustion. Due to how these products are created, the semi-synthetic man-made nature of delta-8 concerns us to an even greater level than cannabis products that only contain naturally occurring cannabinoids. Vaping is an excellent alternative to smoking, but edibles and tinctures will be even better!
Expert Opinions and Recommendations
You will be very hard-pressed to currently find a medical expert who advocates the use of delta-8 products. There are many manufacturing processes that can create these semi-synthetic cannabinoids that can leave behind chemical residue dangerous to our health.
While I’m not advocating you use a delta-8 THC product, I understand many people are excited to try them and are going to regardless of the caution handed out by the medical community. I mentioned above that you should only use a delta-8 product that comes with a COA. Additionally, please make sure you check out the brand and their reputation beforehand.
Last, while there isn’t much data to say which method of consumption is the safest regarding delta-8 THC, most experts agree that eating cannabis-derived products may be the safest way, not only to consume delta-8, but all cannabinoid products.
Let’s review what we’ve learned about whether delta-8 THC is safe to consume or not.
- Unlike most CBD and THC-based products, delta-8 products rely on using isomerization processes that manipulate more common cannabinoids into delta-8’s molecular shape. This is not an inherently dangerous or even unnatural process, as cannabinoids often change their shape into other cannabinoid forms throughout their life cycle.
- While less likely to cause side effects to the same degree as delta-9 THC, you can expect to see similar side effects such as dry mouth, anxiety, and cognitive impairment/euphoria.
- While delta-8 cannabinoids are unlikely to produce side effects that compare to delta-9, experts warn additional side effects may be seen with these items due to chemical residues that can be left behind during the manufacturing process.
- We do not advocate ever smoking cannabis flower as smoke, regardless of the type, is harsh and dangerous to lung health. However, we are taking that recommendation even further with delta-8 flower, which doesn’t technically exist — it’s CBD or CBG flower that has been sprayed with man-made delta-8 cannabinoids.
If you decide to use a delta-8 product, please make sure you are only using items created by a reputable brand who provides COAs, information on where they source their cannabis plants, and the practices used to grow them.