Delta-8 THC: The Rise, Fall, and Future of a Cannabis Phenomenon

Delta-8 THC: The Rise, Fall, and Future of a Cannabis Phenomenon

Out of the hazy world of cannabis compounds emerges a new star - Delta-8 THC. 

This milder cousin of the infamous Delta-9 THC has gone from obscurity to rockstar status almost overnight. It started around June 2020, and near its peak, accounted for over 35% of all "marijuana" online search queries

Since then, you can walk into almost any vape shop or cannabis dispensary to find Delta-8-infused gummies, vapes, and tinctures flying off the shelves.

But what is Delta-8?

Is it something you should be interested in? What does it actually do? With all those preaching about it, is Delta-8 too good to be true? 

Its rise has sparked heated debates among consumers, businesses, and regulators alike. Is it a miracle cannabis compound destined to revolutionize wellness and recreation for years to come? Or a loophole substance that has crept into a legal gray area?

In this guide, we're taking an unbiased look, exploring the unfolding story of Delta-8 THC. We'll look at what exactly it is, why it's become so popular, and the potential benefits and risks surrounding it. 

We'll also dive into the hazy legal landscape Delta-8 currently inhabits and what the future could hold for this fascinating cannabis phenomenon.

Let's get into it.

What is Delta-8 THC?

A dish with Delta-8 next to a resting dropper and bottle
KUSHiN; Unsplash

Delta-8 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a minor cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It shares many similarities with Delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, but some key differences exist.

Delta-8 THC has a double bond on the eighth carbon atom of the THC molecule, whereas Delta-9 THC has it on the ninth carbon atom. 

That might be a bit sciencey, but this seemingly small difference makes Delta-8 THC less potent than Delta-9 THC, potentially explaining why it's gaining popularity as a milder and less intense alternative.

In comparison to CBD (cannabidiol), another incredibly popular cannabinoid, Delta-8 THC has psychoactive properties – they’re just a little less strong than Delta-9 THC. 

Delta-8 reportedly also shares some of CBD's potential therapeutic benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects - again adding to why so many people are increasingly interested in what it has to offer.

Now, we can't talk about CBD and THC without covering their legal status.

The laws surrounding this cannabinoid can be confusing due to its federal prohibition, but some states have legalized it through specific legislation. 

As of 2023, Delta-8 THC is legal in some states while illegal in 15 others. It's a complicated subject because while Delta-8 has THC in the name, it's technically a hemp-based product, and with so many hemp-based products becoming legalized, Delta-8 sits in a gray area.

The way the law statute is currently written means that Delta-8 is free from control, but this could change as the law develops over the coming years. That said, especially since it's on sale now in many parts of the US, it may stay legal with no real changes.

It's a bit of a watch-this-space ordeal.

The Rise of Delta-8

A girl vaping Delta-8 against a white backdrop
KUSHiN; Unsplash

Delta-8 THC was relatively unknown just a few years ago. But starting in 2019, global internet searches for Delta-8 began to skyrocket, increasing by 257% from 2019 to 2020 and a further 850% from 2020 to 2021.

It seems Delta-8 hit a sweet spot in the cannabis market. 

As the mellow cousin of the more potent Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 offers many users a milder, more relaxing high with less chance of undesirable side effects like anxiety or paranoia.

Studies on Delta-8 users back this up, with many reporting increased feelings of calmness, pain relief, and euphoria without the intense psychoactive punch of Delta-9. It's easy to see why Delta-8 exploded in popularity among recreational and wellness-focused cannabis consumers alike.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have also played a role. With more free time but increased stress and anxiety, many consumers likely sought out Delta-8's soothing effects.

The demand led to Delta-8 products flooding the market, from gummies and vapes to tinctures and more. Despite federal prohibition in 15 states, Delta-8 remains legal and accessible in over 35 others, including Colorado, Oregon, and Montana.

Selling Delta-8 became big business fast, with the industry estimated at over $2 billion just two years after the initial spike in interest, which came off the back of the 2018 Farm Bill that made hemp legal.

For cannabis entrepreneurs and companies, the Delta-8 craze has been a game-changer. The low barrier to entry, coupled with massive consumer demand, has created significant new opportunities. 

But it has also intensified competition, forcing established brands to adapt to new products or risk losing market share.

While the future is uncertain, one thing is clear - Delta-8 THC has risen to become one of the hottest trends in cannabis.

The Fall of Delta-8

A statue of law Lady Justice holding the scales up against a blurred white background
KUSHiN; Unsplash

Delta-8 THC's rise in popularity has been meteoric, but in the eyes of some, so has its fall from grace.

The shifting regulatory landscape has significantly impacted availability and use. Several states have outright banned Delta-8, while others are mulling restrictions. Even on a federal level, the hazy legal status of Delta-8 hangs in the balance.

Some of the backlash stems from safety concerns. There have been scattered reports of Delta-8 overconsumption causing mild health issues, particularly in children accessing brightly packaged edibles.

While supporters argue that Delta-8 should be kept safely out of reach (like any cannabis product), these cases have sparked legislative action and even lawsuits in some states.

There are also concerns surrounding the unregulated production of Delta-8 products. 

As they currently stand, Delta-8 goods are not FDA approved, with many using synthetic Delta-8 versus naturally derived. This opens the door to inconsistent concentrations, contaminants, and users not knowing the actual content of what they're consuming.

Potential federal restrictions could further constrain the industry's ability to produce and distribute Delta-8 items. 

Some advocates still believe that Delta-8 offers therapeutic benefits and should remain available as an alternative to Delta-9 THC, but it seems concerns over safety and manufacturing are unlikely to dissipate anytime soon.

For now, the future of Delta-8 rests in limbo. 

With its reputation and access under fire, Delta-8 finds itself fallen from its once untouchable high. 

But one thing is certain - this fascinating cannabis compound will continue sparking discussion and debate across the industry.

The Future of Delta-8 THC

A man smoking a vape pen during an early evening by a crosswalk
KUSHiN; Unsplash

While Delta-8 currently sits in legal limbo, the demand that fueled its rise isn't going anywhere. Industry forecasts estimate the Delta-8 market will grow to over $16 billion by 2026 if it remains legal - making it one of the world's fastest-growing industries.

There are several potential paths forward for Delta-8 regulation:

Some advocates want Delta-8 treated like CBD - federally legal and accessible. They argue it provides therapeutic benefits with less psychoactivity than Delta-9 THC. However, opponents say this could create legal loopholes for more harmful drugs.

If not federally legalized, states may take different approaches. Some could entirely prohibit Delta-8, while others may legalize it like they have done with cannabis. A middle ground might involve legal but strictly regulated access, with controls on manufacturing and age restrictions on purchasing.

Here at KUSHiN, we believe that smart quality and safety regulation makes the most sense for consumers and businesses. Thoughtful rules could ensure users get pure, consistent Delta-8 while allowing sellers to thrive in a legal market.

Beyond regulations, innovations in production and consumption may also shape Delta-8's future. 

New synthetic biology methods could enable more efficient and cost-effective manufacturing, while other delivery methods like transdermal patches and nasal sprays could also open up new ways to experience Delta-8.

While Delta-8 faces challenges today, the story is far from over. 

With smart regulations and continuing innovations, this fascinating cannabinoid could potentially bounce back as a major force in the cannabis landscape–paving the way for a golden future.

Wrapping Up

Well, it's been a wild ride for Delta-8 THC! This intriguing little cannabinoid burst onto the scene as an apparently legal substitute for Delta-9. 

Before you could say "far out," Delta-8 flew off shelves as consumers clamored for its mellower high.

But what goes up must come down. 

As Delta-8's popularity skyrocketed, so did concerns over its unregulated production and potential safety risks. Legal crackdowns and restrictions have seriously harshed Delta-8's buzz.

At this point, the future's hazy for Delta-8. 

Will it make a triumphant comeback if regulations loosen up? Or will it fade away into cannabis lore? One thing's for sure - watching how this chapter unfolds will be a fascinating trip!

Delta-8's rise and fall underscores how fast things change in cannabis. This rad little cannabinoid took the industry on quite a rollercoaster in just a few years! 

As cannabis continues marching into the mainstream, it's guaranteed there will be many more twists and turns ahead. But that's part of what makes it such an exciting space to follow!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *