Delta-8 THC's Popularity Divides Cannabis Industry: Is it a Fad or the Future?
It's no secret that cannabis has been a topic of controversy for centuries. Recently, however, a new player has emerged in the cannabis industry: Delta-8 THC.
But what exactly is Delta-8 THC, and why has it become so popular?
Delta-8 THC is a cannabis compound that is similar to Delta-9 THC, which is the psychoactive component found in marijuana. However, unlike Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC is derived from hemp, which makes it legal in states where marijuana is not.
In recent years, we've seen a significant surge in the popularity of Delta-8 THC products, with it being marketed as a "legal high" and a safer alternative to Delta-9 THC.
But with all of the hype surrounding Delta-8 THC, many questions have arisen about its safety, efficacy, and legality.
In this guide, we'll explore the various aspects of Delta-8 THC, including its history, science, popularity, criticisms, legislative landscape, and future prospects.
Let's get into it.
A Brief History of Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC was first discovered in the early 1940s but wasn't properly synthesized until 1967 by an Israeli researcher named Raphael Mechoulam. Since then, research on Delta-8 THC has been limited due to its low concentration in cannabis plants, and the focus of research has been on other areas of the plant.
However, back in 2018, the United States Farm Bill changed everything, effectively legalizing hemp as long as it didn't contain more than 0.3% Delta-9 on a dry weight basis.
This basically opened the door to hemp-based products, specifically Delta-8 and Delta-9 products. Rapidly, manufacturers took the substance to create products now sold nationwide, generating over $2 billion in product sales in just over two years.
Of course, this incredible rise into the mainstream caught the government's attention and created a gray area in which Delta-THC products now sit.
While it's technically legal on a federal level since it's derived from hemp, some states were quick to ban and restrict the substance, citing concerns about its psychoactive effects.
However, other states have embraced Delta-8 THC, allowing its production and sale, and that leaves us to where we are today.
As you can see by its growing demand (online searches for Delta-8 increased 850% between 2020 and 2021 alone), it's not going anywhere any time soon.
Oh, and if you're wondering how Delta-8 THC compares to Delta-9 THC, which is the psychoactive component found in marijuana, this is for you.
Both compounds have similar effects, but Delta-8 THC is said to be less potent than Delta-9 THC. This means that Delta-8 THC users may experience a milder high, making it an attractive option for those who want to avoid the intense effects of Delta-9 THC.
Despite the potential benefits of Delta-8 THC, many questions still surround its safety and efficacy.
Backed by several reports of toxicity, an unregulated level of quality control (Delta-8 products are not FDA-approved), and a growing concern over the long-term effects, it's easy to see why there are people on both sides of the fence.
The Science Behind Delta-8 THC
While people are always going to be divided when it comes to, well, anything, the trick to life is to find out the facts and make a decision for yourself. Maybe Delta-8 products have been the answer you've been looking for and will help you out immensely, or perhaps it's not for you.
It's up to you to find out for yourself, and to help you on this journey, we're going to take a little deep dive into the science behind the substance.
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When Delta-8 THC enters the body, it binds to our CB1 receptors, much like Delta-9 THC.
These specialized receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system or ECS - the body's crucial framework for regulating appetite, mood, pain, and more.
When Delta-8 molecules arrive, they activate CB1 receptors, like keys turning in locks. This ignition triggers a cascade of neural and physiological events that leads to the unique high and therapeutic qualities of Delta-8.
By latching onto CB1 receptors, the compounds can dial down pain signals, boost appetite, elevate mood, and induce a mellow euphoria. The receptors act as dimmers for these experiences, with Delta-8 able to gently turn up or down their intensity.
But, as before, the effects of Delta-8 THC are said to be less potent due to its slightly different chemical structure from Delta-9.
While Delta-8 THC is still being researched, some potential benefits and drawbacks have been suggested.
On the positive side, Delta-8 THC is believed to have anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also been shown to stimulate appetite and relieve nausea, which is why it's commonly used by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. It also offers reported effects like:
However, on the flip side, Delta-8 THC can cause dizziness, dry mouth, and red eyes, sometimes even sickness or illness in larger quantities.
In terms of clinical studies, there have been a few conducted on Delta-8 THC, but more research is needed to fully understand its effects.
One study published in "Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior" found that Delta-8 THC reduced pain and inflammation in mice.
Another study published in "Life Sciences" found that Delta-8 THC helped prevent vomiting in rats. While these studies are promising, they are pretty basic and are considered limited in scope.
Basically, more research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of Delta-8 THC in humans.
So, what does this mean for you?
Well, while the potential benefits of Delta-8 THC are intriguing, it's important to approach it with caution.
As with any cannabis product, it's crucial to start with a low dose and monitor how your body reacts. It's all about experimenting with your own experience.
The Soaring Popularity of Delta-8 THC
The world of cannabis products experienced an unprecedented boom when Delta-8 THC hit the market a few years ago, and the extensive growth is largely due to several pivotal reasons.
Foremost is the legal dance around Delta-8 THC, a factor that has significantly impacted its retail success.
To strike a chord, Delta-8 THC enjoys a legal status in many regions where conventional marijuana doesn't. As such, it allows all those living in marijuana-restricted states to enjoy the benefits of THC without overstepping legal boundaries.
The shifting consumer patterns and behaviors also play a central role in Delta-8 THC's popularity.
Nowadays, more and more people are trading traditional medicines and treatments for more natural, holistic alternatives.
Most users believe Delta-8 THC to be a natural panacea of sorts, capable of relieving pain, anxiety, and nausea, and this perception has translated to high demand as more and more consumers look to Delta-8 THC as a safer, organic swap for prescription medications.
There's no denying that social media has lent a substantial hand in promoting this compound. The role of influencers, stars, and celebrities who've chronicled their Delta-8 THC (and CBD) experiences, which in turn garnered attention to cannabinoids.
Celebrities include Seth Rogan, Morgan Freeman, Snoop Dogg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Whoopi Goldberg, Wiz Khalifa, Mike Tyson, Jay-Z, Bella Thorne, and many more.
While not documented, it's interesting to us here at KUSHiN that the rise in popularity of Delta-8 also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, these are just our impressions of how the data align, but hear us out.
In a time when stress, anxiety, pain, and insecurity were at an all-time high, it makes sense that substances and products that soothe these negative feelings would become popular.
For those it worked for, it would make sense that they'd continue using it to this day.
The Controversies and Criticisms of Delta-8 THC
Okay, we can't talk about the good without balancing the scales and sharing some information on the bad, or more accurately, the criticisms of Delta-8 and why it's got some people worried.
Delta-8 THC has received its fair share of criticisms and concerns, as with any new and emerging product.
One of the primary criticisms of Delta-8 THC is safety concerns.
While it may have a lower risk profile than Delta-9 THC, it still poses the potential for harm if not used responsibly. Side effects such as dizziness and dry mouth have been reported, and much is still to be learned about its long-term effects on the body.
Between December 2020 and February 2022, there were 104 adverse reaction reports directly linked to Delta-8, along with over 2,300 calls to exposure reports, mainly due to large dosage intake.
Of course, this happens with most products. Take alcohol, for example, as a comparison which received over 29.5 million Alcohol Use Disorder cases for people aged 12 and over, which is a legal substance.
When you consider that the first eight months of 2021 experienced over 22.3 million Delta-8 online searches in the US alone (there are no clear stats on how many users there are in the US), the ratio is astounding.
As people become more familiar with the products, learn about how to be safe and take the best dosages for them (or avoid the substance completely), and as FDA and DEA measures come in to maintain a level of quality control, we hope to see these numbers drop naturally.
All while allowing people to benefit from the products they choose to use and allowing related businesses to thrive.
And that brings us to the next important point that ties all this together.
Due to the lack of regulation and quality control within the Delta-8 industry, products are not subject to the same testing and quality control measures as regulated pharmaceuticals.
This lack of oversight means that consumers may not always know what they are buying or ingesting. Technically, anyone can make Delta-8 products, put anything in it, and sell it.
This is obviously not ideal for anybody except those looking to make a quick, harmful buck, bringing a bad name to the industry.
While there are organizations and movements within the Delta-8 market that try to shine a light on good and bad products, there's no official legal guideline that states what's good and what's bad.
Many users would hope changes are made to enforce this over time.
So, what can we take from this?
Well, while Delta-8 THC may offer potential health benefits, it's important to approach it with caution and consider potential criticisms and concerns.
As regulations continue to evolve, we'll likely see more oversight and quality control measures put in place to ensure consumer safety and ethical production practices.
Legislative Landscape and Future of Delta-8 THC
As Delta-8 THC continues to gain popularity, it's important to consider the compound's legislative landscape and future.
Under Uncle Sam's gaze, both Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC-O have been labeled as controlled substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. However, 'it's complicated' would be an understatement when describing the Delta-8 THC's legal status at a state-by-state level.
In essence, the jurisdiction of your hometown could be what determines whether you can enjoy Delta-8 THC or not. So, it's always a savvy move to hit the books (or Google) to thoroughly understand the rules in your particular corner of the U.S. before reaching for that Delta-8 product.
You see, at the federal tier, Delta-8 gets the thumbs up.
However, for it to also fall under legal activities in a state, two things must occur.
Firstly, the state needs to have a legalized hemp definition that mirrors the country's version at a federal level. Secondly, they have to send hemp derivatives packing from their Controlled Substances list, which we're pretty sure few people want to do.
It's a work-in-progress, to say the least - a bit of a mixed bad.
The best thing you can do at the moment is to simply stay up to date with what's going on in your local area so you can see what opportunities you have.
And on that, looking ahead, the industry outlook for Delta-8 THC is positive, with analysts forecasting continued growth and innovation.
According to research, the Delta-8 THC/CBD market is projected to reach $26.2 billion by 2026. This growth is attributed to increasing consumer demand, as well as advancements in technology and production methods.
Ultimately, the future of Delta-8 THC will depend on various factors, including regulatory changes, consumer demand, and the industry's continued development.
Delta-8 became popular thanks to legal loopholes, social media promotion, and shifting cannabis attitudes. But concerns linger around safety, ethics, and regulation. More research is needed on Delta-8's effects and risks.
Prudent regulation could ensure consumer protection while allowing responsible access. Delta-8's future role remains uncertain.
But one thing is clear - this fascinating compound has already left a significant imprint on cannabis culture and commerce. Its eventual fate is unclear, but the story unfolds in intriguing ways.
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