The cannabis plant contains a variety of cannabinoids that are becoming an increased focus of more studies in addition to existing research on the most widely known cannabinoids, THC (Delta-9) and CBD. As cannabis consumers learn more about the many cannabinoids like cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), for example, there is a raised interest in studying the various effects of purified and concentrated cannabinoids.

Safety of Cannabis Isomers and the 2018 Farm Bill (Hemp Bill)

The cannabis plant and the hemp plant are two different variations of the same Cannabis sativa plant. The 2018 Farm Bill acknowledged this differentiation and removed hemp, defined as cannabis or derivatives of cannabis with low THC of less than 0.3%, from the Controlled Substance Act for the first time. This opened the door for farmers to cultivate hemp for various industrial purposes and to meet increased demand in CBD, low THC products. Since low THC (less than 0.3%) hemp-derived products are now protected under the Farm Bill, the Delta-8 isomer has become more popular and has been manufactured by converting CBD-derived hemp into Delta-8 THC through isomerization.

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Delta-8 varies from Delta-9 through the formation of chemical bonds in that Delta-9 THC has a double bond on the 9th carbon, whereas Delta-8 THC has a double bond on the 8th carbon. Novel cannabinoids are appearing more often in cannabis products that are regulated by state licensing agencies, as well as nonregulated products that are being derived from hemp. The nonregulated products are not manufactured with the same scientific research and extensive safety procedures as regulated Delta-9 and CBD products. Many of these nonregulated products popping up in convenience stores, gas stations, and smoke shops are found to contain many impurities.

Many Delta-8 products have hit the market and have been legal to cross state lines, although some states are passing legislation to restrict the sale, imports, or exports of Delta-8 products across their state lines. Cannabis extracts that are produced and tested through licensed cannabis testing regulations are safer for consumer consumption due to purity and a balance of all cannabinoids and terpenes as well as other active ingredients, including alkaloids, flavonoids, spiroindans, lignanamides, and others. Isolating isomers from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in addition to the most common Delta-9 isomer, is becoming more popular with rare isomers like Delta-8 THC, Delta-6 THC, and Delta-10 THC.

Delta-8 THC Isomer

Delta-8 THC is a minor chemical variant, an isomer, of the most common Delta-9 THC, which is found in most marijuana products and produces the psychoactive a “high” effect. Delta-8 is more widely available due to the status of Delta-9 as a Schedule 1 drug on the federal level. There are new market opportunities for Delta-8 THC, which produces a milder euphoric effect compared to Delta-9. This reduced potency could be due to the double bond that occurs at the 8th carbon rather than the 9th carbon that affects the ability of Delta-8 to bind to the cannabinoid receptors as part of the human endocannabinoid system.

Potential of Delta-8 THC

While more studies need to be conducted to research the effects and benefits of Delta-8 THC, several studies are already showing promising potential for use in many medical applications. Various animal studies have concluded that Delta-8 THC interacts with cannabinoid receptor CB1 to relieve inflammation and pain. Delta-8 has also been shown to reduce the turn-over of hippocampal acetylcholine, which provides critical neurotransmissions of memory functions, making Delta-8 promising for more research as a therapeutic for humans with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The increased research on the various isomers and cannabinoids of the cannabis plant is exciting and promising. Many of these cannabinoids show proven therapeutic benefits in a host of studies that must continue to more readily bring these benefits to the human population. Remember to obtain any THC isomers, including Delta-8 products, only from state-regulated cannabis manufacturers and never from the unregulated hemp market.

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