Delta-8 THC: An Unpopular Opinion

delta-8 thc


Delta-8, or delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, is synthetically derived from CBD and is chemically similar to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – the naturally occurring cannabinoid better known simply as THC.  Because of this chemical similarity to delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC has very similar effects as its more notorious sibling, causing euphoria, happiness, sedation and so on and so forth.

Because of this, Delta-8 is hot right now.

Tons of Cannabis | CBD brands are developing delta-8 products and getting in on the buzz (no pun intended).  But as with anything and everything cannabis related, this is a potentially slippery slope, and I’m truly concerned about the potential fallout from the marketing and selling of this synthetic cannabinoid.

One reason for delta-8’s popularity with cannabis | CBD brands and consumers alike is that it’s derived from hemp.  And with the 2018 farm bill, a federal act passed by Congress stating: 

“All derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent.” 

So, with this bill effectively legalising hemp and its derivatives in the United States, theoretically at least, this should also make delta-8 THC federally legal because it’s sourced from federally legal hemp (not cannabis) and it does not contain any delta-9 THC. In other words, many manufacturers, retailers and consumers feel quite comfortable producing, selling and consuming delta-8 – especially in states where cannabis is still illegal.

But it’s never that simple and the legal status of delta-8 THC is at best, hazy.  

This is because in the fall of 2020, the DEA issued an “Interim Final Rule” (open for review until October 2021) which stated that 

“…synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule 1 controlled substances.” 

So, because delta-8 THC is manufactured from hemp-derived CBD (and thus not extracted directly from the hemp plant), this “Interim Final Rule” clearly makes delta-8 illegal, as it is a tetrahydrocannabinol that is synthetically derived. 

In addition, although products containing Delta-8 THC do not appear to be prohibited by FDA regulations, they must still receive pre-market approval.

And here is my unpopular opinion on Delta-8…

1. We are Potentially Putting Consumers at Risk

My first issue with delta-8 is that, unlike naturally occurring cannabinoids like CBD and delta-9 THC, delta-8 is a synthetically derived cannabinoid. And if we’re really honest with ourselves, we know very little about delta-8. 

So the question is, do we really know what we’re selling?

Currently, it’s being consumed in everything from tinctures and gummies, to vapes and dabs, but do we really have any idea of its safety profile as a synthetic cannabinoid? Never mind delta-8’s psychotropic, physiological and psychological effects – how many studies have been done evaluating these in short-term, never mind its long-term use? Are we going to end up with another “Spice” situation? 

And most importantly, where does the responsibility of government agencies and consumers end, and ours begin when it comes to the safety of the products we sell? 

2. We are Potentially Putting the Industry’s Reputation at Risk

I will hazard a guess and say that, because it’s their bread and butter, cannabis and CBD business know delta-8  a legal grey area.  But, despite this, everyone and their dog still seem to be getting on this band wagon without seemingly giving a flying f*ck about the potential fallout it might have on their own reputations, never mind that of the industry as a whole.  

Please hear me out.

As an industry we are still clambering for legitimacy and greater acceptance – whether publicly, politically, legally or even socially. 

Being submerged in the Cannabis and CBD industry, surrounded by like-minded people and doing business with other cannabis and CBD companies like ourselves, we tend to forget that there is still an exceptional amount of stigma and misinformation surrounding us and what we do.  

For many, many politicians, law-makers, policy shapers and everyday people, the cannabis and CBD industry is still perceived as a bunch of stoners fighting for the right to get stoned.  And cannabis users are still often portrayed as unmotivated and lazy “Dudes”, pottering around in their bathrobes while sipping on white Russians and toking in the bathtub.

Whether you care or not, to outsiders (including the aforementioned politicians, law-makers, and policy shapers) it almost seems like the industry is revelling in “putting one over the man” by slipping delta-8 through the legal loopholes.  This can end up severely damaging the image and reputation of an industry that is already struggling with legitimacy.

As an industry, we are still fighting against stereotypes and prejudices.  We are playing for high stakes every day.  And each and everything we do should be above reproach, especially considering that we are a community in which the actions of one can ruin the reputations of many. 

And right now, many in the industry are pushing the boundaries – and not in a good way. 

3. We are Potentially Putting the Medical Cannabis Community at Risk

Similarly, I also can’t help but wonder if exploiting the hazy legality of delta-8 is going to end up doing harm to the medical cannabis community.  

We’re still fighting the good fight to have CBD and other naturally occurring cannabinoids to be acknowledged as the powerful therapeutic agents they are. So how much ground are we as an industry going to lose in making the pharmaceutical and medical industry take us seriously if (or dare I say when) it turns out that delta-8 is not that great? 

And what are the consequences of this going to be for medical cannabis and CBD users?

So I can’t help but ask; Is it worth potentially putting people’s health at risk, potentially ruining an entire industry’s reputation, and setting back the hard-fought legitimacy of the medical cannabis community, all to make a quick buck? 

You tell me.


Lieze Boshoff (B.Psych, M.Sc (HCN)) is the founder of LBC3 Marketing + LBC3 Academy a leading Cannabis Marketing agency + training academy for the CBD | Cannabis Industry. Additional work experience includes working as an account manager and then a corporate training and development manager in London, and a university lecturer + researcher in Germany and The Netherlands.

Her areas of expertise encompass all aspects of Cannabis Marketing, including Content Creation, Copywriting, Email Marketing, and Lead Generation. As a specialist in her field, she helps small to medium sized CBD | Cannabis businesses with  her work as Cannabis Marketing professional, educator and mentor.

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