Accurate Lab Testing & Guide to THC Delta-8 | Extraction, Storage, Price Consumption and More

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In this post:

  • Is Delta-8 THC Legal? (Aug 20: DEA Update)
  • What is Delta-8-THC
  • How is Delta-8-THC Chemically Different from THC
  • What are the Reported Benefits of Delta-8-THC
  • Can Delta-8-THC Get You High Like Delta-9-THC?
  • Does Delta-8-THC Act the Same way in the Body as THC?
  • Will Delta-8 THC Make me Fail a Drug Test?
  • Is There a Way to Pass a Drug Test After Consuming Delta-8?
  • Are There high Delta-8-THC Strains?
  • Is It Easy to Extract Delta-8-THC From Cannabis?
  • Delta-8-THC Testing and Measurement.
  • What Type of Delta-8-THC Products are Available?
  • Why Should I Care About Delta-8-THC

What is Delta-8-THC and Why Do I Need to Know About It?

Cannabis contains hundreds of therapeutic compounds, but none quite as unique and popular as Delta-9-THC, also known as just THC. Renowned for its ability to relieve nausea, pain and sleeplessness, THC is also the only compound we know that delivers an intense euphoric feeling.

But Delta-9 isn’t the only THC on the chemical chain block. Coming up just one acid chain ahead, Delta-8-THC is also a psychoactive compound that delivers healing qualities–but with a few key distinctions that could make Delta-8 even more popular in the future. The only problem is it’s quite elusive. So why should you care? Let’s explore.

What is Delta-8-THC?

Delta-8 THC is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids naturally produced in cannabis. It appears in very small doses, which is why processors must extract and concentrate it into oils, edibles, tinctures, and other concentrates. Similar to other cannabinoids, Delta-8 THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Like Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 has an affinity towards CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system, which it binds with to produce psychotropic effects. Despite some chemical differences between the two, Delta-8 interacts with the body in almost the same way as Delta-9 when concentrated.

How is Delta-8-THC Chemically Different From THC?

Let’s get nerdy for a moment: In chemistry, “Delta” refers to the double bond in the compound's molecular structure. Delta compounds have more electrons and will interact with the body differently than single bond cannabinoids. The only difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC is where that double bond is located on the chain of carbon atoms.

Delta-8 has a double bond on the 8th carbon chain, and Delta-9 has a double bond on the 9th carbon chain. This seems like a small distinction, but it’s significant enough to produce slightly different cognitive and physical effects.

What are the Reported Benefits of Delta-8-THC?

Famed cannabis researcher, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discovered Delta-8 in 1965. Scientists have been experimenting with the compound ever since. In 1975, researchers found that Delta-8 could shrink cancerous tumors in rats. In 1995, Israeli scientists discovered Delta-8 could profoundly affect pediatric cancer treatment.

After administering over 480 treatments of high-dose Delta-8 THC, 100% of patients reported feeling relief from chemotherapy-induced nausea.

On a cognitive level, consumers have reported feeling a high similar to Delta-9 THC but with a few key differences: Unlike Delta-9, which can produce a sedative effect, Delta-8 is more associated with clear-headed and energized feelings. This has huge implications for patients and consumers who like the psychoactive and healing benefits of THC, but also want to function with more energy and clarity during the day. Studies also suggest that Delta-8 could help the body produce a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for cognition, memory, arousal, and neuroplasticity.

Although research has been limited due to the prohibition of cannabis, what we know about Delta-8 is exciting for processors, manufacturers, patients, and recreational users. As more people report a positive experience with Delta-8, we may see more products flood the market along with a marked shift in consumer behavior.

Can Delta-8-THC Get You High Like Delta-9 THC?

Delta-8 will certainly get you high, but not necessarily like Delta-9 THC. According to the National Cancer Institute, Delta-8 THC exhibits “lower psychotropic potency” than Delta-9 and might bind with the brain’s receptors differently than Delta-9, thereby explaining the variation of effects. As such, consumers have reported feeling less intense psychoactive effects with Delta-8 THC.

But still noticeable. Delta-8 users experience appetite stimulation, and euphoria–just not as intensely as they do from THC.

Is Delta-8-THC Legal? (DEA Update)

As of this article, the legal status of delta-8 THC has officially entered the gray zone. Here's what we know:Δ8THC derived from marijuana is federally illegal due to the fact that marijuana is still a banned controlled substance. Hemp-derived Δ8THC is technically legal if it's naturally extracted. The problem is hemp contains only trace amounts of the compound. So most delta-8 products are synthetically created by converting CBD into delta-8.

According to the DEA, this puts delta-8 in the illicit category. In its interim final rule published on August  21, 2020, the DEA said "All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol remain a schedule I controlled substances."

Luckily, this rule is not final yet. You can submit comments until October 20th for consideration.

Does Delta-8-THC Act the Same Way in the Body as THC?

Like CBD and other cannabis compounds, Delta-8-THC communicates with receptors in the body, which make up the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is the homeostatic regulator that affects nearly every system of the body. The ECS’ main receptors are CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors primarily reside in the brain and nervous system while CB2 receptors are more common in the immune system. Delta-8-THC communicates with CB1 and CB2 receptors to help balance several functions including pain, appetite, mood, hormones, inflammation, and blood pressure. This process is what marks Delta-8-THC’s therapeutic and psychotropic abilities.

Will Delta-8 THC Make Me Fail a Drug Test?

The short answer is yes (most likely). Even though hemp-derived Delta-8 THC is federally legal and allowed in most states, generic urine tests aren’t sophisticated enough to discern between the two compounds. In fact, they don’t care about Delta-9 or Delta-8 specifically. Typical drug tests only detect THC metabolites, the smaller molecules that form after the body breaks down THC.

Here’s the kicker; Delta-8 THC metabolites look just like Delta-9 metabolites to the less-than-discerning urinalysis. So it doesn’t matter if the Delta-8 THC came from hemp or how federally legal it is. If your delta-8 THC product contained more than .03% of any type of THC, or you’re using it regularly enough, you will probably fail a drug test.

The same issue applies to hair follicle drug tests, which analyze samples for drug use signs for up to 90 days preceding the test. In a recent example from the New York Times, a young boy’s hair follicle tested positive for illicit marijuana even though he reportedly only ingested CBD containing less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. Even sophisticated cannabis testing laboratories fail to differentiate between Delta-9 and Delta-8 when analyzing products using complex gas chromatograph-mass spectrometers.

Most labs employ a methodology that separates these chemically similar cannabinoids way too quickly.  As a result, the instrument that quantifies Delta8 and Delta9 can accidentally integrate the two, making them nearly indistinguishable. If hemp and cannabis labs are struggling to tell the difference, it’s safe to assume simple drug tests won’t’ either.

Is There a Way to Pass a Drug Test After Consuming Delta-8?

Delta-8 THC and all cannabinoids are fat-soluble, which means your fat cells absorb the compounds and store them longer than they would water-soluble compounds. If you only consumed Delta-8 once, your body will likely process and secrete the THC metabolites in a few days. But if you regularly consume Delta-8, trace amounts could linger in your system for weeks or months depending on your weight, metabolism, hormones, and even gender.

Depending on your Delta-8 usage, the safest and most full-proof way to pass a drug test is abstinence. Whether you’re taking a hair follicle or urine drug test, you may want to abstain for three months and consider buying over-the-counter drug tests to double-check the results before submitting samples for the real thing.

But refraining from usage may not be plausible, especially if you’re using Delta-8 products for medicine or daily wellness. If that’s the case, you can try flushing out the THC metabolites through hydration, nutrition, and exercise.

Some people drink a couple of gallons of water a day and supplement their diet with multivitamins and leafy greens to replace the valuable nutrients they’re flushing out in the process. Others might add iron, zinc, and Selenemium-rich foods to help speed up the metabolism and exercise more to drain cannabis-storing fat cells as much as possible.

Are There High Delta-8-THC Strains?

No. You won't find Delta-8 THC flower on the market today. Delta-8 grows in negligible amounts in cannabis. In fact, most dried cannabis contains less than 1% of the substance. So, in order to consume this elusive cannabinoid, processors must carefully extract it from the plant through a variety of scientific methods.

Is It Easy to Extract Delta-8-THC From Cannabis?

Extracting Delta-8 from cannabis to create a product potent enough to produce noticeable effects isn’t easy. But it’s certainly possible. Commercial processors are using methods such as selective breeding, distillation, and molecular isolation to create concentrates that are rich in Delta-8.

In 2004 Dr. Mechoulam filed a patent for a recipe to convert the common cannabinoid CBD into Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC. (Mind blown). This method is called isomerization.

Other companies are employing “thin-film distillation” of cultivated flower and trim. Through this process, manufacturers utilize vacuums, temperature manipulation, and scientific equipment to convert Delta-9 THC to Delta-8. Isn’t science fascinating?

Delta-8-THC Testing and Measurement.

Delta-8-THC is measured through potency tests in the same way that CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids are measured. ACS Laboratory’s protocol uses Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) machinery to measure Delta-8-THC potency in flower, edibles and extracts.

HPLC is the preferred instrument for these products due to its ability to test samples at room temperature without requiring heat. Heat breaks down cannabinoids into different forms and skews the potency information. HPLC accurately tests both Delta-8-THCA and Delta-8-THC for precise results.

What Type of Delta-8-THC Products are Available?

Delta-8 THC products are available in nearly every form except for smokable flower. That means consumers can vaporize, eat, or ingest Delta-8 through the following types of products:

Why Should I Care About Delta-8-THC?

At ACS Laboratory, we are so excited about Delta-8-THC because of its remarkable healing and recreational qualities. Additionally, the similarities and, more importantly, the critical differences between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC can cause a huge shift in consumer cannabis preferences.

We’re excited that the market is starting to recognize Delta-8 as well as other THC derivatives, and that companies are creating more hemp-derived, non-CBD extracts. As result, we recently developed the "Potency 12" test to identify Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC extracts seamlessly. A DEA-licensed laboratory, we are one of few in the facilities in the country with access to the required standards for testing Delta-10 THC.

Contact ACS today to test your Delta-8 THC products.

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This complete cannabinoid guide covers major and minor cannabinoids, how they work in the body, and highlights the top compounds brands and operators must test for today.
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