In an Uber on a rainy Saturday morning in Brooklyn, passing brownstones and cafes in a slow crawl through one-way, car-lined streets, I saw a sign that confused me. It read “Delta 8 Sold Here!” in hand-written chalk letters. I happened to glance at the store’s sign before the traffic light we had been sitting at finally turned green and it turned out to be a CBD headshop. So, I quickly Googled Delta 8 and found that this cryptically-named item is a “legal” form of THC. Well, sort of.
To get a better understanding of Delta 8, how it differs from Delta 9 (the active component in cannabis that, well, gets you high), and what the future holds for CBD and Delta 8, I spoke with a couple of experts. Kymberly Byrnes is an activist, patient advocate, and cannabis influencer. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the CWCBE and is an NYCCIA committee member as well as a co-founder of TribeTokes, a women-run CBD and Delta 8 wellness brand. Dr. Lynn Parodneck, is an OBGYN, certified medical marijuana practitioner, and medical correspondent for TribeTokes.
What Is Delta 8?
There’s a lot that goes into defining strains, ingredients, and compounds in the cannabis industry. CBD quickly rose to fame by separating itself from the psychoactive experience of cannabis. It’s all the relaxation and none of the high. Delta 8, on the other hand, leans into it. “Delta 8 is from hemp, therefore it’s psychoactive but lighter than Delta9-THC,” Dr. Lynn says. “Delta 9 is the active component in cannabis that has psychoactivity. Terpenes determine the flavor and feelings evoked.”
While Delta 9 gets all the blame when it comes to legalizing marijuana across the country, Delta 8 is a little different. “Since Delta 8 is from the hemp plant, it resides in a no-law land.” Dr. Lynn explained. Kim went on to explain that “Per the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp can be legally grown and used in the US, making Delta 8 legal — well, sort of. As usual, regulators are [proposing bills] banning the use and sale of Delta 8 in 12 states including Arizona, Colorado, and New York.”
Even with regulators looking into Delta 8, there has been no shortage of brands capitalizing on cannabis. Delta 8 is available in vapes and edibles, with gummies leading the charge, but Kim warned that not all Delta 8 is created equal. “You can also get hemp flower sprayed with D8. You must get your stash from a trusted source.”
Delta 8 Gummies
Delta 8 Vapes
How does Delta 8 differ from, say, CBD or CBN?
It seems like it was only yesterday that CBD was taking over as the go-to cannabis-related mainstream product for those of us that wanted to indulge without breaking the law. But Delta 8 is in a brand new category of its own. Delta 8 is a psychoactive, unlike CBD that keeps THC under 0.3%. CBN, which is similarly derived from hemp as CBD, can even help with regulating your sleep schedule. “Every cannabinoid is different,” Kym says, “and you can expect to have different effects when consuming as each person is different and will have different experiences.”
What is the greatest benefit of Delta 8 and who would you recommend try it?
Within the cannabis community, especially when the mainstream media comes into play, there’s some debate around what benefits come from ingesting it. Since Delta 8 is so similar to Delta 9, it has the same benefits as you’d expect from lighting up that joint or pulling on a vape. It’s helpful for relaxation, to ease pain and anxiety, and can help with symptoms of PTSD and chronic pain. But, by far the greatest benefit of Delta-8, according to both Kym and Dr. Lynn, is access.
What does the future hold for Delta 8 and the world of THC-adjacent products like it?
One of the things that really struck me about this conversation was the true advocacy for cannabis as a whole. Over and over again, we’re seeing people change their minds and embrace cannabis. The legal status of cannabis in the US has drastically changed over the last 10 years and has become one of the largest cash crops in the country, with support coming from government officials to legalize it nationally. But there are some concerns that go along with that decision. “The question is will the law post obstacles,” Dr. Lynn said. “If they do not, the US is ripe for many more psychoactive substances. At present, there is a huge interest in hallucinogens among the Psychiatric community. Cannabis is classified as psychoactive, so interesting times are in our future.”
The other side of that is the country’s dependency on pharmaceuticals. While we may never get to a point where we’re only relying on herbal remedies, Kym is certain that “herbal remedies and plant-based medicine will be a huge part of the world. We are going to see a lot more of all things cannabis and mushrooms. That's a fact.”
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