A brief overview of Delta-8 THC

A brief overview of Delta-8 THC
June 09, 2024
3 min read

If you’re an experienced medical cannabis patient, you may have heard of the drug Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as Delta-8 THC or D8. Delta-8 THC is closely related to Delta-9 THC - the form we commonly refer to simply as ‘THC’. Delta-8 occurs naturally in the cannabis plant in trace amounts but is often illegally produced semi-synthetically for the unregulated black market.

A brief overview of Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 was first described in 1941 by Roger Adams and associates from the University of Illinois1. It remained obscure until the passing of the USA’s 2018 Farm Bill with a loophole allowing for Delta-8 to be sold in the USA legally. It has since attracted worldwide interest making it important to understand what it is. In this article we aim to provide an overview of Delta-8 THC, its legality, risks, and similarity to Delta-9 THC.

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is an isomer of Delta-9 THC, meaning it is a similar drug that contains the same number of the same atoms as Delta-9, arranged differently in its chemical structure. Different isomers or forms of the same drug may produce significantly different effects, and the health effects or safety profile of Delta-8 cannot be assumed due to its similarity to Delta-9.

Effects of Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 THC produces psychoactive (mind-altering) effects like THC at roughly half the potency per milligram, although little else is known. Delta-8 may also vary in terms of its onset and duration compared to Delta-9.

Is Delta-8 THC safe?

No. Delta-8 THC is currently unregulated in Australia, and black-market products containing it are untested and may contain harmful and unknown ingredients. Delta-8 THC itself has little research into its safety and unknown side-effects may occur alongside the side effects normally associated with Delta-9 THC, such as anxiety, nausea, mood, perceptual and behavioural changes.

Is Delta-8 THC legal in Australia?

No, Delta-8 THC is not legal in Australia. This is unlikely to change as it is chemically manufactured, and delta-8 THC products only have a brief history of human use, with little research on its effects and safety. However, Delta-8 THC may be naturally present (in trace amounts) in regular high-THC prescription cannabis.

Delta-8 alternatives

Due to Australia’s legal and regulated medical cannabis market, there is no need for patients to resort to unregulated and untested black-market products such as Delta-8. It is still important to remember that cannabinoids have many inherent risks that cannot be ignored, so if you have any questions about Delta-8 or the safety of cannabinoids, be sure to ask your prescriber.

  1. Structure of Cannabidiol. XII. Isomerization to Tetrahydrocannabinols
    Roger Adams, C. K. Cain, W. D. McPhee, and R. B. Wearn
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 1941 63 (8), 2209-2213
    DOI: 10.1021/ja01853a052

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Please note that this blog was not written by a licensed medical practitioner and therefore is not providing medical advice. We do not endorse the use of cannabis or any other illicit drugs. Like any medication, cannabis has potential negative side effects and should only be used under the guidance of a qualified medical professional. For the latest information on cannabis prescription and use, please visit the TGA website. If you are considering cannabis as a treatment option, we encourage you to consult with a licensed healthcare professional.

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