Minor cannabinoids such as Delta 8 THC have been around for longer than you might expect. This is mostly because many of them have simply not been at the forefront of mainstream cannabis culture until recently. Once the Agricultural Improvement Act was passed, which is the bill that legalized hemp-derived cannabinoids, many product innovations in the hemp market began to appear.
How long exactly has Delta 8 been around and why is it just now become so popular? To answer those questions, we must first take a look at when Delta 8 was discovered. And, in case you are wondering "What is Delta 8?" we will do a quick review of what it is and what makes it so popular.
What is Delta 8?
Structurally Delta 8 is very similar to Delta 9 THC, which is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. Found in trace amounts, Delta 8 THC interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the body to impact the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) just like Delta 9 does.
Delta 8 has a double bond on the eighth carbon chain, whereas Delta 9 THC has this same bond located at the ninth carbon chain. This subtle difference in structure is what gives Delta 8 its distinct properties and effects.
Cannabis consumers describe Delta 8 as producing a milder and less intense high than Delta 9. While Delta 8 occurs naturally in very small amounts in some strains of cannabis, it can also be extracted and isolated from hemp-derived CBD oil to create concentrated forms for use in various products from oral administration to inhalable products.
Due to its unique chemical structure and effects, Delta 8 has begun to be a go-to option for those who are looking for an alternative to Delta 9, or who prefer a milder experience than regular weed.
When was Delta 8 Discovered?
Even if you've known about Delta 8 for a while, have you ever wondered when researchers first discovered it? It was actually discovered longer ago than you might think. Delta 8 was first discovered by a researcher named Roger Adams in 1941.
Adams was a prominent American organic chemist who, at the time, lead a team at the University of Illinois studying the chemical composition of cannabis. He was able to successfully isolate and identify Delta 8 through the use of a variety of sophisticated laboratory techniques, such as chromatography and crystallization which lead to him publish a paper announcing the first known synthesis of Delta 8 THC.
Following this discovery Adams' team started conducting the first experiments of Delta 8 on human subjects. The Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry was created in 1959 by the American Chemical Society to recognize Adams for his groundbreaking research.
A handful of years later, Roger Adams is, once again, the first scientist to synthesis, yet another cannabinoid called Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC). This cannabinoid is created by adding hydrogen molecules to THC, which offers more mild and soothing effects when compared to Delta 8 THC.
Early Cannabis Research
The research that began shortly after its discovery was focused on Delta 8's psychoactive effects and its potential therapeutic benefits. Early studies indicated that Delta 8 had a similar structure to Delta 9 THC and that it also had similar psychoactive effects on the human body, albeit less potent.
However, due to the limited technology available at the time and limited applications, this early cannabinoid research was mostly qualitative and lacked the rigor of modern scientific research. As a result, Delta 8 remained largely understudied and underappreciated for many years.
The hemp market is flooded with Delta 8 and other hemp-derived cannabinoid products. With this renewed interest in Delta 8, researchers are beginning to explore its potential therapeutic benefits even in more depth, such as its ability to reduce pain and inflammation, improve mood, and alleviate anxiety.
As more continued research is conducted on Delta 8 THC, it's potential as a therapeutic compound is becoming increasingly apparent, and it is likely to attract even more attention in the years to come.
Delta-8 THC Research Today
Fast forward a few decades to today and Delta 8 has begun to attract attention from the scientific community and the general public. There has been a renewed interest in the unique properties and potential benefits of this cannabinoid. The legalization of hemp derived cannabinoids following the passing of the Farm Bill has also increased its accessibility and fueled its popularity.
Today, researchers continue to explore the effects and potential applications of Delta 8 products, which are becoming increasingly popular among medical marijuana users who are looking for a milder, more cost effective, and less intense experience than what is offered by Delta 9.
Other Cannabinoid Discoveries
Roger Adams led the way in cannabinoid discoveries by becoming the first scientist to synthesis both Delta 8 THC and HHC. What about all of the other cannabinoids that exist today?
Next up scientists discovered and synthesized THC-O throughout the 1950's to 1970's by the Army Chemical Corps at Edgewood Arsenal. This facility is a research facility located in Chesapeake Bay. Synthetic cannabinoids like THC-O's popularity and reputation have exploded in recent years, being considered three times more potent than traditional Delta 9 THC. THC-O is often referred to as the "spiritual cannabinoid".
Cannabinol (CBD) was first isolated by the renowned chemist Raphael Mechoulam in 1963. CBD products and uses today are extremely popular hemp derived cannabinoids. Today you can buy CBD online and in many retail stores and even major supermarkets.
Delta 9 THC
Once again Raphael Mechoulam is able to successfully isolate another new cannabinoid for the first time. Just one year after isolating CBD, Mechoulam isolates Delta 9 THC for the first time in 1964.
Delta 10 THC
Mechoulam, on a roll at this point, is successfully the first person to synthesized Delta-10 THC. This cannabinoid, which is similar to Delta 8 THC but with reportedly less potent compared to traditional Delta 9 THC. Its effects vary slightly in that they offer sativa like effect such as uplifting and energizing effects.
The Isomerization Process
Finally in 2010, a team of scientists, to include Raphael Mechoulam were able to file a patent for the process they created to convert CBD into Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC through a process they referred to as isomerization. This is key in that once the 2018 Farm Bill passed; this process is what allowed the abundant quantities of hemp derived CBD to be converted into extremely popular Delta 8 THC products.
The first "synthetic marijuana" drug emerged, also known as Spice, or K2. This drug exploded in popularity. It is important to note that K2 is in fact in no way a cannabinoid nor is it derived from hemp plants. In fact, it is created by spraying synthetic chemicals onto plant material in order to give it it's psychoactive properties.
It was marketed and sold as marijuana and was often labeled with warnings such as "not for human consumption". This unregulated drug has been proven to be extremely harmful to public health.
How is Delta 8 Produced?
Delta 8 can be produced and extracted from the hemp plant through a variety of methods, depending on the desired end product. One common method is by converting CBD into Delta 8 through a chemical process known as isomerization. This involves exposing CBD to a chemical catalyst, which causes it to rearrange its molecular structure and convert into Delta 8.
Another method involves extracting Delta 8 directly from hemp plants that naturally contain it in small amounts. This can be done using various solvents, such as ethanol or CO2, to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. Once extracted, it can be further refined and concentrated through a process known as distillation, which separates it from other compounds and impurities.
Delta 8 extracted through either of these methods can then be used to create a wide range of products, such as edibles, tinctures, and vape cartridges. While this extraction and production can be a complex process, it allows for the creation of concentrated and purified forms of the compound that can be used safely and effectively by consumers.
Delta 8 Availability
Historically, Delta 8 has not been as widely used as other cannabinoids, such as Delta 9 THC or CBD. However, it has been used for various purposes in traditional preparations. For example, some strains of cannabis that are high in Delta 8 THC have been used in traditional medicine in China to treat various ailments, such as nausea, vomiting, and pain.
Some users have reported that Delta 8 THC provides a more clear-headed and functional high than traditional THC, making it a popular choice for those who want to remain productive and focused while using cannabis.
Because of these reasons Delta 8 has gained popularity among weed enthusiasts, particularly as a legal alternative to Delta 9 THC.
Where can you buy Delta-8 THC?
You can buy Delta 8 THC online and in many local CBD stores and vape shops. While Delta 8 is legal under federal law, its legal status can vary at the state and local levels. You should be fully aware of your local and state laws before purchasing, possessing, or consuming Delta 8.
Not sure if Delta 8 is legal in your state? Check out our "Is Delta 8 Legal?" article to find out.
No matter where you decide to buy Delta 8 from, always be sure to only purchase it from reputable brands and trusted retailers. All products sold by quality sources will offer a third-party lab test, often referred to as a Certificate of Analysis (COA), which helps ensure that consumers are getting a federally legal product and that it is safe and high quality.
Legal Status of Delta 8
The legal status of Delta 8 has been a topic of debate and confusion for many years. Historically, Delta 8 was not explicitly included in the list of controlled substances under the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which governs the regulation of drugs in the United States.
This fact created a somewhat legal grey area, with some arguing that Delta 8 was legal to produce, sell, and use, while others claimed that it was still considered a illegal under the Controlled Substances Act.
A big hit to Delta 8 legality came in August 2020, when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an interim final rule that explicitly classified Delta 8 as a Schedule I controlled substance, along with Delta 9 THC and other cannabinoids. This decision was criticized by many in the cannabis industry along with manufactures, retailers, and users who argue that it is distinct from Delta 9 THC and should not be subject to the same regulations.
Thankfully A California federal appeals court ruled in May of 2022 that Delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids derived from the hemp plant are considered legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, even if the substances have psychoactive properties. This ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Delta 8 to remain legal under federal law if derived from hemp and it contains less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC.
State laws, however, can vary so it is important to be aware of the laws in your area before purchasing or using Delta 8 products. Currently there are 14 states that have either banned or have regulated Delta 8.
Why has Delta 8 become so popular?
There are a couple reasons why Delta 8 has experienced recent growth in use and popularity in the past few years.
One of the main factors is the legal status of Delta 8. Unlike traditional THC, Delta 8 is legal at the federal level if derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC on a dry weight basis. This makes it a more accessible option for many people who may live in areas where traditional THC is still illegal or heavily regulated.
Similar in benefits
Additionally, many users have reported that Delta 8 provides many of the same benefits as traditional THC, such as pain relief and relaxation, but with less intense psychoactive effects, which can be appealing to those who want to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without feeling too impaired.
Conclusion, what does the future hold for Delta 8 THC?
The future outlook for Delta 8 use and research is promising, but also uncertain. As this legal THC alternative continues to gain popularity more research will likely be conducted to better understand its effects and potential therapeutic benefits.
While more regulatory oversight may be introduced to ensure product quality and safety, which could impact its availability and popularity. It is in the hands of consumers, manufactures, and retailers to put their best foot forward in an effort to be as responsible and ethical in these cannabinoids use, production, and sale.
As the legal status of cannabis and hemp-derived compounds continues to evolve, the future of Delta 8 looks promising.
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