Delta-8 THC is a minor but psychoactive cannabinoid analog of delta-9 THC, which is the most abundant and potent form of THC found in cannabis. While delta-9 THC occurs copiously in cannabis, delta-8 appears only in scant trace amounts naturally, though concentrated delta-8 can be synthesized from legal hemp-derived CBD isolate.
Delta-8 provides psychotropic effects similar to though less potent than delta-9, with reduced anxiety, paranoia, or mental cloudiness reported compared to delta-9, making it appealing for users who find delta-9 uncomfortable or intense. Delta-8 has surged in popularity over the past couple years largely thanks to the legal loophole that delta-8 derived from hemp can skirt the definition of federally illegal delta-9 and state bans.
However, chemically delta-8 remains a form of THC, albeit less common, so its distinction from regulated delta-9 remains highly controversial legally. While sourced from hemp, delta-8 results in a high similar to cannabis, is intoxicating like THC, and drug tests cannot distinguish between THC forms. Time will tell whether such cannabinoid workarounds withstand legal scrutiny.