Frequently Asked Questions: Delta-8 THC and Hemp Cannabinoids

What are hemp cannabinoids

Hemp cannabinoids are natural compounds derived from the hemp plant that interact with the human endocannabinoid system (a biological system in the body that helps regulate and balance key bodily functions), producing various effects.

Greater than 100 cannabinoids have already been identified, mainly in the last couple of years, and the most abundant and familiar of these are Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinols (THCs). They are produced by decarboxylating (applying heat) to the non-psychoactive precursor compound in the plant (CBDa or THCa) in order to alter their chemical structures into psychoactive cannabinoids that we consume. This process takes place during the manufacturing of CBD, and it is why consumers apply flame/heat to cannabis flower in order to feel the effects of THC.

Delta-9 THC is the primary cannabinoid in varietals of the Cannabis Sativa plant that the Federal government calls "marijuana", while CBD is far more abundant and Delta-9 THC is almost absent (< 0.03% on a dry weight basis, by definition) in hemp.

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid that can be found in the cannabis plant. Because it exists in very small quantities, it is more efficient to manufacture Delta-8 by converting it from CBD using chemical synthesis —a process for producing large quantities of natural compounds by introducing a catalyst to cause a chemical reaction. Some examples of chemically synthesized compounds that are consumed safely include vanilla extract, food coloring, aspirin, taurine (active ingredient in Red Bull), many preservatives, and the majority of multi-vitamins.

Chemical synthesis an industrial process requiring a high degree of scientific expertise and specialized equipment. When manufacturing Delta-8 or other cannabinoids, it is of the utmost importance that producers thoroughly test the finished product for residual solvents and any other byproducts of the manufacturing process in order to safeguard consumers. It important to note that converting CBD to Delta-8 or other cannabinoids can be done relatively cheaply, at significant risk to consumers, if the manufacturer is unscrupulous. This is why banning these products runs the risk of creating dangerous black markets.

"Delta-8" is sometimes used as a shorthand to refer to the whole category of novel cannabinoids that are converted from CBD.

Is Delta-8 THC Legal?

Federally, Delta-8 THC is not a controlled substance. That has to do with how they legalized hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill, and has since been confirmed by a federal court and the DEA. Find more information about that here.

Find the legal status of Delta-8 THC in your particular state here.

Is Delta-8 THC Safe?

There is no scientific data to support claims that Delta-8 is unsafe, assuming the products are manufactured properly and thoroughly tested for residual solvents and all other contaminants. Claims to the contrary are based on conjecture, not evidence, or else assume that the products were not manufactured correctly. Ironically, it is these claims that are often used to justify prohibition of Delta-8, when in fact bans create the very conditions for unsafe manufacture they purport to be concerned about.


  • The product may not be compliant (i.e. it may have too much Delta-9 THC in it), unless it has been tested using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The most common method for testing potency of THC is called high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), but that method is not capable of differentiating Delta-9 from Delta-8.
  • You will very likely fail a drug test after consuming Delta-8 products. Again, because the tests can't differentiate from Delta-9 THC.

What about Delta-10, HHC, THCo, THCv, & other cannabinoids?

Though the effects of these different cannabinoids varies, and the list is constantly growing as manufacturers and researchers explore the the plant, the story for the other novel cannabinoids is basically the same as Delta-8: Federally legal, banned in some states, buy from reputable manufacturers who show their full panel Certificates of Analysis (NOT just potency), keep away from minors, and proceed with caution after researching enough to make an informed buying decision. When consuming edibles or any other cannabinoid product, start small and go slow.

Is Delta-8 Hemp?

Without a doubt. Claims that "hemp can't get you high" or that Delta-8 isn't hemp, have their roots in pre-legalization advocacy, and are actually referring to industrial hemp, which are varieties of the plant grown for fiber/hurd or grain/oil. Of course, Congress set the definition of hemp in 2018 to be broader than that, including floral hemp, which is grown for its cannabinoids.

Details on the many uses of the hemp plant can be found here.