Medically Reviewed By:Nidra Sidhu, M.D. Integrative Medicine
Table Of Contents
Table Of Contents
Is Delta 8 Synthetic? Delta 8 Vs. K2
Delta 8 THC is relatively new to the cannabis world, but it has become one of the biggest players the industry has ever seen. Its surge in popularity is steered by many reasons, including its ability to cause a buzz which is quite similar to the buzz from taking marijuana.
Delta 8 THC has a reputation for being a legal recreational hemp product, even though marijuana is federally illegal for recreational purposes.
Lately, there have been discussions about delta 8 THC being a synthetic cannabinoid, and would-be users have been questioning the synthetic and natural status of this new popular cannabidiol.
Is delta 8 synthetic or is delta 8 natural? Is delta 8 fake weed? Keep reading this article to get answers to these questions and more. We will also be exploring synthetic cannabinoids, popularly known as K2.
What is Delta 8 THC?
Before we begin our discussion on the synthetic or natural status of delta 8 THC and the cannabis plant, let's take a closer look at what is delta 8.
There are an estimated 113 phytocannabinoids naturally found in the cannabis plant, and delta 8 happens to be one of them, together with CBD and delta 9 THC.
Delta 8 THC is a natural cannabinoid found in hemp plants, but its presence is so little that extracting a significant quantity would require massive amounts of the plant. However, CBD and delta 9 THC from the hemp plant can be converted to delta 8 THC through a series of chemical processes in the lab.
The debate around whether delta 8 is synthetic or natural stems from the fact that most of the commercial delta 8 THC edibles we see on the market today are not extracted directly from the hemp plant but rather derived from CBD extracted from the hemp flower.
How Is Delta 8 THC Made?
CBD and delta 8 THC are both compounds found in the hemp and cannabis plants, they are isomers meaning they have the same chemical formula, but their chemical structure is slightly different, which causes these compounds to have different effects on the human body.
Delta 8 THC occurs naturally in very little quantities, which makes extraction of the compound in any significant quantity almost impossible. This is not the case for CBD; CDB is abundant in hemp plants which makes extraction in larger quantities possible.
The Delta 8 THC Process
CBD and delta 8 THC have the same chemical formula, which makes converting CBD to delta 8 THC quite a straightforward process.
Over the years, scientists have explored synthesizing delta 8 THC from CBD and discovered different ways of doing this. The popular and safest process is isomerization.
This chemical synthesis process involves rearranging how the elements in the formula are connected to each other. This will create a space that allows one compound to transform into the other. Transformation occurs by exposing the compound to chemical substances such as solvents and hydrocarbons and also changing the temperature and pH of the compound. The final product is tested to determine whether it is pure and free from harmful additives and residual metals.
Is Delta 8 Synthetic?
Is delta 8 man-made? No, not entirely. Since the CBD that is synthesized into delta exists naturally in the hemp plant, delta 8 THC is not entirely a synthetic cannabinoid, unlike some other synthetic cannabinoids that don’t have natural sources.
Delta 8 THC has a natural source in cannabis plants, and though it is produced in smaller quantities, it still exists as a cannabis compound.
Is Delta 8 Safe?
Is delta 8 natural? Yes, but is it safe? Concerns surrounding the safety of delta 8 THC should be more about the dangers of residual toxins left behind from the poorly handled acid conversion process rather than the cannabinoid itself. Delta 8 THC as a compound is entirely safe to consume, but since most of it is synthesized from CBD using other chemical compounds, there might be residual toxins that can cause harm to the human body.
However, this only occurs if the acid conversion process was handled poorly or by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing hence the need to buy delta 8 THC products from trusted and reputable brands.
As long as the final product doesn’t contain any harmful additives, the product is entirely safe. It is therefore advisable to be absolutely sure of this, and one of the ways you can do this is by reading the product's lab result (certificate of analysis) to determine if it is free from any potential harmful by-products.
Delta 8 THC Effects
On the “high scale,” delta 8 THC finds itself between CBD and delta 9 THC. The high from delta 8 is stronger than CBD but milder than delta 9’s intense psychoactive effects. Users of delta 8 THC refer to it as delta 9’s younger sibling.
Although the delta 8 effects may differ for everyone due to a number of factors, it is usually therapeutic, and since it is not as intense as delta 9, you can take delta 8 gummies and still go about your usual activities with a possible boost in energy.
Delta 8’s intoxicating effects are mild and smooth euphoric sensations that kick in gradually to keep you relaxed and calm. Anecdotal stories from users also report that delta 8 has antiemetic and pain relief effects.
Possible Side Effects Of Delta 8 THC
Delta 8 THC may have some potential side effects, and this will vary from person to person, some of the possible side effects that may occur are:
These side effects may be a result of consuming too much delta 8 THC and other cannabinoids, especially if you are a new user. You can possibly avoid this by starting with smaller servings and gradually working your way up.
Is Delta 8 THC Legal?
Previously, both marijuana (cannabis) and hemp were classified under the same category under federal laws until the Agricultural Improvement Act in 2018 changed the legal status of hemp plants.
This act, popularly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, allocated a separate definition to hemp, i.e., all cannabis Sativa L. products, including all extracts, isomers, cannabinoids, salts, and other derivatives, provided they contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight basis.
As discussed earlier, delta 8 is a hemp-derived product which makes it federally legal as long as it is extracted from hemp and contains the legal limit of delta 9 THC, which is 0.3%.
Although the farm bill legalized hemp on a federal level, each state still has the power to decide if they will legalize hemp-derived products on a state level, and this is why we see discrepancies in hemp laws across the various states. States like Missouri and Kentucky have legalized delta 8, while states like Arizona ban hemp plants and their derivatives.
Delta 8 THC Vs. Cannabis Plants
Delta 8 is known to produce psychoactive effects similar to cannabis or marijuana. This is possible because delta 8 is closely related to the main psychoactive compound that causes high in cannabis, popularly known as delta 9 THC.
The two compounds have the same number of carbon atoms and they both have a double bond of carbon. The double bond of delta 8 THC is on the eighth carbon and delta 9’s double bond is on the ninth resulting in the varied effects of the compounds.
The Cannabis Plant Vs. The Hemp Plant
Delta 8 and delta 9 both bind with the body's endocannabinoid system but in different ways. Delta 8 binds well with both CB1 and CB2 receptors and aids the body’s endocannabinoid system to create a balancing effect, while delta 9 or marijuana-derived cannabinoids bind mostly with CB1 receptors in the brain to produce intense psychoactive effects.
Due to delta 8 binding with both cannabinoid receptors, the high it gives you is a more therapeutic one, unlike the more intense high from delta 9, which is likely to leave you couch-locked.
So to answer the question, “is delta 8 fake weed” that some people have, the answer is no, it is not. There are, however, other synthetic products on the market that have been marketed as fake weed.
What Are Synthetic Cannabinoids?
Synthetic cannabinoids, popularly known as “Spice” or K2, are lab-produced cannabinoids that can imitate the psychoactive properties of a natural cannabinoid. These synthetic cannabinoids can cause the body to react in the same way it would react to a natural cannabis compound like delta 8 THC.
What Is Spice?
Spice is not available from natural sources, unlike delta 8, and they have entirely different chemical formulas and structures, potencies, and effects on the body. Due to their similar properties to natural cannabinoids, spice/K2 is marketed as a cheaper alternative to marijuana and some refer to it as synthetic marijuana or fake weed.
What Are The Effects Of K2? Spice Vs. Delta 8
Synthetic cannabinoids have mind-altering effects like delta 8 gummies 500 mg, this is because they can also bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and body to cause a high. However, K2 is a synthetic cannabinoid and it has higher potencies than delta 8 and even delta 9.
It can definitely cause a high, but it may not be completely safe as it usually has higher mind-altering effects on the body compared to a naturally occurring cannabinoid.
Side Effects Of Spice
Unlike a natural cannabis compound, spice has been known to have adverse effects. It affects the brain more powerfully than marijuana, and the side effects are more dangerous and possibly even life-threatening.
Some of the side effects of spice are as follows:
Synthetic cannabinoids are also highly addictive and can be toxic due to potentially unsafe household chemicals included, which makes them unsafe to consume.
Is Spice Legal?
Spice was a legal drug in the United States, it was the legal way of getting high since marijuana was and still is illegal, but then after numerous issues with addiction, hospitalization, and several deaths recorded with spice as the cause, the drug was banned by the US government as well ats it's potentially harmful by-products.
It became illegal to manufacture, possess, or use and it was classified as a Schedule I Drug in the Controlled Substance Act.
Final Takeaways - Is Delta 8 Synthetic?
Delta 8 is a minor phytocannabinoid that exists naturally in the hemp and cannabis plants, it is psychoactive and can produce a high.
Is delta 8 synthetic? The answer is no, delta 8 is not a synthetic product. It is a naturally occurring cannabinoid, but it is produced in very little amounts, and this is why delta 8 manufacturers convert CBD extracted from hemp plants into delta 8 for commercialization.
Is delta 8 safe? Delta 8 is a safe way to achieve a buzz, this buzz is quite therapeutic due to how the compound binds with the cannabinoid receptors.
Is delta 8 legal? The legal status of delta 8 varies in every state even though delta 8 is federally legal based off it's plant material. Most states have taken measures to legalize the compound for recreational use, while others ban it entirely. For this reason, it is advisable to check the legal status of delta 8 in your state before deciding to use delta 8.
If you have more questions about the legality of delta 8, we recommend you check out our delta 8 legal page to find out more about the legal status of delta 8 in your state.
Legal Disclaimer: You should still consult an attorney for the best legal advice regarding Delta 8 in your state, as the material shared here is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a doctor before taking delta 8 THC with any prescription medications or as a natural alternative to your current regimine.
Clayton is a Senior Content Specialist, researcher, and holistic healthcare practitioner. Having been in the supplement industry for more than 15 years, Clayton brings a wealth of experience to the delta 8 space. His publications include alternative therapy, stress and coping, and alternative health.