Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are well-known and consumed cannabinoids in the cannabis industry. And although there are dozens of other cannabinoids present in the different strains of cannabis, the two aforementioned have been the only ones to establish a significant market presence, until recently that is.
There’s another cannabinoid on the scene that has become quite popular quite quickly. Its name is Delta 8 THC, a compound that is closely related to both Delta 9 THC and CBD. It’s become wildly popular in the growing cannabis marketplace, principally because it gets users high, which is a big win for cannabis consumers in states where only CBD (non-psychoactive) is sold. This is good news for the hemp industry. The hemp marketplace was previously flooded (and still is to some extent) with CBD flowers and extracts until it became known that CBD can be transformed into D8. Once the industry found out, growers, distributors and retailers rushed to convert much of their surpluses of CBD into D8.
But D8’s legality is not completely settled. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp derivatives, such as extracts, are legal to possess and distribute federally (unless the state decides not to allow a hemp trade within its borders). Although D8 is found in hemp plants, its level of occurrence is too low for standard extraction techniques. So producers isolate the cannabinoid in a cheaper and faster way: by changing CBD extract into D8 through a chemical process called isomerization.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the resultant D8 is a synthetic form of THC, and therefore illegal. However, proponents of D8’s legality argue that because the CBD extract used to make D8 THC is legal, then the resulting D8 should also be legal.
States where D9 is illegal and even some where D9 is legal have seen new legislation banning the sale of D8, but the cannabinoid is still widely sought after and available in the country, in spite of the federal prohibition.