What is delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid that is being talked about these days due to the slightly different properties of its much more known brother, delta-9 THC. Both have similar psychoactive effects such as a light euphoria and pleasant sensations of happiness and optimism. Even better, it opens up apetite, helps in reducing pain and to sleep soundly, but with the difference that the psychoactive effect of delta-8 is described as mellow and with less potency, which is ideal for some people that are hypersensible to cannabis or just want to relax and go about their regular daily activities as clarity of mind isn’t affected. It generally is consumed discreetly in gummies, chocolates or vaping.
As with other phytocannabinoids, delta-8 THC bonds with the CB1 receptors of our bodies’ endocannabinoid system, responsible for maintaining “homeostasis”, a state of balance of all the metabolic processess of living beings, a vital function that nature has been using to keep us healthy for over 500 million years.
Due to its novelty, there are few medical articles regarding delta-8. However, the first investigations coincide with the anecdotical experience of users that point out some health and wellness benefits, such as:
- Helps in producing acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for memory, cognition and neuroplasticity.
- Antiemetic: Supresses vomiting and stimulates appetite. It is used in patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
- Analgesic: Reduces pain, especially in chronic neurophaties and inflammation.
- Anxiolytic: reduction in anxiety and promotes relaxation.
How is delta-8 THC obtained? Is it rare?
Cannabis flowers can have up to 20 to 30% concentration of delta-9 THC. On the other hand, delta-8 THC is found in minuscule ammounts in the plant. It just isn’t economically feasible to extract it directly so its done indirectly using an isomerization and distillation process starting with a 99% pure CBD isolate.
Is it legal?
- If a country or state considers all cannabis products, including hemp, as illegal, then delta-8 is also illegal.
- If the medicinal use of THC is legal, then it is legal to purchase delta-8 if a doctor prescribes it.
- Some jurists claim that if a law only mentions delta-9 THc or THC in general and delta-8 THC is not explicitly prohibited, then its use and commercialization is allowed. However that question is debatable.
- If the use of THC, its isomers and analogs are illegal, but if the manufactured product is sourced from hemp, such as CBD, then the subject of delta-8 enters a gray area that is known in judicial terms as a legal void.
This last option is the preferred legal strategy when delta-8 THC is obtained from CBD and not extracted directly from the plant. In several states of the U.S. selling it is not illegal, does not require a licence for its commercialization and does not need to comply with the strict regulations common THC is submitted to and it neither has to pay the special cannabis taxes. As long as it lasts, many entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this fantastic legal loophole.
In Colombia, decree 613 of 2017 does not mention THC isomers and states: “Derivates of non psychoactive cannabis: Oils, resin, tinctures, extracts and preparations obtained from cannabis whose content is inferior to 1% of dry weight.”
In Mexico, law proposals currently being discussed in the Senate include in its regulation all variants and isomers of THC.
This is only an example of the perpetually changing situation typical of the cannabis industry where everything regarding laws and regulations, development of new technologies, applications, the emergence of business opportunities in different markets and countries require a very close collaboration with a team of specialized consultants who are continually updating.
Is delta-8 expensive?
The cost of a delta-8 product is high by necessity. To begin with, the raw material, pure CBD isolate has a high price. This is where the strategic importance of Latin America comes into play as cultivating hemp flowers rich in CBD requires a lot of manual labor and in the greater part of the continent we have sun and climate that are simply the best for growing this plant. Latin America has everything to become the world’s main manufacturer of basic CBD oil and by extension of products with delta-8 THC and other equally valuable cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN that are revolutionizing cosmetics and diverse medical treatments.
For the time being, the U.S. market is saturated with CBD and its price is at very low levels that don’t correspond with a realistic production costs. This has occassioned important losses to many farmers in the country. As a result, some entrepreneurs had the idea to trasform the excessive inventory of CBD isolate into delta-8. However, we consider the situation is temporary and the market will stabilize in the coming future. Bloomberg Businessweek cites studies that calculate that the CBD industry will grow in the following four years at a 40% annual rate. On the other hand, Forbes estimates that in 2025 the U.S. market value will be USD 16 billion, when in 2018 didn’t reach 2 billion. This exponential growth is due mainly to the fact that every day new markets and points of sale open in addition to the surging of new uses and applications for cannbinoids, delta-8 being the most recent development.
Sooner than later, it is inevitable that both psychoactive cannabis products and derivates from industrial hemp will become “commodities”, where only companies that are efficient and with lower production costs will survive and prosper. The entrepreneurs of the Latin American region must take advantage of the competitive edge that the climate, solar radiation levels, manual labor costs, abundance of qualified workforce, defined regulatory frameworks and priviledged geographical situation offer and work hand in hand with the government institutions of their respective countries to conform a permanent strategic industry that will generate thousands of jobs in addition to wellness, health and prosperity for the region.