Cannabis’ intoxicating qualities are due to Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Its close cousin, delta 8 THC, is getting quite the boost in recognition, thanks to the emergence of concentrated extracts.
Previously relegated to the background and only appearing in trace amounts, concentrated extracts of delta 8 THC are popularizing a phytocannabinoid that offers many of the same attributes as delta 9 THC with a less intoxicating experience. However, its recent turn in the spotlight has not been without controversy: sourced from both state-regulated cannabis and federally-legal industrial hemp, the mostly unregulated delta-8 THC space brings about many questions for cultivators and consumers alike. What role does a laboratory play in all of this?
In this blog, you will learn:
Why Delta 8 THC is in the spotlight
Where Delta 8 THC comes from
The legal status of Delta 8 THC
What is Delta 8 THC?
Delta 8 THC is an isomer of the more well-known delta 9 THC, occurring naturally in the cannabis plant but in much smaller amounts than delta-9 THC. Thanks to modern extraction techniques, delta 8 THC can now be isolated and extracted from the plant as a concentrate. Some companies synthesize delta 8 THC from cbd cream, a compound abundant in industrial hemp.
What is with the Delta 8 craze?
Delta 8 THC rapidly became a consumer favorite because it’s approximately one-third less intoxicating than delta 9 THC while delivering many of the same effects as its stronger cousin.
Accessibility has driven its popularity as well: Because it can be extracted from federally-legal industrial hemp, it means that consumers can buy it outside state-regulated cannabis systems. It is worth noting that delta 8 THC is present in only very small quantities in the plant, making delta 8 THC concentrate one of the only types of products that offer consumers a significant dose of the phytocannabinoid.
How lacking federal regulations make Delta 8 THC a challenge
Whether sourced from industrial hemp or from state-regulated, high THC cannabis, the gray area surrounding delta 8 THC translates to a lack of quality control that could mean potentially unsafe products are available to consumers. This is specifically an issue when it comes to products derived from industrial hemp.
For example, delta 8 THC is made with solvents, and residual solvents can remain in the final product even after manufacturers purify the extract. These residual solvents can pose health risks to consumers. Cannabis testing can identify products with harmful levels of residual solvents before they reach store (or dispensary) shelves.
Additionally, many delta 8 THC products are vape products. Lipids testing can ensure delta 8 THC vape products are free of harmful additives like Vitamin E Acetate, for example, which was identified as the primary cause of Electronic Vape Associated Lung Illness (EVALI) in 2019.
The legal status of delta 8 in New Jersey and elsewhere
While delta 8 THC is often accessible in states where cannabis is not legal, the legal status of the phytocannabinoid is in flux across the country. Quality control issues – especially regarding the sale of unlicensed products – has led some states, like New York, to ban the sale of hemp-derived delta 8 THC.
The number of states banning delta 8 THC from hemp is growing, too. Generally, in states that have banned delta 8 THC, licensed dispensaries can still sell the phytocannabinoid derived from high-THC cannabis, but many delta 8 THC retailers are unlicensed under state cannabis programs and rely on hemp-derived producers.
In New Jersey, hemp-derived delta 8 THC remains legal to sell and consume. The future of delta 8 THC’s legality, though, is largely unclear as states and the federal government continue to weigh the legislative and regulatory options facing them.
What the research says about delta 8 THC
Delta 8 THC has only undergone limited research, but what research does exist suggests that it offers a range of effects similar to other phytocannabinoids. Here is what is known so far:
How laboratories test for Delta 8 THC
Laboratories test for delta 8 THC using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). This process identifies and quantifies a broad range of phytocannabinoids as they occur in the plant, both in their active and inactive forms. Known as cannabinoid profiling, this technique reveals the amount of delta 8 THC in a product, as well as the delta 9 THC, cbd cream, and minor cannabinoids like CBG and CBN.
Why cannabis testing is important for delta 8 THC products
Cannabinoid profiling is important for demonstrating product quality and helping consumers make informed choices about the products they’re buying. Transparency is key, especially when it comes to delta 8 THC products which are generally purchased by consumers who want little to no delta 9 THC.
Furthermore, cannabis testing is important to demonstrating product quality, even beyond cannabinoid profiling. Delta 8 THC is not as clearly regulated as delta 9 THC, which can lead to sub-par products entering the market. Cannabis testing can demonstrate product quality and establish trust between a brand and its consumers. True Labs for Cannabis offers a wide range of cannabis testing services to guarantee product quality and safety batch after batch.
Delta 8 THC and quality assurance
Cannabis testing can dispel the hesitance some consumers may have around delta 8 THC products, particularly in a hemp-derived product market which has little to no regulation compared to the broader cannabis market. However, responsible delta 8 THC purveyors can rely on cannabis testing results to differentiate their product from low-quality competitors while reassuring consumers that their safety is a priority. In New Jersey, transparency and product quality are critical to establishing the trust that’s needed to grow and succeed. In a market characterized by uncertainty, True Labs for Cannabis offers clarity in its precise, reliable cannabis testing results.