What is Delta-8 THC and Is It Legal in the UK?

As CBD use becomes more widespread in the UK, awareness has grown surrounding the differences between cannabis compounds THC and CBD. Consumers may be aware that THC is, more specifically, a compound known as Delta-9 THC. But did you know that Delta-9 has a closely related sister compound called Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is the new kid on the block and is making its mark on the wellness industry in several locations across the globe. Delta-8 can be used to treat a broad range of ailments without resulting in an anxiety-inducing high. However, legislation relating to cannabis-derived products varies around the world, thus restricting sufficient research into the compound. In this article, we will explore what, exactly, Delta-8 THC is, how it compares – and differs - to CBD, and its legality in the UK.

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found within the hemp and marijuana plants of the cannabis plant family. Delta-8 THC occurs in exceedingly small quantities and is known as a minor cannabinoid like CBG and CBC.

Delta-8 THC has been largely overlooked by science until recently. Several years ago, scientists began experimenting with Delta-8 and discovered exciting results surrounding its wellness benefits and psychoactive properties.

When we talk about marijuana or THC, we are typically referring to Delta-9 THC – this is the famous cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects. Delta-8 THC is almost identical in its chemical structure to Delta-9 and provides similar effects, including certain symptom relief and feelings of euphoria. However, Delta-8 has a lower psychotropic potency, and the compound is more stable than its sister molecule Delta-9 THC. Anecdotal reports following Delta-8 usage include an improved sense of well-being.

The popularity of Delta-8 is rising significantly in countries and states where legislation is more relaxed, such as Canada and some US states. To date, UK law states that Delta-8 THC is illegal. In locations where the compound is legal, the substantial market consists of many products like those in the UK CBD market, including:

delta gummies

Delta-8 and CBD Similarities 

Delta-8 THC and CBD share some similarities. For starters, both are cannabinoids derived from the hemp plant. Both compounds react with CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system, resulting in similar effects such as deeper relaxation, lowered stress, pain relief and decreased inflammation. Despite the similarities, both cannabinoids highlight distinguishing features.

How Does Delta-8 THC Differ from CBD? 

The major difference between Delta-8 THC and CBD is that Delta-8 has psychoactive properties whereas CBD does not. CBD is therefore widely used by those wishing to avoid a ‘high’ feeling. CBD is also a far more prominent compound within the hemp plant; in fact, Delta-8 THC is found in trace quantities in cannabis. As a result, Delta-8 is often produced synthetically by creating an isolate of Delta-9 THC.

Is Delta-8 THC the Same as Marijuana?

Delta-8 THC is different from marijuana, which causes a ‘high’ thanks to the psychotropic effects of its main compound, Delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC is, instead, found in low quantities within the hemp plant and produces a less severe psychoactive effect. In locations where Delta-8 THC is legal, users enjoy an abundance of well-being benefits without the anxious feeling that can result from marijuana intake.

Can Delta-8 THC and CBD Be Combined?

Possibly. Research is limited due to heavy legislation on Delta-8 in many locations across the globe. However, we already know that Delta-8 THC has a lower psychotropic potency than Delta-9. Combining Delta-8 and CBD is likely to provide the benefits of both compounds but with insignificant psychoactive effects. CBD will bind with the same receptors as the Delta-8 THC compound, which may allow the benefits of Delta-8 to be experienced without feeling ‘high’. However, more extensive research into the activity and subsequent effects of Delta-8 when combined with CBD are necessary to reach a firm conclusion.

Is Delta-8 THC Legal in the UK? 

THC and marijuana remain illegal in the UK and most European countries, because of their intoxicating effects. Marijuana is a Class B drug which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for unlicensed distribution; however, several UK police forces have admitted that marijuana possession is not a priority, although the substance is illegal.

UK law surrounding Delta-8 THC is less clear; however, thanks to its similarity to THC, it is classed as illegal. Furthermore, Delta-8 is often made synthetically, and UK law currently prohibits any synthetic mind-altering substances. With increasing awareness surrounding the cannabinoid and more people embracing cannabis-derived products, however, it is believed that UK legislation may change in time.

Some countries, such as Canada, and 31 US states including Texas and Ohio, have legalised Delta-8, and consumers should be able to purchase Delta-8 based products in those locations without any issues.

Regardless of your location, you should never attempt to fly from one country to another carrying Delta-8, which could result in profoundly serious charges.

The Takeaway

CBD and Delta-9 THC are prominent names in the cannabis industry. Meanwhile, there is growing hype surrounding Delta-8 THC, a similarly structured compound with less credibility than its more famous counterparts. Research into the effects of Delta-8 THC is preliminary as the compound remains illegal in many countries; however, it is understood that Delta-8 may offer many of the same benefits as THC and CBD, but with less intense psychoactive effects.

Delta-8 is legal in some locations and users report enjoyment of relaxation benefits and relief from ailments, without the experience of an anxiety-inducing ‘high’. For now, Delta-8 remains illegal in the UK, with some anticipating a change in cannabis-related drug laws as awareness and use continues to increase.

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