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A Pharmacist Defends the Use of Delta-8

The much-maligned cannabis compound can be used safely and effectively.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Delta-8 has been getting a bad rap lately but, working as a pharmacist, I’ve seen patients benefit from its responsible use. 

And my evidence is not just anecdotal. Some studies have shown that Delta-8’s ability to relieve pain and inflammation is more effective than Delta-9. 

What is Delta-8?

Just like Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 is a naturally occurring compound in cannabis and hemp, but it is only available in minimal percentages. Molecularly speaking, it is very similar to Delta-9 THC, but there are some inherent differences. 

To create marketable, high-potency Delta-8, manufacturers must use isomerization extraction. This is a technique that has been used for decades in the medical industry, creating safe chemical compounds and drug solutions with little to no side effects. Delta-8 is no different and can also be made very safe for internal consumption and inhalation.  

Related: A Closer Look at Delta-8 THC Flower

Does it make you high?

Most of the controversy lies in the fact that despite being a hemp-derived product, Delta-8 is psychoactive. The reality is that Delta-8 produces a much lower level of psychoactivity compared to Delta-9, meaning it will not make as strong of a “high.” I have patients who choose not to use THC products for their pain relief because they don’t want that feeling of being high. Most users report a clearer head and focused effect when describing Delta-8’s psychoactive abilities. And for those who experience anxiety or panic attacks from THC, most say none of those side effects with Delta-8 products.

Irresponsible manufacturers have also contributed to the negative reputation of Delta-8 in their extraction practices. There are potential risks of low-quality isomerization methods, which is an inherent risk with any form of extraction. Even ethanol extraction, one of the most popular methods used for cannabis products, can contain dangerous impurities if not produced with high-quality standards and processes. 

Little risk of side effects

As a hemp-derived product, Delta-8 is not regulated by the federal government, so it is not required to undergo the rigorous testing that cannabis is subject to. Any responsible manufacturer of hemp CBD or Delta-8 should be independently testing those products for consumer safety.

There is indeed a lack of long-term use data, but there should be very little risk of any side effects from my perspective. Medical controlled testing performed with Delta-8 isomer from the mid-70s to the mid-90s, and as recent as 2018, has shown intense promise of its medical benefits and safety. I agree that the industry needs to do more testing on these products while still allowing the safe, responsible manufacture of products on the market now.

Anyone interested in using Delta-8 as a potential solution should vigorously vet the manufacturer and their production methods, as well as demand a full panel test (not just a potency COA) to confirm the product’s purity and safety. I encourage my patients to speak to their doctor before trying it, especially if they are on any other forms of medication. Like CBD, Delta-8 could potentially block certain medications. 

As a medical professional, I have patients who’ve achieved relief and medicinal benefits with Delta-8, so I would hate for them to lose access. A ban on these products could ultimately force consumers back to the black market that is riddled with unsafe, untested products. Education is the best defense in a situation like this. Consumers need to do their homework to ensure they’re getting a high-quality, tested product. They also need to understand the potential for side effects as they would with any other medication.