By now you've probably heard about Delta 8. Even if you're a cannabis novice, you've probably seen Delta 8 sold in gas stations, “dispensaries”, and restaurants. This stuff is everywhere! Maybe you've tried a gummy, maybe you're Delta 8 curious; we are going to share some facts and micro rants about why this outlier THC molecule is currently stupid popular.
Fun fact: as of this writing we do not carry delta 8 @ Garden Party. Read through to find out why. If you are a delta 8 producer or branded product and read all the way through and can provide the full, legitimate (CoA) Certificate of Analysis, I’d love to talk and learn more about your product. We think all cannabinoids are great and want this amazing plant celebrated and elevated in all its glory.
We are not going to cover the legality of Delta 8 in this blog post. That is being sorted out state by state and cannabis regulation is already arbitrary as hell.
So what is Delta 8 and why does it matter?
Delta 9 THC is the psychoactive and enjoyable cannabinoid that produces a high and is also how industrial hemp (federally legal) is categorized vs. “marijuana” (legal in certain states).
Short story: Cannabis with less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC is considered industrial hemp. Cannabis over the same threshold is classified as “marijuana” and IS NOT federally legal.
If you're still tracking with me, Delta 8 comes out swinging as a loophole exploitation for a “legal high”. On the surface all cannabinoids are great and have their place. We’ve yet to scratch the surface of long term research of cannabinoids so the more the merrier, right?
Sort of. The rise of Delta 8 comes from a few factors.
One, you can “convert” Delta 8 from hemp derived CBD. So although a grey area and still subject to local interpretation, it flies slightly under the radar for now.
Another big factor in its popularity is the “rebalancing'' of the CBD market. In 2018, when the Agriculture Improvement Act was signed there was an immediate “green rush” for everybody and their mother to start a CBD brand. You've seen it. We have definitely seen it. And the idea that CBD is a miracle cure all that should be put in every possible thing from lotion to seltzer and olive oil pretty much made the market go “womp womp”. Seriously though, the people harmed most by this cash grab are actually the farmers. They have the most expensive infrastructure to build/maintain with the biggest financial risk. The expectation that this magic little plant was going to shower their farm family with gold doubloons never materialized. If you heard the way some people talked about it, a lot of folks thought they were going to be millionaires 10x over.
Ultimately, it’s an economic supply//demand issue and the price of CBD plummeted.
Too much CBD and not enough consumption had the price fall off the cliff. Farmers, processors, and middle men scaled up and were sitting on (decades) of oversupply. The natural correction brought a lot of financial pain and a real problem: what to do with all this product?
Delta 8 baby!! To be fair, this is an interesting and clever workaround. Delta 9 is illegal but no specifics on the law said anything about Delta 8. Some people say they actually prefer Delta 8 over Delta 9. They may describe it as a “body high” better for socializing, chores, and daily functions while the spicy Delta 9 has the more characteristic high people may associate with paranoia, anxiety, and other not so fun side effects.
Ok Seth, I appreciate all the context but why does this matter? I’m just trying to catch a tasty buzz and good vibes. What’s your point? Well friends, I’m glad you asked.
When you know how the “sausage is made” you are probably going to go vegan. For real though. Hemp, like any agricultural product, is subject to mold, heavy metals, pesticides, and other factors that can be a toxic product for consumers. The main way farmers or processors can get a return on their investments is to extract CBD from the biomass. Biomass isn’t the beautiful fluffy smokable CBD flower you've seen displayed proudly. Think giant grain bags, silos, barns filled with any and all hemp plant matter. If you're going to blast this with ethanol or butane do you really care how you take care of the input? Rhetorical question but yeah it can be nasty.
Extraction - lots of good ways, plenty of bad ways. The most economically effective way to extract CBD is the use of solvents. Butane, ethanol, C02 are common and can leave residual solvents.
Solvents - Yikes! Yikes for sure. Most legitimate producers have ways to remediate solvents and the end product is safe for consumers.
But what about the Johnny fly by night “broker” who is in this for money, and isn't invested at all in healing people through plant medicine. Unfortunately the industry, both legal and illegal camps, have shady people doing shady things. It’s an unfortunate challenge and in the end the consumer ends up losing.
Remember the vape scare a few years ago? Lots of us smoking carts with questionable ingredients and kids getting “popcorn lung”. This is a judgment free zone and I've hit the questionable pen a few times as well. This is a consumer safety issue and we are seeing the same thing in Delta 8.
We have folks come into Garden Party almost daily asking us if we sell Delta 8. Despite my intuition that it lands in the Venn diagram with other head shop hits like *Spice, K2, or bath salts, I try to see what the hype is about for myself. To be fair, I’ve taken a few different Delta 8 gummy “brands” with mixed results. One was gross and left a weird taste in my mouth and film on my teeth. It also just made me fall asleep. In other products, I wondered if there was any Delta 8 in there at all. Because of my own experience, along with me asking every single person who brings it up what their experience is with it, I’m seeing a very wide range of anecdotal evidence. Some people love it and rock it all day. Other fully realized cannabis users said they thought they were going to die and it was the worst edible experience of their lives. These are folks who smoke dabs on the regular.
I’m not here saying Delta 8 is going to wreck you. Or that you will enjoy it. What I am saying is that the lived user experience is all over the place and depending on what the product is you may be at greater risk. The “lab results” associated with most Delta 8 products do not include full spectrograph analysis accounting for detectable amounts of residual solvents, heavy metals, pesticides and all the other stuff that may or may not be in there. These “lab results’ may not even be real. I’ve seen CoA(s) where it was a fake name, and the address was for another business, no website, etc. Point is, stay woke!
In conclusion, this is a choose your own adventure program. I hold zero judgments about what people put in their bodies for recreational or medicinal reasons. I do care about building a legal cannabis industry based in science, education, safe products, and best practices.
Our communities do not need more questionable products made in the style of “bathtub gin” or a Delta 8 freakout hospitalization in the news to damage the progress we are making in overall legalization efforts.
*This is an opinion piece and DOES NOT constitute legal or business advice.
If you’re really wanting to get into the *weeds with all of this Delta 8 stuff, here is a report from the US Cannabis Council going deep on all things Delta 8 and numerous other articles linked.