Hemp/Cannabis is a flower that has grown naturally in the wild for thousands of years. It’s chocked full of chemical constituents–some of which are known as cannabinoids–that mesh with receptors throughout our body, eliciting a spectrum of mental and physical effects. THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is by far the most well-known of these cannabinoids, but certainly isn’t the only powerful chemical compound native to the cannabis flower. Delta-8-THC, one of the four most common cannabinoids, is similar to its psychoactive relative THC, but with several key differences.Delta-8-THC is a minor cannabinoid, occurring in the plant in very small concentrations.
Delta-8-THC is also known to be a degraded form of THC, and is not directly produced by cannabinoid-synthesizing enzymes within the plant. When THC is stored for a period of time, it degrades into delta-8-THC. Extractors use selective breeding and molecular isolation to access greater quantities of delta-8-THC.
Delta-8-THC binds to the CB1 receptor like delta-9-THC, but its affinity for the receptor is different due to its slightly altered molecular structure. The CB1 receptor is responsible for mediating most of the psychotropic effects of THC.
This differential binding may be responsible for the reported clearer high with reduced anxiety, and greater ability to concentrate often associated with delta-8-THC. It’s possible that its unique molecular structure also impacts the chemical’s effects on other receptors and neural pathways.