What Is Delta 8?

What Is Delta 8?

Delta 8 is gradually rising in popularity thanks to its similar characteristics to THC and the legal gray area in which it resides.

Delta 8 THC is becoming a highly searched and trending topic, with many people wondering: What is delta 8? Is delta 8 legal? Will delta 8 get you high? And especially, does delta 8 show up on a drug test?

Not to mention the many questions surrounding whether or not you can trust delta 8 manufacturers. Since delta 8 can be derived from either hemp or cannabis, its legality can be hazy. Pun intended.

At cbdMD, we do not sell products that contain delta 8 and provide you with a Certificate of Analysis to prove it. But we aim to be your resource on health and wellness subjects, especially related to cannabis.

What is Delta 8 and How Is It Made?

Delta 8, otherwise known as delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-8 THC, is rising in popularity thanks to its similar chemical compound (double bonds) to delta 9 THC. Delta 8 can create similar psychedelic effects as delta 9, although they will be less potent.

That said, the research into delta 8 and its effects, potency, and manufacturing processes are still very much in its infancy. While delta 8 has been around since the “Father of Cannabis,” Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, discovered it in 1965, it has only recently risen in popularity.

Going forward, it is important to understand the distinction between hemp and cannabis. Although hemp is a type or strain of cannabis, it contains less than 0.3 percent delta 9 THC, which is federally legal. Therefore, when we refer to cannabis on its own, we’re referring to the varieties of the cannabis plant that contain more than the federally legal amount of THC.


hemp flower under purple and blue lighting


How Does Delta 8 Interact With Your Body?

Just like any other cannabinoid, delta 8 interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your endocannabinoid system (ECS). However, unlike CBD, delta 8’s interactions with your ECS are more closely related to how delta 9 THC forms bonds with the receptors in your mind and body. This means that delta 8 has a stronger relationship with your CB1 receptors than your CB2 receptors.

Speaking of delta 9, it’s essential to understand the relationship between delta 8 and delta 9 and their similarities and differences.

Delta 8 vs Delta 9

When talking about THC, most people generally refer to the delta 9 molecule since that is the variety taken from the cannabis plant. That being said, delta 8 has begun to take off in states where THC isn’t legal – because delta 8 might be legal when manufactured from hemp.

Delta 9 is exclusively produced from cannabis because it is abundant and is usually easy and cheap to extract. While delta 8 can technically be derived from either marijuana or hemp, there is so little natural delta 8 produced in cannabis that it is often not worth the effort and cost of extracting it. It’s for that reason that most delta 8 is made by dissolving crystalline CBD isolate with solvents.

Despite its origin, delta 8 holds more similarities to delta 9 than CBD. To get a little technical, delta 8 and delta 9 are made up of chains of carbon atoms and contain a double bond in their structure, which is thought to cause THC’s intoxicating effects.

The two compounds differ in where that double bond is placed: delta 8 has it on the eighth carbon, and delta 9 has it on the ninth. Because of this difference, the two bond to your ECS differently. This difference is thought to be why delta 8 and delta 9 produce varying effects of intoxication, although this research is still in its infancy.

It’s important to remember that, despite this difference, because there are no federally consistent and enforced testing protocols, some labs can’t tell the difference between delta 8 and delta 9. This means that a large portion of the delta 8 products out there could contain a decent amount of delta 9. The last step in delta 8 production is a distillate, containing up to 9 percent delta 9 THC.

Because of the high levels of THC, risky production process, and the uncertainty of the effects of delta 8 on your mind and body, cbdMD does not sell any delta 8 products. But this does bring up a fundamental question: how is delta 8 made?


the word cannabinoid on paper


How Is It Made?

Introducing the “mother of all cannabinoids:” cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).

Before you can understand how delta 8 is made, we should go over the fundamentals of how cannabinoids develop. Because their molecular structures are so similar, one cannabinoid often morphs from one to another naturally, with CBGA as their starting point. This transition usually occurs due to the environment, outside stressors, genetics, and the natural growth cycle.

Thanks to this natural transition, researchers can more easily convert one cannabinoid into another in the lab. While delta 8 is naturally occurring in insufficient quantities, it is more often than not produced in a laboratory by adapting the chemical structures of other cannabinoids, like CBD and THC, rather than harvested directly.

Now that CBD is growing into a booming industry, and THC remains restricted on a federal level, manufacturers are using the surplus of the two cannabinoids to create delta 8, which is now more profitable than CBD. Although producing delta 8 from CBD is much simpler than converting it from delta 9 THC, there is still a high risk that the end product contains far more than the federally legal amount of THC.

Because this process can appear to be straightforward, many garage chemists and amateurs are trying their hand at converting CBD to delta 8, often with many residual chemicals such as acetic acid. Acetic acid is commonly helpful in the production process, but if this is not done properly, acetic acid can be hazardous if inhaled.

With the delta 8 market remaining federally unregulated, there’s no way to determine what other compounds a delta 8 product could contain. Unless you can guarantee that a specific delta 8 product was manufactured in a trusted lab, under clean conditions, and processed properly to remove any harmful chemicals used in the conversion process, you likely won’t receive a quality product and could be taking on unnecessary risks.

And unfortunately, without a federally regulated process, that’s impossible.

Is Delta 8 Legal?

Since most of the delta 8 available on the market today is produced from CBD that comes from hemp rather than cannabis, it may technically derive from a legal source, in theory. In states where consumers can not legally purchase THC, many turn to delta 8 even though its psychoactive properties are less potent.

For this reason, delta 8 currently resides in a gray area within the US legal system. Not many states directly address delta 8, and it is federally unregulated. Because delta 8 is so closely related to THC in its many effects, cbdMD does not incorporate delta 8 into any of our products.

Currently, most state laws address cannabis, marijuana, CBD, THC, or delta 9 THC without any language about delta 8. In 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed a law, known as the Interim Final Rule, that would indirectly classify delta 8 as a Schedule I controlled substance. The law is set to be reviewed in the fall of 2021, and if it passes, delta 8 will be considered federally illegal.


However, there are 17 states that specifically address delta 8 and another four where it is under review:


  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Alabama: under review
  • Illinois: under review
  • Oklahoma: under review
  • Oregon: under review

Will It Get You High?

Most likely.

Although you won’t receive the same high as with the more potent delta 9, delta 8 will still produce a lighter, milder high. You will likely experience the same effects as traditional THC; however, there has not yet been extensive research into delta 8 and its impact on your mind and body.

That said, delta 8 products will vary in strength and intensity from company to company, and even product to product within those companies – because without federal regulations, manufacturers have no need to follow specific guidelines. But more on that later.

Does Delta 8 Show Up on a Drug Test?

That depends on the amount consumed and the length of time since consumption, but yes, it probably will. Thanks to delta 8’s chemical similarities to delta 9 and the significant fact that many delta 8 products likely contain a large portion of delta 9, it is to be expected that consuming delta 8 will lead to a failed drug test.

But to really get into this more, you need to understand first how delta 8 manufacturers operate.

Can You Trust Delta 8 Manufacturers?

When it comes to manufacturing, producers are still guessing at delta 8’s potency and relation to delta 9. Some believe the effects of delta 8 to be half as strong as traditional THC and therefore equate a 25 mg delta 8 product to one containing 10 mg of delta 9. Companies looking to sell you on delta 8 will state the ratio of their product to THC, then turn right around and claim there’s no way to know how strong the effects of their product will be.

Despite the DEA’s proposed law, the legality of delta 8 is still very much a gray area. With so many manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon, the delta 8 market is gradually flooding with products and misinformation. Due to these issues, cbdMD does not manufacture or include delta 8 in any of our products.

While delta 8 is theoretically federally legal, the products that contain it likely aren’t, and here’s why.

Manufacturers Are Not Always Transparent

Because delta 8 production remains federally unregulated, delta 8 manufacturers don’t have a reason to be transparent. This also means that manufacturers do not have to disclose their manufacturing process; there’s also no rulebook they have to follow from the start of production to the consumer.

Delta 8 manufacturers don’t have anyone to answer to and can process, develop, and market their products as they see fit. This can include false advertising and false information as well as undisclosed ingredients and chemicals.

Do Delta 8 Products Contain Delta 9?

The answer can be more complicated than you think – especially when you extend that question to other chemicals and compounds.

In June 2021, the US Cannabis Council released a report containing 16 lab-tested delta 8 products from California, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and Texas. Of those 16 products:


  • Fifteen contained substantially higher levels of THC than the federally legal limit.
  • Trace amounts of lead were detected in four samples, although the levels were lower than the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) limit for inhalation.
  • Seven samples showed trace amounts of copper, chromium, or nickel, all above USP limits.
  • Dichloromethane, a solvent that releases highly toxic fumes when subjected to heat, was found in one sample – detected below USP levels for inhalation.
  • Reports found 7 to 10 unknown compounds in each sample, which could not be evaluated for toxicity.


Researchers concluded the 15 contaminated products contained between 1.3 percent and 5.3 percent THC, with an average of 3.4 percent. That’s more than 10 times the legal limit!

Because delta 8 is unregulated, often contaminated, and typically produced under questionable conditions, cbdMD does not sell delta 8 or include it as an ingredient in any of our products.

Why cbdMD Products Do Not Contain Delta 8

If nothing else, cbdMD strives to make healthy, legal, and transparent products you can trust.

That means our products contain everything we say they do and nothing else. We follow the federally mandated guidelines, so there’s no need to double- or triple-check that our CBD products are legal in your state before you can purchase them. And it means that our products have nothing but beneficial ingredients.

Our products are tested at third-party ISO-certified labs, will not get you high, and won’t appear on a drug test.

For more information on CBD and the many questions surrounding delta 8 – what is delta 8 really, is delta 8 legal, does delta 8 show up on a drug test, and will delta 8 get you high – stop by our frequently updated blog. Interested in staying up to date on the latest news and special offers? Make sure to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.