It’s legal. But is it as effective as regular-old THC? Delta-8 is all the rage these days because it can sneak around federal law. But does delta-8 even get you high? We put it to the test.
Will Delta-8 THC Get You High?
It’s legal. But is it as effective as regular-old THC?
Looking for more on Delta-8? Here’s what you need to know: What is Delta-8? What are the best Delta-8 edibles? Does Delta-8 show up on a drug test?
You live in a state where delta-9 THC is not legalized medicinally or recreationally, but you can pop into a headshop and snag some delta-8 THC. Will your purchase get you feeling footloose and fancy free?
According to Riley Kirk, Ph.D., aka @cannabichem on Instagram and TikTok, yes, it does get you high, and provides users with a similar body and head high to Delta-9, making it a great alternative for those who live in states that have not legalized medical or recreational marijuana and want to use cannabis as medicine.
This is possible thanks to science: Delta-8 is an isomer of delta-9 — meaning they have the same formula, but a different arrangement of atoms in the molecule and thus different properties. The “delta” refers to the position of a double bond in the molecule. Delta-9 THC has a double bond between the ninth and 10th carbon molecule. The double bond in delta-8 THC occurs between the eighth and ninth carbon in the molecule.
The high also might come from small traces of delta-9 THC that often appear in Delta-8 products.
“There’s been evidence that delta-9 THC is found very often with Delta-8 products,” she says. “It’s not usually just pure delta-8.”
However, you can’t smoke delta-8 since it’s synthesized in a lab and thus does not appear in flower form, although it is made from hemp, specifically leftover CBD. According to Kirk, delta-8 is often found in edibles like gummies and beverages.
Delta-8 also doesn’t bind as tightly to the CB1 receptor — the receptor in the brain that makes us feel high — as delta-9. In fact, delta-8 binds one-third less than delta-9, which is why it usually comes in a higher dosage to compensate. For example, delta-9 THC gummies tend to come in 5 milligram to 10 milligram doses per serving, while delta-8 gummies tend to be dosed at around 20 milligrams.
“I think this is to compensate for the slightly less activity so people feel more like [they’re consuming] traditional edibles, because it’s actually an increase in dose, it’s not an increase in potency of the actual molecule,” Kirk says. “There can be concerns of people taking in too much Delta-8 THC because they’re not really sure how to dose themselves. Maybe they’re taking Delta-9, and they’re trying to compensate with Delta-8 and it’s just not the same.”
However, less psychoactivity is good if you have, say for example, chronic pain and you don’t want to be on a different dimension during your 9-to-5.
“It might be more applicable to people using it while also being functional in their everyday lives,” Kirk says.
So, if you don’t have access to delta-9 THC and can find delta-8 that comes from a manufacturer with transparent lab practices, have a happy high.
I tried delta-8 THC: Here’s what it feels like
Delta-8 THC is one of the hottest topics in cannabis right now. It’s a minor cannabinoid that can get you high like traditional THC, but much less so. Delta-8 found in small amounts in the cannabis plant and is often converted from other compounds like CBD. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you surely will soon enough.
Reason #1 that interest in delta-8 products is surging is its existence in a legal grey area: Delta-8 can be made from hemp. Thanks to the 2018 farm bill, cannabis with less than 0.3% THC is considered hemp, and anything that naturally derives from hemp is federally legal.
That means if you convert hemp CBD into delta-8, you end up with a federally legal cannabis product that gets people high, although less high than traditional THC. Some states have begun to regulate delta-8, some not. (Read more on what delta-8 is and its legality.)
Reason #2 people are so curious about delta-8 is because it’s supposed to be a much less intense, much more approachable experience than the high you feel from consuming traditional cannabis with THC.
So does it get you high? We put delta-8 to the test.
Is delta-8 less intense than THC?
To test out delta-8 THC, I slid to a dispensary in Portland, Oregon to grab up the 250mg pack (ten 25mg servings) of Smokiez Sour Blue Raspberry Gummiez. I chose Smokiez because their traditional gummies are some of my favorites, giving me a great comparative reference. Plus, when trying new products, it’s important to find reputable brands that you can trust to put out the good on a consistent basis.
With delta-8 expected to have less intense effects than traditional THC, I decided to try them in separate doses of 50mg and 100mg, or two and four gummies, respectively. Activation time on the package said 45 minutes.
I took each dose on an empty stomach for the fastest onset time possible, and then allowed a period of four hours to pass, since edibles are expected to peak within 3-4 hours. I did not consume any other cannabis that day, so I started from a completely sober state.
Here’s my experience.
NOTE: The following experience is a single human trial, not a true scientific experiment. Experience with cannabis, frequency of use, and your body chemistry all come into play when deciding how high one will get. Consumption results may vary.
50mg dose experience
I ate the first dose at 10:30am, and after about 30 minutes, I started to feel the familiar head and body buzz that let me know there’s some weed in my system. Or excuse me, hemp.
The first thing to know before discussing the delta-8 experience is my tolerance. I chain-smoke joints all day, every day, with dabs tossed in the mix here and there. It would take a lot of weed to floor me at this rate.
However, with traditional edibles, it tends to be the opposite. They always creep up on me because I forgot I ate them and then BAM—it’s Couchlock City, USA. That’s why I usually stay away from them.
That said, normally a 50mg dose of edibles would absolutely rock me to sleep within a couple of hours, but the delta-8 gummies produced a stimulating, sort of energetic experience that comes from a good morning wake ‘n’ bake mixed with a nice cup of coffee.
It was almost like smoking a joint of CBD-dominant flower, where you feel alert, clear-headed, and ready for any obstacles the day may throw your way. Within less than an hour of eating those gummies, I was locked into Google Docs knocking out days’ worth of writing work.
Truthfully, I expected to feel absolutely nothing when I ate those two gummies. I was ready to hate. But the Smokiez delta-8 gummies experience had me blasting music, dancing around my Airbnb, and punching out sentences that writer’s block had been stifling for over a month.
Sometimes, my head can get pretty foggy from the weight of the world’s news and personal anxieties around them. It leads me to a state where it’s hard to even approach daily life, let alone daily work. Cannabis is one of my remedies for this, and delta-8 proved to have the same benefits that I get by smoking a joint and telling myself that everything is going to be all right. All without the sleepy comedown.
It was a really pleasant surprise, honestly. Something tells me delta-8 might actually be as advertised. It might really be the weaker version of THC that makes cannabis more approachable for people with lower tolerances.
By 12pm, the delta-8 high had started to subside, and at 2pm the only lingering effects of the high were dry mouth and dehydration.
All in all, if I were to describe the 50mg high in one word, I’d say “energizing.”
Never once did I feel a groggy comedown. Never once did I feel my body succumb to the THC. Instead, I felt productive, motivated, and happy. It was the same type of high I get from consuming strains like Apple Fritter, Super Silver Haze, and Chocolope.
This is opposed to traditional edibles, where it’s only a matter of time before I’m horizontal on the couch with the Roku remote in-hand ready to waste hours of life watching Joe Budden Podcast episodes on YouTube. With delta-8, I popped a few of those bad boys and locked into Google Docs for four straight hours. Ernest Hemingway could never.
So yes, based on personal experience alone, I’d say that delta-8 gummies do get you high, and that the high is less intense than smoking joints of traditional flower or eating traditional edibles.
100mg dose experience
I ate the 100mg dose of delta-8 gummies at 4pm. If I’m keeping it real, the experience felt exactly the same as the 50mg dose. I wasn’t higher or anything, it was just right back to a quick head and body buzz that never once tailed off into a sleepy comedown, even as I moved well into the evening.
I was low-key disappointed with that—I thought boys were about to take off for the moon. In the end, it showed me that I could probably pop delta-8 gummies all day long without feeling like I need a 48-hour nap to clear out the oh-my-god-I’m-so-high cobwebs I sometimes get from traditional THC.
Does delta-8 THC get you high?
Yes, delta-8 definitely gets you high, but it was a lighter high than I’m accustomed to from smoking joints, taking dabs, and eating regular edibles.
These gummies were definitely less intense than the normal Smokiez fruit chews, and in the end, this home-cooked experiment left me feeling like delta-8 could be great for people who want an energizing experience from cannabis but don’t want to smoke joints or take dabs for it.
Or, if you simply get way too high from joints and dabs and you’ve been running from cannabis and its many benefits, delta-8 could be the training wheels you’ve needed all along.
Most of the time, people expect edibles to hit hard and have you stuck to the couch in slump mode. Perhaps delta-8 is the solution to avoid that.