23rd Aug 2022

Mid-Year Review: What’s Driving Delta-8’s Popularity?

What the heck is going on with Delta-8’s popularity?

Remember when CBD was everywhere? Like, all over highway billboards, popping up in your Instagram ads, and mentioned repeatedly by your relatives at the family get-togethers? Everywhere you went, you saw or heard some mention of CBD. Well, you may be having deja vu since that’s exactly what’s happening with Delta-8.

The Delta-8 THC cannabinoid is all the rage right now. We know this because recent studies on search engines have shown a crazy-high increase on this topic since 2020. But what’s causing this popularity? Is Delta-8 better than CBD or even traditional Delta-9 cannabis products?

Delta-8’s Popularity on the Internet

A recent study shows that the internet searches for Delta-8 THC increased by a whopping 705% from 2020 to 2021. The study also notes that Delta-8 searches in the U.S. alone were 10 times higher than the rates in other areas of the world.

If we know one thing, it’s that the internet is basically your first choice when searching for anything. Ranging from the most obscure topics to what just happened 30 seconds ago. And whether someone is curious about what Delta-8 is or wants to know where to buy Delta-8 online, they’re going to do a quick Google search before anything else.

A Brief History of Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol, or Delta-8 for short, is a hemp-derived cannabinoid. It’s found in very small amounts in the plant, so to produce commercial volumes of it to be used in your favorite Delta-8 products the cannabinoid is converted from a more-abundant cannabinoid, CBD. This seemingly random discovery of how Delta-8 came to be didn’t just come out of the blue. There’s actually a fairly illustrious history behind this.

Back in 1941, American chemist Roger Adams published a paper detailing the first known partial synthesis of Delta-8. Adams partially synthesized Delta-8 and studied the minor cannabinoid extensively. Fast forward 20 years and the process was refined by Raphael Mechoulam, otherwise known as the “Father of Cannabis.”

Research on Delta-8 was hard to do because of all the legal regulations that prohibited cannabis use or possession in the U.S. Researchers had to get special permits that were very hard to come by. And when the permits were granted, most research focused on Delta-9 THC because it was more prevalent and thought to cause most of the psychoactive effects of cannabis.

Also, since Delta-8 is only found in very small concentrations in cannabis, it was difficult to get enough to test its therapeutic qualities. Thankfully, scientists have been able to use a process called “isomerization” to convert CBD into Delta-8 THC. This has allowed for more research on this cannabinoid, and the ability for it to be sold commercially. 

The 2018 Farm Bill also played a big role in increasing Delta-8 popularity. It legalized hemp and cannabinoids derived from hemp as long as they contained less than 0.3% THC. (This means that technically, Delta-8 THC is legal since it’s derived from hemp. However, it’s not quite that simple, so we’ll discuss that more later.)

So, there’s your brief history lesson on Delta-8.

What’s Driving Delta-8’s Popularity in 2022?

There are a few factors likely influencing the explosion in Delta-8 popularity this year. These factors probably include the following:

  • It’s a “legal high”: In many states, Delta-8 is legal. In fact, on a federal level (thanks to the Farm Bill), it’s considered legal because it’s derived from hemp and falls under the legal limit of Delta-9 THC. This makes the compound incredibly attractive to consumers nationwide, particularly if you happen to live in a state where cannabis is either too difficult, too expensive, or simply illegal to obtain.
  • It’s new and exciting: Simply put, Delta-8 has a trendy ring to it. It’s new, it’s different, it’s exciting! The minor cannabinoid draw a lot of attention simply because it’s interesting and people want to learn more about it. And the more people try it, the more they’ll tell their friends and family about it. The result leading to…you guessed it, the explosion in popularity simply by word of mouth!
  • The psychoactive high is mild compared to Delta-9: Perhaps the second-biggest reason for rise in Delta-8’s popularity is its psychoactive experience. Many people refer to Delta-8 as “light marijuana” because it produces a milder experience. It typically feels more relaxing and less-stimulating of a high than traditional Delta-9 cannabis products. This makes it an ideal choice for anything just getting started with cannabis, or anyone who finds the traditional high of weed to be too overwhelming.

Is Delta-8 Better Than CBD and Delta-9 THC?

Many wonder if Delta-8 THC is more popular because it has a more attractive experience than both CBD and Delta-9 THC. Maybe this is the miracle cannabinoid we’ve been searching for all along.

To be fair, Delta-8 is very cool. It’s legal in 38 states, the psychoactive experience is mild, and yet it’s just as universal as both CBD and THC in that it can be added to just about anything and everything. However, we can’t say with certainty that Delta-8 is better than either CBD or Delta-9. It’s just different!

CBD has a ton of amazing benefits. And seeing that the cannabinoid is inherently non-psychoactive, it’s very attractive as an alternative to traditional pharmaceutical treatments of whatever may bother you.

Delta-9 THC is very popular specifically for its psychoactive experience. Generally, using Delta-9 THC for therapeutic purposes leverages the psychoactive high and the rest of the cannabinoids the same way CBD would to achieve more or less the same thing – an alternative to traditional, pharmaceutical-grade treatments of whatever may bother you.

Delta-8, on the other hand, doesn’t possess nearly as much research as both CBD and Delta-9 do. So nobody can say for certain that it’s better than either of the other cannabinoids until a great deal of time and energy can be invested in its research. Seeing that it’s federally legal, this may happen in the near future.

One Theory: Delta-8 is More Popular Due to its Legal Implications

We already mentioned that Delta-8’s popularity may stem from its legal status, but let’s dive into that a bit more. There was a recent court case that may some implications for the future of Delta-8.

In May 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that hemp-derived Delta-8 THC falls within the definition of “hemp” under the 2018 Farm Bill. This ruling stated that the appellant can legally sell their Delta-8 THC vape products and is entitled to federal protections regarding their respective trademark.

This legal battle of AK Futures LLC v. Boyd St. Distro, LLC, came about when the company AK Futures noticed that another cannabis brand, Boyd St. Distro, was selling counterfeit versions of their “Cake”-branded Delta-9 vape products. Boyd Street argued that AK Futures couldn’t own a valid trademark for those products because federal law forbids the sale and possession of Delta-8 THC.

The panel on the case found that, thanks to the Farm Bill, the Delta-8 in the products is considered “hemp” because it is a derivative of the cannabis plant with no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. The judge ruled that AK Futures is legally able to sell their Delta-8 and obtain protection for their trademark because it does comply with federal law. 

This case sets the precedent that Delta-8 is legal on a federal level. Since D8 is derived from legally cultivated hemp, it’s technically lawful. However, each state is still able to create its own regulations, and some states specifically ban the sale and possession of Delta-8. Each state has its own definition of “hemp” and while some of them have adopted the definition from the Farm Bill, others have a stricter definition that prohibits Delta-8.

Final Thoughts

In most places, Delta-8 is legal. And with the recent court ruling, many speculate that it could open more doors for Delta-8 in the future. It may give a boost to the sale of D8 products because it adds some clarity to the legality of the products. 

The fact that Delta-8 is a “legal high” in many areas, paired with the fact that it produces a milder high, is causing Delta-8 to be a very popular cannabinoid. Many speculate that its popularity will continue to rise in the coming years.

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