As cannabis legalization continues its wildfire-like spread across the U.S., consumers new and experienced are growing ever more curious about cannabinoids beyond the euphoric and psychotropic Delta-9 THC and the non intoxicating CBD. Those two cannabinoids are the most researched by far, but more than 100 cannabinoids have been identified thus far, and each interact with the body’s own endocannabinoid system in varying ways.
One of the newer cannabinoids on the scene is not new at all but a relative newcomer to consumer awareness nonetheless. Research on this cannabinoid dates back to the 1970’s and studied Delta-8 that derived from oxidized and degraded Delta-9 THC. In today’s market, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp (requiring all hemp products contain less than 0.3 percent THC), CBD manufacturers have learned to make synthetic Delta-8 by converting CBD into the compound in a process called isomerization.
Delta-8 has made quite a splash. Though the molecular difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 is small, it is significant enough to produce different effects. Both forms of THC bind to a cannabinoid receptor called CB1, but Delta-8 binds differently because of its molecular structure. This binding variation may be the reason why Delta-8 consumers report a more clear-headed and less anxiety-producing high when compared to Delta-9.
As it turns out, drug tests are not particularly sophisticated, especially when it comes to a complicated plant like cannabis. Importantly for consumers, tests are not equipped to discern
After cannabis is consumed, the body breaks THC down into chemical markers called metabolites, regardless of THC type. These metabolites indicate that THC has been processed by the body, precisely what the drug test is designed to look for.
This has real life implications for consumers. Current testing technology has presented an ongoing challenge for law enforcement, for example, who may need to ascertain whether a driver is stoned behind the wheel.
As cannabis becomes increasingly more mainstream, employers are evaluating whether testing employees for THC is in their best interests. In fact, many companies are moving away from testing for cannabis as a condition of employment, while others are phasing out surprise drug tests that could jeopardize a person’s employment status.
The only way to ensure that Delta-8 – or any other cannabinoid for that matter – will not show up on a drug panel is to abstain from cannabis consumption for 3-4 weeks, or perhaps even longer, depending on the frequency of consumption.