THC is just THC; or is it? Recently, a new form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the active psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) has begun to make major moves in the cannabis market. That new form of THC is called Delta-8. You may have heard of it before but what is it? To answer that question, let’s first take a look at Delta-9.


Delta-9 THC

Delta-9 THC is the most common form of THC found in cannabis and the easiest to extract. According to Elizabeth Hartney, BSc., MSc., MA, Ph.D. and, Delta-9 THC is the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis. Delta-9 is what we commonly know and accept as THC and is the molecule that gives cannabis its effect or high. Knowing what Delta-9 is will make a huge difference and distinction when understanding its cousin, Delta-8.


Delta-8 THC

Delta-8 THC is a closely related form of THC to Delta-9, however, it has some differences. The biggest difference between these two is their chemical structures. According to Leafly, Delta-8 is a THC similar to Delta-9, but one that causes much less potent effects. Therefore, many people are beginning to prefer this over Delta-9 due to a more mild high. Additionally, Delta-8 THC is becoming just as and more readily available to cannabis consumers. The same article by Leafly, states that Delta-8 can be extracted from cannabis or hemp (CBD). In fact, the majority of Delta-8 found in the market today is derived from CBD. This is made possible through the passing of 2018’s Farm Bill.



Delta-9 THC is legal in all states that have legalized the recreational sale of cannabis. There are currently 11 states that sell cannabis recreationally and medically on a legal level. They are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Adding to the list, there are 7 more states that have passed legislation legalizing the sale of recreational cannabis, but haven’t yet begun selling. These states are Connecticut, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, and Virginia.

So where does Delta-8 THC come into play? Where is it legal? That tends to be a hazy subject for a few reasons. It is a fact that the 2018 Farm Bill gave way to legalized hemp and that Delta-8 can be extracted from legal hemp or CBD. However, THC as a whole is still federally illegal, despite CBD and hemp being legalized. This leads to a loophole in the system, wherein Delta-8 producers extract and synthesize Delta-8 THC from legal hemp and CBD. 

You may ask, how is this legal? In short, because hemp and CBD are legal in the eyes of federal law and the 2018 Farm Bill. This states that if any substance manufactured is derived solely from hemp it can be classified as legal. Some states do not mind, especially those that have legalized cannabis. But, there are still many states that have not legalized cannabis in any form. 


State Legislation

Hemp Industry Daily states that Kentucky and North Dakota are among states attempting to crack down on Delta-8, regardless of any loopholes provided by the 2018 Farm Bill. In Kentucky, one of the country’s top hemp producers, top lawmakers consider Delta-8 THC to be illegal state-wide, citing the federal law and controlled substance act as proof for recent crack-downs on businesses trying to profit off of Delta-8. Additionally, North Dakota is trying to amend its state legislation. However, KVRR Fargo reports that a proposed state bill would immediately ban Delta-8 THC, therefore making sales and consumption of the product illegal.

There are several states that have outlawed the sale of Delta-8, some of which are very surprising. According to NBC, 14 states have blocked the sale of Delta-8: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Utah. States like Colorado may come as a shock to many, but the reasoning as to why they have banned the sale of Delta-8 is due to safety precautions. Colorado banned the sale of Delta-8 due to a lack of research on the extraction process of the cannabinoid.

Bottom Line

So is Delta-8 THC legal? In some cases, no. In others, yes. Currently, the legality of Delta-8 is extremely ambiguous. Some states are looking to crack down on the selling and consumption of the product, some turn the other way, treating it like CBD or hemp, and others are keen to take advantage of this new cannabis trend. In short, Delta-8 THC is a less potent, mild version of the THC we all know called Delta-9, and is permissible in some states, but unclear as to its legality and use in others. Keeping up with local regulations, state and federal are key to understanding Delta-8 THC and Delta-9. As with many other things, time will truly answer all questions regarding this new, mild form of THC. Regardless, Delta-8 THC presents a brand new opportunity for the cannabis industry, one that intrigues many.