Is delta-8 THC really the next big thing?

From a consumer/market perspective, it certainly looks like delta-8 THC is the most promising minor cannabinoid. It has quickly overtaken others such as CBG and CBN in terms of general awareness and – anecdotally – in terms of interest from companies and consumers alike.

The appeal appears to be that it acts as a “lighter” version of delta-9 THC – the more typical psychoactive element of cannabis. This provides consumers with an option in jurisdictions where delta-9 remains banned, while many may find the lighter effects preferable even in areas with legal cannabis consumption. At the same time, producers love it as it turns something that was potentially a waste product into another revenue stream.

However it faces some serious regulatory hurdles. The extraction process leaves it open to accusations of being a synthetic cannabinoid – thus imposing a potential higher regulatory burden on it. Proponents would argue it still can be derived from the hemp plant so should not fall into categories potentially requiring greater regulatory oversight. However opponents – including pro-CBD opponents – argue that the process takes it far from being the “natural” sort of product the industry should be associated with.

And quite a few jurisdictions appear to be taking a risk-minimisation approach by simply banning it as a psychoactive cannabinoid – though it’s not all bad news in that regard. Quite a few are looking at it as a sort of lesser delta-9 THC that might be used as a stepping stone or alternative to the typically banned psychoactive cousin.

For now it looks like delta-8 THC could be quite a lucrative side project for CBD companies – both in and outside of legal cannabis jurisdictions. However, questions remain beyond the regulatory uncertainty. Current production appears to be leaving significant trace undesirable compounds that may prove to be an issue going forward no matter the legality. And – for CBD companies – it is still unclear what impact it has on overall CBD sales, whether it is a new market or adding value to an existing market, or even whether it acts as a complementary or competing product. CBD-Intel is planning to produce more research and analysis on this topic in the near future.

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