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Testing & Processing Cannabinoid analysis

Delta-8 vs Delta-9: The Debate Rages On

Amidst the hundreds of known cannabinoids vying with THC and CBD for the love of consumers, delta-8 THC appears to have emerged as “the chosen one” – selected in part for its purported milder psychoactive effects (compared to delta-9 THC) and much-debated legal status (thanks to a loophole in the 2018 US Farm Bill). But a lack of research leaves question marks over the compound's safety, with many states choosing to prohibit its use.

But what do users think, despite the risks? Jessica and Daniel Kruger surveyed more than 500 delta-8 users about their experiences with the drug. “We found that people who are utilizing delta-8-THC feel fewer negative side effects, and they are using it in modalities that are safer, like vaping or edibles or using it topically,” said Jessica Kruger, clinical assistant professor of community health and health behavior at the University at Buffalo. One particular participant even went so far as to say delta-8 was delta-9’s “nicer younger sibling.” 

The authors are well aware of some clear limitations to the study; for example, participants were recruited by social media  – so there’s no denying some implicit sampling bias… But they feel it’s important to feed into a currently unclear picture. Back in 2021, we spoke with Daniel Kruger, who discussed the findings from the duo’s first paper on this topic. Then and now, his stance in this ongoing delta debate is clear: “As researchers, if the challenge is ‘we don't know enough about this,’ the answer is ‘well, let's study it’ because all policies should be informed by empirical evidence.” 

In December 2021, we dedicated a whole feature to this elusive “unicorn” of the cannabis world, with Chris Hudalla asking why the industry was turning a blind eye to the hazards of synthetic delta-8-THC. As he puts it, “The problem is not delta-8, but the unregulated distribution of synthetic, contaminated products.” This is clearly a debate that is going nowhere soon. 

I’m sure many of you out there have your own thoughts on this topic. If you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear them. Either leave a comment below or send your thoughts to: [email protected].

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About the Author
Lauren Robertson

By the time I finished my degree in Microbiology I had come to one conclusion – I did not want to work in a lab. Instead, I decided to move to the south of Spain to teach English. After two brilliant years, I realized that I missed science, and what I really enjoyed was communicating scientific ideas – whether that be to four-year-olds or mature professionals. On returning to England I landed a role in science writing and found it combined my passions perfectly. Now at Texere, I get to hone these skills every day by writing about the latest research in an exciting, creative way.

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