The marijuana plant contains more than 60 cannabinoid compounds, which attach to cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body and brain to create various effects. Humans are not the only animals with cannabinoid receptors – researchers have found these systems are pervasive in mammals, fish, reptiles and birds.
Marijuana’s Various Effects
The best-known result of marijuana use occurs because of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a compound that causes the characteristic “high” by altering brain areas that that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination and sensory perception.
However, not all cannabinoids have the same consequences. For example, cannabidiol is chemically identical to THC, but because of a slight difference in its molecular arrangement, it does not produce the euphoria associated with THC. Instead, some users claim it helps them manage anxiety, depression and pain. In 2018, the FDA also approved the first-ever CBD-based prescription medication for managing epileptic seizures.
What Is Delta-8 THC?
Because marijuana is such a complex plant, researchers have found variations in the THC compound. Two of these are Delta-8 and Delta-9. Between these, Delta-9 is markedly more potent, taking effect rapidly and leading to the trademark paranoia, hallucinations and increased heart rate in some users. Though these effects usually wear off within a few hours, THC accumulates in the body’s fatty tissues, where it can remain for long periods. Some evidence suggests that long-term use of high-potency THC may also make users more prone to psychiatric disorders such as psychosis.
In contrast, Delta-8 provides a less intense experience with a more gradual onset. While users still report feeling high, they are likely to have somewhat more coherent thoughts and struggle less with their focus and concentration. Due to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp products nationwide, Delta-8 THC currently exists in a legal gray area, which may make it easier to obtain in states that have yet to fully legalize the sale of marijuana. That’s because most Delta-8 THC products derive from hemp, making them federally legal despite their psychoactive qualities.
Is Delta-8 Dangerous?
Though many U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, it is still a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, which represents a challenge to cannabis research in the form of regulatory and supply barriers. As a result, our scientific knowledge of the health effects and potential risks of marijuana and all its compounds remains limited.
Due to these constraints, there is a lack of extensive study on Delta-8 THC’s effects on the mind and body, which has led to some persistent misconceptions around its use. Some people may believe marijuana, especially Delta-8, is not dangerous or addictive. However, it is a psychoactive drug, and replacing one substance of use with another or a behavior can lead to a cross-addiction.
There is a risk of psychological and physiological addiction with any psychoactive substance, especially one like Delta-8 THC, because of the lack of regulation surrounding it. While some drugs, such as opioids, have severe withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, chills and body aches, marijuana users tend to experience more emotional and mental symptoms like mood swings and drug cravings when they try to quit or taper off. Still, if marijuana use interferes with your daily life and your ability to maintain healthy relationships and hold a steady job, it’s time to seek help.
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