Delta 8 THC cartridges

Delta 8 THC cartridges.

SYRACUSE (TNS) — Have you heard of Delta 8 THC?

It’s not exactly marijuana. It’s not exactly CBD, either. Both of those cannabis products are now legal in New York — CBD derived from hemp for the past few years and marijuana since last month.

Delta 8 THC, also called just Delta 8 or simply D8, is a hemp-cannabis derivative that has been available in New York for about a year. It exists on the border between marijuana, which gives users a psychoactive “high,” and hemp-based CBD, which does not.

Both hemp and marijuana are members of the cannabis family, with hemp containing less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound that provides the marijuana high. Yet, as the name indicates, Delta 8 is a form of THC.

It’s been picking up momentum nationwide and in New York for the past few months. It can now be found on the shelves at many local shops that sell CBD (cannabinol) and other hemp products. It’s sold in forms that can be smoked, vaped or ingested (like gummies).

The retail sales market for legal marijuana under New York’s new law, meanwhile, won’t start up for at least a year, or until the state releases regulations and issues licenses.

So if you’re looking to buy something now that produces a feeling sort of like the “euphoria” some associate with marijuana, but in a milder way and without the buzz, Delta 8 might be be it.

“It’s more of a body euphoria, versus the head,” said Yardley Burgess, owner of several Empire CBD shops in the state, including one that opened in February at Destiny USA and another at Walden Galleria in Buffalo. “It provides pain relief, anxiety relief and relaxation. Compared to CBD, it’s really more of a recreational use.”

It’s popularity nationwide is spiking, but Delta-8 THC is not without controversy. Twelve states now completely ban Delta 8 THC, including Colorado, one of the first states to legalize marijuana itself.

That’s partly due to uncertainty over exactly what it is.

“This (cannabis in all its forms) is a brand new industry, so it takes time for the laws and regulations to catch up,” said Kim Stuck, who was one of the first cannnabis regulators in the country when she worked for the Denver city health department. She now runs Allay, a consulting firm that provides advice and assistance to those in cannabis industry. “Today it’s Delta 8. Next week it might be something else. It creates an uncertain environment.”

One issue with Delta 8 THC, Stuck says, is that it “does change your perception of reality” but in a “milder” way than the THC in marijuana.

In addition to Colorado, states that have banned Delta 8 THC include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island and Utah. Other states are taking a look.

Shop owners like Burgess say they are selling Delta 8-THC legally in New York under a 2018 federal law change that legalized hemp and its derivatives and a state law enacted last year that set rules and regulation for what are called “hemp extracts.

It’s legal, Burgess says, because it’s made from hemp and not marijuana, and because the amount of THC in the products sold is less than 0.3%, meeting the standards of the New York hemp extracts regulations.

Chemically, the Delta 8 THC is slightly different from marijuana THC, which is designated Delta 9 THC.

“It’s one atom off (the marijuana THC),” Burgess said. “You could say it’s sort of a loophole, but it does have a different effect.”

The slight chemical difference does cause it to affect people differently than marijuana (Delta 9), according to the cannabis site Leafly.com.

“Delta-8 consumers report many of the same effects as (Delta 9) THC, such as mild euphoria, happiness, uplifting feelings, and relief from some symptoms such as pain, although the compound is much less potent. Delta-8 can also help with insomnia,” according to Leafly.

But, Leafly noted, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed classifying Delta 8 THC as a controlled substance, which would make illegal under federal law (but necessarily in all states). That rule is not yet final.

As with both marijuana and CBD, Delta 8 THC can come in many forms. Local shops sell it in such options as vape cartridges, tinctures, gummies or “moon rocks,” which are concentrated “nuggets” that can be smoked.

Burgess credits the recent popularity of Delta 8 with helping his business grow. He’s added a shop in Buffalo and is working on an upcoming expansion to Florida.

“We’ve seen a big boost since we’ve added (Delta 8),” he said. “It seems to be something that people really want.”

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