Is Delta 8 THC Safe?

Sophia Delphi May 25, 2022 - 12 min read
Fact Checked
Image of Scientist holding hemp

It’s been almost two years since the first delta 8 THC products hit the market, becoming the next trending cannabinoid.

As with any new product on the market, some people are suspicious about its safety profile.

Is delta 8 THC safe?

The research on the potential side effects of delta 8 THC is scarce, so we can only judge them by comparing its effects to the ones of delta 9 THC.

Delta 9 THC has a relatively good safety profile according to the WHO’s report on different psychoactive substances. Considering that delta 8 THC is about twice less potent, it’s safe to assume it has an even better profile.

When you use delta 8 THC responsibly, the risk of experiencing anxiety and paranoia also becomes lower.

Unfortunately, since the market is very loosely regulated, there are a lot of contaminated delta 8 THC products out there, which is our first concern regarding their safety. The second one is the side effect profile; we’re going to address both problems in this article.

Is Delta 8 THC Safe?

Although not many studies have been conducted in that regard, current findings suggest there aren’t any serious risks associated with delta 8 THC products, such as vapes, tinctures, and gummies.

However, its short-term and long-term effects on the body and brain need to be carefully evaluated before drawing further conclusions.

As with any natural substance, there’s some risk associated with taking too much delta 8 THC. Use it with caution and watch out for any alarming signs. If you notice them, discontinue the use and see if these changes persist.

Delta 8 and delta 9 THC use similar mechanisms of interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It’s the system that regulates the functioning of all other systems and organs throughout the body. The ECS promotes and helps maintain homeostasis (balance) between them.

The ECS has been considered a potential therapeutic target for a wide range of health conditions, including migraines, type 1 diabetes, seizures, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.

Although delta 8 and delta 9 THC have comparable effects on the ECS, delta 8 is about twice less potent than its more famous counterpart. It binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, so the type of effects is the same — just with reduced strength.

Because of that, side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, racing heart, and hyperactivity are very rare among delta 8 THC consumers.

How to Use Delta 8 THC Products Responsibly

1. Start with a low dose

Delta 8 THC is active at doses between 5–10 mg, so starting at the lower end will help you reach the optimal dosage without experiencing the side effects.

2. Talk to your doctor

A consultation with a qualified medical professional will help you establish the right dosage routine for delta 8 THC if you’re on any medications. Cannabinoids interact with enzymes in the liver, which may decrease or increase the concentration of pharmaceutical drugs in the bloodstream.

3. Buy delta 8 products from reputable suppliers

Choose only the brands that provide up-to-date certificates of analysis with results for the product’s potency and purity.

4. Observe your tolerance

Take tolerance breaks if needed to bring your cannabinoid receptors back to a normal state.

5. Steer clear of untested products

They may be contaminated with toxic ingredients. This is especially true for delta 8 THC vapes.

6. Never use delta 8 THC before driving

Delta 8 products can get you high, and if you’re too high, your motor skills and other functional abilities may be compromised.

8. Don’t use delta 8 THC if you’re under 21

Until that time, your brain isn’t fully developed, which makes it prone to alterations in the regions responsible for motivation, impulsivity, and learning.

What Are the Short-Term Side Effects of Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC has a few relatively mild side effects. They’re similar to those produced by delta 9 THC, but they’re less pronounced due to the lower potency of delta 8.

The main adverse reactions to delta 8 THC include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sensory changes
  • Physical distortion
  • Problems with coordination

Most people experience at least one or two side effects, mainly dry mouth, and sensory changes. However, they’re quite benign and more of an inconvenience than a serious threat to your health.

Still, these symptoms may continue to deteriorate over time; if that happens to you, stop using delta 8 THC until the symptoms go away.

What Are the Long-Term Side Effects of Delta 8 THC?

Research is in its infancy regarding the long-term risks of taking delta 8 THC. It comes with similar side effects to delta 9 THC, as both cannabinoids are categorized as tetrahydrocannabinol.

As with delta 9, young people are at a higher risk of developing behavioral addiction. Since their brains are still maturing, they’re more susceptible to the cognitive effects of delta 8 THC.

The main long-term side effects of delta 8 THC include:

  • Reduced cognitive performance
  • Attention problems
  • Selective short-term memory
  • Dependency and addiction
  • Acute psychosis

Although the above reactions may sound worrying, it’s important to note that we don’t have many studies surrounding the safety profile of delta 8 THC, so most of these side effects are just theoretical.

Some cannabis users report experiencing these long-term side effects, especially with heavy use, but since delta 8 THC is less potent, the same might not be the case.

Everybody is different, and so is their reaction to THC and other psychoactive substances. Some people may not experience any adverse reactions at all, whereas others may notice them even at moderate doses.

Long story short, although research is limited, the long-term risks linked to delta 8 THC use are mild.

Is Delta 8 THC Dangerous?

Delta 8 THC isn’t dangerous as long as you use it responsibly. Some mild short-term and temporary long-term side effects are possible, but they vary between individuals. Most of them aren’t life-threatening.

There’s risk involved with any substance use, so it’s important to observe your body’s response to delta 8 THC to ensure no negative effects occur before trying a higher dose.

What Happens When You Overdose On Delta 8 THC

Nobody has ever lethally overdosed on cannabis. There are also no reported cases of fatal overdoses on delta 8 THC.

Although both delta 8 and delta 9 THC can get you very high in large amounts, the dose needed to induce a lethal overdose is unachievable for humans.

That being said, you can certainly have a bad trip with both compounds when you overdose on them. Anxiety, paranoia, confusion, nausea, and lightheadedness may occur when you take a dose that significantly breaches your sensitivity to delta 8 THC.

The Dangers of Buying Contaminated Delta 8 THC Products

The most alarming danger linked to delta 8 THC use is the contamination of some products.

It’s not delta 8 THC that can cause serious harm; you may be risking other harmful additives and chemicals that occur in your extract. Pesticides, bleaches, heavy metals, residual solvents, and synthetic additives can be extremely harmful to your health.

That’s why you should always purchase delta 8 THC from reputable brands that can provide batch-specific lab reports.

A certificate of analysis from a third-party laboratory will give you a detailed insight into the product’s phytochemical profile, including CBD, cannabinoids, terpenes, and purity.

What Are Certificates of Analysis?

A certificate of analysis (COA) is a document from a laboratory that has tested a CBD product for quality and safety.

Every hemp brand has an option to send a sample of its product to an independent laboratory for content analysis.

The certificate will list the product’s potency and analyze its cannabinoid and terpene profile. On top of that, it will show you if there are any contaminants in the sample, including the aforementioned pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, mold, and other toxins.

A company that hides the lab reports is an instant red flag.

How to Read Lab Reports

As mentioned above, the lab reports are written on the certificate of analysis.

First, you need to make sure that the document refers to the current product batch. The code and date should be visible at the top of the certificate.

Once you know the document is relevant, check the delta 8 THC potency to verify the brand’s claims. Next, move to the section with other cannabinoids and terpenes to confirm whether your product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolates.

The last step should involve the examination of the product’s purity, where you can look at the percentage of pesticides, heavy metals, bleaches, and other toxins.

If there are any inconsistencies in the lab report, you should avoid buying the product. Carefully examine the certificate of analysis before purchasing from any company; doing so will help you reduce the risk of buying a contaminated product.

That’s why we prefer shopping for CBD online; not only can you compare hundreds of products without leaving your house, but you can also do solid research on your potential vendor.

Can Delta 8 THC Give You Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome?

Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a rare condition experienced by a small percentage of heavy cannabis users. It involves abdominal pain, bouts of nausea, and vomiting after consuming THC.

So, what are the numbers regarding CHS and delta 8 THC products?

Fortunately, CHS isn’t a common condition. Although no study has yet analyzed the exact numbers, very few people report suffering from CHS. It’s definitely not the main cause of emergency room visits associated with cannabis.

CHS occurs more often in heavy users. Although the trigger remains unknown, it rarely happens to recreational users. There are no apparent signs of this condition; it seems to affect people at random.

It’s unclear whether or not heavy use of delta 8 THC can trigger CHS, but since delta 9 can do it, there’s certainly a chance.

The good news is that the symptoms of CHS should dissipate within 48 hours after you stop using cannabis.

Can You Get Addicted to Delta 8 THC?

It depends on how you define addiction. In a traditional way people view it, delta 8 THC isn’t addictive but rather habit-forming. This means you can experience behavioral addiction but won’t be physically addicted to the cannabinoid.

Although there are no studies conducted directly on delta 8 THC and addiction, one study suggests that it can become habit-forming and induce behavioral addiction with continuous use.

You probably won’t get severe withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly stop taking delta 8 THC. However, any substance or activity that interacts with your brain’s reward system and dopamine levels can become psychologically addictive, especially if you have a risk-seeking personality.

Rolling a joint or taking a few puffs from a vape pen isn’t a physically demanding process, and the reward is very attractive, so people who often use psychoactive substances to cover a past trauma or escape from reality can form negative habits around them.

Delta 8 THC can reduce pain and stress, so it’s important to use it responsibly and observe your body’s response to this compound. If you feel that you’re missing out on priorities because of your habit, a tolerance break may be useful.

Does Tolerance to Delta 8 THC Increase Over Time?

Yes, just as you can with delta 8 THC. You’ll need to use stronger doses over time to achieve the same results with regular use.

Control your tolerance to delta 8 THC if you want to enjoy its psychoactive effects without increasing the chances of behavioral addiction.

Above all, using delta 8 in moderation will help you save money in the long run. As relatively novel products, delta 8 THC extracts are quite expensive.

How to Prevent Tolerance Buildup

It’s easy as a, b, c — and works the same as with delta 8 THC tolerance.

If you want to prevent your tolerance from increasing, take no-use periods, also known as tolerance breaks.

A non-use period means that you don’t consume any delta 8 THC, so your body has time to return back to its normal functioning. Your receptors need to get sensitized again, which takes time.

When you use delta 8 THC for weeks or months, CB1 receptors in the brain get used to it, making you unable to feel high again.

How you play with tolerance breaks depends on your needs and preferences. Everybody is different and some people may need more time to replenish their CB1 receptors.

Experimenting with different non-use periods will help you figure out the best practices for the break.

Final Verdict: Is Delta 8 THC Safe?

Yes, delta 8 THC has a good safety profile, especially when used in moderation. However, as with any substance, there are some side effects involved with its use.

We need more clinical research to conclude on the long-term side effects and risks associated with regular use of delta 8 THC. However, current studies haven’t brought any alarming results, so we may consider delta 8 to be relatively benign.

If you’re curious to try delta 8 THC tinctures, vapes, or gummies, make sure to order them from a reputable supplier that provides updated lab reports for every product batch it offers. A thorough examination will help you avoid potential dangers linked to using contaminated hemp extracts.

Finally, let your body adapt for some time. Start with smaller amounts and monitor your body’s reaction to delta 8 THC — adjusting the dosage as needed.

And if you feel the need to take a tolerance break — do it! It’s nice to give your CB1 receptors some space from time to time. It will benefit both your well-being and your budget.