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What is Delta-8 THC and Is It Legal in the UK?

5 min read
Delta-8 THC

What is Delta-8 THC and Is It Legal in the UK?

5 min read

Medically reviewed by

Delta-8 THC is making waves as a popular alternative to THC

Commonly referred to as “weed lite”, delta-8 THC has become a midway product between delta-9 THC and CBD. It is less intoxicating that delta-9 THC alternative, but still provides psychotic effects not found in CBD.

But, what is delta 8 THC and what is the delta-8 THC UK law?

Delta-8 TCH is widely available in the US and commonly added to oils, found in delta-8 THC gummies and vapes juices. While it might be legal in the US, delta-8 THC is not available as a standalone product in the UK.

In this guide, we will answer the following questions:

  • What is delta-8 THC?
  • Is delta-8 THC legal in the UK?`
  • Can I buy delta-8 THC in the UK?

In this guide:

What is delta-8 THC?

Delta 8 THC is short for Delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol

It is a cannabinoid, like its more famous cousin delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC. 

For those interested in the molecular structure, delta-9 has a double bond on the ninth carbon while delta-8 has a double bond on the eighth carbon. 

It is the double bond that is thought to produce the “high” commonly associated with THC.

Therefore, both delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC have psychoactive properties, but the location of the double bond on delta-8 THC allows it to interact with the endocannabinoid system in a very different way.

More research is needed on how this interaction works, but it is thought that this difference in the molecular structure makes delta-8 TCH less potent than delta-9 THC

For those interested in finding out more about delta-8 THC and how it works, watch this video:

Is delta-8 THC legal in the UK?

Delta-8 THC is not legal in the UK as it is closely related to THC. 

All THC derivatives and analogues are classified as Class B drugs and can carry up to a five-year sentence.

While non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD is legal in the UK, anything structurally close to THC is restricted and any product with THC derivatives of more than 0.2% is illegal.

Read more: CBD vs THC

The UK government has covered all loopholes by ensuring that THC analogues and derivatives are Class B drugs and also by outlawing all synthetic cannabinoids

Therefore, Delta-8 THC is not available as a standalone supplement in the UK, however, trace amounts of this cannabinoid may be found in popular CBD products.

In this 2016 ACMD report on phytocannabinoids, delta-8 THC was identified as psychoactive. The recommendations in the report are that it should remain a controlled substance.

The bottom line: As long as cannabis remains a Class B substance in the UK, there is no reason to believe that delta-8 THC will ever be considered legal.

Delta 8 THC UK
Delta-8 THC is a synthetic cannabinoid and classified as a Class B drug in the UK.

Is delta-8 THC and CBD similar?

Delta-8 THC and CBD are both cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants, and both interact with the endocannabinoid system, but that’s where the similarities end. 

Delta-8 THC is closer to delta-9 THC because it binds with endocannabinoid receptors, resulting in a subtle high, although to a lesser degree than delta-9 THC.

On the other hand, CBD has a more indirect influence on the endocannabinoid system and does not have any psychoactive effects. Therefore, it is widely used by those who wish to avoid feeling high.

Can you buy delta-8 in the UK?

Delta-8 THC is not available in the UK as it is a controlled substance. 

Therefore, anyone offering delta-8 THC substances for sale is either selling an illegal product or misleading the buyer.

Since there is no regulation of the UK CBD market, it is down to individual brands to decide if they want to share a lab analysis certificate

This certificate will outline the cannabinoid content and may also include an analysis of purity. This measures for the presence of pesticide residue, heavy metals and microbial contamination and will outline the THC content in the product.

Delta-8 THC will typically appear in low, negligible amounts in many full and broad-spectrum CBD oils in the UK, but cannot be purchased as a standalone product.

Benefits of delta-8 THC

While similar to delta-9 THC, delta-8 has a lower psychotropic potency. Fans of delta-8 THC refer to this as “weed lite”, claiming that it provides a similar high without many of the undesirable side effects.

It is also thought to cause less anxiety than regular THC does.

Other benefits of delta-8 THC include:

  • Delta-8 THC was found to be effective in controlling nausea in pediatric cancer patients in an early study. This treatment eliminated vomiting during chemotherapy treatment with negligible side effects. 
  • Delta-8 THC was used to reduce corneal pain and inflammation in mice following ocular surface injury. 
  • And finally, low-dose delta-8 THC was found to increase appetite. A test on mice saw an increase of 16% in food intake in a 9-day schedule and a 22% increase in food intake in the long term. This was indicated as a potential treatment of weight disorders.
What is delta 8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is not available as a standalone product in the UK, but it can be found in trace amounts in other CBD products.

Is delta-8 TCH safe?

There isn’t enough research available to know if delta-8 THC is safe. 

While it is legal to produce in the US, the production is unregulated and subject to unsafe practices. This means there could be vast differences in the quality of the cannabinoid between brands.

The issue of safety in this instance is two-fold:

  1. We don’t yet know the effects of the cannabinoid on humans after long-term consumption. 
  2. We don’t know if the delta-8 THC available for sale is produced to high standards.

Is delta-8 synthetic?

While delta-8 THC is from a natural source, the way it is produced makes it synthetic. 

Delta-8 THC occurs naturally in cannabis plants, but these plants aren’t allowed in commercial cultivation.

Since the commercial hemp plants used for CBD production contain naturally low levels of delta-8 THC, producers have to convert CBD to delta-8 THC in the lab

All cannabinoids start as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), known as the mother of all cannabinoids. Since all cannabinoids are structurally similar, the process of converting the CBGA into delta-8 THC is simple enough in a lab environment

This makes delta-8 THC a synthetic cannabinoid, even if it’s produced from a natural source. 

Cannabis Business explores the legal definition of synthetic cannabinoids in great detail, in the context of US law.

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Final thoughts on delta-8 UK

Although widely available in other parts of the world, sales of delta-8 is not legal in the UK.

This cannabinoid may appear in trace amounts in many CBD oil products, but it is not available in high concentrations, or as a standalone products, therefore you cannot buy delta 8 in the UK.

While this cannabinoid might offer some promise for certain conditions, more research is needed before it can be offered as a potential treatment.