Delta-8 is a variant of the delta-9-THC cannabinoid. Though still considered to be psychoactive, delta-8 is less potent than delta-9, according to market research firm Brightfield Group. However, effects may vary for each person as well as how it’s administered.
Because it is mainly derived from hemp CBD — which is federally legal — delta-8 is considered to be in a legal gray area. By June 2021, 12 states had completely banned delta-8 THC, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin and Tennessee.
So far, there are no clear federal regulatory guidelines, but Brightfield Group expects laws surrounding delta-8 to continue to change on both state and federal levels.
Currently, unlike delta-9, delta-8 is being sold in CBD-friendly channels, which appeals to consumers in states without legal adult-use cannabis sales. Those actively treating mental health conditions with CBD may hope to find additional relief with delta-8. This especially applies to consumers who have used CBD with a higher dosage for a long time.
“The competition CBD is feeling from delta-8 primarily impacts the cannabis and tobacco positioning for consumers who purchase through convenience stores and smoke or vape shops — these two channels together made up 7.3% of the CBD market in 2020,” said Brightfield’s Managing Director Bethany Gomez. “As a result, some CBD brands are feeling a significant squeeze, while others that don’t compete in these channels are largely unaffected.”
In Q2 2021, 23% of American CBD users were aware of delta-8 THC. Half of those who are aware have made a purchase. Brightfield Group considers these consumers early adopters, and they are defining what delta-8 is used for — reducing stress and anxiety and promoting relaxation.