Delta 8 THC Feeling & Effects: What Does Delta 8 High Feel Like?

Illustration of a woman floating with delta 8 products
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: September 9, 2021

If this is your first time with delta 8 THC, you might be wondering what the high feels like, how it acts on your brain, whether it relaxes you in the same way as delta 9 — and if you can do too much of it and experience anxiety.

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and its derivatives have become legal on a federal level. Thanks to recent technological advancements, Delta 8 THC can be extracted from hemp, so it’s also federally legal as long as it contains 0.3% of delta 9 THC or less.

Yes, you now have a legal alternative to experience the cognitive effects of cannabis without actually buying marijuana.

Wondering what the high from delta 8 THC feels like?

You’ve come to the right place because today, we cover the topic from roots to branches.

What Causes a THC High?

Both delta 8 and delta 9 THC are different versions of the THC molecule found in the Cannabis sativa L. plant. However, while delta 9 occurs naturally in high concentrations in marijuana, delta 8 is produced only in negligible amounts.

Namely, delta 8 THC is a byproduct of THC’s degradation over time.

Both compounds have a similar molecular structure with one subtle difference. Delta 8 THC is a double bond analog of delta 9, meaning its double bond is located at the 8th carbon chain instead of the 9th.

That’s why these cannabinoids have a slightly different fashion of interacting with cannabinoid receptors. Both activate the same receptors — CB1 and CB2 — assisting the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in maintaining homeostasis through regulating functions like memory, mood, reproduction, appetite, sleep, pain, and neurogenesis.

CB2 receptors are associated with physiological responses to cannabinoids, while interactions with CB1 receptors lead to a psychoactive experience known as the high.

Delta 8 THC has a lower affinity with the CB1 receptor than delta 9 THC. For that reason, it’s around half as strong as the main active compound in marijuana.

What Does Delta 8 THC High Feel Like Compared to Delta 9 THC?

Since delta 9 THC is stronger than delta 8, it has a higher chance of overstimulating the CB1 receptor.

Delta 9 THC has a biphasic nature. In low and moderate doses, it can promote relaxation, euphoria, giggly mood, and relief from tension. However, higher doses — especially in reactive individuals — can cause it to backfire, triggering anxiety and paranoia.

That’s because our brain gets fooled that more anandamide is being produced than it actually needs. Anandamide is one of the two major endocannabinoids produced by our bodies; it’s often called the bliss molecule due to its influence on our emotional well-being. Interestingly, it has a similar molecular structure to THC.

When you take delta 8 THC, it doesn’t stimulate the CB1 receptor to such an extent as delta 9 THC. Therefore, the risk of anxiety and paranoia is much lower. You can feel high but still in control, unlike with delta 9.

How Does the Delta 8 THC High Make You Feel?

Now that you know what causes the THC high and how delta 8 feels different from delta 9 let’s shed more light on what the delta 8 THC high makes you feel.

When you take delta 8 THC, you can expect:

  • Uplifted mood
  • Increased body awareness
  • Tranquility
  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Clear cerebral high
  • Dreamy introspection

As mentioned earlier, you will experience intoxicating effects, but you’ll find yourself completely capable of performing everyday tasks most of the time. Even moderate or relatively high doses of delta 8 THC are unlikely to get you couch-locked.

Moreover, delta 8 THC can engage focus and energy, improving overall performance and translating higher productivity throughout the day.

The floaty, uplifting sensation helps promote a mellow, calm, and relaxed state of mind. The whole experience is very smooth, and when it comes off, it doesn’t leave you lethargic or sedated.

The high from delta 8 THC is accompanied by several health benefits. According to The National Cancer Institute, delta 8 has “antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.”

In other words, you can use delta 8 THC to reduce pain, nausea, and vomiting, protect nerve cells, and bring back a healthy appetite.

Possible Side Effects of Delta 8 THC

The delta 8 THC high feels mellow, and the list of health benefits is impressive, to say the least.

That being said, consuming too much delta 8 can trigger some mild side effects, including:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sensory perception
  • Impaired coordination
  • Troubles falling asleep
  • Reduced motor control

The above side effects can occur if you overdose on delta 8 THC. Although it’s impossible to die from taking too much delta 8, we recommend starting with small amounts and working your way up to the optimal dosage.

If you’re a first-time user and worry you took too much, try to relax and calm yourself down by doing things you enjoy, such as taking a walk in the park, watching TV, taking a warm bath, or listening to music.

How Long Does the Delta 8 THC High Last?

a bottle of delta 8 THC and a hemp bud

The high from delta 8 THC takes longer to kick in, but the effects of delta 8 also last longer. The onset and duration of delta 8 vary depending on your consumption method.

In short, the high may need up to 2.5 hours to take hold, lasting up to 10 hours.

  • Delta 8 THC Tinctures and Edibles: Tinctures are taken under the tongue; from there, delta 8 THC enters the bloodstream through tiny capillaries in the mouth, avoiding the first-pass metabolism in the liver. The effects are delayed compared to other cannabis tinctures, beginning after about 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. They can last for up to 5 hours, with peak effects happening 1-2 hours after consumption.
  • Delta 8 THC Vape Carts: Vaping offers the fastest onset effects, starting in about 6 minutes. The time delta 8 THC needs to kick in through inhalation depends on the person and the product used. The peak effects can be noticed within 30 minutes to 2.5 hours after consumption, lasting up to 5 hours.

The duration and onset of delta 8 THC depend not only on the method of use but also on your tolerance levels. These are the most important factors determining the type of high from your delta 8 THC product.

Your previous experience with cannabis and delta 9 THC will also affect the delta 8 experience. If you have a high tolerance to THC due to frequent cannabis use, you may need a higher dose to feel the effects.

Differences in Experience Based on Different Types of Users

Caution is required if you’re a new user. When we say “new user,” we’re referring to a person that has no experience with cannabis whatsoever.

It’s best to start with a low dose — 5 or 10 mg — and slowly make your way up to the point where you feel comfortable with the delta 8 THC high. If you don’t have any responsibilities to take care of that day, you can try a stronger dose to see how well you react to the cognitive effects of this cannabinoid.

If you already have some experience with marijuana, you will more than likely need more delta 8 THC to experience the same kind of buzz, especially if you’re a heavy user. Over time, you may want to switch to delta 8 THC after a tolerance break to experience the benefits of cannabis without the anxiety and paranoia.

How to Customize Your Experience with Delta 8 THC

There are two ways you can modulate your experience with delta 8 THC. You can make the high feel stronger or move it in a particular direction if you want it to be more energizing or relaxing.

Here we explain how to mix different ingredients in your extracts and try different consumption methods.

Delta 8 THC High (By Consumption Method)

  • Delta 8 THC Tincture: Tinctures are liquid extracts obtained through soaking hemp in alcohol. This process typically extracts CBD from the plant, converted it into delta 8 THC in a laboratory. Delta 8 tinctures come in different potencies and flavors; they are administered under the tongue, ensuring higher bioavailability and faster absorption. They also offer better dosage accuracy than other D8 formats.
  • Delta 8 THC Gummies: They are similar to CBD gummies except for the main ingredient. This form of delta 8 THC is the best for people with respiratory problems or those who dislike the taste of natural delta 8 THC. Gummies are made with d8 distillate that is infused into a delicious gummy base. Edibles tend to produce more body high than inhalable versions; the delta 8 THC high also lasts longer and is more intense.
  • Delta 8 THC Vape Cartridges: Arguably the most popular consumption method, vape cartridges contain delta 8 distillate with terpenes and other hemp compounds. The presence of terpenes makes the flavor more appealing, while the administration method ensures the fastest onset of effects and the highest bioavailability among all delta 8 THC formats. D8 vape cartridges are made to fit standard 510-thread batteries.
  • Delta 8 THC Distillate: This is a hemp-derived concentrate that has been partly refined through distillation. It contains around 65% THC, up to 5% CBD, and minor cannabinoids and terpenes. Make sure to check the potency, color, brand, and clarity of your distillate, as many companies use toxic bleaches to make their extracts appear cleaner. You can consume distillates in different ways, including joints, dabs, and edibles.

Delta 8 THC High (By Ingredients)

  • Strains: Like delta 9 THC, delta 8 can be derived from different strains, including indica, sativa, and hybrids. The type of your strain, as well as the bouquet of terpenes, will determine the type of delta 8 THC high you’ll experience.
  • Hemp Flower: Since cannabis plants don’t produce large quantities of delta 8 THC naturally, hemp brands spray CBD flowers with delta 8 THC distillate to increase their D8 content. The resulting product has psychoactive properties and can provide a satisfying feeling of smoking a classic joint. Since these flowers contain high amounts of CBD, the delta 8 THC high is also more balanced. Other cannabinoids and terpenes can contribute to the effect profile of your hemp flower by evoking the entourage effect.
  • Terpenes: Terpenes are aromatic compounds that contribute to the rich fragrances of cannabis strains. They also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties that can enhance the quality of your life on many levels. For example, myrcene is a common terpene that can improve sleep by inducing relaxation, while pinene promotes energy and improves memory. Humulene and caryophyllene, in turn, are great for fighting inflammation and easing pain.

The entourage effect is a term coined by Raphael Mechoulam and further developed by Dr. Ethan Russo. In this phenomenon, all cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in cannabis work in synergy to increase the therapeutic potential of the whole plant.

That’s why full-spectrum hemp extracts are considered superior to their broad-spectrum counterparts and CBD isolates.

So… What Does Delta 8 THC High Feel Like?

As with any substance that interacts with the brain’s receptors, delta 8 THC can provide various cognitive effects on different users.

The high from delta 8 THC depends on the method of consumption, the dosage, and the combination of compounds that your product contains.

Depending on the selected format, the onset and duration of the delta 8 THC high can vary from several minutes to a few hours.

If you’re looking for a rewarding delta 8 experience, make sure to check out our guide to the best delta 8 THC vendors in 2021.

Do you like the high provided by delta 8 THC? What does it feel like to you? Let us know in the comments!

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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