I was at the gas station recently and saw some dab pens labeled “Delta-8 THC.” I don’t live in a state where weed is legal — what are these and how are they different from a regular dab pen?
Dear Delta-8 Dabbler,
When I first saw Delta-8 at my local convenience store, I was just as confused as you were. Shoved amongst the shelves of cotton-candy flavored nicotine and horny goat weed, it didn’t look like something I wanted to put in my body. I went home and did a little research, and it’s actually quite simple. What we consider to be “normal” weed could technically be called Delta-9 THC, which is its main psychoactive compound. Both Delta-8 and Delta-9 are forms of THC, but Delta-8 purports to have a milder high — and, more importantly, lives in a legal gray area, because current cannabis laws technically refer to Delta-9.
But, when I got your message, I still hadn’t tried the stuff for myself. So I did what any dedicated journalist would do — I went to find a new way to get high.
I live in Washington, D.C., where you may be under the impression that weed is legal. Not quite, unfortunately. Our non-state operates under Initiative 71: an act that, put simply, states you can grow up to six plants (but only three can be mature at a time, for some reason) and have/smoke up to two ounces of weed in your own home (apartment rules and landlord grudges notwithstanding), but you cannot legally buy, sell, or smoke it outside. Just some more completely nonsensical, racist drug policy in the good old US of A :).
Anyway, Initiative 71 has made way for “gifting shops,” where businesses will sell, say, a t-shirt for $50 that just so happens to come with a “free gift” of an 1/8th of an ounce of weed. Some are more reputable than others — they range from nearly dispensary level quality (which get raided by the police more regularly) to head shops with an ounce of shake in the back.
Reader, I was too embarrassed to ask my regular plug for Delta-8. I like to think she has a certain image of me as someone who doesn’t ask for a Delta-8 pen, and frankly I’d like to keep it that way. I didn’t feel like I necessarily needed to invest in the highest quality for this pursuit, so I went to the “CBD shop” (red flag #1) next to the hardware store. I rang the bell, went up the stairs, and showed my ID. Pretty immediately, it became clear that the man I was talking to had no idea what the hell Delta-8 was. He grabbed someone else from the back, someone who spoke more authoritatively, and he showed me a pack of gummies for $100. Sorry, no dice. He reached down to a lower shelf and offered me some for $35. Now we’re talking. I didn’t look at the packaging (spoiler alert: don’t do this) and pulled out my card. Cash only. Of course. I went to the ATM and soon I was on my way.
When I got home, I started looking at the packaging and I realized that something wasn’t adding up. I saw a sticker with the dosage peeling off in the corner and I started to remember those vape cartridges filled with vitamin e oil that gave kids popcorn lung. I peeled back the sticker, which read 600 mg Delta-8, to see the original packaging state it was actually 500 mg of THC. Huh. I turned it over and found more inaccuracies: for starters, it claimed there were ten in a package, but there were only five. Then, it claimed that each gummy was 10mg of THC — which didn’t add up to the correct total in either scenario. The weirdest part of all was another sticker with a QR code, which scanned to lab results of something being tested for Delta - 8. I then did the right thing for the first time in this story: I threw the whole package away.
Maybe a more dedicated journalist would’ve gone to the nicer tier of gifting shops and tried to get the “authentic” stuff, but honestly, the whole ordeal had turned me off. I took an unscientific poll of a few stoner friends to ask if they had tried it, and the couple that had both reported that it was essentially “rebranded mids” or “diet weed.” Which I can understand the appeal of, but honestly, I just don’t think it’s worth the risk unless you’re buying it from a dispensary or somewhere else you really trust.
I don’t mean to fear monger, these gummies I bought were honestly probably fine, but I did accidentally have synthetic weed once many years ago (it was pre-ground when I bought it — another HUGE red flag) and it made me a paranoid, vomiting mess. So, instead of Delta-8, maybe just stick to just a puff or two of our dear friend Delta-9.
Keep writing in with your deepest and dankest questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on instagram at @sackville.and.co and stay tuned for more from me there — thank you to everyone who wrote it for my 4/20 takeover! I loved spending my favorite holiday with all of you.