Delta-8 THC vs. delta-9 THC — what’s the difference between these two hemp cannabinoids?

Delta 8 vs Delta 9

Delta-8 THC — a milder version of traditional THC — reshapes the hemp plant’s use as we know it. 

If hearing about a THC cannabinoid as an ingredient in a plant that won’t get you high confuses you, that’s normal.

We’re here to take a look at the hemp plant from a new perspective — as a home to various naturally occurring THC cannabinoids with different potency and healing power. What’s the difference between delta-8 vs delta-9? Which one is better? Let’s compare D-8 and -9 THC side by side.

Exploring delta-8 THC? Check our comprehensive user guide on delta-8 THC.

Delta 8 vs Delta 9

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is a lesser-known phytocannabinoid that makes about 0.01% of the hemp plant. Because this cannabinoid appears in small amounts in hemp, processors extract and concentrate delta-8 into readily-available tinctures, oils, sprays, and edibles. 

Scientists discovered this phytocannabinoid in the early 1970s. And, so far,  have conducted multiple clinical tests on its psychoactivity and potency. Today, we know that delta-8 THC is an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), associated with a range of medical uses. Regarding its psychotropic abilities, delta-8 will get you high, but with much lower intensity than delta-9 THC. 

What is Delta-9 THC?

As you already know, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is cannabis’ most popular molecule. We recognize delta-9 THC, or just THC, for its powerful therapeutic effects and mind-altering or “high” effects. More so, as the main reason behind cannabis’ illegality around the world. 

Despite being used mostly recreationally, regular THC has a number of medicinal uses. The most common ways to consume THC is through smoking, edibles, sprays, or topically. The hemp plant contains less than 0.3% THC, while the marijuana plant yielded highly potent strains that contain up to 30% THC. Marijuana concentrates and extracts such as hashish can exceed 50% delta-9 THC. 

Delta-8 vs Delta-9 What’s the Difference? 

Here are some of the differences and similarities between delta-8 and delta-9.

  1. How Are Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC Produced in the Hemp Plant?

Naturally produced in trace amounts (less than 0.1%), the hemp plant creates delta-8-THC through biosynthesis of cannabinoids. It all starts with an enzyme-fueled conversion of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) into tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). As you might know, the acid forms of hemp cannabinoids, for instance, THCA, do not produce any medicinal or mind-altering effects. It’s when converted to their neutral forms, from THCA into THC that they unleash their power.  

During heat exposure or decarboxylation, cannabinoids convert from their acid form to their neutral form. In this case, when exposed to heat, THCA converts into delta-9 THC. But, the process doesn’t end there. Through the aging process (exposure to light and air), neutral THC transforms into delta-8 THC. The biosynthesis of hemp cannabinoids is an interconnected process where each cannabinoid has a special role in the creation of other cannabinoids. 

  1. Delta-8 vs Delta-9: Psychotropic Potency

While delta-9 produces the “high” effect in the body, delta-8 will kind of get you “high” because it’s less psychotropic than delta-9 THC. Studies show that delta-8 is about two-thirds of the potency of delta-9. Delta-9 takes the lead on psychotropic influence because it stimulates a much stronger response in the body.   

Because of its lower psychotropic potency, delta-8 does not produce the same mind-altering effects delta-9 THC does. Delta-8 is a mildly psychotropic cannabinoid that gives users a nice body high,while keeping them clear-headed and awake [1].

A significant difference between a delta-8 “high” and a delta-9 “high” is in the adverse effects. Delta-9 THC easily exacerbates anxious and depressive thoughts and feelings while leaving the user couch-ridden and sleepy. Anecdotal evidence suggests that delta-8’s “high” is tamer. Medical cannabis patients are rapidly switching to delta-8 THC because it offers the same therapeutic benefits without feeling heavy, anxious, or paranoid. 

  1. Chemical Structure 

To explain the differences in potency between delta-8 and delta-9 THC, we need to address the similarities in chemical structure. Delta-8 is a double bond analog of delta-9 THC. An analog is a chemical compound with a similar molecular structure to another chemical compound’s molecular structure with some minor differences. Both molecules are double bond chemicals, which is why they have the term delta in their names. 

The difference in chemical structure between delta-8 and delta-9 is in the location of their double bond. Delta-8’s double bond lies on the 8th carbon chain, while delta-9’s is located on the 9th carbon chain. Seemingly a small distinction, the double bond’s location drives the differences in cognitive and physical effects between these two compounds.  

Both delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC bind to the CB1 receptor located in the central nervous system. The CB1 receptor is a major part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a cell-signaling system maintaining the body’s homeostasis or balance. The CB1 receptor mediates important functions like pain, appetite, inflammation, mood, and psychoactivity. When binding to the CB1 receptor, both delta-8 and delta-9 THC produce their medicinal and psychotropic effects. Delta-8 also influences the CB2 receptor, another receptor of the endocannabinoid system that plays a role in regulating the immune system [1].  

D8 flower

  1. Medicinal Benefits of Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC

From time to time, we all need relief from a nasty hangover. Or something natural to help with nausea caused by motion sickness. Delta-8 THC shows potential in such cases and much more. Delta-8’s known benefits look promising as we’re noticing an increase of medical cannabis patients using delta-8 as delta-9 THC’s substitute. Delta-8’s proven benefits include:

  • Potent antiemetic (anti-nausea) – this cannabinoid has been used as an emetic in pediatric oncology during a study performed by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. The researchers gave D-8 THC to cancer patients ages 3-13 enrolled in chemotherapy treatments. Compared to other forms of THC, D-8 caused no psychoactive effects in children but entirely prevented vomiting and nausea.
  • Powerful appetite stimulant – one of the benefits of delta-8 is an improved appetite. Cannabis users are familiar with the “munchies” or increased appetite after consuming marijuana, likely from THC.   
  • Natural anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties – this cannabinoid exhibits sedative effects, which may help combat anxiety. 
  • Neuroprotective (memory-boosting) effects – the neuroprotective properties of this compound are attributed to its ability to increase the brain’s levels of acetylcholine a neurotransmitter with a major role in learning, memory, and attention.
  • Potent analgesic (pain-relieving) properties – the pain-relieving effects of THC are the reason why many people use organic cannabis plants or extracts. 

Click here to read all about delta-8 THC’s medicinal benefits

If used for medical purposes, delta-9 THC has a number of uses. It’s important to notice that delta-9 THC’s medical benefits are better researched than delta-8’s. Even in small doses, delta-9 THC is an effective:

  • Analgesic (chronic pain-reliever)
  • Appetite-stimulant
  • Powerful antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory agent
  • Anti-convulsant (helps combat seizures)

How incredible is it that two such similar compounds produce vastly different effects on the body? 

  1. Side-Effects of Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC

Researchers reported insignificant side-effects while observing delta-8 THC’s benefits on the body. Although we need more research, delta-8 causes significantly less adverse effects compared to delta-9 THC. It is important to keep in mind that delta-8 is still a tetrahydrocannabinol and should be managed carefully and in small doses. Especially because there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding delta-8. Some known side-effects of delta-8 THC are: 

  • Red eyes if consumed in large doses
  • Increased heart rate – a 2018 review in humans found that delta-8 THC increased heart rate. 

Delta-9 THC is definitely not for everyone. Other cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, CBG, and delta-8 THC are taking over because people want to experience the benefits of hemp without delayed reactions and other mind-altering effects. The most common THC side-effects are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dry, red, itchy eyes
  • Exacerbated anxiety and depression symptoms
  • Paranoia
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  1. Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC: What’s the Difference in Legality

Is delta-8 legal on a federal and state level? Although delta-8 is not a new cannabinoid, its legality became an important question once delta-8 products hit the market. As of this writing, the legality of delta-8 is up in the air. Delta-9 THC is illegal in the U.S., except in eleven states that have legalized marijuana recreationally and 30+ states that have legalized weed for medical purposes. 

Marijuana-derived delta-8 THC stays illegal federally because marijuana is a controlled substance. Hemp-derived delta-8 is legal if naturally extracted, which imposes a problem because hemp contains trace amounts of delta-8. Manufacturers create delta-8 products synthetically by converting cannabinoids like CBD into delta-8 which makes them illegal. 

Typically, processors convert CBD into delta-8 through isomerization (conversion of one hemp compound into another). The process involves the chemical adjustment of CBD isolates to make D-8 THC distillates. This cannabinoid can also be produced directly from cannabis flower extract through a distillation process. 

The 2018 Farm Bill excludes “hemp tetrahydrocannabinols” from the list of controlled substances on a federal level. The only exception is delta-9 THC, which is allowed in hemp products in a concentration of less than 0.3 percent. According to the DEA’s Interim Final Rule published on August 21, 2020, “all synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain scheduled I controlled substances.” D-8 THC’s legal status depends on whether this cannabinoid will be deemed “synthetic” by the DEA in the Final Rule.

Delta-8 THC vs. CBD

What are the key differences between delta-8 and CBD? 

CBD and D-8 THC are two entirely different cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most well-known hemp compounds that doesn’t cause intoxication or a “high.” The non-intoxicating nature of this compound means that, unlike THC compounds, CBD will not alter perception, cognition, and behavior. 

Another difference between delta-8 and cannabidiol (CBD) is the sensations they activate. As a type of THC, D-8 features more noticeable sensations than CBD. If you’ve tried both, you know that the effects of delta-8 THC products are far more potent than those of CBD products. D-8 THC also feels different, mainly due to its mildly intoxicating properties. 

These two cannabinoids also affect the endocannabinoid system differently. Most cannabinoids have an affinity for the two main cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. Cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t have an affinity towards the CB1 receptor, but it presumably influences the CB2 receptors. Like most types of THC, D-8 also binds to CB1 receptors located in the brain. 

Regarding dosing and consumption, it’s important to remember that the standard dosing for CBD is uniquely designed for the compound and doesn’t translate to other cannabinoids. Because delta-8 is psychotropic, aka causes changes in the perception of sensory information, you need a completely different dosing plan. To get a better sense of it, here’s a simple Delta-8 THC dosage chart for tinctures and other forms of administration:

  1. Low tolerance: 5-15 mg per serving
  2. Medium tolerance: 15 – 45 mg per serving
  3. High tolerance: 45 – 150 mg per serving

Where Can I Get Delta-8 THC?

Mr. Hemp Flower just dropped a line of top-shelf delta-8 THC products. Our delicious Delta-8 THC Gummies quickly took over the market. Each vegan, sugar-free THC gummy offers a distinct flavor and is ideal for stimulating appetite and aiding sleep problems. If you’re looking for an effective delta-8 edible with high THC potency, our delta-8 gummy is a must-try.

We are so excited to offer this cannabinoid because of its remarkable healing qualities. Delta-9 THC got the hemp plant banned for so many years, and delta-8 THC has the potential to change that. The proof for that is the permeation of hemp and cannabis products like hemp oil, CBD oil, and similar in professional and college sports. 

Our high-quality delta-8 THC products go through the process of extraction, conversion, and refinement. Delta-8 can’t be found in floral form, so if you are looking for a CBD flower with a kick, buy Delta-8 Flower Stormy Daniels or Elektra Delta-8 Hemp Flower. THC vapes are a popular and easy way of consuming this cannabinoid. If vaping is your cup of tea, consider our Delta-8 THC vape cartridges and vape pens. We also offer delta-10 THC vape cartridges, extra potent CBD gummies, and CBD oils. 

FAQs on Delta-8 vs Delta-9

Delta-8 is a milder version of delta-9, producing a mellow, euphoric feeling that leaves the user clear-headed and fully functioning.

Many use delta-8 for nausea and vomiting, its appetite-stimulating effects, anti-anxiety properties, sleep and memory.

Naturally occurring delta-8-THC from hemp is legal on a federal level. Synthetically derived delta-8 remains illegal.

In urine, byproducts of THC are detectable for a longer period of time from a few days to a few weeks.

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