What Is Delta-9 THC? Uses, Benefits, Risks & Side Effects

What is Delta 9 THC

THC has been villainized for years as the cannabinoid behind marijuana’s intoxicating effects. And THC can indeed cause some severe side effects and carries risks if mismanaged by the user. But, thanks to modern science, we can also see the other side of THC — the medical side. 

This article covers everything you need to know about delta-9 THC, including side effects, risks, and legality. 

What Is Delta-9 THC?

Delta-9 THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is a chemical molecule or a primary cannabinoid in the cannabis plant.

Despite its long and complex name, delta-9 THC is known as just THC. This compound is one of over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant and houses hundreds of other chemical molecules, including terpenes and flavonoids. 

THC is known for its potent psychotropic effects that intoxicate the user. 

It’s the primary psychotropic ingredient in marijuana, so the plant’s mind-altering effects are attributed to high levels of THC. This cannabinoid is the main reason people use marijuana for recreational purposes, but there’s more to it than the sensory experience.

A Brief History of Delta-9 THC in the US

The US was well-versed in growing hemp since the 1600s, but cannabis preparations didn’t become available in pharmacies until the 1850s. 

The Irish physician William O’Shaughnessey introduced them to the Western world after his trip to India. During the 1850s, the cannabis plant was added to the US Pharmacopeia, and cannabis-infused extracts were readily available in pharmacies. 

The sale of cannabis-infused products during the 1850s caused a few incidents involving people who experienced THC’s side effects. Soon enough, prohibition followed — between 1913 and 1933, cannabis was prohibited in almost 30 states. Things escalated after the 1936 movie “Reefer Madness,” which portrayed cannabis as a dangerous drug that damages the youth by causing violence, psychosis, and suicide. 

The official federal ban occurred in 1970 when cannabis was classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This was the beginning of the “war on drugs,” which led to the incarceration of people for marijuana use and possession. 

Fast forward to today, THC is a legal substance for medical purposes in over 35 states in the US. It can also be used recreationally in over 18 states and in hemp products in a concentration of no more than 0.3% by weight. Hemp-derived delta-9 THC is legal on a federal level if used within the minimum threshold.  

How Does Delta-9 THC Work? 

The mechanism of action of THC in the body is well explored. This cannabinoid works by binding to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) — a vast receptor network that mediates stress, sleep, memory, and immunity. 

The receptor that THC has a special connection with is the CB1 receptor group. The CB1 receptor group is located in the central nervous system and is responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis.

While the effects of THC last for a few hours, this cannabinoid is stored in the body’s fat cells and organs for three to four weeks. Because of this, it can be detected in urine (between one day and one month), hair (90 days), saliva (up to 24 hours), and blood (12 hours).  

Is Delta-9 THC Safe?

In general, most people tolerate delta-9 THC.

Some people are more sensitive to THC than others, so it’s essential to be aware of potential risks and adverse effects. 

The pleasure released from THC comes from dopamine, or the “feel good” chemical. This causes THC to be easily habit-forming, and the user may experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping cold turkey.

THC Side Effects

Delta-9 THC is pretty potent and can cause side effects, including: 

  • Dry mouth (cottonmouth)
  • Red eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss
  • Increased appetite (the munchies)
  • Slow cognitive response 
  • Increased heart rate 

Consuming this cannabinoid in large doses can lead to confusion, dizziness, and extreme anxiety. In severe cases, the user may enter a state of intense paranoia, hallucinations, nausea and vomiting.    

To prevent a “THC overdose” or a strong reaction to the compound, steer away from really large doses. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that the effects are temporary and calm down after a while. Most importantly, you cannot actually overdose on THC, so try to relax and hydrate until the anxiety goes away. 

The best way to avoid getting into this situation is to discuss taking THC with a doctor or another medical professional. They will guide you and ensure you have the best possible experience.

THC Risks & Long-Term Implications 

Consuming delta-9 THC comes with a certain level of risk — especially in long-term users. 

Research shows that THC is associated with an increased risk of psychosis, particularly in adolescents [1]. It’s also linked to memory loss, learning impairment, increased anxiety, and paranoia. This means that taking this substance, in the long run, may exacerbate mental health symptoms. 

According to studies, cannabidiol (CBD) can help reduce anxiety, improve memory and learning, and even counteract the psychotic effects of THC. So, combining CBD with THC seems to balance out the adverse effects of delta-9 on the brain [2]. 

Aside from these risks, consuming cannabis by smoking can lead to lung disease.  

THC in Marijuana vs. Hemp

According to data in A Comprehensive Review of Cannabis Potency in the United States in the Last Decade (June 2021), the potency of marijuana has dramatically increased. The THC concentration in cannabis rose from 9.75% in 2009 to 13.88% in 2019 [3].

Back in the 70s and 80s, the THC content in cannabis was under 2%, while today, exotic cannabis strains can contain as much as 30% delta-9 THC. Extracts and concentrates like BHO, hashish, resin, etc, are so strong because their THC levels may go up to 80%. 

The federal threshold of THC in hemp is no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. This means that hemp-derived products contain negligible amounts of this cannabinoid (and high levels of CBD), so it’s very unlikely to cause intoxication. 

Will Delta-9 THC Get You High? 

Yes, delta-9 THC interacts with the CB1 receptors in the brain and is responsible for the intoxicating feelings of cannabis. 

High-THC marijuana causes dependence and, in certain cases, addiction. This is especially prevalent in users who started taking this substance prior to age 18 or before attaining complete brain development. 

Delta-9 THC Effects & Benefits 

Some of the effects the user will experience with THC include:

  • Feelings of happiness and relaxation
  • Increased appetite
  • Altered sensory perception 
  • Altered perception of time

THC is used recreationally, but that’s just one side of the coin. This cannabinoid has several medical uses and has been used for medical purposes for thousands of years.

Research shows that THC can help with the following conditions: 

  • Pain
  • Seizures
  • Opioid use
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Poor appetite
  • Anxiety and depression 

If you intend to use THC for any ailment or persistent symptoms, please consult your doctor or another medical professional knowledgeable in the cannabis plant. 

Long-term consumption of cannabis, or certain cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBG), may lead to cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS). This syndrome is characterized by severe, persistent nausea and vomiting and stops when the user quits cannabis altogether. 

Is Delta-9 THC Legal?

Delta-9 THC remains an illegal substance on a federal level in the United States. 

On a state level, it’s legal for medical (37 states) and recreational (19 states) purposes.

If THC is not legal in your state, worry not. The Farm Bill of 2018 made this cannabinoid 100% legal on a federal level under certain conditions. Those conditions are that it must be derived from the hemp flower and sold in hemp products at a concentration of no more than 0.3% by weight.    

In compliance with those rules, we’ve created legal hemp-derived Delta-9 THC Gummies for your enjoyment. They are pre-dosed at 10 mg delta 9 THC in each gummy and are available in two flavors, blue raspberry and watermelon. 

In addition to our full spectrum delta-9 gummies, we also offer a special formula that combines several essential cannabinoids and melatonin. Each Delta-9 THC Sleep Gummy is packed with 10 mg delta-9 THC, 2 mg melatonin, 2 mg myrcene, and 2 mg cannabinol (CBN) or the sleep cannabinoid. 

When we say these gummies have knockout power, we mean it. Consume these for an hour or an hour and a half before going to bed for optimal results.

We craft our gummies with all-natural ingredients, so you can freely enjoy vegan-friendly, organic gummies made with clean hemp

THC can also be consumed through inhalation (vaping, dabbing), topical application (lotions, salves, balms), and sublingually (lozenges, spay, oils). 

Conclusion: What Is Delta-9 THC?

Delta-9 THC is also known as THC and is one of the many chemical compounds of the cannabis plant. This molecule is known for its intoxicating effects, but research shows that it can be beneficial for nausea and vomiting, seizures, pain, and mental health. 

Because it causes an altered state of mind, THC is a federally illegal substance. In the US, over 18 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but it remains a Schedule I substance. Dosing this cannabinoid properly is key to reaping its benefits. 

FAQs on What is Delta-9 THC?

Yes, delta 9 is the THC everyone’s been talking about. Regardless if addressed as delta-9 THC or delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, it’s the same as THC.

Delta-9 THC is THC, so it contains 100% THC by that logic. 

In small doses, this cannabinoid gives you a pleasant, enjoyable feeling, while in large doses, it can make you feel like you’re floating.

Chemically, delta 8 has the carbon atoms positioned at a different spot than delta 9. They differ in that delta-8 is less mild than delta-9 THC.

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