What's The Difference Between Delta 8 And Delta 9?

Delta 8 Vs Delta 9

The cannabis market is full of countless unique strains and seemingly endless products that can provide unique effects and benefits. There are even different forms of THC, with delta 8 and delta 9 being two of the most notable.

Key Takeaways

  1. Cannabis plant
  2. Chemical structures
  3. Production
  4. Legality
  5. Potency
  6. Effects and adverse effects
  7. Dosage

These two psychoactive compounds are found naturally in the cannabis plant, though they have some evident differences. From chemical structure to the associated adverse effects, it's important to understand how delta 8 and delta 9 differentiate.

Keep reading, and we'll share the seven key differences between these two common THC forms.

See Related: What's The Difference Between Hemp vs. Marijuana?

#1. Cannabis Plants

If you want to understand what makes delta 8 and delta 9 THC different, you need to be familiar with what THC is.

Cannabis plants contain hundreds of active ingredients, including flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids. Each element has a unique purpose and goes towards making each cannabis strain what it is!

The two most prevalent elements in marijuana plants are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

These two compounds can affect your body by interacting with your endocannabinoid system. However, THC is the primary psychoactive element in cannabis plants and is responsible for providing that "high" feeling that many people chase after.

What Is THC?

However, there's not just one kind of THC. For instance, delta 8 THC has been making a big splash in the cannabis industry due to its unique pros and benefits. Delta 9 is another form of THC that is considered to be the most commonly occurring.

Though delta 8 and 9 are insanely similar, they still have some differences that can't be overlooked.

Delta 8 and 9 both come from the cannabis sativa plant, which naturally contains high amounts of delta 9 yet lower counts of delta 8.

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#2. Chemical Structures

Though you can observe the differences between delta 8 and delta 9 from a difference, many of the unique effects they provide can be attributed to the chemical structures.

Though these THC forms still have similar structures, there are still some notable differences.

For example, delta 8 THC has a double bond on the eighth carbon atom, while delta 9 THC's double bond lies on the ninth. This double bond on the carbon atoms determines how the THC interacts with the CB1 receptors of your body, as well as your central nervous system.

#3. Production

Since delta 9 THC occurs in higher amounts naturally than delta 8, another difference between the two lies in production methods. Delta 8 is found in trace amounts, which can pose production challenges.

Delta 9 THC is efficiently drawn from female cannabis plants during production. After being harvested, dried, and cured, delta 9-buds undergo an extraction process to remove the desired elements.

These crude extracts then undergo even further filtration to remove things like fats, lipids, and pesticides.

In comparison, the production process for delta 8 is a bit more lengthy, as this type of THC only occurs naturally in smaller amounts.

Delta 8 is produced from hemp plants, though there are some misconceptions that delta 8 THC is synthetic or man-made, which it is not! The distillation and extraction process creates a CBD isolate from hemp biomass, while an organic solvent is then used to dissolve the isolate.

Next, an acid reagent is added in order to change CBD into delta 8 THC before being neutralized.

Finally, once the delta 8 and delta 9 THCs are extracted, they can be used to create anything from edibles to vape cartridges to topicals.

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Bonus: Indica vs. Sativa: Everything You Need To Know About These Cannabis Strains

#4. Legality

In 2018, the Farm Bill legalized hemp production and cannabis products that contain under 0.3% delta 9 THC by weight.

However, because the 2018 Farm Bill only addresses delta 9 THC, delta 8 lies in a bit of a gray area. The legality of delta 8 THC is under question on both a state and federal level and delta 9 THC is still a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

It's important to note that any cannabis product with over 0.3% THC by dry weight is still considered a federally illegal substance. However, producers argue that this metric is nearly impossible to measure when manufacturing things like THC beverages and extracts.

Some regulators argue that delta 8 THC should be restricted or banned due to the possibility of it containing unwanted byproducts or contaminants.

Different states might have different cannabis regulations, with some states making delta 8 THC illegal. When considering delta 9 THC, there is only one state where delta 9 THC is explicitly banned (Idaho.)

#5. Potency

Many people who look into the specifics of THC forms are often curious about what will get them high.

Both delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC can provide that "high" sensation. However, these effects aren't the same, as delta 8 is considered to be milder than delta 9 THC, with delta 8 being referred to as delta 9's "nicer, younger sibling."

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Delta 8 THC Is Less Intense Than Delta 9

The effects of delta 9 THC are more intense and intoxicating, which can elicit euphoria. Delta 8, on the other hand, maybe less intensive or powerful.

However, it's important to remember that delta 8 THC is metabolized differently by the human body when ingested.

When inhaled, you can feel the effects of delta 8 THC itself. But when ingested, it's converted into a THC metabolite known as 11-hydroxy-THC. Delta 9 undergoes this same process when consumed.

#6. Effects And Adverse Effects

Delta 8 and 9 THC often vary when it comes to their side effects.

Again, it should be noted that delta 9 is more potent than delta 8, hence posing a higher risk of adverse side effects. However, that doesn't mean you won't feel the effects of overconsumption if you exceed your THC tolerance with delta 8.

Negative Side Effects Of Delta 8 And 9 THC

The adverse side effects of both these THC forms are generally the same, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion and coordination issues

Other negative effects may crop up if the cannabis used becomes contaminated during extraction. There are instances where processors may accidentally introduce potentially harmful chemicals or other impurities into a given product.

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Effects Of Delta 8 And 9 THC

Delta 8 and delta 9 may offer differentiating side effects. For instance, delta 8 THC may lead to things like:

  • Pain relief
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Reduced vomiting

Delta 9 THC effects include:

  • Reduced depression
  • Neuroprotective
  • Improved blood flow to the brain
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Pain relief and muscle relaxation

Of course, none of these lists are exhaustive. And each person will likely feel unique effects, as THC will interact with everybody differently.

However, research shows that both delta 9 and 8 may provide relief from things like stress and anxiety when taken in low or moderate doses. Both of them can also be used as a natural sleep aid.

#7. Dosage

The dosage of THC always depends on the user, as it affects everyone differently in unique ways.

However, delta 8 typically is only half the strength of delta 9, so many delta 8 THC products contain doses two to three times that of delta 9 THC.

Wrapping Up

Understanding the various forms of THC is one of the first steps to making the most of your individual journey. Whether you're looking to understand how your favorite gummies may affect you, or you're merely curious about the growing interest in delta 8 THC, knowing the difference between delta 8 and 9 is integral!

Keep Reading: How Different Are Indica vs. Sativa Edibles?


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