Delta 8 vs Delta 9 THC: What is the Difference?

Delta 8 THC Gummies

THC is a fairly well-known substance. Most people have at least heard of it. They may not be able to tell you specifics about THC but it’s likely they know it as the part of cannabis that makes you high. 

That may be the simple answer and they would technically be correct. THC is the cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant that is known to be psychoactive. But now we have been starting to see specific types of THC being advertised. Recently the most popular one you may have seen is called delta 8 THC. But then there is also delta 9 THC. Maybe they are the same thing?

Delta-8 and delta-9 THC are both THC, yes. But they are not the same thing. They are, however, closely related to each other with many similarities. Let’s take a closer look at delta 8 and delta 9 THC and expand on what are some of the differences and similarities between the two.

What is THC

Before we get into the comparison between delta-8 and delta-9 let’s take a closer look at THC in general. THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. With a name like that it’s not hard to understand why we just call it THC.

THC is a natural substance that is found in the cannabis plant. It is most often associated with marijuana. THC is actually just one of many chemical compounds that are found in the marijuana plant. It is also the most well-known substance because it is psychoactive. Being psychoactive is why many people want THC but it’s also why this chemical has caused a lot of concern and hesitation from its detractors.

How Does THC Work and What Effect Does it Have

THC is a cannabinoid. A cannabinoid is a natural substance found in cannabis. There are over 100 cannabinoids that we are currently aware of. One of the main systems of the human body is the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. 

The ECS contains cannabinoid receptors. Some of these cannabinoid receptors in the brain are associated with pleasure, coordination, time perception, memory, and thinking. THC connects and interacts with these receptors. This leads to THC affecting things like memory, thinking, concentration, pleasure, and coordination.

Risks with THC

Before trying marijuana it’s important to understand the effects of marijuana. THC can lead to things like hallucinations and delusions and has an overall impact on the way you think. These impairments often last for around 2 hours and it may take up to 30 minutes after ingestion before you start to notice them.

Another impact of consuming THC is impaired motor skills. This means that ingesting THC will quite possibly impair your ability to drive. This makes widespread recreational marijuana very dangerous and is something that people against marijuana use often point to.

There are concerns about the possible long-term effects of THC as well as the impact that it may have on younger people. Some studies have shown that early marijuana use can affect teens.  There has been a strong correlation that shows teens who smoke marijuana have a higher high school dropout rate than teens who do not.

As far as the long-term impacts of THC there is still much that we do not know. There is simply more research needed to fully understand the long-term impacts that THC could have. However, there is some speculation that long-term use could negatively impact fertility in both men and women.

Delta 9 THC

Delta 9 THC is actually what most of us are talking about when we are talking about marijuana and THC. It is the natural cannabinoid molecule that is found in cannabis (marijuana). It is the same psychoactive THC that causes people who use marijuana to get the feeling of being high. Delta-9 THC is the most abundant psychoactive component in the marijuana plant.

Delta 8 THC

Delta-8 THC is the one that you have probably seen most often recently. There are signs and advertisements all over the place, especially for delta 8 gummies. It seems like everyone wants to get their hands on those of late.

Delta-8 is also found naturally in cannabis. However, instead of being a major cannabinoid, delta-8 is considered to be a minor cannabinoid. That means that there is much less delta 8 THC naturally found in the cannabis plant as opposed to delta-9. 

Delta-8 vs Delta-9 THC

We know they are both technically THC but let’s take a look at some of the ways that delta-8 and delta-9 are different.

Potency is Not the Same

This is one of the big questions that people have. Do they have the same effect on people? Or can delta-8 get you high?

Well, delta 8 is still a psychoactive component so it can get you high. The high from delta 8 THC is not as intense as one would get from delta 9 THC. Delta 9 THC tends to be very intense and comes on very quickly. It’s what makes it so incredibly popular for many people. 

The effects of delta-8 THC are much slower and smoother. Delta-9 can cause anxiety whereas delta-8 tends to make you feel much more relaxed and content. The effects also last longer so it helps to keep you mellow and calm. The nice thing about delta-8 is it does not cause as much mental impairment meaning you can still function normally.

They Are Produced in Different Ways

Delta 8 and delta 9 THC are both found naturally in the cannabis plant. However, delta-9 is a major cannabinoid and is much more abundant than delta-8. Cannabis plants only produce small amounts of delta-8 THC naturally.

Because there is an abundance of delta 9 it can easily be extracted from cannabis. Delta-8 is much harder to obtain from cannabis simply because it’s not readily available. This can make it much more expensive as well.

That is why delta-8 THC is often produced synthetically by using solvents. In fact, the most efficient and safe way to produce delta-8 THC is to use solvents to treat CBD that has been extracted from hemp.

It is completely safe because after the solvents produce delta 8 THC it goes through a process that filters and purifies leaving a pure THC solution. There are no solvents or other chemicals in the final product of the delta-8 THC. But it’s important to make sure you purchase from a trustworthy source to ensure that is exactly what you are getting.

Molecular Structures Are Different

Delta-8 is considered to be an isomer of delta-9 THC. All that means is that they have the same chemical formula but there is a small difference between the molecular structures. It is that very slight difference in molecular structure that leads to the differences in how they each interact and impact the human body.

The specific names of each actually come from the molecular structure of each molecule. Delta 9 THC has a double bond on the 9th chain of its molecular structure. You guessed it, delta 8 THC has a double bond on the 8th chain. It seems simple and minute but it really does make a big difference.

Cost

For the most part, you are going to find that delta 8 products are actually more expensive than delta 9 THC products. That may seem odd but there is a logical reason.

Even though the overall effects of delta-8 are not as substantial as delta-9 there is less delta 8 available. Remember, cannabis plants contain very little delta 8 naturally. This means that extra steps and money is involved to produce pure delta-8 THC. This translates into higher costs for delta-8 THC.

Legality

Understanding the legality of each of these can be difficult because it always seems to be changing. To be clear, at the time of this writing delta-8 THC is legal on the Federal level. There are no federal laws in the U.S. that prohibit the production of delta-8 THC. That is as long as it is derived from hemp that does not contain more than 0.3% delta-9 THC!

On the other hand, some states have banned the use of delta 8 THC and others are considering a ban of delta-8. This leads to more confusion for consumers. So delta 8 is federally legal but you really need to check with your state and local laws. 

Marijuana is illegal on the federal level. For this reason, most states shy away from delta 9 THC. We also know that delta 9 is more potent and does lead to more potential for harmful side effects and substance abuse as well.

How Much Should I Take

These are both different THC molecules that produce different results. They also require different dosing guidelines.

Delta 8 is not as potent as delta 9 so you are able to take higher doses of delta-8 compared to delta-9 THC. A normal range for delta-8 THC would be in the 10-60 mg per dose range. If you were talking about delta-9 it would be more like 5-30 mg. This will vary depending on your experience with THC. 

It is definitely much better to start slow if you are not familiar with cannabis products. Start at a low dose and you can always increase your dosage.

Product Availability

In general, there are tight restrictions on delta 9 THC. There are a few states that allow delta 9 products to be sold. You would normally find these in cannabis dispensaries. But even if you were to find these products you would either need a medical prescription or a special license to even buy them. There are just not many options available for delta-9.

On the other hand, delta-8 is legal on a federal level. You can find delta 8 THC both in stores and online as well. At this point in time, there aren’t even restrictions about being able to ship delta 8 across state lines so it is not difficult to find online retailers. There are some states that do not allow delta-8 products so you need to be aware of the state law before purchasing.

As with things like CBD products, we urge you to only buy delta-8 from reputable and trustworthy sources. Delta-8 THC products are not regulated by the FDA and unfortunately, not all companies can be trusted.

If you are buying delta-8 online then make sure the company is being upfront about the process and the purity of the products. It is best when products are independently tested by a third-party lab for transparency.

Final Thoughts from The CBD Guru

As you can see there are some interesting comparisons between delta 8 and delta 9 THC. In the end, delta-9 THC is much more potent but it’s also not readily available to most people. It is an illegal substance when it comes to federal regulations in the US.

Delta-8 is an easy alternative. The molecular structure is slightly different which makes it much less potent. The lower potency is actually a good thing for most people because it makes delta-8 much more usable and beneficial for the average person. Having said that it’s important to remember that delta-8 is still psychoactive. It can still cause you to get high but without negative side effects, you may experience from delta-9.

Because delta-8 is legal in most states it has become a much more popular option than delta-9. It is much easier and safer to get your hands on and still provides many of the benefits that delta-9 does. The upside is that you don’t experience an out-of-control high and you don’t need to worry about breaking federal law by using delta-8.

Lennox Carey | Editor in Chief

Lennox is a CBD enthusiast who strives to bring his readers joy through the words he writes. Lennox is a devoted husband and father who has been a part of the CBD game since it's early stages. If you need to know something about the CBD Industry, Lennox is your guy. Contact him today with any questions you might have.

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