Cannabis has been growing in the wild for years, discovered by many – but waited a long time to be discovered for its healing properties.
It is a flowering plant that is filled to the brim with different kinds of chemical compounds. Many of them are called cannabinoids as they can interact with a specific part of our body, known as the endocannabinoid system, that enables them to exhibit an array of physical and mental effects.
Among those cannabinoids, one of the most popularly known cannabinoids that offer cannabis its “high” feeling is Delta-9 THC – more commonly known as THC. Its powerful effects don’t just give you a high. It can even raise your pain threshold and lower inflammation. It can help you eat and sleep better, and even help you overcome a myriad of health issues.
But then, it does cause that annoyingly intense high that could cause headaches, nausea, paranoia, and depression. It can even get you stoned and, literally, make you lose your natural coordination.
With some recent advancements and developments in cannabis science, we have found a close relative of Delta 9 – one that has all the goodness, but none of the downside of Delta-9 THC. It is called Delta-8 THC.
Despite the similarities in their names, they are quite different compounds and are available in very different proportions in their natural form. Owing to its low psychotropic potency, however, Delta-8 is fast becoming a popular go-to compound for a large majority of people who enjoy a nice high without the “paranoia” or anxiety.
Delta-8, which is present in far lower concentrations than Delta-9, is an isomer or a chemical look-alike of Delta-9 THC and almost as potent a psychoactive compound as the latter.
Here’s an insight into their major differences that you should be aware of if you’re into cannabis products…
Delta-8 vs. Delta-9 THC: The Chemical Differences
Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC are almost the same on the molecular level. Their chemical difference lies in their molecular structure, i.e., at the atomic level.
Even though both the compounds stimulate appetite (varying in degrees, though), and offer certain health benefits, the atomic bonds of Delta-8 are slightly different from Delta-9 THC – which is what makes their psychotropic potency quite different.
The structural differences lie in their chemical bonds. Though both Delta-8 and -9 are isomers of THC, Delta-8 has a double bond on the eighth carbon chain, while Delta-9 has the same C-C double bond on the ninth carbon chain.
Unlike Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 is available in scant amounts in natural cannabis. That is why, for the past few years, companies have been trying to develop safe, yet effective ways to extract these minute amounts of concentrated Delta-8 THC from these plants to allow people to benefit from its unique healing powers.
Interestingly, Delta-8 THC can be chemically produced from natural Delta-9 and CBD and, then, infused in edibles, topical creams, tinctures, and other products. However, this isn’t legally allowed by the federal government.
So, how is it usually obtained or procured from natural hemp?
Usually, Delta-8 THC is obtained through a process known as distillation.
The process employs fractional distillation of cannabis flowers and trims by exposing them to a thin-film distillation. Delta-8 is gradually isolated from the plant material by implementing variations in temperatures, scientific equipment, and vacuum.
This process allows companies to isolate specific cannabinoids and remove unwanted components, impurities, residual solvents, even while retaining the purity of the extract.
Using this process ensures you get the cleanest and purest form of Delta-8 THC that is both legal and safe for consumption.
Talking about legality, let’s jump right to the next point of difference.
Delta-8 vs. Delta-9: The Legal Status
Before you decide on consuming Delta-8 or any hemp-derived products, it’s better to be aware of their legal status.
Is Delta-8 THC federally legal?
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized all hemp-based products as long as they don’t contain Delta-9 THC above 0.3% of the overall dry weight. So, yes, Delta-8 THC is legal as long as it is procured from hemp (and not marijuana).
Hemp is cannabis, but with lower than 0.3% of Delta-9 THC, while marijuana contains over 0.3% of Delta 9 THC.
Besides, there is also another clause that restricts Delta-8 manufacturers from carrying out a legal business. And that is, Delta-8 can’t be synthetically produced from another cannabinoid. Since Delta-8 is not naturally available in abundance, this becomes a problem. Delta-8 can be easily produced by chemically treating Delta-9 or CBD.
Since Delta-8 THC has a much milder psychoactive potency compared to Delta-9, it is legal and isn’t in much of troubled waters – as long as it adheres to FDA and DEA norms.
Delta-9 THC, on the other hand, is federally illegal. It is present in high amounts in marijuana and is primarily known for getting you ‘stoned’. Any product, containing high levels of Delta-9 THC, can get you high due to the latter’s psychoactive nature. That is why, you may have noticed, manufacturers make it a point to mention that their products do not contain Delta-9 THC above the 0.3% threshold and that they are hemp-derived.
This makes their products federally legal.
The bottom line: While Delta-8 THC is federally legal, Delta-9 THC is not.
However, not all states conform to this federal norm. If you reside in any of these states, you would not be able to procure any THC product, including those containing Delta-8. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, and Utah.
Delta 8 vs. Delta 9: The Tolerance Level
The tolerance levels of all chemical compounds (drugs) vary from person to person. They also differ over time as the body gradually adjusts/resists their effects. THC, too, elicits the same reaction from the body.
Consuming THC (all cannabinoids, for that matter) alters the behavior of certain receptors in the human body (mainly the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, besides some other non-endocannabinoid receptors). When someone consumes such compounds frequently, the receptors’ response to these compounds reduces, thereby building the body’s tolerance to them.
Compared to Delta-9 THC, the body, generally, develops a higher and quicker tolerance towards Delta-8 THC. So, with time, the latter’s effects become weaker. On the other hand, if you stop using it, you won’t experience any withdrawal symptoms. That means that the body quickly loses its tolerance and dependence on this compound.
After prolonged use, if you find Delta-8 THC isn’t as effective as it used to be, try taking a break for a couple of weeks. Its impact soon reverts to its normal intensity.
But how much should one take for optimal effects?
Let’s find out…
Delta-8 vs. Delta-9: Consumption & Dosage
The standard dose of Delta-8 for optimal effects varies from 10 to 40mg per dose, depending on the intensity of effects you’re expecting, your overall body weight, and age.
If you’re looking to get high on Delta-9 THC, usually all it takes is about 5-20mg of this compound.
Both Delta-9 and Delta-8 THC can be consumed in the same ways – smoking, vaping, tinctures, edibles like gummies and capsules, and topical application. In both cases of tetrahydrocannabinol, inhalation and sublingual exposures render quicker effects than oral ingestion and topical application.
Besides, plenty of products based on other cannabinoids, such as CBD, contain THC within the legal threshold. Its presence improves the overall effects, promoting what is known as the “entourage effect”, and supports your overall wellness. But its low content ensures no side effects, associated with Delta-9, such as feeling high, dizzy, drowsy, depressed, paranoid, or sapped.
The main difference lies in their availability. While Delta-9 THC is easily available in the black market, a good quality Delta-8 THC product is hard to find.
This is due to the latter’s low concentration in cannabis plants.
To get a potent D-8 product, you’d need something that contains high concentrates. Not all companies have found the best ways to make them. Even the companies that do sell them, often, don’t adhere to federal norms or procure healthy and potent levels of this compound.
Here is a list of some of the most common types of Delta-8 THC products that you’ll find in the cannabis market:
- Delta 8 THC Tinctures
- D8 Gummies
- Distillates and Concentrates
- Vape Pens, Cartridges, and Vape Juices
So, if you do decide to use Delta-8 products, we recommend you, first, determine the delivery option with which you’re most comfortable before you purchase. If you’re used to smoking or vaping, you can go for it. But, if you suffer from breathing issues or other pulmonary problems, we suggest other delivery options, like edibles or tinctures.
Delta-8 vs. Delta-9: What More Should You Know?
Delta-8 THC, a close cousin of Delta-9 THC, is available in very small amounts in hemp plants. However, Delta-9 THC is most abundantly present in cannabis, especially marijuana. In fact, Delta-9 is one of the most abundantly available cannabinoids in marijuana, apart from CBD.
Delta-8 THC, though almost half as strong as Delta-9, is still highly potent. It helps reduce symptoms of different ailments by interacting with the body’s receptors. According to a 1995 study, conducted on children with hematologic cancer and undergoing chemotherapy and other drug treatments, Delta-8 THC exhibited a wide spectrum of benefits.
For instance, the use of this cannabinoid helped prevent nausea and vomiting without causing any prominent side effects. Although Delta-9 THC is also useful in that respect, we are aware of the wide range of side effects caused by it.
Although it is advised not to drive or operate any heavy machinery after consuming Delta-8 THC, its psychotropic potency is still much more subtle than Delta-9 THC. Although the former hasn’t been put to any medicinal use so far, you can expect to see it being used soon – given its advantageous parameters and metrics.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two THCs:
|Mild to moderate
|Moderate to High
|CB1 & CB2
|CB1 & CB2
|Legal (Federally legal, illegal in 11 states across the USA.
|Illegal (Federal limit – 0.3%)
|Concentration in cannabis
|Less than 1%
|Up to 30%
|Mild to Moderate
|Impact on Motor Skills
|Weak, but discernible
|Strong and potent
|C=C double bond in the 8th position of the carbon chain
|C=C double bond in the 9th position of the carbon chain