Updated September 1, 2023
A cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa) has over a hundred cannabinoids, naturally occurring compounds that interact with our endocannabinoid systems, a complex network that keeps our bodies in balance.
Two of these cannabinoids are delta-8 and delta-9 THC tetrahydrocannabinol). They are both remarkably similar in effects and chemical composition; the one thing setting them apart is the position of a double bond in the carbon chain.
Everyone's heard of our beloved delta-9 THC, the famous psychoactive cannabinoid in most cannabis products. But what about delta-8 THC? What is it, and what's the difference?
In this blog post, we'll compare delta-8 and delta-9 THC to clear the air. Let's dive in!
What is Delta-9 THC?
Delta-9 THC is the most common form of THC found in the cannabis plant. Being a psychoactive compound, its claim to fame is the characteristic "high" it causes.
Delta-9 interacts with the endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our brain, which cause a shift in sensory perception, mood changes, relaxation, and euphoria.
Depending on the strain of the cannabis plant, delta-9 is found in varying concentrations, but the typical range is 10% to 30%.
Delta-9 is found naturally in some parts of the cannabis plant but is more concentrated in the flowers. Most cannabis products like flower, tinctures, vapes, oils, edibles, gummies, and concentrates on the market use delta-9 as the primary cannabinoid.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is very similar to delta-9 but is known to be one-third to one-quarter less potent. It has a slightly different chemical structure and is also found in the cannabis plant but in small amounts.
It is most often synthetically manufactured with CBD (cannabidiol) in a process called isomerization. Carbon dioxide or ethanol is used to extract CBD from the cannabis plant; then, the crude extract is subject to a chemical reaction to change the molecular structure, resulting in delta-8.
Delta-8 and delta-9 share a similar molecular structure with one difference - the double bond position. In delta-8, it is on the 8th carbon chain, while in delta-9, it's on the 9th.
Because delta-8 can be derived from a hemp plant, it is legal in more places than delta-9. However, the FDA has not approved delta-8 THC products and has issued cautions against using synthetically manufactured cannabinoids in general.
What is Delta-10 THC?
Delta-10 has recently entered the market, but very little research is available on this cannabinoid. Less potent than delta-8 and 9, it is known to cause more of a head high than a body high.
Some users describe its effects as mildly energizing and uplifting, with some mood changes*. However, very little is known about this particular cannabinoid, so it's always best to proceed with caution.
Delta-8 vs. Delta-9 THC
So, what's the difference between delta-8 and delta-9?
Delta-8 can produce mild euphoria and a sense of relaxation, but the overall intensity pales compared to its stronger counterpart.
Delta-8 has been known to produce fewer side effects like anxiety and paranoia than delta-9, making it suitable for those particularly prone to such reactions.
Delta-9 is responsible for the "high" that all weed smokers experience and can cause several psychoactive effects like an altered perception and mood and sensory changes.
High doses of delta-9 can also produce more unfavorable side effects like anxiety and paranoia.
Depending on the strain of delta-9 and how delta-8 is manufactured, delta-8 is about one-third to one-quarter less potent than delta-9.
The difference in potency will depend on individual factors such as dosage, method of consumption, and tolerance to THC.
It will also depend on the specific product's concentration of the cannabinoid.
Now, let's look at the legal differences between the two cannabinoids.
The most common cannabinoid, the legal status of delta-9 THC varies according to state and country. Some states, like California and Colorado, have legalized recreational and medical cannabis, while others still deem it illegal.
Countries like Thailand, Malta, Mexico, and Canada have legalized its use nationwide. However, in many other countries, delta-9 remains illegal, and sale or possession can result in hefty penalties, including criminal charges.
The legality of delta-8 is a gray area. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3% THC are legal as they are hemp plants.
Since delta-8 THC is derived from hemp plants, it is technically legal. However, some states treat delta-8 the same way as delta-9 and consider it a controlled substance.
Risks and Side Effects
Although delta-8 is less potent than delta-9, it is still psychoactive and has its share of risks. It can still impair your cognitive and motor function, and because it is milder, it could lead to overconsumption and unwanted side effects like nausea, anxiety, and paranoia.
You shouldn't be operating machinery or driving if you're on delta-8, and always check with your healthcare professional if you are currently on any medications.
The risks of delta-9 are similar Delta-9 THC can cause memory impairment and loss of psychomotor skills and cognitive function. To avoid unwanted side effects, It is up to the individual user to experiment by starting with a low dose and gradually increasing.
Regardless of your choice, you should prioritize your safety and, when in doubt, always seek advice from your medical provider.
Which One Should You Choose: Delta 8 or Delta 9?
THC products are all the craze in the market right now. If you’re having doubts about where to kick-start your journey, you can always try FAB CBD’s newly launched Delta-9 Gummies in melon and guava flavors. They are a hemp-derived full spectrum product that contains both CBD and THC levels in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill. Because there is the possibility or even expectation of a buzz when taking and form of THC, it’s best to approach the experience conservatively and take a small amount first to see how you feel before taking more. Once you find the right dose for your needs, these forms of THC can be a lovely addition to your regular supplementation.
So, there you have it. Delta-8 is milder and typically synthetically produced, while delta-9 is more potent and naturally occurring.
Regardless of which one you go for, always purchase products from reputable sources with strict safety standards so you don't end up with a contaminated product. Always ensure that the products have undergone rigorous testing from a third-party, independent facility.
Lastly, it is our responsibility to ensure that whatever THC products we buy are legal in our area, especially when shopping online.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.