Delta-8 THC vs Delta 9 – What’s the Real Difference?
Today we’re going to take a look at the differences between Delta-8 THC vs Delta-9.
- What are Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC?
- How do they interact within our bodies?
- Are they legal?
- Drug tests
- And lots more.
So if you’re interested in understanding what Delta-8 THC is and how it differs from Delta-9 then you’ll enjoy this post.
But before we dive into each one of those cannabinoids, we need to take a step back and look at the entire cannabis plant as a whole.
The Cannabis Plant
The history of the cannabis plant and its use in health and wellness circles dates back way longer than you and I can ever remember.
But as we continue to carry out more research and learn more about the pharmacology of cannabis, we’re beginning to get a clearer picture of how helpful it can be.
There are 3 common cannabis species in existence:
- Cannabis Sativa – the most popular of all 3
- Cannabis Ruderalis
- Cannabis Indica
Each one of those species produces compounds known as cannabinoids.
You’ll also hear them commonly referred to as Phytocannabinoids.
- Phyto meaning relating to plants
- Cannabinoids meaning any group of closely related compounds which include cannabinol and the active constituents of cannabis.
To date we now know of about 144 different cannabinoids, each one with its own unique properties and typically exhibiting varied effects.
The 2 most naturally occurring cannabinoids are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
I’ve covered the differences between CBD vs THC extensively and if you’re interested, you can read the full article here.
As of the time of this writing, the latest cannabinoid on the block and the one that seems to be gaining so much traction is Delta-8 THC.
Let’s take a look at each cannabinoid and their differences.
We’ll begin with the obvious one.
What is Delta-9 THC?
Anyone who’s heard anything about cannabis knows what Delta-9 THC is.
Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short is the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant.
This is the substance that causes you to feel high aka marijuana, weed, pot or whatever else you want to call it.
But we now know that it is not the only psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.
Which leads me to..
What is Delta-8 THC?
The National Cancer Institute defines Delta-8 THC as an analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.
You’ll probably hear some people refer to it as the cousin of Delta-9 THC.
They look similar in so many ways and exhibit similar effects but deep down they are completely different.
We’ll go over all those differences in a later section.
For now let’s look at how Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 interact within the body.
How do Delta-8 THC and Delta 9 Interact with the ECS?
ECS is short for the Endocannabinoid system and research shows it plays a role in maintaining homeostasis or balance in the body.
There are 3 main components of the ECS:
- Endocannabinoid Receptors (CB1 & CB2)
Our bodies naturally produce our own endocannabinoids which bind to the different cannabinoid receptors located all throughout our central nervous system and peripheral nervous system.
Endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids behave similarly – the difference is one occurs naturally in the body and the other one as you rightfully guessed is from the cannabis plant.
So whenever you take Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC, they too bind to the cannabinoid receptors in our body.
The 2 main cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2.
The interaction between the cannabinoids and those receptors is what causes the euphoric feelings or lack thereof.
Delta-8 has the ability to bind to both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
Delta-9 on the other hand binds and activates only the CB1 receptor.
Which naturally leads me to..
Do delta 8 THC and delta 9 get you high?
Yes they do.
Both Delta 8 and Delta 9 will get you high however their potencies are not the same.
Delta-8 THC has a much lower psychotropic potency than Delta-9 THC, with some studies indicating potencies below 50%.
The reduced potency means Delta-8 THC is less likely to cause any undesirable effects such as the fogginess, anxiety or paranoia.
Many people often report a calmer, gentle and enjoyable high with better cognitive function.
The lesser high is the reason for much of Delta-8’s appeal.
I like to think of Delta-8 as a bridge between CBD and Delta-9 THC.
It gives you a high but just not as high as marijuana does.
Differences between Delta-8 THC vs Delta 9
We’ve already gone over some of the differences but here’s a quick summary of what they are:
– Delta-9 THC is the most prominent cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid and is only found in trace amounts in the cannabis plant.
– Delta-9 binds only to the CB1 receptor. Delta-8 binds to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
– Delta-9 causes a much more potent high than Delta-8 THC.
– The side effects of Delta-8 are much lesser than those of Delta-9.
– Delta-9 and Delta-8 THC have different chemical structures which is where their names come from:
- Delta-9-THC has a double bond between the carbon atoms 9 and 10.
- Delta-8-THC has a double bond between the carbon atoms 8 and 9.
– Delta-8 is much more stable and has a longer shelf life than Delta 9 thanks to its structure.
Delta-8 THC vs Delta 9 - Are They Legal?
I’ll tackle this question one at a time.
First, is Delta-8 legal?
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, naturally occurring hemp derivatives are considered federally legal as long as they contain 0.3% THC or less.
So CBD, Delta-8 THC, and other hemp derivatives are all legal – on a federal level.
State and local jurisdictions have their own laws in place so depending on the area you live in, there’s a possibility it could be considered illegal.
And you also need to pay particular attention to the products you’re getting because amendments to that same 2018 Farm Bill considers synthetically derived products as illegal.
To be honest the laws surrounding Delta-8 THC are in sort of a gray area and it’s really tough to give you a simple Yes or No answer.
So to be on the safe side, make sure you’re getting naturally derived products and make sure you abide by your state and local legislations.
The next question is is Delta-9 THC legal?
The answer is No.
Delta-9 is currently still listed as a controlled substance and is considered illegal.
P.S. Whenever you’re in doubt, please consult with the appropriate legal services.
These are just a few more things about Delta-8 THC vs Delta 9 you need to be aware of:
– There are legitimate arguments to be made about Delta-8 being “half as psychoactive” as Delta 9.
– The legality issue for Delta-8 grey but seems to be leaning illegal. Time will tell.
– Safety for both cannabinoids is a real concern for more reasons than just contamination, albeit that is a larger one.
– Addiction is absolutely possible (especially to delta-9, but also delta-8) but is far less severe than many other substances.
– Lastly, even though delta-8 is more stable, it also degrades to CBN.
I definitely recommend you read this post to get the full gist of both cannabinoids and everything they can do.
Delta-8 THC vs Delta 9 - Drug test
I’m going to break this down into 2 parts again.
First Delta-9 THC.
If you consume Delta-9 regularly then you’re obviously going to fail any drug tests.
Delta-8 on the other hand can be a little bit tricky.
Most drug tests tend to be urine tests and you have to understand what they’re looking for is the presence of any THC metabolites.
These are the molecules that THC gets broken into after you take it.
The test isn’t looking at the specific cannabinoid you took or how much you consumed, it’s just looking for the presence of any metabolites – period.
So yes there are also chances that you could fail a drug test after taking Delta-8 THC especially if you consume regularly.
Final Thoughts on Delta-8 THC vs Delta 9
At face value, Delta-8 THC is somewhat similar to Delta-9.
Heck you probably couldn’t even tell the difference between a Delta-8 flower from a Delta-9 flower just by looking at them.
They both come from the same plant, they both cause a high and they both have a certain level of appeal depending on who you talk to.
However you go a step further and you’ll realize that looks can be deceiving.
The subtle difference in chemical structure between Delta-8 THC vs Delta 9 makes the world of difference in how both cannabinoids interact within the body.
That alone is what makes Delta-8 THC less potent than its counterpart Delta-9.
If you’re interested in learning more about Delta-8 THC, its benefits and all the reasons why it’s become so popular then I recommend read my ultimate guide here.
I hope you found this useful and I’d really appreciate any comments from you.
Let me know what you think below.
Frequently asked questions about Delta-8 THC vs Delta 9
Here's what you need to know..