Differences Between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC

Cannabis plant

If you’ve paid attention to any cannabis news lately, you’ve probably noticed the term “delta-8 THC” pop up a time or two (or ten). This new cannabinoid is making waves across the US, both in recreationally legal states and states that haven’t touched MMJ legislation. So, what are the differences between delta-8 and delta-9 THC? Why is one more widely available than the other?

We know that you probably have a million questions about this unique — yet oh-so-familiar — sounding cannabinoid. Don’t worry: TerVita is here to get down to the bottom of it all. Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the clear differences between delta-8 and delta-9 THC. 

What is Delta-8 THC?

As we mentioned above, delta-8 THC is yet another cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant genus. This means that you can find delta-8 in both marijuana and hemp plants, though we all know that hemp is much more legal than marijuana right now. The cannabinoid is naturally occurring and presents its own novel benefits and attributes that set it apart from the rest — even from delta-9 THC. 

Delta-8 THC boasts promising therapeutic value. Some studies demonstrate the cannabinoid’s apparent neuroprotectant characteristics, while others illustrate D8’s assistance with nausea and anxiety. As well as the potential medicinal benefits, delta-8 THC presents mildly psychoactive properties. While it shouldn’t get you stoned out of your mind, the cannabinoid does have the ability to bind to the CB1 receptors in the brain. Thus, you find yourself experiencing waves of euphoria alongside some relaxation and comfort.

If you’re enjoying hemp flower, you likely won’t notice the super-low levels of delta-8 THC (if present at all). Thus, brands have started extracting the cannabinoid from hemp plants to add within oils, edibles, and Delta 8 disposable vapes. When they do this, you’re able to fully appreciate the benefits and  effects of D8 without the interruption of other cannabinoids or plant matter. 

The Differences Between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC

Now, you’re probably wondering what the differences between delta-8 and delta-9 THC are. After all, they sound practically identical. Despite their incredibly similar name, D8 and D9 THC demonstrate some clear differences, helping us differentiate between the two THCs. 

The Chemical Composition

Science lovers, listen up! If you ever have the chance to look at the chemical composition of delta-8 THC version delta-9 THC, you see that they’re slightly different. Both delta-8 and delta-9 boast a double-bond structure — the same structure responsible for creating psychoactivity. However, where these bonds cross is in entirely different areas for the cannabinoids. 

For delta-9 THC, the double-bond occurs at atom 9, while in delta-8 THC, it occurs at atom 8. Realistically, this doesn’t seem like it should create that big of a difference, but it does! This difference in placement makes it easier for delta-9 THC (you know, the super common cannabinoid in marijuana) to bind to the receptors in the brain. While delta-8 can do this, the placement of the double-bond makes the strength much weaker. 

So, while the names of the two cannabinoids seem like you could practically interchange them, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC have different chemical compositions that directly influence their performance in the body. However, some scientists believe that we can consider delta-8 THC an aged or “degraded” form of delta-9. 

Psychoactivity Levels

Another stark difference between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC is the psychoactivity levels. As you can probably guess, the high you get from traditional delta-9 THC isn’t going to be the same as the one you’d get from delta-8. 

Delta-9 THC is incredibly potent and doesn’t struggle whatsoever to work in the brain. Thus, many people experience intoxicating effects like waves of bliss, giggles, feelings of slowing down, or even enhancing sensory stimulation. None of these effects are inherently bad, but not everybody wants to experience them. Because of this, some consumers choose to stay away from delta-9 THC and opt for something more like CBD instead. 

The psychoactivity levels in delta-8 THC are incredibly mild compared to those of delta-9. Most people only experience a slight boost in mood and feelings of calm with D8, which can be far more comforting than a panicked high. With low doses of Delta-8, you may not even notice the psychoactive effects — just the therapeutic ones! This reason alone is why the cannabinoid has blown up in popularity recently: you only get slightly buzzed, but you get all the medicinal help.

The Legality

In terms of differences between delta-8 THC and delta-9, legality is a huge one. The United States states that marijuana and its constituents — delta-9 THC, mainly — are federally illegal. However, per the 2018 Farm Bill, the hemp plant is not. Thus, the juxtaposition between legalities is quite stark. 

Plain and simple, unless you have a medical card or live in a recreationally legalized state, delta-9 THC isn’t legal. It is only permitted in minuscule amounts (0.3% or less) because it will not cause psychoactive effects at that low of a percentage. You cannot buy THC products at the store, online, or through any retailer, unless you have the proper identification or your state allows. If you’re on federal land, this is 100% illegal, as well. 

For delta-8 THC, things are different. Many brands have started extracting D8 from hemp plants explicitly, which are federally legal. Because of this, hemp-derived Delta 8 THC-gummies with less than 0.3 D9 THC are legal throughout the country for consumption and possession. However, they must be hemp-derived and follow all standard federal guidelines. 

Here’s where legalities get a little tricky, though: some states have started banning delta-8 THC products. Today, there are at least 17 states with bans or regulations on delta-8 products. These states want to wait until more information comes out about the cannabinoid before allowing it. Make sure you always check with the state’s delta-8 regulations where you live before purchasing these products.

TerVita and Delta-8 THC

Right now, the information surrounding delta-8 THC is auspicious. Though we still need to get our hands on a bit more research, having a cannabinoid as novel as D8 is exciting within the cannabis community.

As you can see, the differences between delta-8 and delta-9 THC are clear. Even though they may share a similar name, these two cannabinoids demonstrate their strengths in unique, beautiful ways (and one’s just a bit more legal than the other). 

For more information on delta-8 THC or other cannabinoids, check out our CBD blogs.