Delta-8 vs. Delta-9 THC: Why not all THC is created equal
Delta-8 Vs. Delta-9 THC: Why Not All THC Is Created Equal. This is a highly discussed topic in the medical marijuana industry. We have broken down the findings from clinical studies to apply it to our medical marijuana clinic. MMJ patients need to know the difference between the different types of Delta THC they can purchase at a medical marijuana dispensary.
We spend a lot of time talking about cannabis and assisting medical marijuana patients with receiving their medical marijuana card or recertification online at MMJ.com.
And when new terms are being thrown around in the cannabis industry, we tend to sit up and pay attention, because it affects our buyers, our supporters, and our business.
One of the oldest terms in the cannabis game is THC—specifically, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. But what is delta-9-THC? For anyone who is not familiar with it, it’s that powerful psychoactive cannabinoid that’s been getting folks high for generations.
But now, trusted sources are talking about another THC compound making waves of its own: Delta-8-THC.
Maybe you’ve read about this powerful little compound before. Maybe you’ve heard someone mention it and played it off as them being confused about their numbers. Maybe you’ve never thought about it at all.
Here’s why you should.
What Is Delta-8-THC?
First up, let’s look at the short answer:
Delta-8-THC is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant—and specifically in hemp flower and cannabis flower. Like all the other cannabinoids—CBD, CBN, CBG, et al.—it works with our internal endocannabinoid system to help our body maintain a state of homeostasis.
(For those who skipped the rest of our Hemp 101 classes, homeostasis is our bodies sweet spot: chemical, physical, and biological balance.)
And for our cannabis aficionados and philomaths:
Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol is a close cousin of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. Both delta-8 and delta-9 compounds contain a double bond. The only difference is that the double bond is located in different parts of the carbon atom chain.
If, like many researchers suggest, there are 113 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, Delta-8-THC makes up less than 1% of dried cannabis flower and less than 0.01% of dried hemp flower.
It’s a pretty negligible amount, even though delta-8 is one of the four most common cannabinoids found in hemp flower.
Delta-8-THC binds to the same receptors as its more well-known delta-9 cousin. These receptors, which act like landing zones for the cannabinoids, are found predominantly in the brain and spinal cord, and they are called CB1 receptors.
What Is The Difference Between Delta-8-THC And Delta-9-THC?
Despite their near-identical chemical structure, there are a few pretty significant differences between Delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC.
Let’s cut to the chase and answer the question on every cannabis enthusiast’s lips: can Delta-8-THC get you high?
The simple answer is yes. But Delta-8-THC is around two thirds as potent as delta-9-THC, meaning you’re getting less of a high. Similarly, there is less Delta-8-THC present in dried cannabis flower, so you’re getting an even more significantly reduced effect again.
To put it into context for marijuana enthusiasts, Delta-8-THC has more of a psychoactive effect than THCV, and less impact than delta-9-THC.
Legally speaking, THC is THC. The laws surrounding the distribution of THC products apply equally to delta-8 and delta-9.
But there are two areas where you can clearly see that not all THC is created equally—or legally—from a user standpoint.
Drug tests are calibrated to check for levels of THC in your bloodstream, saliva, or urine. The testing limits may vary, but delta-9-THC—the predominant cannabinoid in marijuana flower—will clearly register on a drug test, regardless of how small the amount of Delta-8-THC is in your bloodstream.
Essentially, you’ll fail a drug test for smoking marijuana.
Delta-8-THC found in smokable hemp flower is found at such a low level as to not register at all.
So, in simple terms:
Delta-8-THC in marijuana = failed drug test. Delta-8-THC in hemp = clear drug test.
The Delta-8 Experience
If you’ve been with us for a little while, you already know that one of the major benefits to smokable hemp products like CBD joints and CBD blunts are that you remain clear-headed. That’s because the hemp flower reputable retailers sell is legally required to contain less than 0.3% total THC.
As we mentioned earlier, hemp flower is likely to contain less than 0.01% total Delta-8-THC.
So how does the Delta-8 experience affect users—and why is CBD flower one of the most effective ways to use it?
Let’s find out.
Delta-8-THC: The Intake
One of the primary reasons smoking hemp flower is a great way to capitalize on Delta-8-THC is that it is fast-acting, and long-lasting.
Smoking quality CBD flower makes its presence known within minutes. The effects can last up to an hour, and they’re more intense.
Delta-8-THC may only show up in small amounts in CBD flower, but when bolstered by the Entourage Effect, you still receive its premium benefits.
(Another quick refresher for the reader-on-the-go: the Entourage Effect is the combined benefit that a full-spectrum cannabinoid product—like hemp flower—delivers on. Basically, the cannabinoids work better as a band than they do as solo artists. You can read more about that here.)
As far as aroma and flavor go, you’ll still enjoy the terpene blends you love and the aromatics that make smoking quality cannabis such an enjoyable experience.
Delta-8-THC: The Feeling
Most hemp flower enthusiasts avoid the psychoactive effects of THC for a reason. Maybe they don’t like the paranoia. Maybe they want to keep a clear head. Maybe they come out of a THC-high regretting all the wasted time they just spent on—well—nothing.
But Delta-8-THC is a low-potency cannabinoid with a big impact. It delivers a low level of psychoactivity. And because it is so similar to delta-9-THC in its chemical makeup, it delivers the benefits with less of the high.
Delta-8-THC: “Less of a high,” you say?
Delta-8-THC is a more tolerable version of THC for many users.
It delivers the mild sedative effect of delta-9-THC, without the mental stimulation. It also has less of an impact on our ability to focus and retain information.
If you’ve long avoided THC-rich products because they trigger anxiety and make it hard for you to concentrate, Delta-8-THC is not the culprit.
If we had to describe a Delta-8-THC feeling in 3 words, we’d choose: clarity, energy, and focus.
Delta-8-THC: The Benefits
Delta-8-THC has officially been recognized by the US National Cancer Institute in several areas. If you follow the struggles the cannabis industry goes through to gain recognition for—well—anything, you’ll appreciate what a huge deal that actually is.
According to the USNCI, delta-8-THC can be used to reduce nausea and stop vomiting, reduce anxiety and panic attacks, stimulate appetite, relieve pain, and protect the oxidation of nerve cells.
Not too shabby, right?
Delta-8-THC has proven in early research to be an effective way to reduce nausea and improve appetite in patients being treated for cancer. Due to its low level of pschoactivity, it is also suitable for children. In a study carried out in Israel almost 20 years ago, delta-8-THC isolate was administered to children suffering from cancers of the blood. It stopped vomiting altogether, and reduced the side-effects of treatment.
In an interesting turn of events in the study, results also showed that adults who were given high levels of delta-8-THC experienced mild psychoactive effects. Children who were given high levels of the same cannabinoid were immune to the effect.
#2. Anxiety Reduction
Although most of the evidence around delta-8-THC and its effects on anxiety is anecdotal, users often describe the experience as calm and focused. It’s interaction with the nervous system has also shown an effect on senses and perception, as well as improved reactions to stimuli.
#3. Appetite Stimulant
In studies involving several key cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, delta-8-THC has shown promising results as an appetite stimulant. In one such study, mice who received delta-8-THC consumed 22% more food than the control mice. It was also noted—strangely—that delta-8-THC had more of an impact on food intake than delta-9-THC, which is notoriously responsible for “the munchies” that go hand in hand with getting high.
#4. Pain Relief
In 2018, a pre-clinical trial was able to determine that delta-8-THC reduces pain and inflammation in mice. When the cannabinoid is applied topically for eye injury, it reduced inflammation via the bodies CB1 receptors.
Studies are in their infancy, but there has also been a scientific interest in how delta-8-THC acts on mood, memory, and sleep quality.
Delta-8-THC: The Wrap Up
There are a lot of fascinating discoveries being made in the cannabis industry on an almost daily basis. And some of those discoveries aren’t making their way to the mainstream.
So our goal has been to make sure our customers know what’s out there: and one of the things that’s out there is delta-8-THC. So here’s the wrap up:
- Delta-8-THC is a cannabinoid that acts on the nervous system
- It’s up to two thirds as potent as delta-9-THC
- The biggest difference between delta-8-THC and delta-9-THC is science-y: the double bond that gives it the delta name is in different places (the 8th and 9th carbon in the chain, respectively.)
- Delta-8-THC is found in small amounts in hemp flower and marijuana flower
- Delta-8-THC in CBD flower products—like hemp blunts and hemp joints—won’t get you high. Marijuana flower will get you high, regardless of the delta-8-THC content.
- The main reported benefits are pain relief, nausea reduction, appetite suppression, and anxiety reduction.
Now that you know why this powerful cannabinoid molecule is so important, you can understand why we like it in our full-spectrum, premium-quality hemp blunts.