Updated on April 2, 2024

Delta-8 vs delta-9

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Key takeaways

  • Scientists have identified over 120 cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
  • Delta 9 THC is not the only cannabinoid that can make users high. Other cannabinoids that can make users high include delta 8 THC and CBN.
  • Delta 9 THC is the second most researched compound in the cannabis plant.
  • Delta 8 THC is the milder version of Delta 9 THC.
  • You may still fail a drug test after using Delta 8 THC.

There are over 500 compounds present in the cannabis plant with more than 120 identified as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids like THC exist in different forms and offer different psychoactive effects on users. It is pertinent to note the delta 9 THC is not the only psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. Other psychoactive compounds include but are not limited to Delta 8 THC and CBN. Think of delta 8 and delta 9 THC as two sides of the same coin. In this article, we would look at their differences and possible similarities.

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis. It is similar to the more well-known delta-9 THC, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects commonly associated with marijuana use. Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC have similar molecular structures, but the placement of a double bond in their carbon chain differs. This structural variation is responsible for the differences in their physiological effects.

Just like delta 9 THC, delta-8 THC also produce psychoactive effects, but they are generally considered to be milder. Users often describe delta-8 THC as inducing a more relaxed and less intense high. Delta-8 THC can be found in both marijuana and hemp plants. However, its concentration in cannabis plants is generally much lower than that of delta-9 THC.

Therapeutic benefits of Delta 8 THC

Delta-8 THC have distinct effects on users. Think of it as a delta 9 THC without the usual strong euphoria effect. It is a choice cannabinoid for people who want to experience the therapeutic benefits of delta 9 THC without having to fail a drug test or deal with the psychoactive effect of THC. Some of the commonly reported therapeutic benefits of delta 8 THC are listed below;

  1. Pain Relief: Delta-8 THC, like delta-9 THC, is believed to have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It may interact with the endocannabinoid system and modulate pain signals, providing relief for certain types of pain.
  2. Anti-Nausea Effects: Delta-8 THC has shown potential antiemetic effects, meaning it may help alleviate nausea and vomiting. This property could be beneficial for individuals undergoing treatments like chemotherapy, which often cause nausea.
  3. Appetite Stimulation: Similar to delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC is thought to stimulate appetite. This property may be particularly useful for individuals with medical conditions or undergoing treatments that lead to appetite loss.
  4. Anxiety Reduction: Some users report that delta-8 THC has anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects without the intense psychoactive effects often associated with delta-9 THC. It may promote relaxation and reduce feelings of anxiety in some individuals.
  5. Neuroprotective Properties: Early studies suggest that delta-8 THC may have neuroprotective properties, potentially protecting nerve cells from damage. This could have implications for conditions involving neurodegeneration.
  6. Improved Focus and Clarity: Some users report that delta-8 THC provides a clearer and more focused high compared to delta-9 THC. This aspect may be appealing to those seeking a more functional experience.
  7. Sleep Support: Delta-8 THC may have relaxing and sedative effects, potentially aiding individuals with sleep disorders or difficulties falling asleep.

What is Delta 9 THC?

Delta-9 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis, responsible for the plant's characteristic intoxicating effects. When people commonly refer to THC, they are usually talking about delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC has a chemical structure that includes a cyclic ring and a hydroxyl group, allowing it to bind to cannabinoid receptors in the body, primarily the CB1 receptors in the central nervous system. This binding is responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with THC.

THC is renowned for its psychotropic or psychoactive effects, and it induces feelings of euphoria, alters sensory perception, changes mood, and increases appetite, commonly known as the "high" experienced with cannabis use.

Delta-9 THC is found in significant concentrations in the marijuana plant, known for its higher THC content. In contrast, hemp, another cannabis variety, contains much lower concentrations of delta-9 THC.

Therapeutic benefits of Delta 9 THC

Delta 9 THC is one of the most researched compounds in the cannabis plant. Some of its possible therapeutic roles include but are not limited to the following;

  1. Analgesic (Pain-Relieving) Properties: Delta-9 THC is known for its analgesic effects and is used to alleviate pain in conditions such as chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and pain associated with cancer or other medical treatments.
  2. Antiemetic Effects: Delta-9 THC has demonstrated antiemetic properties, helping to reduce nausea and vomiting. This can be beneficial for individuals undergoing chemotherapy or experiencing nausea due to other medical conditions.
  3. Appetite Stimulation: Delta-9 THC is known to stimulate appetite, commonly referred to as the "munchies." This effect can be helpful for individuals with conditions like HIV/AIDS or cancer, where appetite loss is a concern.
  4. Reduction of Inflammation: Delta-9 THC has anti-inflammatory properties, which may contribute to its efficacy in managing conditions characterized by inflammation, such as arthritis or inflammatory bowel diseases.
  5. Glaucoma Management: Delta-9 THC has been studied for its potential to reduce intraocular pressure, making it a topic of interest in the management of glaucoma.
  6. Neuroprotective Effects: Some studies suggest that delta-9 THC may have neuroprotective properties, potentially protecting nerve cells from damage. This could be relevant to conditions involving neurodegeneration.
  7. Antispasmodic Effects: Delta-9 THC has muscle-relaxant properties and may help alleviate muscle spasms, making it beneficial for conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS) or spinal cord injuries.
  8. Mood Enhancement: Delta-9 THC can have mood-enhancing effects, providing relaxation and euphoria. It is sometimes used to improve mood and alleviate symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 differences

Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC are two distinct forms of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis. While they share similarities, there are notable differences between the two compounds:

  1. Chemical Structure: Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC have similar molecular structures, with both containing a cyclic ring and a hydroxyl group. The main difference lies in the placement of a double bond in their carbon chain.

Let’s add a graphic design highlighting common difference in the structure of these two cannabinoids?

  1. Psychoactive Effects: Delta-9 THC is well-known for its potent psychoactive effects, commonly associated with the "high" or intoxication experienced with cannabis use. It binds strongly to CB1 receptors in the central nervous system, leading to euphoria, altered perception, and changes in mood. Delta-8 THC on the other hand is reported to produce psychoactive effects as well, but they are generally considered to be milder than those of delta-9 THC. Users often describe delta-8 THC as inducing a more relaxed and less intense high. It still binds to CB1 receptors, but the binding affinity is lower than that of delta-9 THC.
  2. Legality status: Delta-9 THC is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in many jurisdictions due to its psychoactive nature. However, in some regions, cannabis containing delta-9 THC has been legalized for medicinal or recreational use. Delta-8 THC has gained attention in regions where marijuana is illegal but hemp-derived products are permitted. In the United States, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation and extraction of hemp-derived products, including delta-8 THC, as long as the products contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC.

Frequently asked questions

What is the main difference between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC?

The main difference lies in their chemical structures. Both are forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but Delta-8 THC has a double bond on the eighth carbon chain, while Delta-9 THC has it on the ninth. This structural variance contributes to differences in their effects.

Are there any side effects associated with Delta-8 THC?

Like Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC can cause side effects such as dry mouth, red eyes, increased heart rate, and changes in mood. Individual responses vary, and excessive consumption may lead to intensified side effects.

Can Delta-8 THC be detected in drug tests?

Delta-8 THC use may result in positive drug test results for THC. Some tests may not distinguish between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, leading to potential issues, especially in workplaces with strict drug policies.

Does delta 9 get you higher than delta-8?

Yes, delta 9 will get you higher than delta 8. The psychoactive effect of delta 8 THC is milder.

Which Delta is the strongest?

Both are strong and produce unique therapeutic benefits however, in terms of psychoactive properties delta 9 is stronger.

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Kruger JS, Kruger DJ. Delta-8-THC: Delta-9-THC's nicer younger sibling? J Cannabis Res. 2022 Jan 4;4(1):4. doi: 10.1186/s42238-021-00115-8. PMID: 34980292; PMCID: PMC8725316.

Tagen, M., & Klumpers, L. E. (2022). Review of delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC): Comparative pharmacology with Δ9-THC. British Journal of Pharmacology, 179(15), 3915-3933. https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.15865

Michael J. Pellicane, Madison E. Quinn, Christian A. L. Bean, Madeline E. Bartek, Luke F. Heggeness & Jeffrey A. Ciesla (2023) Delta-8- and Delta-9-THC Use Frequency, Use Motives, and Mental Health Outcomes, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, DOI: 10.1080/02791072.2023.2200211

Miller, C. R., Burk, B. G., Fargason, R. E., & Birur, B. (2023). Delta-8-THC association with psychosis: A case report with literature review. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 14, 1103123. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1103123

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