Delta 8 vs. Delta 9: A Detailed Comparison

By Adam Mizrahi By Adam Mizrahi | December 22, 2022 | Lifestyle Sponsored Post

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Delta 9, has been one of the most famous cannabinoids on the planet for decades. But with the passage of the Farm Bill and the rise of hemp-derived cannabinoids, a new compound has now risen that’s ready to give the king cannabinoid a run for its money: delta 8.

But what exactly are these two compounds? What are their benefits and effects, and how do they compare with one another?

What is Delta 9?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta 9 THC or simply THC, is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. In other words, this is the compound people are referring to when detailing their psychotropic experiences with weed.

Delta 9 creates effects on the body by binding with cannabinoid receptors such as the CB1 receptor, which is found in the endocannabinoid system. It also stimulates the release of dopamine, a natural bodily chemical closely linked to feelings of euphoria. CB1 receptors play a major role in the moderation of stress, sleep, pain, and other bodily functions, which is why delta 9 is so effective at treating ailments relating to these functions.

Delta 9: The Benefits

Delta 9 has many useful potential benefits because it interacts with our cannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters. Although the properties of THC are different for everyone depending on independent factors like weight, age, tolerance, and metabolism, the compound has been known to have the following effects:

  • Relaxation
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased appetite
  • Pain relief
  • Altered perception of time
  • Heightened sensory perception

Although delta 9 is widely popular as a recreational compound, the cannabinoid also has a number of potential medicinal applications. And this discovery isn't new; as a matter of fact, historical evidence suggests that humans discovered cannabis’s medical benefits thousands of years ago, and have been reaping those benefits ever since.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, using delta 9 could potentially help treat ailments related to:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Loss of appetite

Delta 9: The Side Effects

Despite delta 9’s many potential benefits, medicinal or otherwise, some evidence has also been found demonstrating the compound’s adverse effects. Some of the most common side effects associated with cannabis include dry eyes and a dry mouth; thankfully, the most common side effects are also the easiest to cure, just pour yourself a cold glass of water and get yourself some eye drops.

That said, delta 9 THC can have other, less common potential risks, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Changes in perception

Despite some uncomfortable potential side effects, THC’s long-term effects don’t seem to be too dire. According to the World Health Organization, the compound does not constitute a substantial risk to its users and its abuse is rarely ever reported.

How is Delta 9 Made?

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Marijuana-derived THC may be legal in some states with recreational or medical cannabis programs, but it is illegal at the federal level. Hemp-derived delta 9, however, is considered federally legal and is also lawful in many states.

But is there a difference between delta 9 derived from marijuana and delta 9 derived from hemp? And how exactly is hemp-derived delta 9 made?

Marijuana and hemp are actually nearly identical: they're both types of cannabis and contain all the same molecules, but they are legally distinguished based on their THC levels. Under federal law, hemp is defined as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana is defined as a cannabis plant containing more than 0.3% THC. In other words, THC from hemp and THC from marijuana are virtually identical, with the only difference being that sourcing THC from one type of plant is legal and the other is not. But how exactly is delta 9 made from hemp? Isomerization and hemp extraction are two of the most popular methods of deriving THC from hemp.

Isomerization is the process of converting hemp-derived CBD into THC using chemistry. Due to the fact that all cannabinoids derive from CBGA, or "the mother cannabinoid," they all have very similar molecular structures. The process of isomerization involves rearranging existing molecules in order to create the structure of another molecule. In this case, it involves rearranging CBD into THC.

The second most common method to obtain THC from hemp involves extracting it directly from the plant. Because extraction does not require any chemical manipulation, it leaves THC in its original state from start to finish. However, hemp plants are much higher in CBD than they are in THC, so isomerization is the most common method for producing hemp-derived THC.

What is Delta 8?

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta 8 or delta 8 THC, is a naturally occurring psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. The cannabinoid has a similar chemical composition to that of its close relative, delta 9, or THC, which is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. Their molecular structures are actually strikingly similar, with just one palpable difference: while delta 9 has a ninth carbon atom with a double bond, delta 8 has an eighth carbon atom with a double bond.

Delta 8 is an analog of delta 9, but their different arrangements in atomic bonds causes them to have different effects. In fact, delta 8 is estimated to be around half as strong as delta 9, and some research also suggests that the compound is less likely to cause the adverse effects usually associated with delta 9, such as anxiety and paranoia.

Delta 8: The Benefits

Delta 8's main selling point is that it offers a similarly psychoactive experience to delta 9 but with a dramatically reduced risk of paranoia and anxiety. Its moderately low and extremely manageable high gives users a buzz without leaving them completely lethargic like regular THC.

The compound is commonly referred to as "diet weed," but delta 8 has many of the same properties as delta 9, albeit to a lesser extent. These effects include:

  • Relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Appetite boost
  • Better sleep

There are still relaxation and pain-relieving effects that can be felt when you use delta 8 as you do when using delta 9. However, your mind will remain at ease, and you will feel a sense of clarity as you continue to use delta 8. In low doses, delta 8 is an effective means of bringing the mind into a productive state, while in high doses, the compound can have a more sedative effect.

Delta 8: The Side Effects

In spite of the fact that delta 8 is much milder than regular THC, it can still cause some of the adverse effects commonly associated with this compound. You can usually relieve the typical dry mouth and red eyes by staying hydrated and running to the nearest drugstore for a bottle of eye drops, but there are some other, slightly more serious adverse effects, which might include short-term memory loss and a rapid or slow heartbeat.

The good news is, however, that because delta 8 is only mildly psychoactive, its side effects are also very manageable. Often referred to as “delta 9's nicer younger sibling,” delta 8 isn't known to cause some of the more uncomfortable and disorienting side effects of the compound, like anxiety and paranoia, and even if users experience these side effects, they are more manageable than those associated with delta 9.

How is Delta 8 Made?

The cannabis plant produces delta 8 naturally, but it only occurs in trace amounts organically. Consequently, chemists and manufacturers have turned to the wonders of science to meet market demands. It is not only costly, but also time-consuming to extract small amounts of delta 8, and the results are never enough to satisfy consumer demand. By using the isomerization process, scientists have instead developed a technique to create delta 8 in a lab environment.

Cannabinoids, from CBD to THC, are all derived from CBGA, or cannabigerolic acid, often called "the mother of cannabinoids." This means that all cannabinoids have very similar molecular structures. The process of isomerization simply involves rearranging molecules within a compound to create a new one.

While delta 8 can be derived from both CBD and THC, CBD is abundant in hemp plants, making CBD conversion much easier, cheaper, and cleaner. There are only four steps involved in the process of obtaining delta 8 from CBD:

  1. CBD is isolated from all other cannabinoids and volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons in the first step, leaving chemists with pure CBD extract.
  2. The next step is to add acid to the CBD solution and stir it constantly for 18 hours at a high temperature.
  3. The solution should be filtered to avoid leaving behind unwanted residues from the chemicals used to create delta 8.
  4. To ensure the resulting delta 8 is safe to consume, it must undergo rigorous lab testing to ensure that it is clean and pure.

Delta 8 vs. Delta 9: Exploring the Differences & Similarities

As an analog of delta 9, it is no surprise that delta 8 shares a majority of its properties and benefits with the compound. They interact similarly with the endocannabinoid system, and therefore have similar effects on bodily functions related to sleep, mood, pain, and stress. They’re also made similarly when derived from hemp-based CBD.

Despite all their similarities, however, delta 8 and delta 9 also have their differences. The double bond placement on their carbon chains makes them interact differently with our endocannabinoid receptors, making delta 9 feel about twice as potent as delta 8 from a psychoactive perspective. Additionally, because delta 8 is so much milder than delta 9, it is also less likely to cause negative side effects like anxiety and paranoia.

To put it simply, delta 9 products will get you high the old-school way. It’s a cannabis classic that offers you both the good and the bad sides of cannabis with a strong and expected psychoactive potency. Delta 8 products, on the other hand, make for a much milder and much more laidback psychoactive experience. If you love cannabis but don’t feel ready to experience its full-blown potency, delta 8 can still give you the effects you desire with less risk of running into an anxious or paranoid experience.

For a more simplified comparison between these two cannabinoids, check out the table below:

Delta 8

Delta 9

Mild psychoactive effects

Potent psychoactive effects

Has a double bond on its eighth carbon atom

Has a double bond on its ninth carbon atom

Occurs naturally in trace amounts, but is made from hemp-derived CBD

Occurs naturally in larger amounts, but is made from hemp-derived CBD

Less likely to cause paranoia and anxiety

Likely to cause paranoia and anxiety

Delta 8 & Delta 9: Federal & State Legality

Another way in which delta 8 and delta 9 differ is in their legality. Delta 9 is commonly derived from marijuana, making it a schedule I controlled substance and federally illegal under United States law. That said, delta 9 can also be derived from hemp, and as long as it is not made from a cannabis plant containing more than 0.3% THC, it is also technically legal under federal law. Additionally, even though the federal government sees marijuana-derived delta 9 as an illegal substance, many states have passed their own recreational or medical cannabis programs:

State

Legality

Alaska

Medicinal and Recreational

Arizona

Medicinal and Recreational

Arkansas

Medicinal Only

California

Medicinal and Recreational

Colorado

Medicinal and Recreational

Connecticut

Medicinal and Recreational

Delaware

Medicinal Only

District of Columbia

Medicinal and Recreational

Florida

Medicinal Only

Hawaii

Medicinal Only

Illinois

Medicinal and Recreational

Louisiana

Medicinal Only

Maine

Medicinal and Recreational

Maryland

Medicinal Only

Michigan

Medicinal and Recreational

Minnesota

Medicinal Only

Mississippi

Medicinal Only

Missouri

Medicinal Only

Montana

Medicinal and Recreational

Nevada

Medicinal and Recreational

New Hampshire

Medicinal Only

New Jersey

Medicinal and Recreational

New Mexico

Medicinal and Recreational

New York

Medicinal and Recreational

North Dakota

Medicinal Only

Ohio

Medicinal Only

Oklahoma

Medicinal Only

Oregon

Medicinal and Recreational

Pennsylvania

Medicinal Only

Rhode Island

Medicinal and Recreational

South Dakota

Medicinal Only

Utah

Medicinal Only

Vermont

Medicinal and Recreational

Virginia

Medicinal and Recreational

Washington

Medicinal and Recreational

West Virginia

Medicinal Only

Delta 8, on the other hand, is commonly made from hemp, which is 100% federally legal under the Farm Bill of 2018 and also legal in many states. That said, despite the federal government’s stance on hemp, many states have taken the steps to restrict or ban delta 8 in their own jurisdictions.

These states include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Vermont

Delta 8 vs. Delta 9: Which is Better?

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Delta 8 and delta 9 are two tremendously popular—and beneficial—cannabinoids on the market today. Which one is right for you depends on many factors, including your tolerance level and desired effects. Only you can make the choice between which one is better; after all, nobody knows your needs quite like you do.

Whichever choice you make, both delta 8 and delta 9 can certainly show you a good time!



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