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Delta 8 vs Delta 9: What’s the difference?

Delta 8 vs Delta 9: What’s the difference?

You’ve certainly heard of THC, the primary psychoactive cannabinoid within the cannabis plant, but did you know there are different kinds of THC? Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has classically almost always referred to (−)-trans-Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, delta-9-THC, Delta 9, or simply D9. Today, there’s a new THC on the block - Delta-8.

What is Delta 8?

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, also called Delta 8, D8, delta-8, delta-8-THC, or Δ8 THC, is so new to the cannabis market that hardly anyone has even heard of it. While relatively unknown by the masses, it has been on the books since 1975 when researchers discovered it could shrink cancer cells in rats. In fact, delta-8 is the fourth most researched cannabinoid to date. One of the most notable studies was conducted in 1995 by Israeli scientists on pediatric cancer patients suffering nausea from chemotherapy treatments. Over 480 cases, there was a 100% success rate in eliminating vomiting with negligible side effects. Today, delta 8 is beginning to tread water in the cannabis industry as a select few facilities have begun synthesizing delta-8 from CBD. You can now buy delta 8 concentrates from a variety of online stores, dispensaries, and smoke shops. To learn more about where to buy delta 8, check out our article.

The difference between delta 8 and delta 9 THC

While delta 8 and delta 9 are both tetrahydrocannabinol and are almost identical chemically (the only difference is a few atomic bonds), they present some considerable differences. First off, while both are psychoactive, delta-8 has a lower psychotropic potency than delta-9. Simply put, it will produce a ‘high,’ but not quite as intense as what one would experience from a comparable amount of delta-9. Many people seeking medical benefits from cannabis will be happy to hear this as they very well may be able to reap much of the potential medical benefits from delta 8 as they would delta 9 without the debilitating high.


Secondly, delta-9 only acts on the CB1 receptors; whereas, delta-8 acts on both the CB1 and CB2 receptors.  CB1 receptors are located primarily in the nervous system, connective tissues, gonads, glands, and organs, while CB2 receptors reside primarily in the immune system and its associated structures. Many tissues contain both receptors and there are likely more waiting to be discovered. In short, the effects of delta-8 have more potential to affect more systems than delta-9. To learn more about the endocannabinoid system and how cannabinoids interact with the body, check out this article here.

Legal THC

Perhaps the most important difference between delta 8 and delta 9 that we’ll list here is the legality. Due to the passing of the 2018 farm bill, products derived from industrial hemp with a cannabinoid content of under 0.3% THC are federally legal – including Delta-8-THC, effectively making it the first commercially available federally legal THC product. While delta-8-THC is specifically listed as a schedule 1 substance, it is legal under the farm bill, so long as it is produced from industrial hemp. This is done typically through a conversion process, converting CBD into delta 8. You can find out more about this process and other ways delta 8 is created in our article on how to make delta-8.


Delta 8 is just treading water currently, as more facilities refine their processes to produce delta 8 and more distributors find out about it. It’s likely to make waves as the world gets wind of what it is and all it can potentially do. It has the potential to really shift the cannabis market, perhaps even over take CBD and delta-9-thc in popularity.


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