Delta 8 v Delta 9 - Key Differences

If you have heard of cannabis or marijuana, you may not know that it has more than 100 cannabinoids with different properties. But for this article, we will discuss two of the most popular cannabinoids, Delta 8 and Delta 9.


In this article, you will learn what Delta 8 and Delta 9 are, their similarities, and their key differences.
 

What is Delta 8?

Delta 8 is the less potent compound of the two, meaning you get less "high" from consuming it. This is because it has a similar chemical formula as Delta 9 with a different atom arrangement making it less potent. 


It is also available in minimal quantities within cannabis, approximately less than 1%. Because it is available in minimal amounts, it must be extracted before it can be consumed. 


Furthermore, there is little research on the compound due to its trace amounts, but that is slowly changing. 


What is Delta 9?

Delta 9 is the more potent cousin of Delta 8. It is responsible for the "high" that cannabis is revered for.


It is also the most significantly available compound in cannabis, accounting for about 30% of the weight of a dry cannabis flower. 


Unlike Delta 8, you can smoke Delta 9 straight from the flower without needing extraction. 


Research about Delta 9 spans several years, and it is the most commonly known THC compound.


Similarities between Delta 8 and Delta 9

The main similarities between Delta 8 and Delta 9 are that they come from the same plant, cannabis Sativa, and their effect on the central nervous system, specifically the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. 


How do these receptors affect the central nervous system? 


CB1 receptors are responsible for alleviating pain, helping with sleep, inducing relaxation, improving appetite, protecting and healing nerves, and preventing sensory overstimulation. On the other hand, CB2 receptors are responsible for calming an overactive immune system and reducing inflammation.


Despite some of the potential benefits of consuming any of the Deltas, overconsumption can overstimulate CB1 receptors leading to adverse effects. These effects include lethargy, disorientation, anxiety, dry mouth and eyes, increased heart rate, and loss of coordination. 


Experiencing these side effects is not similar for everyone. The way Deltas affect each person will differ depending on factors such as the compounds consumed, the dose or quantity, how often it is consumed, the administration method, product quality, and the demographic and health status of the consumer.  


Another similarity is the methods of consumption. Delta 8 and Delta 9 share some consumption methods, including gummies, candies, tinctures, vaping cartridges, and infused drinks. 


Despite the similarities, it's more important for consumers to understand the differences. This is because they are a better guide when choosing the best compound for you.

Key differences between Delta 8 and Delta 9

The differences between Delta 8 and Delta 9 can be categorized into six groups. The groups are molecular composition, psychoactive effects, legality and accessibility, manufacturing process, safety, and potential benefits. 


Let us dive in!

Molecular composition 

While the two compounds are from the same plant and share the same chemical formula, they have different molecular compositions. The names of both compounds give us a clue into the difference - the double carbon bond.


For Delta 8, the double carbon bond is found at the 8th atom, while for Delta 9, it is found at the 9th atom. This "small" difference is why the potency of Delta 8 is less than Delta 9 and received the nickname "diet weed." 

Psychoactive effects

Both compounds will give you a "high," but the "highs" are quite different in experience. The "high" you get from Delta 8 is smoother, gentler, and lasts longer. You can enjoy a sense of calm throughout your day while on Delta 8. 


If you are looking for a memorable "high," the Delta 9 will deliver. It is "high" that escalates, taking you to different "highs" as you consume it. You may need your couch for this one because it is more disorienting.


If you are looking for high potency Delta 9, edibles are a great option. 


The difference in psychoactive effect between the two compounds is significant as Delta 8 is 33% less potent than Delta 9. That means you will get a third of the high of Delta 9 when you consume a similar amount of Delta 8. 


Most other effects that consumers experience from both compounds are similar, including euphoria, relaxation, sedation, pain and anxiety relief, happiness, sleepiness, and increased appetite.

Legality and accessibility 

There is different regulation for each compound. According to the Farm Bill 2018, hemp and all of its derivatives were legalized as long as it is below 0.3% delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).


While the regulation mentioned Delta 9, it created a loophole for Delta 8.


Delta 8 is legal at the Federal level, but the rules vary at the state level. Each state can decide what regulations work for them regarding Delta 8. 


Delta 9 is illegal at the Federal level but differs among states. In some states, Delta 9 is legal for recreational and medicinal purposes. 


You will notice the regulations are mostly left to the state. Some states have decided to create legal and regulatory environments that support cannabis manufacturing, purchase, and sale, while others have outright banned it.


Due to the loophole in the Farm Bill that does not mention Delta 8, there is more accessibility and ease of movement across states of Delta 8 products. Besides online stores, you can get it through vape shops, supplement stores, gas stations, and other brick-and-mortar retailers.


But this ease of accessibility and lack of regulation comes with product quality and safety challenges.


While you can find Delta 9 on the black market, it is only available in licensed dispensaries in states where it is legal for recreational or medicinal purposes.  


The legal and regulatory environment for cannabis is evolving as more information about the herb is understood. Currently, different states have the liberty to customize laws and regulations around cannabis.

Extraction process

We mentioned earlier that Delta 9 makes up a significant portion of cannabis, up to 30%. Delta 8 makes up a tiny amount of the plant, accounting for 1%. This affects how each compound is extracted for consumption.


Delta 9 can be smoked from the flower and extracted to make other consumption methods. Delta 8 must be extracted by dissolving pure CBD in a solvent plus a catalyst. The solution creates a mix of Delta 8 and other THC isomers, which are converted into other methods of consumption.


While both compounds can be converted to gummies, candies, infused drinks, and tinctures, only Delta 9 can be smoked from the plant.

Safety 

While Delta 8 and Delta 9 share similar side effects, the effects from Delta 8 are milder. These include impaired memory, red eyes, dry mouth, sleepiness, and anxiety. 


Don't let the milder effects fool you about Delta 8, though. Because the compound is not regulated, it leaves room for bad actors. This means Delta 8 products may contain contaminants and traces of Delta 9.


It is safer to stick to Delta 9 products because they have to adhere to strict testing, labeling, and other safety regulations. 

Potential benefits

The FDA does not allow cannabis products to make any medical claims of healing or curing any medical conditions unless approved. So far, only two THC products have been approved by the FDA, dronabinol, and nabilone. 


The drugs help reduce nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy. More so, nabilone helps restore appetite in patients suffering from AIDS.


Despite lacking FDA approval, there are some potential benefits from using the two compounds. 


Delta 8 may help with improved sleep quality, reduced inflammation, improved appetite, pain relief, and calming of an overactive nervous system or immune system.


Some of the potential benefits of Delta 9 include decreased anxiety, improved sensory perception, feelings of happiness, relaxation, and increased appetite. 


In a nutshell 

Delta 8 and Delta 9 share similar traits because they come from the same plant but differ in several aspects. As a cannabis consumer, you need to know the two different compounds before choosing which one to purchase. 


Because you want to make your purchase count both for money and experience, it is essential to know the differences between Delta 8 and 9. These include the psychoactive effects, potential benefits, convenient extraction process, legality, and safety. 


By understanding their differences, you can make a purchase that works best for you and, importantly, comply with the legal regulations in your state.


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