Increase Awareness of Delta 9 is Leaving Medical Cannabis Consumers Confused

Increase Awareness of Delta 9 is Leaving Medical Cannabis Consumers Confused



As cannabis use becomes more mainstream, more producers of cannabis products are broadening their product lines and, in so doing, are inadvertently confusing many medical marijuana consumers.


At the heart of the confusion is terminology, specifically related to Delta 9. Most consumers - medical and recreational - don't understand that Delta 9 is the THC-laden product most people are used to and the one that provides that familiar high. Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the full name of what we have long referred to as simply THC.


Yet medical consumers are confused with the use of "Delta 9" as they also learn of Delta 8 and even Delta 10. The lack of knowledge among consumers is causing efficacy confusion, and consumers aren't sure where to turn. Further complicating the conversation is the advanced age of many consumers turning to medical marijuana for the first time without doing their own research.


What is Delta 9?


Delta 9 is what most consumers think of when they think of marijuana and THC - it's the type that delivers a high. It's scientific name is Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short. For many years, it was the only cannabinoid people knew, so calling it THC sufficed.


Delta 9 can be derived from either hemp or marijuana. If Delta 9 THC is derived from marijuana, it is federally illegal. Any product with a concentration over 0.3% Delta-9-THC is illegal.


However, hemp-derived Delta 9 with a concentration of less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC is federally legal thanks to the Farm Bill, passed in 2018. Companies operating within federal regulations use this concentration in gummies, tinctures, drinks, and other edibles.


Delta 8 Comes to the Party


Now, however, science is uncovering additional cannabinoids, each with slightly different molecular makeup and use cases. And as a broader consumer base tries different products, confusion occurs as education rushes to keep up with science.


The most prevalent "other" delta available is Delta 8. Delta 8 is the less potent compound of the two, meaning you get less "high" from consuming it. Its chemical formula is similar, but its unique atom arrangement means it's 33% less potent. Delta 8 also exists in smaller amounts in cannabis and, therefore, must be extracted through a different process before consuming it in any form. You can't smoke it as you can with Delta 9, which means Delta 8 is most often found in edibles.


Research is ramping up on Delta 8, but so far, researchers have discovered that this cannabinoid may help with improved sleep quality, reduced inflammation, improved appetite, pain relief, and calming of an overactive nervous system or immune system.


Similar but Different


Delta 8 and Delta 9 both impact the central nervous system through the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors are responsible for alleviating pain, aiding 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.


Both cannabinoids will give you a "high," but the highs differ 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 with Delta 8. 


Delta 9 will deliver a high that escalates, taking you to different highs as you consume it. Some report this high to be more disorienting.


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


People who have reported that "Deltas don't work for them" are probably confusing Delta 8 and Delta 9 and the expectations that go with the different cannabinoids. If you are taking Delta 8 but expecting the familiar high from Delta 9, you may be disappointed or confused by the result.


Is Medical Marijuana Still The Same?


This brings us back to medical cannabis. Consumers who turn to marijuana to aid them in their condition are confused that something once referred to as THC is now called Delta 9. Meanwhile, producers of medical cannabis are working to keep up with a rapidly changing marketplace, advancing science, and additional cannabinoids hitting the market.


These same producers are also trying to educate their consumers in an environment where seemingly new information is available each week as science finds more ways to put cannabis to work.


As a result, manufacturers update their language and labels, but consumers are often left confused, as prescribing doctors are also behind. It's nearly impossible for the market at large to keep up.


The Market Reacts


Most consumer education is taken on by the manufacturers and dispensaries of cannabis products realizing the onus is on them to help the consumer. Each is familiar with federal, state, and local laws and only dispenses cannabis according to those laws. As each state controls the legalization of marijuana-derived Delta 9 with higher levels of THC, consumers can again become confused by what they read online, unaware if it applies to their location.


The cycle is moving fast. Science comes up with new applications for cannabinoids, manufacturers rush to respond with products, and the legal system struggles to keep up. Meanwhile, medical marijuana consumers are uncertain about their options.


The onslaught of media attention turned to cannabis products adds to the confusion. Allegations of mislabeling, conflicting research studies, and misinformation campaigns make online research tricky - who do you trust? Consumers deserve clear, truthful information about cannabis to make informed choices.


Manufacturers Step Up


A few companies are stepping up and taking on the challenge of educating consumers. Florida-based Kandy Boy and Alabama Edibles provide consumers with transparent labeling and online materials laden with clear and comprehensive facts. Each company sells and ships its products across the U.S. as they meet federally mandated THC levels.


Yet consumers can be suspicious of companies who are also in the business of selling products, so the industry and media must team up to bring consumers more reliable information. As uses for additional cannabinoids surface, companies will create additional products, and the consumer will again struggle to keep up.



The power of medical cannabis is ever-unfolding, and the market must be educated not only about the products they take but also about their options. Seeing how easily the rise in Delta 9 can trip up medical marijuana users serves as an important reminder of the education needed in the market. Research, physicians, media, manufacturers, and dispensaries must work together to provide consumers with the truth while holding product companies to high standards.