What is Delta 8 vs Delta 9 THC?

Posted by Carlyn Atkinson on

What Is Delta-8?

Have you ever heard of delta-8 THC, the lesser-known cousin of the perennial Delta-9 THC we all know and love?

Delta-8 THC is an an exciting new cannabidiol that you may have never heard of before. Delta-8 THC, or delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, is found in the cannabis Sativa, or hemp plant. It's become very popular due to its euphoric effects, yet has a more widely accepted legal status as it is classified as hemp and not cannabis, despite being from the same cannabis plant. 

Historically, hemp was considered one and the same as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as marijuana, but with one significant difference: though they come from the same type of plant, marijuana has much higher doses of the psychoactive compound, THC

In this blog post, we’ll look more closely at the delta-8 THC, its effects, differences with delta-9, as well as any potential issues you might need to worry about before running off to the nearest smoke shop and stocking yourself up for a toke. 


Delta-8 THC vs Delta-9 THC 

Our beloved delta-9 THC is the most known and widely used cannabis component, legal in several states and in the process of passing legislation in others. Delta-8 THC has a very similar chemical structure, but compared to delta-9, it is significantly less potent, with fewer side effects like paranoia, drowsiness, and anxiety.

Both delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC have almost the same chemical structure, as both have a double bond that sits on the chain of carbon atoms. Delta-8 THC has a double bond on the eighth atom, and delta-9 THC has one on the ninth, leading to both their respective names. 

The main difference is that delta-8 THC has been examined for having psychological effects and it is unclear if it is strictly legal or not, with its legal status being a gray area in many states since it is technically classified as hemp and legal in most states. The loophole that might have pushed delta-8 to the mass market and led to its explosive popularity is that it is produced by the hemp plant, which is legal almost everywhere in the US due to the Farm Act. 

Delta-9 THC also casually called marijuana, and very broadly, cannabis, is still illegal in many states, with cannabis use legislation changing with each passing year.


Delta-8 THC Legislation

Delta-8 THC is widely available as hemp and is legal in almost all states. Although it has similar, albeit much weaker, effects as its potent cousin, delta-9 THC, it is still remarkably easy to obtain. 

The US Farm Bill in 2018 allows the sale of hemp-derived products containing less than 0.3% THC in states where delta-9 THC, or cannabis, is still a controlled substance and prohibited, and medical marijuana still required a medical prescription. Although the Farm Bill did not specifically address delta-8 THC, it effectively federally legalized it for use.

This is one of the main reasons why, due to more research being done, delta-8 THC has been raising serious concerns with the FDA, DEA, and public health regulations. Due to the nature of its growth, delta-8 THC is not going through any of the strict quality controls that delta-9 THC is subject to before it hits the dispensaries. 

Oftentimes, it can be mixed up with CBD, which does not contain any THC and does not cause a high. Because hemp is uncontrolled and produces CBD, which is widely sold across the nation, the mix-up of the two could cause quite a stir. 

You can buy both CBD and delta-8 THC off the shelves in convenience stores, vape stores, or anywhere selling edibles like gummies, candies, or oils.

Delta-8 THC is somewhat unclear under Federal Law in the United States. Some state laws don’t even have a legal decision on it yet, and others have chosen not to accept it. Recently, a Court of Appeal decided that at the federal level, the production and sales of delta-8 THC is not illegal. 


How Is Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol Made?

It's incredibly important to note that unlike delta 9 THC, almost all commercially available delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol is synthesized in a laboratory from THC, CBD, or both. This is because there is too little delta-8 THC in a plant to produce the euphoria or “high” that cannabis typically allows. 

The conversion from CBD is more straightforward, so we’ll use it as an example.

  1. Dissolve the CBD in a solvent like heptane

  2. Add an acid of choice like hydrochloric or p-toluenesulfonic acid

  3. Stir the mixture for about 18 hours at a constant temperature of 100 degrees Celcius/212 Fahrenheit

  4. Different solvents and acids can be used with different chemical reactions that take can between 1 to 18 hours 

  5. After the chemical reaction, wash and neutralize the solution

  6. Remove the delta-9 THC, leaving the final product about 60% to 70% delta-8. 

  7. Test the mixture’s potency and content to uncover any substances like residue from pesticides or processing compounds. 


Effects Of Delta-8 THC 

Now we’ll focus more on Delta 8 specifically, about its components, its effects, benefits, and potential side effects.  

Delta-8 THC is created from THC or CBD already been extracted from the hemp plant and an isolate is made which is synthesized afterwards. Delta 8 has the same length of effect as a regular high from THC, but it will just be milder in both vape, flower, or edible form. For people that are long-time cannabis users, delta-8 THC will feel significantly less effective, and ultimately, it is dependent on the individual.

Similar to THC, delta-8 has been known to help with nausea, anxiety, some pain relief, sleep irregularities, and insomnia. For now, the known benefits and positive effects include euphoria, happy feelings, and uplifted moods, as well as physical effects like reducing stress and pain levels. However, there is limited research surrounding the benefits of delta 8, so we can't say any of these effects are medically verified.

If you are looking for the same effect as cannabis products, delta-8 THC doses are double that of THC, but a fraction of the potency. Not enough research has not been done to examine the long-term effects, how exactly it works with the body and what other potential benefits it might show. 


Is Delta-8 THC Safe?

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not evaluated or approved it and recommends extreme caution when using delta-8 THC. Without their stamp of approval, there are many risks to be taken in the production, sales, and consumption of delta-8 THC products like edibles, oils, and tinctures.

There are concerns regarding the formula during production, labeling, ingredient lists, other outside contents and maybe other varieties of THC concentrations. 

Due to the ingredient list not being required and detailed, a lot of products can just be named as variable extractions from hemp. This is one of the main ways that could create confusion, since hemp is mainly known for CBD and non-psychoactive effects, unlike delta-9 THC, or cannabis. 

Most of the CBD products on the market have been approved by the FDA for both medical and recreational use. Delta-8 THC is marketed as a hemp product but without the approval and control for medical use, which would put a lot of consumers at risk by having different effects than expected and not being overall safe. 

False production and false marketing can also be punishable by Federal Law. It would be putting patients in danger and creating public health concerns if it is used wrong for therapies and other ways of treating medical issues. 

Despite the many positive effects and loopholes that exist regarding delta-8 THC, there are still several side effects to be taken into consideration. There have been several reports of adverse reactions stemming from the use of delta-8 THC


In the last year and a half, the NPCC (National Poison Control Center) has declared over two thousand cases regarding delta-8 and poison-related side effects and events. Almost half had not intended the exposure to delta-8. There is a risk that delta-8 THC will yield a positive result in a drug test, even though the tests target delta-9 THC components. More specifically, urine drug tests do not search for different compounds but just cannabinoids in general, so both delta-8 and delta-9 THC would be highly likely to show up.  


Delta-8 Safety Concerns

Delta-8 THC is frequently sold as gummies, chocolates, and candies in containers and packaging that might appeal to children. These products are readily available and can be purchased at online retailers or at grocery stores and gas stations without an age limit or ID check. 

There have been numerous incidents involving young children who had inadvertently ingested products containing delta-8 THC, and veterinary clinics have reported a sharp increase in incidents with pets ingesting these products. 

As with all similar substances, keep everything securely stashed away and out of reach.


Final Thoughts 

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol exploded onto the cannabis industry in 2020 after the Farm Bill passed in 2018 and its meteoric rise shows no signs of abating. 

However, the Food and Drug Administration continues to caution against the use of delta-8 until more research is available and the findings more conclusive. We hope that this post has shed a little light on what delta-8 is, and what the risks are, should you choose to make it part of your stash.

As always, toke responsibly! 

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