In recent decades, we’ve observed a significant rise in the consumption of cannabis products. There are multiple active ingredients in the cannabis plants used for recreational and therapeutic benefits.
THC is short for delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, a cannabinoid obtained from cannabis, long recognized as its main psychoactive component. Another cannabinoid is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, which has recently become a popular topic in medical studies.
Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC are chemical compounds with similar molecular structures. However, subtle but essential differences in the chemical makeup result in very different properties and effects associated with delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC. This article primarily focuses on delta-8 THC & delta-9 THC and their differences.
A few hemp flower strains marginally contain higher levels of delta-8 THC. Plant growers find it highly challenging to breed cannabis strains containing higher delta-8 THC content selectively.
There’s no way to select plants that naturally produce delta-8 THC since no specific enzymes make this cannabis compound in considerable amounts. The delta-8 content of cannabis is merely a byproduct of the synthesis of delta-9 THC.
However, plant flowers kept for a long time usually have higher levels of delta-8 variant than fresh plant material. That’s why the delta-8 flower is made by “aging” the regular cannabis flower instead of selective breeding.
This process includes harvesting the buds and storing them under situations most conducive to degrading delta-9 THC to delta-8 THC– i.e., exposure to UV light and oxygen.
Another method for converting a large percentage of delta-9 THC into delta-8 THC is chemical conversion, and some companies are utilizing this method. Cannabis extracts can be refined to convert a considerable portion of the delta-9 THC into delta-8 THC.
Delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC are the most psychoactive ingredients of cannabis plants. However, the psychoactivity of marijuana is attributed chiefly to delta-9 THC; it’s much more abundant than delta-8 THC. It is ideal for people who enjoy delta-9 but makes them “too anxious.”
THC is the abbreviated form of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol; it is a significant cannabinoid naturally found in the cannabis plant and the most abundant psychoactive component in cannabis.
Cannabinoids are molecular compounds that have recently gained considerable popularity. Delta-9 THC is the main ingredient of cannabis in terms of psychoactive effects; it causes a high associated with cannabis consumption. There are other THC-derivatives such as:
- Delta-7 THC
- Delta-10 THC
For example, Delta 10 THC Distillate is an excellent example of a D-10 THC product.
Over 124 cannabinoids– derived from the marijuana plants– have been identified. Some of these cannabinoids have been studied and marketed more than others. For instance, CBD and THC (delta-9) are the most popular.
Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC
Here below is a detailed comparison between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC:
From a molecular point of view, there’s a slight difference between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC. These are two virtually identical molecular compounds. However, there’s a tiny difference; the location of double bonds differs in the molecules.
The delta-9 variant has this bond at the 9th carbon chain, whereas the delta-8 isomer has the double bond residing at the 8th carbon chain. This seemingly slight difference ends up with a noticeable difference in their effect profiles. Hence, the molecular structure of delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC is very similar.
Delta-8 THC has considerably different properties than delta-9 THC. Delta-8 is smoother than delta-9, and it is less likely to lead to anxiety. Some prefer Delta-8 THC as a substitute for delta-9 THC since it produces a gentle, less intense, and more controllable high.
Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC are psychoactive cannabinoids found in almost all cannabis flowers. Nonetheless, delta-8 THC occurs in lower quantities than its close cousin delta-9 THC; it also has a lower psychotropic potency than the delta-9 counterpart. It’s an ideal alternative for those who want to avoid the intensity of delta-9 THC distillates.
Delta-8 THC is more or less half as potent as delta-9 THC. But can delta-8 THC get you high?
Yes, delta-8 is also a psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, so it’ll get you high! However, the intoxication properties or “the high” associated with delta-8 are different from those of delta-9, both in quality and quantity.
Delta-8 THC also causes intoxicating effects, but it’s not as intense as the delta-9 high. Delta-8 exhibits much smoother effects; it takes you for a long, leisurely ride instead of hitting you right away. It can potentially promote short-term relaxation, feelings of contentment, and clearer thoughts.
Delta-8 THC keeps you in a calm and mellow state, but it won’t make you impaired physically or mentally. After consuming delta-8 THC, you can still go about your ordinary day. Another positive characteristic of delta-8 is the high lasts longer than the delta-9 high.
The side effects of delta-9 THC are intense and appear rapidly. Delta-9 THC can trigger extreme anxiety in some cases. This cannabinoid can be exceedingly psychoactive, leading to delusions of persecution (paranoid delusions) or other audio-visual sensations overwhelming for some users.
Other times, delta-9 THC will leave your motor skills entirely impaired; for example, you’ll find it very hard to move, or your body will feel heavy. There are also some symptoms, such as brain fog which isn’t a medical condition, but it can impair your decision-making and prevent you from concentrating on your daily activities.
Delta-8 THC has a longer shelf-life than delta-9 THC. Over time, delta-9 THC is partially converted to delta-8 THC, while the rest alchemizes into a non-psychoactive cannabinoid known as CBN (cannabinol). The THC that’s been broken down to delta-8 THC will remain active much longer before it degrades into CBN.
The difference between delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC is sufficient enough that theoretically, these two cannabinoids are classified differently from a legal perspective. The laws relating to delta-8 THC are confusing and controversial, and there’s a lot of room for interpretation.
Companies that produce delta-8 THC consider it a “legal high”– as an alternative to delta-9 THC. Another prominent positive feature of delta-8 is its legality in every state where marijuana and hemp-derived CBD is legal for medical purposes.
Unlike the psychoactive delta-9 THC, hemp-derived CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Delta-8 THC falls into a legal gray area, as it can come from either the hemp or marijuana plant. Furthermore, it can be obtained from CBD, which has no delta-9 THC content.
If there are traces of delta-9 present, the delta-9 THC level should be below the federally regulated level of 0.3%. Consequently, extractors and manufacturers have begun to isolate this cannabinoid and convert hemp-derived CBD into delta-8, turning it into products such as:
- Delta-8 Gummies
- Delta-8 Vape Pens
- Cannabis distillate Products
How Cannabinoids Work In The Body
Regarding how cannabinoids (like delta-8 THC) work in the human body, we first need to know a little about the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS isn’t unique to humans; all animals– vertebrates and invertebrates– have endocannabinoid systems.
The ECS is a biological system that assists in regulating processes throughout our body. This system consists of a network of cell-signalling receptors. The ECS also entails processes carried out by the nervous and immune systems.
The ECS has two forms of receptors (CB1 & CB2). Usually, CB1 receptors are found in brain cells and the nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are mainly found in the body and immune system.
Cannabinoids interact with the ECS, and it appears that delta-9 THC only activates the CB1 receptors, whereas the delta-8 variant activates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Delta-8 THC is apparently of enormous help to those undergoing chemotherapy.
Like all other cannabinoids, research on delta-8 THC is still ongoing and inconclusive. However, the results obtained are relatively promising, entailing many benefits for its users.
Cannabis distillate is a pre-extracted concentrate oil further refined by separating the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenoids from unwanted stuff such as pesticides, impurities, and plant stuff. Cannabis distillates shouldn’t be confused with cannabis concentrates such as wax and shatter.
THC distillate is a liquid, translucent oil-free from undesirable compounds found in the original cannabis plant. THC distillate is a popular cannabis product, thanks to its potency and versatility.
A THC distillate is produced by isolating a series of compounds from the plant matter and collecting them based on their chemical structure. Manufacturers extract and concentrate the THC content using distillation techniques.
The techniques are usually effective in isolating THC as a whole, but they’re not efficient at separating delta-8 THC from delta-9 THC. Instead of separation, distillates undergo a chemical process that converts as much of the delta-9 THC into delta-8 THC as possible.
The final product may contain around 45-65% delta-8 THC, along with up to 10% delta-9 THC and 1–5% cannabidiol (CBD). Other cannabinoids may also be found but in concentrations less than 1%.
How Distillates Are Made
Distillates are produced through a distillation process that separates desirable compounds from the cannabis plant. Producing distillate can be viewed as refining concentrate oil. Delta-8 THC is also found in cannabis, but it’s considered a minor cannabinoid, i.e., the plant produces negligible levels of delta-8 THC.
Since there’s an abundance of delta-9 THC in cannabis, delta-9 THC is much easier and cheaper to extract from the plant. On the other hand, delta-8 THC is considerably more challenging to extract naturally.
Hence, this cannabis compound may be synthesized in a lab using solvents. Certain synthetic cannabinoids like THC-O have also seen a dramatic uptick in interest. Using solvents to convert cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from the hemp plant is undoubtedly the safest and most natural way to make Delta-8 THC.
This way of producing delta-8 THC also yields a cannabinoid of the highest quality. After the conversion process, the result undergoes a filtration and distillation process resulting in a THC product.
The final THC solution is pure and free from any solvents or other unwanted cannabinoids that may have been introduced during conversion. THC distillates are made by allowing the marijuana or hemp flower to undergo the distillation process.
However, the process isolates the desired components from the plant. There are distinct distillation processes and, therefore, specific products for different cannabinoids, oils, and forms of THC.
As soon as THC distillates are produced, it’s straightforward. Consumers are offered a broad spectrum of cannabis products from a vape cartridge to terpene-rich concentrates, tinctures, oils, or the THC distillate itself.
It’s highly recommended to leave distillates to professionals. The proper equipment and a safe environment for health and safety reasons are requisites. The setup and materials for making THC distillates require precision and accuracy.
Is Delta-9 THC Addictive
After alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is the most commonly abused substance in the U.S. Tolerance and dependence on THC have been extensively documented in various studies. According to reliable sources, use of the drug before the age of 18, while the brain is still developing, increases the likelihood of cannabis use disorder by 4-7 times (CUD).
Marijuana use disorder entails preoccupation, binging, and symptoms of withdrawal. Nevertheless, it’s worth stating this is true of any substance (or activity) misused or overused.
Delta-8 THC Benefits
Research suggests that delta-8 THC can potentially help the body produce a neurotransmitter, which regulates memory, cognition, arousal, and neuroplasticity. Thanks to its less potent psychoactive effects, delta-8 THC can treat a broader range of cancer patients, as it can combat appetite loss (unlike delta-9).
Some cancer patients refuse to use delta-9 THC after trying it once. Delta-8 THC has fewer discomforting side effects; therefore, it can help a broader spectrum of cancer patients.
When CBD accompanies delta-8, the synergy diminishes the psychotropic effects; hence you receive the benefits of delta-8 together with CBD, but with very little “high.” Cannabis consumers, who utilize the drug for therapeutic purposes, tend to prefer delta-8 over delta-9 THC since it’s able to help treat the following symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
Delta-8 THC has just recently come under the attention of mainstream medical studies. A few short years ago, delta-8 was of minor importance to research. Apart from a few initial studies investigating its structure in more detail or using multiple assays to screen for the properties of different cannabinoids, there wasn’t much noticeable, focused research.
However, in the last few years, the story has changed as far as the academic sphere is concerned. Recently several systematic, large-scale studies have been published on the effects of delta-8 THC. The popularity of delta-8 is also increasing in the public sphere, and people have started to seek out valuable products in this cannabinoid.
Hence, the pile of anecdotal and user evidence is steadily increasing. Delta-8 THC has shown a lot of promise as an alternative to delta-9. Like delta-9, delta-8’s primary action is on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and it’s a potential therapeutic compound for various conditions.
According to anecdotal reports, delta-8 THC causes a high similar to delta-9 THC while enabling a much more clear-headed focus. Delta-9 THC is notorious for inducing anxiety that can interfere with concentration.
Pain & Inflammation
A preclinical study found that topical administration of delta-8 THC can significantly improve pain and inflammation with eye injuries. This significant health benefit was primarily via the activation of CB1 receptors.
Studies suggest that deficient levels of delta-8 THC can help treat lack of appetite, nausea, and anxiety, among other issues. In another study, patients undergoing cancer therapy were provided with a dose of delta-8 THC two hours before each treatment. The delta-8 administration continued every 6 hours afterward within 24 hours. This study resulted in the total prevention of nausea symptoms without any significant side effects.
A study conducted on delta-8 THC monitored its impact on children undergoing chemotherapy. There were eight children aged between 3-13 treated. The study revealed that low doses of delta-8 work well within two hours with negligible to no unwanted side effects, like nausea.
Both delta-8 and delta-9 THC are considered effective appetite-stimulants. However, delta-8 THC is regarded as the stronger of the two; this cannabinoid was shown to increase the feeding patterns of mice in one study up to 22%.
How To Consume Distillates
Cannabis distillates can be consumed via dab rigs vaporizers as an ingredient in edibles, topicals, and other products. THC distillates are incredibly versatile and can easily be incorporated into any form, making the user more comfortable. They’re usually consumed by:
- Topping off your joint or bowl
- As a suppository
Why People Use THC Distillates
THC distillates can be very pure. Therefore, distillates are a great option if you need THC for medicinal purposes. Furthermore, since scientists can control the substance at a desirable level, they can adjust the taste (if any) of distillates by reintroducing terpenes.
Are There Any Terpenes In THC Distillate
No, if we’re talking about THC distillate itself. The end product should contain no detectable terpene levels in the standard production process. Terpenes are usually boiled off via the extraction process.
However, if you’re purchasing a THC distillate vape pen, there might be some terpenes. Manufacturers tend to reintroduce terpenes back into the plant matter. Common terpenes are derived from cannabis; adding terpenes to full-spectrum marijuana products allows the user to experience the so-called entourage effect.
As an excellent example of such products that can produce these effects, the Forbidden Fruit Sauce is noteworthy. This full-spectrum product contains delta-8 THC, delta-10 THC, CBN, and other essential cannabinoids and terpenes.
Additional terpenes are based on other plants, e.g., limes, lemons, or synthetic terpenes produced in labs. Users will likely have a more enjoyable experience by reintroducing terpenes back into the distillate.
Know your limits, and stay safe!
- Pharmaceutical Consultancy: It’s always wise to talk to your doctor before consuming any cannabis products, including delta-8 and delta-9. If you’re currently on medications, there’s a possibility that consuming THC may lead to an adverse interaction.
- Never Stop Reading: We would highly recommend you conduct as much research as possible. We still lack comprehensive results with permanent (not interim) findings on delta-9 THC and how it affects the human body.
Since delta-8 is newer, the situation is even more complicated. Of course, we hope to learn more about these cannabinoids in the coming years. Staying adequately informed is the best way to protect yourself!
Where To Buy Delta-8 & Delta-9 Products
You can purchase THC in most shops and dispensaries in states where it’s legal. However, the internet is the safest place to acquire delta-8 and delta-9 products.
Standard online brands provide products that are independently lab tested, and there may be customer reviews to go for before making a purchase. Buying them online allows you to ensure they’re safe and devoid of any contaminants.
Delta-9 THC is best known for its ability to get a person outrageously high almost instantly. Regular THC users love the delta-9 high. However, if you’re new to THC or have a low tolerance for it, we recommend trying out delta-8 first. At CannaClear, we offer high-quality cannabis products such as delta-8 THC, CBD, delta-10 THC, and even THC-O.