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Delta-8 THC vs Delta-9 THC: Understanding the Differences 

Written By Andy Papilion Jan 23rd 2023
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When the fledgling hemp industry was just getting off the ground, people were naturally curious about the considerable health and wellness potential of hemp-derived cannabinoids. For years, it was widely understood (and routinely confirmed) that CBD tinctures, capsules, and gummies made with hemp-derived extracts were incapable of causing the type of "recreational" effect marijuana was known for. Would products made with enhanced concentrations of hemp-derived THC have been met with a bit more reluctance than you'll find today? It's highly possible. People often expressed concerns about ingesting even non-intoxicating amounts. Today's CBD users seem far more willing to explore their options. 

To keep pace with rapidly evolving consumer interest in some of the plant's most intriguing minor cannabinoids, there's been a marked increase in the number of companies offering hemp-derived products made with enhanced concentrations of THC. Some companies insist you'll get the best results using products made with Delta-8 THC, while others suggest sticking with Delta-9 THC. Once you understand the similarities and differences between them, it's easy to see why so many people choose the CBD & THC Products featured in the Synergy+ Collection by CBDistillery®. 

What Is Hemp-Derived Delta-9 THC? 

Delta-9 THC (Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of more than 140 cannabinoids that evolve from a single origin, CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). As hemp plants mature, natural plant enzymes convert CBGA to CBCA (cannabichromenic acid), CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), and THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) (Toth et al., 2021). Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) does not cause intoxication until undergoing decarboxylation, a process triggered by heat and sunlight that converts the acidic cannabinoids to their nonacidic forms (Marcu, 2016). Full spectrum hemp extract typically contains less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC and even smaller amounts of several other THC analogs, including Delta-6a, Delta-8, and Delta-10 (Azwell et al., 2022). 

What Is Hemp-Derived Delta-8 THC?  

Delta-8 THC (Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinol) is an isomer of Delta-9, a cannabinoid with the same chemical composition but a slightly different structure. Scientifically speaking, the only structural difference between them is the location of a double bond between two carbon molecules. Like Delta-9, Delta-8 THC also has the potential to cause intoxication, but the differences in its molecular structure render the cannabinoid about 2/3 less potent. (Kruger & Kruger, 2022).   

What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC?  

Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC both work the same way. They interact with the receptors of your endocannabinoid system (ECS), the largest regulatory system in your body. THC binds with a specific ECS receptor in your brain, connective tissues, and nerve cells, CB1 (Mackie, 2008). The activation of CB1 receptors has an effect on presynaptic neurons that can temporarily alter the flow of information while increasing dopamine levels (Currin, 2020). Although Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC have a similar effect on your body and brain, it's the significant differences between them you'll want to be aware of. 

Delta-9 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that's generally well tolerated. Moderate use is considered safe for most people, and researchers have been investigating its potential impact on the body and brain for decades. Although Delta-8 is technically a hemp-derived cannabinoid, hemp extract typically contains non-detectable levels (Long, 2021). To ensure an adequate supply, most (if not all) Delta-8 products are made with a synthetic cannabinoid obtained through the chemical conversion of CBD. The harsh chemicals and organic solvents used to convert CBD to Delta-8 THC create unidentified byproducts, elements not found anywhere in nature (FDA, 2022). Those unidentified byproducts render third-party test results unreliable, and researchers still don't have a clear understanding of how chemically converted cannabinoids are metabolized or stored in the body (Hudalla, 2021).   

Are Hemp-Derived Delta-8 & Delta-9 Products Legal?  

When the federal government lifted restrictions on hemp cultivation and hemp-derived products, legality was left to the discretion of each state. In most states, products made with hemp-derived Delta-9 THC are legal, provided their THC concentrations remain below 0.3% (by weight). But hemp-derived products with even non-intoxicating CBD to THC ratios are not legal in every state. Some states only allow CBD products with 0% THC. Several prohibit cannabis use of any kind. Before committing to a purchase, it's important to review the laws in your area. 

Although Delta-9 THC is legal in most states, far fewer explicitly allow Delta-8. To date, 14 US states have blocked the sale of hemp-derived Delta-8 products citing the lack of research (Kruger & Kruger, 2022) and reports of adverse effects. Of the more than 2,300 cases reported to the American Association of National Poison Control Centers, 70% required healthcare facility evaluation, and 8% of reported cases were admitted to a critical care unit. The FDA is actively working with state and federal agencies after receiving more than 100 reports of adverse events caused by Delta-8 products (FDA, 2022). 

Product Recommendation: Naturally Occurring Delta-9 THC Gummies from CBDistillery® 

Although many adults are initially intrigued by the potential benefits of Delta-8 THC, it's clear that Delta-9 is the better option, hands down. It's naturally occurring, its effects are well documented, and you won't have to worry about the long-term consequences of ingesting unidentified byproducts. Now that you know the differences between them, you might also want to consider how you could benefit from a high-quality hemp-derived CBD product made with enhanced concentrations of naturally occurring Delta-9 THC. Our expert botanists crafted two options. We think you'll appreciate the way their precise cannabinoid profiles help create a balanced state of relaxation and feelings of overall well-being. 

Unwind Synergy+ THC & CBD Gummies   

CBDistillery® Unwind Synergy+ THC & CBD Gummies could be just what you need at the end of a particularly stressful day. Each delicious, berry-flavored gummy gives you everything our full spectrum hemp extract has to offer, plus just the right amount of Delta-9 THC for relaxation, an enhanced entourage effect, and a mellow, uplifting buzz. In each gummy, you'll get 25mg of CBD and 5mg of THC, a 1:5 THC to CBD ratio selected to help calm your mind and help ease your tension. Our commitment to using 100% clean ingredients means you can feel great adding either of our vegan THC-enhanced gummies into your rotation. 

Deep Sleep Synergy+ THC & CBN Gummies  

CBDistillery® Deep Sleep Synergy+ THC & CBN Gummies are specifically formulated to help you get the rest you need to wake feeling refreshed. We think you'll adore their enticing dreamberry flavor and how this perfectly balanced, rigorously tested blend of cannabinoids work in synergy to help you drift off naturally and remain in slumber mode throughout the night. As the 5mg of naturally occurring Delta-9 THC helps you drift off to dreamland, the 25mg of CBD and 5mg of CBN help ensure a night of deep, restorative sleep. CBN (cannabinol) is well-known for its soothing, mildly sedating effect and considerable sleep-promoting potential (Harris, 2022). 

Could You Benefit from Naturally Occurring Hemp-Derived THC?   

The harsh chemicals and organic solvents used to convert CBD to Delta-8 THC create unidentified byproducts, elements not found in nature. CBDistillery® Synergy+ Gummies are made with naturally occurring Delta-9 THC. Since hemp-derived products have a long-standing reputation for providing the health and wellness potential of cannabis without causing intoxication, many people are understandably curious about our THC-infused CBD gummies. Since the CBD to THC ratio could cause a level of intoxication (or drowsiness) you might not expect, we recommend starting with a partial serving when using either of our Delta-9 gummies for the first time. We also suggest waiting a minimum of 2 hours for the effects to peak before enjoying a second serving. 

Based on the feedback of nearly 2000 survey respondents, most CBD users report positive results for relaxation, better sleep, temporary pain relief after physical activity, and mild or temporary anxiety. To learn more, visit CBDistillery® to find answers to frequently asked questions, read CBD 101, or browse our blog. Then take a few minutes to check out our selection of hemp-derived CBDA, CBD, CBG, CBN, and THC-infused products. If you're interested in adding CBDistillery® hemp-derived CBD to your daily (or nightly) routine but not quite sure where to start, consider setting up a personal consultation. You can shop with confidence. CBDistillery® products are third-party batch tested, US Hemp Authority® certified, and backed by our 60-day satisfaction guarantee. 

References 

Azwell T, Ciotti C, et al. (2022) Variations Among Hemp (Cannabis Sativus L.) Analytical Testing Laboratories Evinces Regulatory and Quality Control Issues for the Industry. 31(3) JARMAP. DOI: 10.1016/j.jarmap.2022.100434 

Currin, G. (2020) How Does Cannabis Get You High? Live Science. 

FDA (US Food & Drug Administration). (2022). 5 Things to Know About Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC. 

Harris D. (2022) What Is CBN (Cannabinol)? CNBS. 

Hudalla, C. (2021) We Believe in Unicorns (and Delta-8). The Cannabis Scientist. 

Kruger J, Kruger D. (2022) Delta-8-THC: Delta-9-THC's Nicer Younger Sibling? 4(1) J Cannabis Res 4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00115-8 

Long J. (2021) Experts Concerned Over Unstudied Compounds in Delta-8 THC Products. 

Toth J, Smart L, et al. (2021) Limited Effect of Environmental Stress on Cannabinoid Profiles in High-Cannabidiol Hemp (Cannabis Sativa L.) 13(10) GCB-Bioenergy 1666-74. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/17571707 

Mackie K. (2008) Cannabinoid Receptors: Where They Are and What They Do. 20(1) J Neuroendocrinol 10-14. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2826.2008.01671.x 

Marcu J. (2016) An Overview of Major and Minor Phytocannabinoids. 1, Neuro of Drug Addict and Sub Misuse 672-78. DOI:10.1016/B978-0-12-800213-1.00062-6