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Delta-9 vs Delta-8: Which Is Stronger?

Written By Andy Papilion Feb 16th 2024
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For years, it was widely accepted that full spectrum hemp-derived CBD tinctures, softgels, and gummies contained too little THC to cause the "recreational" effects marijuana is known for. A lot has changed in a relatively short length of time. Today, many of the same consumers once concerned about ingesting even a small amount of THC are embracing hemp-derived products featuring enhanced concentrations. In response, some companies have ventured into the complex world of Delta-8 THC; others infused their hemp-derived extracts with precise amounts of Delta-9. 

As the popularity of products infused with Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC increases, many people comparing their options for the first time want to know which is stronger. It's a valid question. But regardless of the effect they're hoping to achieve, most eventually understand that the best purchasing decisions aren't determined by strength alone. There are several other important factors that should be considered before choosing one form of THC over the other. 

Exploring the Origins of Delta-9 THC  

Delta-9 THC (Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of more than 113 cannabinoids that evolve from the "mother" of them all, CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). As hemp crops grow, naturally occurring plant enzymes convert cannabigerolic acid to cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabichromenic acid (CBCA), and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).3

THCA is non-intoxicating until heat and/or sunlight decarboxylate the cannabinoid, a process that converts the acidic cannabinoids to their nonacidic, active forms.8 Full spectrum plant extracts contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by dry weight and even smaller amounts of Delta-8 THC, THCv,11 and delta 6a10a.4 

Exploring the Origins of Delta-8 THC 

Delta-8 THC (Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinol) is a Delta-9 isomer, which means it has the same chemical composition but a slightly different molecular shape. But purchasing products made with naturally occurring Delta-8 is highly unlikely. Most hemp extract contains only minuscule amounts, if any. The cannabinoid was detectable in only 1.5% of 18,000 samples tested. At that rate, it would take about 55,000 kilos of hemp flower to obtain a single kilo of Delta-8 THC, a proposition that would cost about $500 million per kilo.

Instead, product manufacturers convert CBD to Delta-8 THC through a process called isomerization. Although converting CBD to Delta-8 ensures there's an abundant, inexpensive supply, the harsh chemicals and organic solvents used to alter the cannabinoid's molecular structure create unidentified byproducts, elements not found anywhere in nature, that render third-party test results unreliable because the byproducts evade detection.

Why the Effects of Delta-9 Are Stronger Than Delta-8  

Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC both interact with a specific receptor of the largest regulatory system in your body, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptor CB1. Their ability to bind with the CB1 receptors in your brain, nerve cells, and connective tissues affects your presynaptic neurons in a way that temporarily alters the flow of information while increasing dopamine production.

The molecular shape of Delta-9 allows the cannabinoid to bind to CB1 like a key inserted into a lock. The slight differences in Delta-8's molecular shape inhibit its binding ability, rendering the cannabinoid about two-thirds less potent. In a review of the literature and commentary comparing their effects, Delta-8 was most often described as milder, less intense, and not as long-lasting as Delta-9.10 

Side-by-Side: Comparing Their Potential Risks & Possible Side Effects  

Researchers have been studying the short-term and long-term effects of Delta-9 THC for decades. When used responsibly in moderation, naturally occurring Delta-9 THC is generally well-tolerated and considered safe for most adults. There are no reports of a single fatality following a cannabis overdose.13 However, even mild Delta-9 intoxication can alter time perception, heighten sensory awareness, cause drowsiness, or increase your appetite. Overconsumption increases your risk of several potentially alarming side effects that can include impaired coordination, anxiety, panic attacks, memory lapses, paranoia, and hallucinations.

Although the side effects and symptoms of overconsumption are similar, multiple sources suggest Delta-8 THC is less likely to cause unpleasantness because its effects are milder. But it's important to realize that researchers still don't fully understand how synthetic (or chemically altered) cannabinoids are metabolized or stored in the human body.6 Also, the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) has received more than 100 reports of vomiting, tremors, confusion, and loss of consciousness resulting from Delta-8 consumption. More than half of those reported cases (55%) required hospitalization or emergency intervention. National Poison Control has received over 600 similar reports.12 

Why Choose CBDistillery® THC + CBD Products   

Since Delta-8 THC is technically a naturally occurring hemp-derived cannabinoid, it's federally legal. However, consumer access varies by state. Currently, Delta-8 products are purchased and sold in 22 states with limited regulation, several states restrict hemp-derived Delta-8 sales to licensed marijuana dispensaries, and 17 have banned the sale of the synthetic cannabinoid entirely. Most states banning Delta-8 cite the lack of research and the numerous reports of adverse effects for their decision.

CBDistillery® THC + CBD gummies are made with naturally occurring Delta-9 THC. Like all CBDistillery® products, our Delta-9-infused gummies are made with non-GMO, naturally cultivated hemp flower, we rely on the cleanest extraction methods available, and our products are rigorously tested, and quality assured. We think you'll appreciate how our expert botanists fine-tuned the cannabinoid profile of the following products to help create a balanced state of relaxation and feelings of overall well-being. 

CBDistillery® ommm+ distilled THC + CBD Unwind Gummies 

CBDistillery® ommm+ distilled THC + CBD Unwind Gummies could be just what you need to unwind at the end of a stressful day. Each vegan, berry-flavored gummy gives you the best of everything 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 1 gummy serving, you'll get 25mg of CBD and 5mg of THC. The 1:5 THC to CBD ratio was selected to help calm your mind and ease your tension.   

CBDistillery® shhh+ distilled THC + CBD Deep Sleep Gummies  

CBDistillery® shhh+ distilled THC + CBN Deep Sleep Gummies are specifically formulated for deep sleep. They have an enticing dreamberry flavor and a perfectly balanced blend of cannabinoids that work synergistically. As the 5mg of naturally occurring Delta-9 THC helps you drift off peacefully, the 5mg of CBN and 25mg of CBD help ensure you get the rest you need to wake feeling refreshed. CBN (cannabinol) is well-known for its considerable sleep-promoting potential.

Could Delta-9 THC Elevate Your CBD Experience?  

Our commitment to using only 100% clean ingredients means you can feel great about adding either (or both) of our vegan THC-infused gummies into your CBD rotation. But when you're using either product for the first time, we typically suggest starting with a partial serving and waiting at least 2 hours for the effects to peak. It's the best way to minimize your risk of overconsumption. 

Since the enhanced THC concentrations in our ommm+ distilled and shhh+ distilled gummies can cause a level of intoxication, impairment, or drowsiness you might not expect, we also recommend enjoying your gummies at the end of the day when you won't be driving or operating heavy machinery. 

When you choose CBDistillery® hemp-derived tinctures, topicals, softgels, gummies, and pet products, you can shop with confidence. Our CBD, CBDA, CBG, CBN, CBC, and THC-infused products are made in a cGMP-registered facility, quality assured, and backed by our 60-day satisfaction guarantee. If you're not quite sure which combination of cannabinoids would be the best fit for your needs, preferences, or lifestyle, consider taking our 3-minute CBD Product Quiz or scheduling a personal consultation


  1. Beedle A. (2022) What the Cannabis Industry Needs to Know About Novel Synthetic Cannabinoids. Analytical Cannabis. 

  1. Bloomfield M, Ashok A, et al. (2016) The Effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on the Dopamine System. 159(7629) Nature 369-77. doi: 10.1038/nature20153. PMID: 27853201; PMCID: PMC5123717 

  1. Cai C, Wang Y, et al. (2020) Ionic Liquids Simultaneously Used as Accelerants, Stabilizers and Extractants for Improving the Cannabidiol Extraction from Industrial Hemp. 155(27) Industrial Crops and Products. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indcrop.2020.11279620 

  1. Cornwell A. (2022) What is Delta 6a10a? Oracle. 

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  1. Erickson B. (2021) Delta-8-THC Craze Concerns Chemists. Chemical Engineering News. 

  1. Ferguson S. (2023) What Is Delta-9? Healthline. 

  1. Filer C. (2021) Acidic Cannabinoid Decarboxylation.7(3) Cannabis Cannabinoid Res 262-73. doi: 10.1089/can.2021.0072 

  1. Johnson L. (2021) Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A State-by-State Analysis. Oracle. 

  1. LoParco C, Rossheim M, et al. (2023) Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol: A Scoping Review and Commentary. 118(6) Addiction 1011-28. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.16142 

  1. Maida N, Giorgi A, et al. (2022) Recent challenges and trends in forensic analysis: Δ9-THC isomers pharmacology, toxicology and analysis. J Pharm Biomed Anal. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpba.2022.114987 

  1. US Food & Drug Administration. (2022). Five Things to Know About Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol. FDA. 

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