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What Is The Difference Between Delta 8 And Delta 9 THC?

By Andrew Ward

What Is The Difference Between Delta 8 And Delta 9 THC?

After the legalization of industrial hemp in the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (aka The Farm Bill), CBD and other cannabinoids hit the market with a force unexpected by many lawmakers. Over the past few years, loopholes discovered in the bill have allowed intoxicating components like hemp-derived Delta 8 THC to be sold everywhere in the United States. 

Delta 8, a minor cannabinoid that possesses psychoactive properties similar to the more well-known cannabinoid Delta 9 THC, has been in the crosshairs ever since, with many states taking action to correct their legislative gaffe. As for Delta 9, commonly known as THC, it has its own unique legal circumstances in the US.

Today, Both forms of THC are treated differently under federal and state law. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC.

The Cannabis Plant

There are about 400 different identified compounds found in the cannabis plant. These elements include terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids, all playing critical roles in a strain's aroma, flavor, and effects. Cannabis sativa is the most widespread species of cannabis.

There are countless numbers of strains growing today, some with high Delta 9 THC concentrations (marijuana) and some with very low Delta 9 THC concentrations (hemp). Cannabis has two main cannabinoids most are familiar with: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These cannabinoids can interact with the body through the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. Their interaction offers pain relief, stress relief, reduced inflammation, and sedation [1].

Delta 8 THC and other hemp-derived cannabinoids have created a significant impact on research and the cannabis industry. While similar to Delta 9, consumers should be aware of the differences between Delta 8 and Delta 9 before consuming. 

Chemical Structure Of Delta 8 THC And Delta 9 THC

The chemical structure of Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC is quite similar. A single, double bond on the carbon atom chain creates variations between the two.

Delta 8 THC has its double bond on the 8th carbon, whereas Delta 9 THC has it on the 9th carbon. The dual bond placement determines how these carbon atoms interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body's endocannabinoid system [2]. 

Legality of Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC

While quite similar in chemical structure, Delta 8 and Delta 9 are typically derived from different types of cannabis plants. After the introduction of the 2018 Farm Bill, products derived from industrial hemp that contain less than 0.3 percent Delta 9 THC are legal. 

Legal Delta 8 is derived from hemp to utilize existing federal loopholes. Delta 8 THC has become quite popular among cannabis consumers, benefiting those who do not have legal access to marijuana-derived Delta 9 THC. People looking for mild euphoric effects also opt for Delta 8 or Delta 10 THC.

Delta 9 is subject to federal and state laws regarding THC. While proposed federal rescheduling could change THC's legality in the coming months, the cannabinoid is currently under strict legislation as it is considered an addictive, non-beneficial Schedule I substance in the eyes of the US government. Currently, 38 states have legalized medical THC use, with 24 also enacting recreational laws [3].

As of November 2023, 38 states have legalized cannabis in one or several forms [4]:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

Despite legalization, many hemp-derived cannabinoids remain in legal crosshairs. Increased cases of accidental exposure and overconsumption of Delta 8 have brought it under the limelight, and it has been under strict scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration [5]. Depending on the state, Delta 8 could be regulated by a state agency, sold unregulated, or banned outright [6]. 

The Delta 9 THC found in Snoozy Sleep Gummies is derived from industrial hemp and is, therefore, federally compliant. Snoozy products are produced in a state-regulated market, helping ensure all products sold in New York meet or exceed the set safety requirements. 

Possible Medical Benefits

Because of their structural similarity and mechanism of action, Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC share many medical benefits. Research has shown that Delta 9 THC works by interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the body's system of critical receptors, known as the endocannabinoid system. They are also densely present in the hippocampus, which involves learning and memory. 

Delta 8 THC produces mild and smooth highs with almost half the intensity of Delta 9. These molecules have a high binding affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors and produce a wide range of effects, including [7 8]:

  • Delta 8 THC produces the following effects:
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Reduced vomiting
  • An increase and then decrease of blood pressure
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Pain relief
  • Neuroprotective
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Inhibits growth of some types of tumors
  • Stimulates appetite
  • The effects produced by Delta 9 THC include:
  • Intoxicating
  • Reduced anxiety in low doses and high anxiety in high doses
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory impairment in high doses
  • Relieves depression in low doses
  • Pain relief and muscle relaxation
  • Neuroprotective
  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease
  • Antibiotic properties
  • Appetite stimulant
  • Reduced intraocular pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Improved blood flow to the brain
  • Reduced nausea
  • Promotes brain cell growth
  • Antioxidant
  • Inhibits cancer cell growth
  • Anti-inflammatory

A high from any form of THC has the potential to produce beneficial effects. One study found that subjects experienced 7.7% reduced medical symptoms when high compared to when they hadn't recently consumed THC. The study found that while THC did help subjects with pain, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, the cannabinoid did not produce symptom relief for insomnia. [9]

What Is A Delta 9 THC High Like?

Each person experiences a high differently. In most cases, consumers report largely positive outcomes exemplified by increased feelings of joy, laughter, relaxation, altered sensory perceptions, and increased feelings of well-being. 

THC levels and dose were considered the most decisive factors in determining if a person will feel high from THC. [10]. 

Possible Adverse Side Effects Of Delta 8 And Delta 9 THC

Despite being a mostly positive experience, some consumers have reported adverse effects. Both can create adverse effects, but Delta 8 and Delta 9 differ in the level of intoxication and side effects consumers should be aware of. 

Particular lab analyses have concluded that Delta 9 produces more potent results than Delta 8 while offering more substantial euphoric effects. As such, the chances of overintoxication are higher with Delta 9. In any case, some of the most prominent side effects produced by THC include [11]:

  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Coordination issues
  • Memory loss
  • Fast heart rate
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness

The effects of THC compounds also depend on the dosage. Since Delta 8 offers a weaker impact than Delta 9, many Delta 8 products are sold at triple the dose of Delta 9. No matter which product you choose, first-time users should begin with smaller amounts and increase them gradually to avoid overintoxication. 

Delta 8 vs Delta 9: Which Gets You Higher?

Delta 9 is believed to deliver roughly double the effect than found in Delta 8. The more substantial result is caused by Delta 9's stronger bond to CB1 receptors found in the brain. 

In contrast, Delta 8 has less of an affinity for CB1 receptors, producing a subdued psychoactive experience [12 13].

Delta 8 Vs. Delta 9: Which Is Right For You?

When picking a primary cannabinoid to consume, the choice has to be yours. Each person has unique consumption needs and preferences, helping shape which product may be right for them.

Someone seeking a more subdued effect may find Delta 8 better due to its reduced high. 

However, concerns about some states selling unregulated Delta 8 may deter some buyers. 

Delta 9, when legal, is sold through regulated state markets. However, the cannabinoid can deliver substantially stronger effects, which may overwhelm newcomers or anyone with a lower tolerance. 

Numerous other factors can and likely will play a part in making the most informed choice for yourself. When deciding if Delta 8 or Delta 9 suits you, assess the information and compare it to your situation. From there, buy a lab-tested, safe product with some favorable customer reviews to get started. 

Want to learn more about Delta 8, Delta 9 and how cannabis compounds impact you? Then, check out the Snoozy blog where we cover topics like falling asleep, best practices and how the plant may help you rest. 

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