Many current wellness products contain Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC. Users should know the difference between the two so they are able to choose the one that best suits their needs and lifestyle.
Difference One: Chemical Structure
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that naturally occur in the cannabis plant. One type of cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol, AKA THC. Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC are two different types of tetrahydrocannabinol. The two molecules share the same chemical formula, C21H30O2, meaning they are both comprised of the same amount of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 is in the physical structure of the molecule. Both Delta-8 and Delta-9 have a chain of carbon atoms. In Delta-8 there is a double bond on the eighth carbon atom in the chain. In Delta-9 there is a double bond on the 9th carbon atom. It is a minor chemical difference that causes the two compounds to have a lot of overlap in the effects they cause, but also differences in the effects as well.
Difference Two: Psychoactive Effects and Medical Applications
Both Delta-8 and Delta-9 bind to the same CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Delta-9 binds to them more strongly, which causes a much stronger psychoactive effect on the user. Delta-9 is the main compound in cannabis that causes the “high.” It is about twice as potent as Delta-8. Ingestion of cannabis containing Delta-9 can cause well-known positive effects on the user such as depression relief, anxiety relief, relaxation, creativity, help with sleep, and increased appetite. However, because of Delta-9’s powerful psychoactive effects, it can, especially when taken in a large dose, cause some negative psychological effects as well, such as anxiety and disorientation.
Delta-8 has proven to be a useful tool in the medical field as it can provide positive benefits that are helpful for patients including treatment of glaucoma, nausea control for chemotherapy patients, and appetite boosting for HIV/AIDS patients, and it does so without the often undesired high. Other potential Delta-8 medicinal benefits include sensory overstimulation prevention, reduction of inflammation, and reduction of chronic physical pain.
While Delta-8 is much less potent than Delta-9, it is still important to consider the dosage being consumed. Consuming too much Delta-8 can still produce undesired effects like lethargy, dry mouth and eyes, decreased coordination, increased heart rate, and anxiety.
Difference Three: Extraction Process
Delta-8 is typically derived from hemp-sourced CBD, whereas Delta-9 is typically derived from cannabis. Hemp and cannabis are common names for the same plant, cannabis sativa, the difference being hemp is legally defined as cannabis sativa with less than 0.3% Delta-9 content. Delta-8 is synthesized from CBD-containing hemp, but it is different from CBD. Essentially CBD provides no high while Delta-8 provides a mild high. Delta-9 can be smoked or vaporized from its natural source, the buds of the cannabis plant, or extracted from the plant and made into edibles, topicals, and other forms. But nearly all Delta-8 products are synthesized from hemp-sourced CBD, as smoking or vaporizing the hemp plant directly produces little to no effect.