Delta-8 THC Is On The Rise - What's the Difference?
Updated: Sep 19
Delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid, a naturally occurring chemical found in the cannabis plant. Unlike Delta-9 THC, though, it’s found only in very small amounts – moreso in hemp plants, which are known to contain much less THC as a general rule. So why has it gotten so popular, and why are people specifically seeking out Delta-8 THC? And… is there even a difference?
What’s the Difference Between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC?
The terms Delta-8 and Delta-9 refer to a very tiny difference in the molecular structure of the two THC cannabinoids. The cannabinoids are made up of a chain of carbon atoms, bound together. “Delta” refers to the presence of a double bond in that chain. While Delta-8 and Delta-9 have very similar structures, their double bonds occur at different places in the carbon chain, so they’re not identical. So that’s your quick organic chemistry lesson for the day! But what does that small difference mean for the end user?
Does Delta-8 THC Affect You Differently Than Delta-9?
Both Delta-8 and delta-9 are forms of the same cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short. As such, they do both produce the THC “high” in the consumer. That’s not to say that they have the same effects. Delta-8 is often reported to be a less intense version of Delta-9 THC, and with fewer of the less desirable side effects. Many people who consume THC are familiar with instances of paranoia and anxiety that can sometimes come along with the experience, but Delta-8 proponents say that’s not the case with the lesser-known cannabinoid. Less brain fog, paranoia, less impairment to concentration and focus, and overall a less intense THC experience are reportedly the big differences with Delta-8 THC. This is great news for people who want the benefits of THC but without some of the less helpful side effects. Delta-8 THC still has big potential for medical consumers, including increased appetite, better sleep, and relief from pain, digestive issues, and motor impairment from certain illnesses (that’s not to say that Delta-8 intoxication doesn’t still provide typical THC motor impairment of it’s own, although the effect is less than that of traditional THC experiences).
There’s One More Difference, Too…
While cannabis as a whole is broadly legal all across Canada, the United States has differing laws state-by-state. However, the federal Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 applied broad protection for hemp and hemp-derived products, and Delta-8 is largely sourced form hemp. This leaves it in a legal loophole area, where Delta-8 was able to be sold even in states where THC products are not. That’s not to say this isn’t changing, however; this legal grey area also means that many Delta-8 products aren’t being regulated as a cannabis product, and some states are looking to tighten restrictions on Delta 8 as a result, with 17 states already having taken this action. As always, it is up to the end user to research laws regarding cannabis possession and use in your own area.