Delta-8 THC vs Delta-9, What is the Difference?

As a cannabis connoisseur, you have no doubt heard of delta-8 THC. The compound has certainly exploded onto the scene over the last few months. But what is it? And if it’s not THAT different from the tried-and-true delta-9 THC (commonly found in cannabis), what’s the big deal?

Well as it turns out, there’s an interesting answer to that question, and it starts with a little bit of history . . .

Where does Delta-8 come from? … And where DID Delta-8 come from?

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The answers to these questions are related, and both are important in understanding the current delta-8 craze.

As opposed to nearly every other THC cannabis product you’ve consumed, delta-8 THC does not come from marijuana. It comes from hemp. Hemp, of course, is a cannabis plant bred without psychoactive THC. It is used to manufacture fiber, biofuel, and bioplastics.

The Farm Bill

In 2018, Congress passed the Act to Promote New Agriculture Products and Farm Services (aka The Farm Bill) that allowed the growing of hemp plants and most importantly, the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines. The law treats hemp as a drug containing no THC and explicitly bars it from containing any THC. It can, however, contain cannabidiol (CBD), a compound that is mildly psychoactive, yet not intoxicating.

The passage of the 2018 bill led to the rise in popularity of CBD, which has been called a “miracle drug” in some cancer and medical circles. But as it turns out, extracting CBD from hemp is only the first step in a series of possible chemical reactions.

It is CBD from which scientists can create Delta-8. This officially makes delta-8 a “hemp-derived product” which is, therefore, protected under the federal regulations of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Legal Grey Area

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There is some legal grey area as to whether delta-8 can be transported across state lines and whether it is legal in states where marijuana is not. It comes from hemp, but it’s also THC.

This is a loophole that will likely be closed shortly, so the delta-8 THC industry is well aware that they should get while the gettin’ is good. Hence the reason for the huge marketing push on Delta-8 over the past few months.

Already, at least five different states have announced some regulations pertaining to the drug. The definition of marijuana is being redefined in states including Vermont and Illinois, while new categories of cannabis-like compounds will be created in Texas among other places.

There is also a “designer drugs” law passed in the ‘80s that may apply to delta-8 THC products. If the compound does not exist in nature, states the law, it can be subject to federal law governing substances that are chemically similar to controlled substances.

What is delta-8 THC? Is delta-8 THC legal?

Delta-8 THC is very similar to THC, the main active substance in cannabis. Generally, it is sold as a vapor or edible and is often described as a milder version of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Chemically, the two are nearly identical, with one difference being the position of one double bond on a cannabis molecule.

cannabis buds on a table at diego pellicer denver

Because delta-8 THC is such a new “discovery”, there is not yet much research on the chemical make-up. However, because it is structurally similar to cannabis’s psychoactive ingredients and its effects are comparatively milder, there is a lot of interest in how delta-eight may be leveraged for medical purposes – such as treating seizures or chronic pain.

For the time being, it is advised to treat delta-8 as you would any other un-regulated and under-tested chemical: With caution.

How do I use Delta 8 THC?

There are a variety of delta-8 THC products, and it is used like most cannabinoid products. It can be vaped, used to make tinctures or capsules, and smoked as a cannabis flower.

Flower is the newest, and perhaps the most interesting, addition to the delta-8 lineup. Delta-8, you see, does not naturally occur in cannabis flower, so breeders and scientists have had to put it there.

An article from Vida Optima CBD puts it this way:

Since Delta-8 doesn’t naturally occur in large quantities in any cannabis strains, manufacturers went another route. Delta-8-THC flower is actually just hemp flower (which is often marketed as CBD flower) that has Delta-8 added to it. The end result is the same — a cannabis flower that can be smoked to experience the benefits of Delta-8.

What does delta 8 THC feel like?

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The effects of delta-8 are similar to delta-9 however with subtle differences. It is much more relaxing and peaceful. “Mellow” is a common description of a THC delta-8 high. It tends to be incredibly relaxing and calming.

You will find yourself still clear-headed having the ability to focus and take on tasks, while a feeling of contentment and relaxation washes over you.

Perhaps to the negative side, the high is also reported to have a high quotient of sleepiness and “the munchies.”

Medicinal applications of delta 8 THC

Delta 8 THC has demonstrated a lot of promise as an alternative to THC and a possible therapeutic compound for a range of medical conditions. Its primary active action is on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), as with delta-9 THC, but the “high” is milder. The medical conditions that delta-8 could be used to treat include are similar to what you see from THC and/or CBD:

cannabis flower in display jar
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Chronic pain
  • Seizures (especially for people who cannot take cannabis due to their age or particular sensitivity)
  • Anxiety regulation


The advantage of using delta-8 THC to treat these ailments, in theory, is that the compound lies somewhere in between THC and CBD on the spectrum. In other words: It could be more effective at treating some issues than CBD, but without as much “high” as with THC. The best of both worlds.

The Bottom Line:

Delta-8 THC has its benefits, but it’s new and unregulated. So be careful.

If you’re looking for a high that is milder than cannabis and contains less THC, then delta-8 may be the cannabis product to try. This article provides a detailed description of how delta 8 is different from delta-9 THC, what its benefits are, and where to find this new type of cannabis flower. If you have any questions about your health condition or if you want more information on using delta-8 THC, stop by and talk to one of our expert budtenders today!

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