What's the Difference Between Delta-8 and Delta-9?

All the buzz about the legalization of cannabis has paved the way for various cannabis products to populate the market. As the health benefits have started to become more well known to people, various cannabis products are now sought after for both medical and recreational use.

One of those cannabis products is delta-8 THC, which is the little brother of delta-9 THC. While both these constituents of THC are fairly similar to each other, delta-8 is starting to become a standout for its unique effects on the human body.

Let’s look into what makes it different from the delta-9 THC that cannabis is mostly known for.

How Does THC Work?

First of all, before we get into the differences between delta-8 and delta-9, let’s look into THC as a whole to understand where all of this is coming from.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most well known of the 113 cannabinoids found in cannabis. THC is a lipid that likely came to be as the cannabis plant’s evolutionary adaptation against insects, ultraviolet light, and environmental stress.

The human body has receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system. The system is responsible for balancing the body and state of mind, affecting various functions such as mood, pain, appetite, and libido. THC binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in this system, which are located in the nervous system.

When triggered, CB1 creates feelings of bliss and euphoria, while CB2 creates feelings of calmness and relaxation. Hitting both of these types of receptors in the endocannabinoid system can help the body better cope with stress, stimulate appetite, and get some sleep.

Where Do delta-8 and delta-9 Come From?

THC itself is made up of many constituents, the most abundant of which is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. THC itself is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, and delta-9 is the primary component that makes it so. Whenever people refer to THC, they’re usually referring to delta-9 THC, which is what gives cannabis users that familiar high.

Another constituent is delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, a double bond isomer (same atoms but different arrangement) of delta-9. They’re chemically similar, so delta-8 can cause the same effects as delta-9, but with much less intensity.

How Was delta-8 Discovered?

This constituent of THC was first isolated from cannabis back in 1966 by researchers at the University of Delaware. It can be found in the cannabis plant in low concentrations, usually formed when delta-9 gets oxidized. Therefore, naturally-occuring delta-8 can only be found in trace amounts in the plant.

Nowadays, due to all the work and research put into it, delta-8 can now be synthesized from delta-9, making supply more abundant and readily available, thus making delta-8 more commercially viable as a product.

This is now even more true with the federal legalization of cannabis in America, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that allowed for cannabis plants to be freely grown.

What Makes delta-8 Better Than delta-9?

Delta-8 is now becoming more popular, thanks to greater proliferation of cannabis products over the years. As it gains more traction, more studies can be done to find out more about its benefits. Research so far has found it to be a good treatment for nausea, vomiting, pain, and inflammation, as well as an amazing sleep aid.

Meanwhile, delta-9 also have the same benefits. They’re well-known effects of cannabis, but what makes delta-8 different is that it doesn’t have the same side effects that are commonly associated with cannabis, and thus delta-9. The most common side effect is increased anxiety and paranoia, especially with high doses.

What delta-8 offers is a smoother and more relaxed experience compared to delta-9. It doesn’t hit hard and fast, but comes on more gradually, thus making for a more pleasant feeling. That actually gives it the effect of relieving anxiety, which makes it a good anxiolytic and sleep aid.

It also doesn’t have the body build up a tolerance as quickly as delta-9, which means you can take it more often. This is ideal for active people who want the benefits of cannabis while still remaining functional and active.

Both delta-8 and delta-9 can produce the intoxicating effects that you’d expect from consuming any form of cannabis. But while delta-9 gives more of a “head high,” delta-8 gives more of a “body high” that makes you feel tingly and comfortable, thus making delta-8 better as a relaxant.

How to Best Consume delta-8

There are many ways to take delta-8. You can inhale it through smoking or vaping, or ingest it through edibles like delta-8 gummies and oils. Inhalation lets you absorb the delta-8 more quickly, while oral or sublingual administration lets it take effect more slowly.

Vaping has become the most popular way to use delta-8 as a sleep aid as it takes effect more quickly, relaxing the body and making it much easier to fall asleep right away. Users typically take a few hits right before going to bed.

Meanwhile, delta-8 gel capsules and gummies are great for reducing stress and anxiety throughout the day, making it easier to take during the day. Their effects can last for 4 to 6 hours, making it a good mood enhancer and anxiety reducer.

Whichever way you take delta-8, do remember that everyone’s bodies are different. That means you may not feel exactly the same effects as another person, so it’s best to take note of its effects when you first start using delta-8 and adjust dosage and method of consumption accordingly.


The star of delta-8 has been rising due to how similar yet also different it is from the delta-9 THC that cannabis is most known for. Various medical applications of delta-8 are now being proposed as a result of various studies over the decades, and it will only become more popular.

But if you’re looking for a cannabis product that’s beneficial to your health, but doesn’t give you any sort of high, then you may be looking for CBD. It’s the counterpart of THC which has no psychoactive effects, but is great for treating pain and inflammation.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published