Two green glass tincture bottles sit atop a rough hewn log in the midst of hemp plants in the sun

What’s the Difference Between Delta 8 and Delta 9?

There has been a lot of talk about the different cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant lately. People have been going all out to learn about different compounds present in both the hemp and marijuana plants. This inquisitiveness has led to some interesting discoveries. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two rock stars among the 100 other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant have floored consumers all across the spectrum. 

The research and experimentation with THC has given us its many variants. Delta 9, Delta 8, Delta 10, Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP), and Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) are referred to as chemical analogs of THC as every variant differs from the other in some way. 

There is some confusion around these variants, which needs to be addressed. Usually when people mention THC, they are referring directly to Delta 9. But Delta 8 is also synthesized from hemp-derived CBD or Delta 9 THC. Let’s dive into the basics of these two variants before getting into the differences that they possess. 

What are Delta 8 and Delta 9?

Delta-8 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in the hemp plant of the cannabis family, but only in minimal amounts. It is a double bond isomer of Delta 9 which signifies that both Delta 8 and Delta 9 have a similar number of elements but differ in the arrangement of atoms. Delta 9 is simply what most people think of as THC. It is the component that gives the euphoric high associated with the cannabis plant. Delta 9 is widely regarded as the potent element in the cannabis plant and is usually infused or coated in a range of products like gummies, oils, soft gels, and salves. But before we jump into exploring the differences between Delta 8 and Delta 9, we must understand their similarities.

Bright yellow, pink, orange, and red gummies

What are the Similarities Between Delta 8 and Delta 9?

Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC are naturally found in the cannabis plant, but Delta 9 is found in higher abundance. Despite this difference in quantity, the two compounds have some qualities in common. Both Delta 8 and Delta 9 are psychoactive and give you the expected high when taken through different mediums. The two compounds also share a very similar molecular composition. Both these compounds can be extracted from the hemp and marijuana plant. 

There are lesser restrictions on Delta 8 since it is found in tiny amounts in the hemp plant. Delta 8 and Delta 9 both interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system and produce effects which influence our sensory experiences. But more than being alike, the two differ from each other on various points. Let’s look at the key differences that set Delta 8 apart from Delta 9.

What is the Actual Difference Between Delta 8 and Delta 9?

Chemical Structure

Delta 8 and Delta 9 are both variants of THC. That’s set in stone. But even with the same basic molecular pieces, Delta 8 differs from Delta 9. If we observe, we find that both compounds have a difference in the double bonds of their carbon atoms. 

Delta 8 is a double bond isomer of Delta 9, and more specifically the double bond of the carbon atom of Delta 8 is on the eighth chain of its molecular structure while Delta 9’s double bond is present on the ninth chain. Hence, they were named Delta 8 and Delta 9, respectively. This minuscule difference in the bond of carbon atoms changes the body and brain’s reading and perception of both Delta 8 and Delta 9. Both these compounds engage with the CB1 receptors in the body’s central nervous system, but due to a slight contrast in their molecular structure, the brain processes Delta 8 and Delta 9 differently. 

A visual model of the chemical structure of a compound

Manufacturing and Production

Delta-9 THC is the chief cannabinoid present in the marijuana plant. It’s available in vast quantities and when extracted from marijuana, its effects are also relatively long lasting. However, Delta-9 THC is found in lower quantities in the hemp plant Usually, the industry-accepted CO2 extraction method is used for pulling out the CBD or THC from the hemp plants but since Delta-8 is available in only trace concentrations in the hemp plant, its extraction becomes tricky and more costly for the manufacturers.  

With Delta-8, industry experts usually extract it by creating a CBD isolate from hemp biomass and then using a non-polar, organic solvent such as heptane or toluene to dissolve the isolate. The next step involves an acid reagent, which is stirred into the mixture to stimulate a chemical reaction that converts CBD into Delta-8.

Given Delta-9’s readily available status with less hassle in production, Delta-8’s manufacturing process seems an enormous task. Nevertheless, Delta-8 holds higher value in those states where Delta-9 THC is not entirely legal.

Intensity 

This is arguably one of the biggest differences between Delta-8 and Delta-9. Both these compounds do give you a sense of euphoria, but Delta-8’s effects are said to be much milder. Delta-9’s effects are reportedly more intense, longer, and affect the endocannabinoid system in the body at a more obvious level. They bind easily with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the central nervous system and can affect your cognitive abilities. 

Legal Status

Since Marijuana is a schedule I drug under the Controlled Substance Act, Delta-9 THC extracted from it is still considered illegal at a federal level. But the story changes if the same THC is taken from a hemp plant. The Farm Bill 2018 allows 0.3% THC from hemp plants at a federal level, but the states have different laws about hemp and marijuana-based products. 

Delta-8 THC derived from CBD in a hemp plant will be legal at a federal level. But some states regulate the sale of Delta-8 THC, while some states only allow it for medicinal purposes. Even after being approved at the federal level, Delta-8 THC falls within the ambit of a grey area. Before buying Delta-8, we suggest you check the laws in your state

Which One Should You Choose: Delta 8 or Delta 9?

THC products are all the craze in the market right now. If you’re having doubts about where to kick-start your journey, you can always try FAB CBD’s newly launched Delta-9 Gummies in melon and guava flavors. They are a hemp-derived full spectrum product that contains both CBD and THC levels in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill. Because there is the possibility or even expectation of a buzz when taking and form of THC, it’s best to approach the experience conservatively and take a small amount first to see how you feel before taking more. Once you find the right dose for your needs, these forms of THC can be a lovely addition to your regular supplementation.