Delta 8 vs Delta 9 THC: Exploring the Difference

Delta 8 vs Delta 9 THC

It can be difficult to keep track of the various cannabis variations, how they work, and what they do.

From the methods of using hemp derivatives and cannabis products to the actual products themselves, there are almost too many options to choose from. It can be stressful at times. THC products should reduce stress, not contribute to it, which is we’re here to give you an overview of two common variations of THC.

We’ll explore the effects of delta 8 vs delta 9 THC, helping you get an idea of which one might be the best option for you. The nice thing about all this variety is that you can cultivate your experience to a high degree. Whether you’re looking to treat an illness or you just want to have the best experience possible, there are options for you to explore.

These two types of THC are a great place to being. Let’s take a look.

Understanding The Differences: Delta 8 vs Delta 9 THC

Sit back and relax, because we’re going to unpack these two cannabinoids in detail. In order to get a good understanding of how these two products work, you have to get a little insight into cannabinoids in general, as well as the endocannabinoid system and how it operates in the body.

There’s also the matter of personal experience and the use of THC to discuss. By the end of our discussion, you’ll have a solid foundation of knowledge on how THC works on a basic level. Hopefully, that knowledge can bring you to the THC types that bring you the most relief.

There are Multiple Kinds of THC?


Cannabis is home to roughly 100 cannabinoids, and 5 of them bear a name with “THC” in it.

Let’s back-step a little bit, though, and take a look at cannabinoids in general. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that occur naturally in hemp and cannabis.

There aren’t many other plants or products on earth that interact directly with the endocannabinoid system, so it seems as though cannabis and human beings are a match made in heaven. Cannabinoids are what produce the various effects that cannabis is known for.

The best-known ones are THC (delta-9-THC) and CBD. THC is known to produce strong psychological effects, whereas CBD is known to work more with the body. Pain reduction, for example, is a big piece of why CBD is so popular.

When the chemical structure of a cannabinoid changes a little bit, it operates differently within the human body. So, even though 5 of the cannabinoids are labeled “THC-x, y, and z,” they all offer a unique addition to the mix.

THC and CBD are the most present in the plant as well. The remaining cannabinoids typically exist in trace amounts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide benefits.

How Do Cannabinoids Work in The Body?

The endocannabinoid system is a system that operates through a network of receptors and endocannabinoid neurotransmitters that occur naturally within the body.

Everything from appetite to sleep to the immune system is managed, in part, by the endocannabinoid system. Its job is essentially to keep our systems in equilibrium and balance.

It manages pain, keeps blood flow in check, and even works its magic in our brain. The system can be thought of in two primary categories.

There’s a section of the system that operates on the brain and nervous systems, and one that operates on the internal organs and body. The first category is laced with what are called CB1 receptors.

The second contains CB2 receptors.

When we introduce cannabinoids from cannabis into the system, they either bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors based on their chemical structure. That binding determines where in the body the cannabinoid goes and the sort of effect it has.

A good example way to conceptualize this is to imagine THC and CBD’s effects.

THC binds to CB1 receptors, whereas CBD binds to CB2 receptors. THC produces a number of psychological effects, whereas CBD relieves pain and relaxes.

What is Delta 8 THC?

As we mentioned, THC comes in 5 different varieties. Only two of those varieties, though, are used to produce psychological effects.

Those are delta-9-THC and delta-8-THC. Delta 9 is the THC that is most present in cannabis and produces the effects that we’re all familiar with.

Delta 8 is actually a degraded version of delta 9. As THC ages, its chemical structure changes. While delta 8 can come as degradation of delta 9, it’s also naturally present in trace amounts on its own.

It’s a cannabinoid that shares a very similar structure but interacts in a different way within the body. That makes the effects different but similar enough to THC to be thought of in the same category.

There aren’t any man-made changes to THC that turn it into delta 8. The name makes it sounds like it was scientifically engineered or altered, but it’s just a naturally-occurring chemical compound that works smoothly with the human body.

In other words, it’s just as safe as THC or CBD.

Delta 9 vs Delta 8 Effects

How do the differences between these two compounds change how they affect the user?

It’s important to note that cannabis and various cannabinoids interact with everyone a little bit differently. One person might have the greatest experience of their life using one strain, and a different person using the same strain might have a panic attack.

Our biology plays a big part in how cannabis hits us. At the same time, there are some factors that remain constant across users. We can use those factors to give a broad explanation of how these products might affect you.


If you’re not familiar with the way cannabis feels inside the body, we’ll do our best to give an overview.

Traditional THC produces a number of effects that bring the user into a different state of mind. You might consider it a heightened state of mind in some instances, or you might find that you’re more relaxed.

The effects depend on the concentration of THC and its relationship to the other cannabinoids in the strain. That said, people regularly experience euphoria, a more sensitive sense of humor, hunger, and a boost of creativity.

It is, more often than not, a mood booster. You might find that things you’ve always done are suddenly there in a new light. It might also take a little time for the effects to settle in.

The first fifteen or twenty minutes might be unsettling and intense. There are some instances where the entire experience is overwhelming. Many people experience increased anxiety when they use cannabis, probably due to the fact that it has a strong effect on the amygdala.

Those who have negative responses to cannabis might also feel a sense of panic, nausea, confusion, or even light psychosis while the drug is active. It’s really all across the board.

The thread that weaves through almost everyone’s experience, though, is that marijuana is strong these days. There are lighter versions available, but your average strain at the dispensary will produce intense effects if you take too much.

It’s important to get your bearings on how cannabis affects you before you use it flippantly.


Delta-8-THC engages with different endocannabinoid receptors than delta-9-THC does.

Delta 8 engages with CB2 receptors like CBD, sending its effects more toward the body than the mind. That said, there are still interactions between CB2 receptors and the brain, so there are psychological effects that come from delta 8.

A lot of people have described the effects as “weed-lite.”

You get some of the same psychoactive effects as you would with normal cannabis, but they’re not likely to be as overwhelming or intense. This is a great thing for those who otherwise get a lot of anxiety when they use cannabis.

Even if you’re someone who has had absolutely no luck with anxiety-free cannabis, delta 8 might be a great gateway back into using these products. Since it operates differently in the body, it’s a different drug.

We can call it cannabis-lite, but the fact is that it’s distinct from cannabis in numerous ways.

How about an Analogy?

Think of these two cannabinoids as cars that are the same model but get painted in different colors. Red and blue.

When they drive off of the lot, they turn in different directions. The red model turns right onto “Highway CB1,” while the blue model turns left onto “Interstate CB2.”

These cars take individual journeys, traveling different at different speeds, and seeing different sites along the way. One highway might go through a few more dangerous areas than the other, while the other could experience a number of traffic jams.

The people driving these vehicles will have distinct experiences from one another. All the while, though, they’ll be sitting in the same kind of car. The seats are made of the same fabric, the features on the dash are the same, and the engine purs in the same way.

The main difference between the delta 8 and delta 9 models is that our red delta-9-THC car drives fast and loose, whereas the delta 8 sticks to the speed limit.


Are They Both Legal?

The federal government deems any hemp derivative with more than 0.3 percent delta-9-THC to be ilegal. Additionally, it’s important to note that hemp and cannabis are essentially the same species of plant.

Generally speaking, hemp is just the cannabis plant when it has less than 0.3 percent delta-9-THC. Other cannabinoids, though, aren’t restricted by the federal government, probably because they don’t have as many mind-altering effects.

Different states have their own laws, and cannabis has been legalized for recreational use in 15 states. It’s decriminalized and legal for medical use in most other states, while there are still 6 states where it’s entirely illegal.

Delta-8-THC, even though it’s marginally different from delta 9, has not been criminalized and is legal throughout the country. If the delta 8 product you have happens to have more than 0.3 percent delta-9-THC, though, it becomes illegal.

So, delta 8 is legal but it’s toeing a fine line because natural products like hemp and cannabis don’t always operate in terms of our laws and regulations. The plants’ biology will make the final decision, and a slip up on our end could put people in legal trouble.

You can discover more info about delta 8 to get a solid idea of its legality.

Which One is Best for You?

Now that you have the basic information you need in order to make a decision, you can explore THC vape pens with more insight.

If you’re someone who has never used cannabis before or lives in a state that hasn’t legalized, it might be a good idea to start with delta 8. Delta 8 is easy on the brain and won’t get you into hot water legally.

It’s also an analog experience to using delta-9-THC. If you’re experienced with delta 8, making the shift to delta 9 shouldn’t be overwhelming. Delta 8 is also known to produce a lot of the same health benefits as traditional cannabis, although more research needs to be done.

The precarious legal status of hemp products has stifled research on almost any cannabinoids, so it’s tough to say precisely what the effects of cannabis could be.

More research has been done on delta-9-THC, though, and you can have a clearer idea of the health benefits if you’re trying to treat an ailment.

The only way to truly know what works, though, is to try the products yourself. If you’re worried about how your body might interact with them, you should consult with a doctor to see what they have to say.

That said, there’s nobody that can tell you which you prefer other than yourself. Set up a safe environment, sit down, and explore the differences of delta 8 vs delta 9.

Want to Know More about THC Types?

There’s a lot to learn about THC. There are different ways to ingest it, different illnesses to treat with it, and more research coming out every day to learn from.

It’s an exciting time for cannabis, and we’re here to help you navigate it. Explore our site for more insights into THC, delta 8 vs delta 9, CBD, and more.

Arnold Bloom

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