Delta-8 VS Delta-9 THC

Delta-8 is the cannabinoid compound getting a lot of attention these days, but what is it exactly, and how does it compare vs delta-9 THC? Read on to find out more about how these two compounds stack up.

What is delta-9 THC?

We all know delta-9, we all love it. Sometimes referred to as simply THC (which is incorrect), delta-9 is the most famous of the THCs, and the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. It’s found in higher amounts in some plants, and lower amounts in other plants. We generally refer to high-THC plants as marijuana, and low-THC plants as hemp.

In actuality, delta-9 barely exists in raw cannabis plants, and is actually a product of decarboxylation of its parent compound THCA. THCA is not psychoactive, but in the presence of light and heat it loses a carboxyl group, and goes from the chemical formula of THCA (C22H30O4), to the chemical formula for delta-9 THC (C₂₁H₃₀O₂), which is psychoactive.

Delta-9 THC is very closely related to other forms of THC, which we refer to as delta-THCs. They all share the same chemical formula. In fact, the only difference between these separate THC compounds, is the placement of a double carbon bond. For delta-9 THC, it takes place on the 9th carbon atom. For delta-10 THC its on the 10th atom in the chain. For delta-7 it’s on the 7th atom, and for delta-8, its on the 8th. All these delta-THCs only differ in the physical presentation of their molecules.


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Delta-9 is a naturally occurring compound, meaning its found in nature. This is not true of all delta-THCs. Delta-10, for example, was made accidentally through the use of a catalyzer, and doesn’t actually appear in this configuration in nature. Other delta THCs like delta-8, do appear in nature, and are therefore also considered naturally occurring compounds.

What is delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC, as explained, is another delta-THC, which means its an isomer of delta-9. Isomer means they have the same chemical formula, but with a different configuration of atoms. As also explained above, this means it differs from delta-9 THC only in the placement of a double bond, and is chemically identical otherwise.

Also like delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC is naturally occurring, which means it can be found in nature, although in much smaller quantities than delta-9, regardless of whether dealing with marijuana or hemp. It’s not entirely understood how delta-8 is formed, but the main belief is that it’s a product of the breakdown of delta-9. Delta-9 is mainly known for breaking down into CBN, but there is a small amount that does not, and its thought that this small amount degrades to other compounds, including a tiny amount to delta-8 THC.

Delta-8 and delta-9 THC

When made industrially however, delta-8 is made from either delta-9 or CBD. And its done through synthetic processing meaning rather than being extracted directly, its made from component parts of other compounds, put together with unnatural processing. You can technically do these processes yourself if you have the know-how.

Delta-8 was discovered around the same time as delta-9, in the original research by Roger Adams and then Raphael Mechoulam. It was synthesized for the first time by Mechoulam in the 1960’s. It was even the subject of studies by Mechoulam into nausea and vomiting of cancer patients, but most of that research remained buried for many years, and there has been very little research into the compound since that time.

Delta-8 vs delta-9

The reality of delta-8 vs delta-9 is that they’re practically the same chemically, and have shown to have many of the same medical benefits. Delta-8 has been indicated for use with nausea and vomiting, as well as anxiety, and likely can be used for many of the other purposes as delta-9, though since the actual research doesn’t exist, its hard to say this for sure.

Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC

One of the interesting aspects of delta-8 vs delta-9 is that though delta-9 products are generally direct extractions of the plant, most delta-8 products (possibly all) are not actually directly extracted, but synthesized in a lab. This is a direct result of the minuscule amount that shows up naturally, which is not enough for product production. So even though it is naturally occurring, the form that’s used, is always a synthesized version, at least commercially.

This puts it in a strange legal place. As a naturally derived compound, its legal under the definition of hemp, so long as it comes from the hemp plant (not over .3% THC). If its from the marijuana plant, it’s automatically illegal federally, just like delta-9. In theory, it can therefore be extracted from hemp, and sold legally, except for that little confounding factor, that it ends up being synthesized from delta-9 or CBD, which means using processes that no longer fit under the definition of hemp. Even despite this discrepancy, not much has been done to stop the ‘hemp-derived’ delta-8 market, likely because it’s difficult and expensive for the US government to fully go after it, especially in this climate of growing cannabis acceptance.

In terms of whether they actually have different effects, this is hard to say. Original research by Mechoulam turned up evidence that delta-8 is less intense vs delta-9, providing less psychoactive high, at a ratio of 3:2. It’s also pointed to as causing less anxiety, and providing a clear-headed high, with less couch locking, and more energy. Unfortunately, with the lack of follow-up research, these points really aren’t confirmed at all. Plus, ‘less strong’ always comes with the stipulation that if more is taken, the same high can still be reached.

Another differentiating factor between the two compounds? The degradation process that creates delta-8 comes from oxidation of delta-9. And through this process, the loss of electrons makes the resulting delta-8 more stable, and with a longer shelf-life.

Legality delta-8 vs delta-9

The thing is, its become commonplace for delta-8 products and other cannabinoid products to be sold all over the place. I’m not even talking dispensaries, but corner stores, gas stations, any little side store out there. Because of the seeming loophole attached to it as ‘hemp-derived’, and the inability of the government to stamp it out, it ends up in a lot of places where delta-9 isn’t accessible. This doesn’t mean its technically legal, but it does mean it’s widely available.

Even delta-9 products under the term ‘hemp-derived’ have started popping up in the same way. The state of Minnesota became an unwittingly legal state when it legalized hemp-derived THC for edible products. Both the hemp-derived version of delta-8 and delta-9 can be found in illegal states, as they are sold outside standard regulation.

Laws for delta-8 vs delta-9
Laws for delta-8 vs delta-9

Just to clarify, the term ‘hemp-derived’, much like ‘naturally-derived’, doesn’t mean that something is actually extracted directly from hemp, or in the case of ‘naturally-derived’ directly from something natural. It just means it has some of those natural components, along with other unnatural components or processing. How much something specifically fits under the definition of hemp, is determined by the presence of these other unnatural ingredients or processes used. The DEA even recently confirmed that synthetic delta-8 is most certainly illegal because of these definitions. This was backed-up as well by Shopify refusing to allow such products on its platform.

When it comes to delta-8 vs delta-9, some will say delta-8 is legal, whereas delta-9 is not. Some states have even made their own regulation to try to tamp down this market, either legalizing or illegalizing delta-8 THC because of the confusion. What’s the real answer? Well, it’s not for me to say, and it’s hard to say anyway. After all, does it matter if something is illegal if no one will do anything about it anyway? As it seems the delta-8 market relies a lot on not having access to standard weed, one must wonder if a full cannabis legalization, will wipe out the industry anyway.

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Conclusion

What’s the real deal with delta-8 vs delta-9? Honestly, its hard to say in the end because we just don’t know. What we do know is that they’re nearly chemically identical, and seem to provide mainly similar effects and benefits. One is well known, and one is a product of the 2018 US Farm Bill, and a desire to provide a legalized version of the psychoactive part of cannabis.

For anyone looking to use delta-8 products, best to know there’s no regulation in this industry, that testing facilities have shown to be bogus, and that its going to be hard to know what exactly you’re getting, and of what quality. This is just a reality of the industry. On the plus side, delta-8 has shown to be just as safe vs delta-9, so unless you’re dealing with the most unscrupulous of vendors, using the worst of additives, you’ll probably get a decent enough product.

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Delta 8 vs Delta 10

We hear these names a lot, but we don’t always know the difference between them. Is one stronger? Is one considered better? When it comes to delta 8 vs delta 10, they are both new ways to get high and access cannabis benefits, but come with a couple important differences. Read on to find out more.


Delta 8 vs delta 10 – What are they?

So, what are these names which have been popping up in corner stores all across America in the last few years, and causing much debate in many states and the federal government over legality issues? Both are considered cannabis cannabinoids, and fit into the cannabinoids market, along with other compounds like HHC, THCO, and CBN. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re both directly extracted from the plant.

Delta 8 can actually be directly extracted from the cannabis plant, because it’s a compound that exists within it. The problem, is that unlike delta 9 and CBD – the two most prevalent cannabinoids, delta 8 shows up in such tiny amounts, that direct extraction in the amount necessary for product production, isn’t possible. Though it is naturally occurring, when we use it in products, we’re using a synthesized form of it, made from CBD or THC (it must come from hemp to at least be somewhat Farm Bill compliant).

Delta 8 THC

On the other side, delta 10 doesn’t occur naturally in the cannabis plant. It’s just not a part of it. The reason we know about it is because it was found by mistake back in 1980. At that time, the California company Fusion Farms was making concentrates, while also dealing with the natural disaster of wildfires in the area. As it happened, when their outdoor supply was contaminated with flame retardant chemicals, the workers began finding crystals of an unfamiliar nature in their product. The crystals were studied and found to be a slightly different compound than standard delta 9.

The difference is a minor one. The same minor different for all delta THCs. Delta 8, delta 9, and delta 10 are all identical except for the placement of a double bond. For delta 8 its on the 8th carbon atom, for delta 9 it on the 9th, and for delta 10 its on the 10th. When looking at delta 7, same concept, the double bond is on the 7th carbon atom. All of these delta compounds, regardless of where the double bond is, have the same chemical formula of: C₂₁H₃₀O₂.

Delta 8 vs delta 10 similarities and differences

These delta THCs are all isomers of each other, which means they have the same chemical formula, with just that one alternation in chemical structure regarding the placement of the double bond. They are also analogues of one-another because they are so closely related structurally and functionally, meaning they have nearly identical medical profiles attached. The general consensus seems to be that they feel about the same, and therefore may possibly be used interchangeably for many medical issues.

One of the main things to understand about these compounds, especially when looking at the differences between them, is that even now, we still don’t know much. This is because there’s still very little official research. When it comes to the effects of delta 8 vs delta 10, nothing online indicates any big difference, yet no study confirms this. The only real evidence is opinions on message boards, and the grand majority show users ultimately have the same experience with both. There are no formal studies of comparison, so those opinions are the best we’ve got. When it comes to delta 10, the research is generally lacking in all categories.

However, delta 8 actually was studied back in the 1900’s, as it was synthesized for the first time when delta 9 was, in the 1960s. By Raphael Mechoulam. At that time, a few things were indicated about it, but without any real follow-up. Beyond the fact it showed useful for cancer, both in fighting the disease, as well as the symptoms like nausea and vomiting (all of which were ignored for decades), there were a few other possible attributes to the compound.

It’s often quoted from research from that time period, that delta 8 is about 2/3 the potency of delta 9, and that it provides a clearer headed high, with less anxiety, and more energy. However, none of this was further proven, and the idea that it might be slightly weaker simply means a person would need to ingest more to reach the same high, not that they can’t. It also could be that only one strain was studied, and that this might not be true of all delta 8 samples. We just don’t know.

Delta 10 THC
Delta 10 THC

When it comes to delta 10, there isn’t much to go on at all. Personal experience seems to be the only indicator, and in terms of my own, I’ve never felt any difference between any of these compounds. At least not more than expected for using different strains, and with different terpene profiles. Though you might find opinions here or there that state (or restate) originally mentioned ideas of one being stronger than the other, or providing a specific benefit, that seems to be more about the hype that occurs when something new enters the market, and nothing more.

One of the issues that delta 10 presents when looking at delta 8 vs delta 10, is that though they are both formulated synthetically, delta 10 comes with the detraction that it requires a catalyst, which in the first place was flame retardant chemicals. I have yet to see a site selling this product that explains a clean way of making it, which means its quite possible that most or all batches are synthesized with dangerous materials.

Delta 8 vs delta 10 legalities

This part gets a bit tricky in some ways, but is more clear cut in others. Both delta 8 and delta 10 are sold in the cannabinoid gray/black market, under the line of legality via the 2018 US Farm Bill. Now, that bill did legalize the cultivation and use of industrial hemp, but it put a very strict definition on the term ‘hemp’, which goes like this:

“…the plant Cannabis Sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

What it doesn’t allow into the definition, is any amount of synthetic processing. So even if the delta 8 and delta 10 you buy came from component parts of the hemp plant, their synthetization would no longer fit under this definition of hemp if any other non-cannabis component was used. This was confirmed in September 2021, when a letter was sent by the DEA to Donna C. Yeatman, R.Ph., the executive secretary of Alabama’s Board of Pharmacy.

It went through different aspects of hemp law, including this statement: “Thus, D8-THC synthetically produced from non-cannabis materials is controlled under the CSA as a “tetrahydrocannabinol.” As in, once it involves anything not from the cannabis plant, like a catalyst, its no longer regulated as hemp, but goes back to regulation as a tetrahydrocannabinol in the Controlled Substance list, meaning being treated as a Schedule I substance.

Cannabis and delta THCs
Cannabis and delta THCs

The thing is, whether something is technically legal or not, is sometimes less important (in terms of ability for sale) then the simple idea of whether anyone will do anything about it. In the case of the cannabinoid market, and the already losing drug war against cannabis, it seems going after this market isn’t easy to do. Thus, allowing it to fit into what I like to call the no-one-will-do-anything-about-it loophole. True legal loophole? No. Loophole that works nonetheless? Yes!

Truth is, its not even for me to sit and say what the final answer on legality is. The fact that there’s a debate at all means there isn’t a legal consensus, or at least, not one being enforced. Different states have taken different measures on their own in legalizing or banning delta 8 and other cannabinoids, but this remains inconsistent between locations across the country.

Some Products to Choose From

Interested in trying Delta 8 or Delta 10 products for yourself? Well we have some great deals for you to choose from below. Check them out and act while supplies last!


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Conclusion

If you’re trying to make a decision between delta 8 vs delta 10, the first thing to realize is that they’re not functionally different in terms of how you’ll feel, and I can say that having tried plenty of both. What does affect the experience, is all those other terpenes and cannabinoids involved. This is the same when dealing with delta 9 as well. Think of how much difference there is between indica and sativa strains, and that’s just delta 9. Delta 8 and 10 have all those same variations as well.

Any product you buy with either of these compounds is going to have undergone some amount of processing. Whereas creating delta 8 is not necessarily associated with dangerous catalysts, not as much has been put out about safe ways to make delta 10, and this could be one of the things that separates them most. If you’re looking for a cleaner product, it might be safer to go with delta 8. Is that for sure? Well, in a completely unregulated industry, the answer is unfortunately, no. As with delta 9 however, both compounds seem to be perfectly safe, though this doesn’t necessarily account for processing techniques.

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