Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 – What are the Differences?

by | Nov 15, 2022 | Latest News | 0 comments

In some areas of the United States, medical or recreational cannabis is not legalized.  But something else became available after the federal government legalized hemp products in the 2018 Farm Act. 

The proliferation of Delta 8 and Delta 10 THC products across the country has surprised regulators. No one expected a semi-synthetic THC product would become a top-selling product online and at smoke shops across the United States.  

In 2020, Delta 8 and other Delta THC products hit the American market.  Right at the same time as the Covid-19 global pandemic.  In 2020, annual sales in the United States hit $45.9 million.  And in 2021, there was a slight 5.2% drop to yield $43.5 million in Delta THC product sales for manufacturers. 

Even in states where medical or adult-use (recreational) cannabis is legalized, Delta 8 and Delta 10 products generate millions in annual sales.  And many people wonder why Delta THC is a popular choice when organic cannabis products are available at local dispensaries.  

While Delta 8 and Delta 9 are both cannabinoids containing THC, the two types are very different.  They are not the same from the cost to purchase to the method of manufacturing and the wellness potential of terpenes and flavonoid content.  Even if some of the psychoactive effects are similar. 


What is Delta 8 THC?

There are more than one hundred different cannabinoids found in hemp and cannabis plants. And most of them you may have never heard of.  Research into cannabinoids continues with discoveries about how cannabinoids can impact human health.

Some of the most common cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants include:

  • Cannabichromevarin (CBCV)
  • Cannabichromevarinic acid (CBCVA)
  • Cannabicyclol (CBL)
  • Cannabicyclolic acid (CBLA)
  • Cannabicyclovarin (CBLV)
  • 10-Ethoxy-9-hydroxy-delta-6a-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • 8,9-Dihydroxy-delta-6a-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Cannabitriol (CBT)
  • Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (8-THCA)
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabiorcolic acid (THCA-C1)
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarinic acid (THCVA)
  • Cannabifuran (CBF)
  • Cannabiglendol
  • Cannabiripsol (CBR)
  • Cannbicitran (CBT)

Delta 8 THCA is derived from hemp.  However, the amount of Delta 8 in hemp plants is minuscule compared to the amount of Delta 9 found in cannabis plants. To convert CBD into Delta 8 THC, a process is required to reflux cannabidiol in an organic solvent (like toluene or heptane) with an acid that acts as a catalyst. 

Another common extraction method for Delta 8 uses C02, which is supercritical carbon dioxide. Using this method, the liquid is separated from gases, which leaves a condensed liquid extract.  It is then further processed to create Delta 8 oil, which is used to create everything from infused beverages to edibles, and smokable varieties. 

How is Delta 8 THC Consumed?

State laws about Delta 8 vary.  In some states, virtually any Delta 8 THC product is available in retail locations and online.  In other states, there are restrictions on the types of Delta 8 products that are available. And some jurisdictions have entirely banned the sale or use of Delta 8 and Delta 10 products.

Like medical or recreational marijuana, there are many different ways to consume Delta 8, depending on your preference.  Some of the products available online and in specialty retail locations include the following:

Smokable Vape

A disposable cartridge with Delta 8 THC is the most common variant of Delta THC you will find online or in a smoke shop.  But dry herb vaporizing devices also make it easy to smoke Delta 8 or Delta 9 flower. 

One of the reasons why smokable vape is popular for Delta 9 users is that the effects can be felt quickly. Vaporized THC (semi-synthetic or marijuana) is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.  THC and metabolites enter the bloodstream very quickly through the lungs.  

When inhaled, the bioavailability of THC is between 10% to 40%. That means more THC ingested passes the blood barrier and is delivered to the body.  Which is higher than other ingestion methods. 

Different types of Delta 9 cannabis have flavonoids and terpenes that vary between strains.  This gives specific strains distinct notes of flavor and scent, including lemon, berry, diesel, sweet, spicy, or earthy.  Delta 8 smokables have less distinctive aromas and tastes because of the semi-synthetic processing required to extract them from hemp.

 Tinctures (Sublingual Uptake)

Tincture products are available where the active ingredient is Delta 8, Delta 9 (marijuana), or Delta 10 cannabis.  And even though tinctures are not the top-selling THC delivery method, they are helpful for people who cannot use an inhalable.

For example, an individual who has asthma or COPD may not be able to use a smokable THC product.  The inhalable vape or flower could irritate the respiratory tract and cause discomfort and other health problems.  And some people simply do not like smokable products at all. 

But tinctures are very easy to use and do not cause problems for people who have respiratory issues. A Delta 9 (marijuana) or Delta 8 cannabis dose can be dispensed into the mouth and under the tongue.  And some people prefer tinctures because they can have a longer shelf life than other cannabis products. 


One of the perennial best-selling THC products (aside from smokable varieties) are edibles. And it is not hard to understand why.  Edibles are easy to carry and store and tasty to consume.  

Another reason that Delta 8 and Delta 9 edibles are popular is that they taste good.  If you are not a fan of smokable varieties, there are many different choices when it comes to edibles.  For both Delta 9 and Delta 8 THC types, you can find gummies, lozenges, candies, ‘baked’ goods, and other confectioneries. 

Infused Beverages 

The availability of Delta 8 or Delta 9 infused beverages in the United States is very limited.  And that is because most states have not ruled whether cannabis beverages (synthetic THC or organic) are safe for consumers. 

Infused beverages are not always categorized as edibles, even though they are consumed orally. From seltzers to flavored waters, juices, and kombucha drinks, CBD, Delta 8, and Delta 9 cannabis-infused beverages are expected to grow in popularity and sales. Particularly as an alternative to alcoholic beverages. 


If Delta 8 is extracted from hemp, how can you buy D8 whole flower? Unlike Delta 9 cannabis which naturally produces THC-heavy buds, natural hemp flower only contains trace amounts of Delta 8 THC. 

The smokable D8 flower infuses regular hemp buds with a Delta 8 distillate.  This is done by either spraying or soaking flowers in the D8 distillate. There are many compounds in natural hemp that may offer wellness benefits.  

The prepared D8 bud combines natural terpenes and cannabinoids (entourage effect) with the psychoactive brain and body “high” of Delta 8. 

Tablets and Capsules

The most discreet and easy way to consume Delta 8 and Delta 9 cannabis is the same; by capsules or tablets.  Soft gels are easy to swallow, and it is easier to control the amount of THC consumed with tablets or capsules. 

No additional devices or preparation is needed to use D8 or D9 pills.  They are shelf stable and have a longer lifespan than other cannabis products.  There is no scent or residue, and some people prefer this method because there is no odor. Tablets and capsules are also easier to travel with.

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

At the molecular level, you would be able to see a difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC.  That is because there is a double bond in the molecule chain for both types of THC.  But the double bond is located in different areas for Delta 8 and 9.

Delta 8 THC has an eighth carbon atom with a double bond on the molecular chain.  And Delta 9 has a ninth carbon atom with a double bond instead. That may seem like a small and insignificant difference between the two types of THC, but the difference creates slightly different effects when consumed. 

For example, for most people, Delta 8 does not provide psychoactive effects as potent as marijuana.  The physiological effects and cognitive changes after consuming Delta 8 are more subtle than traditional cannabis. 

That is because Delta 9 (marijuana) binds quickly with the body’s CB-1 receptors. And that amplifies the psychoactive effects of marijuana. It can create feelings of elation, relaxation, smiling, and laughing.  When you are under the influence of Delta 9, it can be very obvious based on behaviors that commonly react to certain strains.

However, Delta 8 can also promote relaxation and pain relief, but with a lower level of psychoactivity.  The telltale signs of “being high” on marijuana are not the same after consuming Delta 8.  And some people like the aspect of using D8 as an alternative for anxiety and pain management. 

How Long Do the Effects of Delta 8 Last Compared to Marijuana?

Some people claim that the effects of Delta 8 are milder compared to Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol. In fact, Delta 8 and Delta 10 cannabis have been dubbed “marijuana light” because the effects are not as strong as marijuana for some people. 

The assumption that Delta 8 is less potent can be inaccurate.  And sometimes, people expect the psychoactive effects to be milder, which can lead to some uncomfortable side effects.  Especially if a larger quantity of Delta 8 is ingested. 

Delta 8 THC has similar psychoactive effects when compared to Delta 9 cannabis. And Delta 8 has been compared to ingesting an Indica strain.  It can be sedating for most people, particularly if the individual isn’t a regular user. 

How heavy the effects of Delta 8 impact the user depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The type of product and method of consumption
  • Body weight 
  • The metabolism of the individual 
  • Cannabis tolerance levels 
  • Whether it was consumed on an empty stomach 
  • Hydration level of the individual
  • Prescription medications and supplements 

If you are ingesting any THC on an empty stomach, the effects of the THC can be amplified. The psychoactive “high” will be far more intense, and it will take effect in a shorter period of time.  Consuming too much Delta 8 on an empty stomach can result in an uncomfortably intense “high” that can also cause paranoia. 


Method of Consumption Determines Absorption Rate for Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC

When it comes to different product types and how quickly you may feel the effects, there is no real difference between Delta 9 (cannabis) and Delta 8 THC.  Some methods of ingestion are more rapidly absorbed into the body.

For example, an edible might be your first choice if you were looking for a more mild onset.  That is because edibles are not absorbed into the bloodstream right away.  They must pass through the digestive system, where some THC value is lost.  That is why some people don’t think that edibles are working.  It may take about an hour to start to feel the full effect.

Tinctures are the second fastest absorption method. But only if you use it correctly.  The method involves dispensing the dose from the dropper under the tongue.  And holding it there for at least thirty seconds to a minute. 

The sublingual uptake method is quick and easy.  Under the tongue are visible sublingual varices (small dilated veins).  The membrane between the veins and the oral cavity is very thin in that area.  And tinctures can be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. 

The fastest way to absorb Delta 8 or 9 THC is through inhalable or smokable products.  That includes countertop vaporizers and handheld devices.  Some vapes are disposable, while other THC products are sold in cartridges for rechargeable devices. Marijuana and Delta 8 THC are sold in raw flower (bud) and pre-rolled smokable cones. 


 How Long Does the “High” From Delta 8 Last? 

Despite claims that Delta 8 is less potent than cannabis, the duration of psychoactive and physical effects are very similar. When you vape Delta 8 THC, you will generally feel the effects in under five minutes. 

 When vaping Delta 8, the peak effects can be felt anywhere from thirty (30) minutes to ninety (90) minutes with inhalable Delta 8 products. And the sensations can last from 4-5 hours in duration. 

 If you are choosing to use Delta 8 as a tincture (sublingual uptake), it can take from thirty (30) to ninety (90) minutes before you feel the effects. However, Delta 8 tinctures typically last only 1-2 hours.  And that is because some THC is lost in the digestive and absorption processes. But many people like using tinctures for relief because the effects will wear off faster than other Delta 8 products. 

Even though the results of Delta 8 wear off fairly quickly, the metabolites from consuming semi-synthetic or organic cannabis can last up to 90-days in your body. That means traces of Delta 8 THC can be found in the body for up to three months after consumption. 

It also depends on how much Delta 8 you consume and how often you ingest it. Most THC drug tests can only detect metabolites for a few days after single consumption.  But if you are a regular user, you may test positive after thirty days from your last consumption.


Does Delta 8 Feel Different Than Delta 9 Marijuana When Consumed?

The way that THC affects an individual depends on a number of factors. Because if it is your first time trying any kind of THC product (Delta 9 or Delta 8), the effects will be stronger.  Because your body has not built a tolerance for THC through long-term use. 

If you have consumed cannabis regularly and are trying Delta 8 THC for the first time, you will notice some subtle differences.  First, the psychoactive effects of semi-synthetic THC are not as strong as organic cannabis.  And second, the effects of D8 do not last as long (typically) compared to marijuana.

Some people find that D8 can feel similar to ingesting an Indica strain of cannabis.  That means a calm, relaxing, and possibly tired effect. Alternatively, a Delta 10 THC product may provide an experience similar to a Sativa strain, uplifting and energetic by comparison. 

In areas where Delta THC products are legal to purchase and possess (but not Delta 9 cannabis), people may choose to use Delta 8 as an alternative. While the effects of Delta 8 are milder, they may be effective when used to help moderate pain symptoms and anxieties and for other medicinal purposes. 

Before trying Delta 9 or Delta 8 THC, you should consult with your physician. All cannabis varieties may be contraindicated with certain prescription medications. And you should discuss your intention to use Delta THC for symptom relief with your primary care provider (PCP). 


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