We know the main psychoactive cannabinoid that gets people high is Delta-9-THC or commonly known as THC.

When THC binds to the CB1 receptor of the endocannabinoid system, it triggers the sensation that is often regarded as feeling high. 

Your mood can improve, and you may start feeling euphoric and elated. You might feel super relaxed and become more sensitive to everything around you. The lights, sounds, scents, and even time and space can become more interesting and captivating.

Depending on the strain, you may also feel giggly, sociable, creative, more inspired and focused, very sleepy, or so hungry even though you’ve just had a meal.

Take too much though and you’d feel the nasty side effects of THC — increased anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and cannabis-induced psychosis.

This is THC — the primary cannabinoid that makes cannabis popular.

Now, what if I tell you that there’s another type of psychoactive cannabinoid that gives almost the same high but smoother and produces none of the ugly side effects of THC?

Called Delta-8-THC, this lesser-known minor cannabinoid is an isomer of THC; meaning, it has a similar molecular formula with THC but the atoms are arranged differently, giving Delta-8-THC a different level of potency compared to THC or Delta-9-THC.

Similarities and Differences Between Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC

Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC are similar in many ways:

  • Both are naturally-occurring cannabinoids produced by cannabis plants, including hemp.

However, Delta-9-THC is more abundant, while Delta-8-THC is only produced in very small concentrations.

  • Delta-9-THC came from the CBG, the cannabinoid dubbed as the “mother of cannabinoids.” Other cannabinoids that also came from CBG include CBD, CBC, THCV, CBV, CBL, among others.

Delta-8-THC, on the other hand, comes from the degradation of THC.

Aging, poor storage, and exposure to heat, light, and air contribute to the degradation of THC. As THC degrades, it’s converted into other cannabinoids like CBN and Delta-8-THC.

  • Both Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC have the same chemical structure of C21H30O2. They only differ in the location of their double bonds.

Delta-9-THC has the double bonds on its ninth carbon chain, while Delta-8-THC has them on its eighth carbon chain.

  • Both cannabinoids bind to the CB1 receptors and produce psychoactive effects.

But because of the difference in the location of their double bonds, Delta-8-THC produces milder and lighter psychoactive effects when it binds to the CB1 receptor.

This slight difference is also the reason why Delta-8-THC doesn’t induce anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions like Delta-9-THC.

  • Both have many therapeutic benefits. They relieve pain, reduce inflammation, control nausea and vomiting, as well as improve appetite.

But of the two, Delta-8-THC offers the most benefits to patients who can’t tolerate Delta-9-THC.

Pros and Cons of Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC

As mentioned earlier, both Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC interact with our endocannabinoid system. They bind to the types 1 and 2 cannabinoid receptors, activating the endocannabinoid system and helping it function better in maintaining our health.

But while these cannabinoids have many therapeutic benefits though, they’re not without some disadvantages, too.

Below are some of the pros and cons Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC.

  • Availability

Delta-9-THC is easily available compared to Delta-8-THC. It is, after all, the most abundant cannabinoid produced by the plant, so you’ll find many high-THC strains on the market.

Delta-8-THC, on the other hand, is not as accessible since it’s not as abundant as Delta-9-THC. Cannabis plants only produce small concentrations of this cannabinoid, so looking for Delta-8-THC-rich strains would be very hard. What you’ll find on the market are simply flowers infused with Delta-8-THC.

But through selective breeding though, there’s hope of creating strains rich in Delta-8-THC.

Moreover, through special extraction, molecular isolation, and synthesizing methods, we’re also able to create Delta-8-THC from Delta-9-THC and even CBD and CBG.

  • Psychoactive Effects

People smoke cannabis to enjoy the mental and physical effects of THC. So, if you’re after strong psychoactive effects, then Delta-8-THC pales into comparison since it produces weaker and lighter psychoactive effects than Delta-9-THC.

When it comes to mind-altering effects, Delta-9-THC is still the most powerful cannabinoid between the two.

But if you’re only after a smooth, light high with reduced risks of anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, etc., then Delta-8-THC is the best cannabinoid. You also get to benefit from its therapeutic effects without sacrificing mental clarity and focus.

  • Cost

Delta-8-THC is more expensive than Delta-9-THC because it’s not as common. Not only is Delta-8-THC rarer, but its production is also costlier than the latter.

But once the supply of Delta-8-THC meets the demands though, we can expect its cost to drop.

  • Stability and Shelf-Life

Of the two, Delta-8-THC is said to be more stable and have a longer shelf-life compared to Delta-9-THC.

Experts believe that this is because Delta-8-THC is technically already a result of Delta-9-THC’s degradation, so it’s already more stable chemically and can last longer.

  • Legality

In the United States, Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC also differ in legality.

Delta-9-THC is illegal on a federal level. Delta-8-THC, on the other hand, is “technically legal” if it’s extracted from industrial hemp that contains no more than 0.3% Delta-9-THC.

The laws surrounding Delta-8-THC are a bit murky, so before using this cannabinoid, be sure to check its legality in your area.

  • Drug Test

Both are types of THC, so consuming them can make you fail a drug test.

  • Research

Delta-9-THC is well-researched compared to Delta-8-THC. We now have a better understanding of Delta-9-THC and its positive and negative effects on the body.

As for Delta-8-THC, even though it has many potential benefits and uses, we still need more research studies on this cannabinoid to better understand how it interacts with our cells and its long-term effects on the human body.

Knowing their pros and cons helps you reach a more informed decision, especially if you’re taking cannabis for medical use.

Final Thoughts

Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC are both types of THC. They have the same chemical structure and produce the same medicinal and therapeutic effects.

But the slight difference in their double bonds makes their psychoactive effects significantly vary.

According to reports, Delta-8-THC’s psychoactive effect is only about 50% than that of Delta-9-THC’s.

So, which is better between the two?

It depends on your preferences. If you want the usual high produced by cannabis, then choose cannabis flowers and products high in Delta-9-THC.

If you don’t like the effects of high THC strains, then there are many cannabis products, too, like vapes and pre-rolls that contain Delta-8-THC.

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