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Delta-8 vs. Delta-9: What’s the Difference?


Delta-8 and Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have become immensely popular cannabinoids in recent years. One reason these compounds have gained notoriety results from the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp products containing less than 0.3% THC by weight. Shortly afterward, Delta-8, 9, and 10 products started popping up in stores all over the country, even in certain states without legalized cannabis.

These cannabinoids can be derived from hemp and may be found in some cannabidiol (CBD) products, but they can also originate from the traditional THC-heavy marijuana plants we know and love. Although these two substances have much in common, they also have a few notable differences.

Together, we will discuss the similarities and differences between Delta-8 and Delta-9, the risks and benefits of each, and more!

TL;DR: What’s the Difference Between Delta-8 and Delta-9?

Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC are both cannabinoids that share a similar molecular structure with a slight difference. Delta-8 has a double bond on the 8th carbon chain, and Delta-9 has it on the 9th carbon chain. This small but significant change affects how THC interacts with receptors in the body.

Delta-8 is about half as potent as Delta-9. People often experience a milder, less intense high with Delta-8.

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis plants. Cannabis plants usually only contain small, trace amounts of Delta-8, so it’s frequently extracted from hemp-derived CBD. You can find Delta-8 in products like gummies, vapes, tinctures, edibles, and more. Its use has been outright banned in 15 states, but it’s currently legal in the majority of the country.

Delta-8 produces a milder high than regular cannabis, but the effects are very similar.

As Delta-8 has become more popular, many brands selling Delta-8-infused products have made claims that it can help with a range of mental and physical health issues. However, these claims are still relatively unfounded, although some studies are currently underway to determine whether or not Delta-8 has medicinal benefits.

How Much THC is in Delta 8?

It’s important to note that THC percentage and concentrations of Delta-8 are not quite the same thing. Cannabis plants have very low amounts of naturally occurring Delta 8–sometimes as little as 0.1%–which is why Delta-8 is often extracted and concentrated in products like edibles.

The actual concentration of Delta-8 THC can vary widely depending on the product. For example, Delta-8 distillates might have concentrations of 70-90% Delta-8. Other products, such as gummies or tinctures, will have lower concentrations and are often measured in milligrams (mg) of Delta-8 per serving. Technically, states without legal cannabis can only sell hemp products with less than 0.3% THC by weight, so those products will never have the high amounts of THC found in legal dispensaries.


Delta-8 provides a more clear-headed and relaxed high, with reduced anxiety and paranoia compared to Delta-9. This makes it a preferable option to those seeking the therapeutic effects of THC without the intense psychoactive experience. Additionally, Delta-8 has been noted for its potential anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, appetite-stimulating, and pain-relieving properties, although these benefits need more research to fully confirm.

Another advantage of Delta-8 is its legal status. Since it’s derived from hemp, small amounts of Delta-8 are federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. This has made it much easier to access than traditional cannabis products and provides a legal option to people who can’t access dispensaries.


Delta-8, while offering several benefits, also comes with potential risks. One primary concern is the lack of regulation for Delta-8 products, which can lead to inconsistencies in potency and purity. Contaminants like residual solvents, pesticides, and heavy metals can be present if products are not properly tested. Because Delta-8 is still fairly new, comprehensive studies on its long-term health effects are still scarce.

Another risk associated with Delta-8 is its psychoactive effects, which, while mild, can still lead to impairment. Some people may experience side effects like dry mouth, red eyes, increased heart rate, and in some cases, anxiety or paranoia, especially if taken in large doses. Be sure to use Delta-8 with caution, start with low doses, and check that you are buying from reputable sources with verified lab results.

What is Delta-9 THC?

Delta-9 is what people typically think of when they think of THC. It’s the primary cannabinoid in marijuana responsible for producing the psychoactive “high” effect. Delta-9 THC works by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system, particularly the CB1 receptors, which leads to the alteration of different mental and physical functions. Like Delta-8, Delta-9 is not legal for purchase in every state.

Delta-9 is easily extracted from cannabis and can be found in traditional flower products as well as edibles, tinctures, vapes, oils, and more.

While Delta-9 has been demonstrated to have some medicinal benefits, some companies that sell Delta-9 products (particularly in states without legalized cannabis) may make false claims about its use that can be dangerous to consumers. It’s crucial to make sure that you’re buying Delta-9 from reputable sources that provide third-party lab testing.

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How Much THC is in Delta-9?

You can find Delta-9 in some dispensaries or in hemp products sold in states without legalized cannabis, although it’s vital to remember that there is quite a bit of variety in actual THC percentages across those products.

Delta-9 THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis, and in its pure form, it is 100% THC. The concentration of Delta-9 in cannabis products varies significantly. Cannabis flower (bud) typically contains 15-30% Delta-9 THC by weight, although some strains may have more. Concentrates like oils, waxes, and shatter can have much higher concentrations, often ranging from 60-90% Delta-9 THC.

Edibles and tinctures are usually measured in milligrams (mg) of Delta-9 THC per serving, with common doses ranging from 5 to 20 mg per serving. The specific amount of Delta-9 in any given product is always listed on the packaging, allowing consumers to control and manage their intake effectively.


Delta-9 offers several potential therapeutic benefits. It is well-known for its analgesic properties that provide relief from chronic pain, which is beneficial for patients with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis. Additionally, Delta-9 has antiemetic effects, making it effective in reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and other treatments. It can also stimulate appetite, which may help people with conditions that cause appetite loss.

Beyond physical health benefits, Delta-9 can also have positive benefits for mental well-being. It can lessen symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia due to its euphoric and sedating effects.


Like with any substance, Delta-9 has some risks associated with its use.

When used at high doses, it may cause side effects like anxiety or paranoia. It can also cause red eyes, dry mouth, dizziness, lung irritation from smoking, and other symptoms often associated with cannabis.

Using Delta-9 products can result in delayed motor or cognitive skills, which can make certain activities (such as driving) dangerous. New users should start with small doses and work their way up gradually to avoid encountering any of these issues, and it’s important to use Delta-9 in a safe setting, such as at home.

Delta-8 vs. Delta-9: Comparing the Differences

Delta-8 and Delta-9 are both cannabinoids, but they differ in their chemical structure, effects, and legal status. The main chemical difference is the location of a double bond in their molecular structure: Delta-8 has this bond on the eighth carbon chain, while Delta-9 has it on the ninth.

Delta-9 is the more potent and popular of the two, as it has the primary psychoactive component in cannabis that causes the stereotypical “high” we all associate with marijuana. It is known for its strong psychoactive effects, which can include euphoria, altered perception, and increased appetite, but it can also result in anxiety and paranoia in certain people. Many people have reported that Delta-8 provides a milder, more clear-headed high with fewer cases of anxiety and paranoia, so it’s an ideal choice for people who want the benefits of THC without the intense high.

The legal status of Delta-8 and Delta-9 also differs. Delta-9 is federally illegal in the United States, although it is legal in some states for recreational or medical use. Delta-8, derived from hemp, is legal at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC. However, its legality does vary by state since some states have enacted bans on Delta-8 products. This legal grey area has made Delta-8 a popular alternative in regions where Delta-9 remains illegal.

Delta-8 vs. Delta-9: Similarities

Delta-8 and Delta-9 share several similarities, primarily due to their close chemical structures and their roles in the cannabis plant. Both of these compounds interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body, binding to the CB1 receptors in the brain. This interaction is responsible for their psychoactive effects, making them both capable of producing a “high.”

They also share similar therapeutic benefits, such as pain relief, anti-nausea properties, appetite stimulation, and anxiety reduction. These common effects make both Delta-8 and Delta-9 valuable for medical use, especially for patients dealing with chronic pain, chemotherapy side effects, and appetite loss.

In terms of consumption methods, Delta-8 and Delta-9 are available in various forms, including edibles, tinctures, vape cartridges, and flower. Both cannabinoids are typically measured in milligrams in products like edibles and tinctures. Despite their differences in potency and legal status, Delta-8 and Delta-9 provide comparable benefits and versatility in how they are used for recreational and medicinal needs.

FAQs on Delta-8 vs. Delta-9

Does Delta-9 get you higher than Delta-8?

Delta 9 is more potent than Delta 8, so you may feel a stronger high when using Delta 9 products.

Is Delta-9 Sativa or Indica?

Delta-9 can be found in Indica, Sativa, and hybrid strains. The Indica and Sativa ratio depends entirely on which strain the Delta-9 is derived from.

Is Delta-9 safer than Delta-8?

As long as your Delta-9 and 8 products are purchased from state-licensed dispensaries, they are both safe to consume. It’s best to avoid buying unlicensed, untested products like those found at gas stations, smoke shops, or other stores in states without legal cannabis.

Is Delta-8 or 9 better for sleep?

Delta-9 has stronger sedative effects than Delta-8, making it an ideal choice for those who need help sleeping.

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