Delta 8 vs Delta 9 THC: The Differences Explained

Every year, the laws around marijuana in the US become more lenient. This is because extensive scientific research and testing has proven that not only is marijuana harmless, it can also have a number of health benefits.

As the laws have loosened, many companies specializing in all of the components of the marijuana plant have started to experiment and delve further into what really makes up cannabis. Though it is no new study, a lot more work has gone into delving into the differing structures of THC that can be found within marijuana. All of this work has been done with one thing in mind, using the new found legalization to market all of the wonderful components that mairjuana has to offer.

Delta-8 THC vs Delta-9 THC

As just discussed, the main body of the marijuana plant that a lot of businesses are focusing on is THC, but what exactly is THC and what is the difference between Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC? To answer that first we need to understand what THC its self is.

THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol and is one of the 113 cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis. THC is arguably the key component as it produces the psychoactive effect that marijuana is best known and sought after for. THC is basically the reason that you feel high when you smoke weed. However, THC is not just as simple as being the crystalized element in your joint that gets you high, it is far more complex than that and is made up of a number of different strands and structures.

The different kinds of THC


THCA is one of the only types of THC that has no psychoactive properties, meaning that if you were to just smoke or ingest THCA, you wouldn’t get that ‘high feeling’. What isn’t really known about THCA is that it is actually the main source for the other strands of THC. This conversion in THCA is caused by heat, which can naturally occur via sunlight or even simulated natural lighting. This application of heat allows it to become the other structures and the main difference that is seen after being exposed to heat is that it can now fit into the body’s CB1 receptors, which leads to the high feeling.


THCV is a byproduct of the breakdown that happens when THCA is exposed to heat. In low doses, this strand of THC will not have any mind altering effects, meaning you won’t really experience that feeling of being high. If you take THCV in high doses, you will experience a high feeling, however it won’t last too long.

Delta-9 THC

For people who don’t really know what THC is, they usually associate the effects of general THC with the actuality of the effects of delta-9. This is because delta-9 is the main psychoactive compound that can be found in a marijuana plant and it is what produces the feeling of being high that you get from weed. It is not too dissimilar from THCV, but the effects are more intense and last for a longer period of time.

Delta-8 THC

As delta 9 oxidases, it is converted into Delta-8. This means that it is not as potent as Delta-9, but it can still produce a high feeling. In recent years, there has been an increase in people that vape Delta 8 due to the vast amount of health benefits that it can produce.

The main THC strains

Before we get into the two main THC strains, we found that it was important that you knew some information about all of the THC strains that you can find in cannabis, just know you can have an idea of their effects and which one caters more towards your taste.

Among the four that we have discussed, the most popular two that are sought after and used more are Delta-9 and Delta-8 THC. However, a lot of people have a lot of confusion about what the differences are between the two.

The difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC

The scientific difference

Both Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC are naturally found in trace amounts in hemp plants. In their initial form, they have no psychoactive effects and to become psychoactive they have to undergo a number of processes. First of all, delta-8 can be created through biosynthesis, which is an enzyme fueled conversion of cannabigerolic acid, which becomes THCA, which was discussed above.

As we know, THCA doesn’t have any initial psychoactive effects. It is not until heat is applied to THC and the process of decarboxylation happens. When THCA is exposed to heat, Delta 9 is formed. Which created the most potent psychoactive effect. At this point, delta-8 is still only present in trace amounts. It is not until delta-9 has been oxidized that the amount of delta-8 starts to increase and becomes a more present element of the cannabis. Throughout the complete history of Delta 8 THC there was a lot of confusion about how it was actually produced, but now with further research, professionals now understand it much better.

Potency of Delta-8 Compared with Delta-9

Studies have shown that delta 8 is 75% less potent than delta 9. This is because delta 9 stimulates a much stronger response from your brain and body. This is because the two interact with the receptors in a different way due to the difference in compound.

The two have a chemical structure that is extremely similar, in fact if you weren’t familiar with this difference then you probably wouldn’t pick it up upon first glance. This difference is the location of their double bond and this difference is simply explained within the name of the two strains. Delta-9’s bond lies on the 9ths carbon and so delta-8’s bond lies on the 8th carbon. This is an incredibly small distinction, however this controls the cognitive effects that the two strains actually have on a person.

Another difference between how they both work structurally and in terms of their potency is how they react with the brain receptors. Both of these strains react with the CB1 receptor, but only delta-8 interacts with the CB2 receptor. This helps to regulate the immune system, which is a reason why Delta 8 THC is better for some people.

How Much Stronger is Delta 9 THC vs. Delta 8?

Delta 9 THC is around twice as strong as Delta 8 THC. Generally, a Delta 8 high is around 75% less potent than Delta 9. The Delta 9 compound accounts for most of the THC occurring naturally in the cannabis plant and larger amounts can be extracted for products. 

Does Delta 8 Stay in Your System Longer than Delta-9?

No, it doesn’t. The two compounds are similar enough that it takes around the same length of time to break down in your system. In fact, most people report that Delta 8 stays in their system for less time than Delta 9. However, this will also depend on various factors, such as frequency of use.

Effects on the body of both strains

Both of these strains have a reputation for having a lot of benefits when it comes to medical issues, pain and other problems. However, there are some differences when it comes to the effects that the two strains have.

Delta-8 has grown in popularity in the last few years due to the vast list of health benefits that it has been known to have.

First of all and arguably its most popular benefit is a decrease in anxiety. Delta 8 takes away feelings of paranoia, which often makes it more favorable amongst users. However, its counterpart delta-9 is actually known to increase feelings of anxiety, which is why when you smoke extremely potent weed, you are more likely to feel paranoia.

Both of the strains have been known to help with physical pain. Now, this does not mean that it will get rid of your source of pain and fix any medical issue. However, it will lessen the sensation of being in pain and relax the body more.Though they share a lot of similar effects, people who are using THC to deal with their pain and anxiety issues prefer to use delta-8 THC. Though it has psychoactive effects, this can only really be achieved through high dosing. If you take a normal dose, then you will feel some of the effects but still maintain an extremely clear head. This is what really makes it stand out from delta-9, as people who take the THC to help with their physical ailments, don’t always want to feel extremely ‘high’. Some people also still need to do their daily tasks, which would be difficult with delta-9.