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Differences between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC

Cannabis plant and study of its components

The cannabis plant produces about a hundred different cannabinoids. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol (or, Delta-9-THC) is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, but there are other forms of THC, including Delta 8 THC. Delta-8-THC is often confused with Delta-9-THC. Today in Cannactiva, we tell you the main differences between these two variants of THC.

Main differences between Delta 8 and Delta 9

When we talk about THC, we generally refer to delta-9-THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or dronabinol), which is the psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant in higher percentages, up to 30%.

Cannabis rich in THC is popularly referred to as marijuana. Depending on the strain, the THC and other cannabinoid content can vary considerably. Delta-9-THC binds to receptors in the brain and produces psychoactive properties, which is why most of the adverse effects of marijuana use are attributed to this compound.

Delta-9-THC (or, simply, THC) is abundant in cannabis. In contrast, Delta-8-THC is produced in cannabis in very small amounts.

In addition to Delta-9-THC, the cannabis plant produces other variants of THC, which differ in the chemical structure of the molecule and in the way they interact with the body. Among all THC variants, one of the most popular is Delta 8-THC. (delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol).

The main characteristic of Delta-8-THC is that it is less psychoactive than its sibling Delta-9-THC. Products containing high amounts of Delta-8-THC are obtained synthetically.

Legal planting of cbd cannabis buds
The cannabis plant is extraordinary and produces a hundred different cannabinoids.

Delta-8-THC is found in cannabis plants in much smaller amounts than Delta-9-THC. However, there are a large number of products with this cannabinoid on the market that contain it of synthetic origin (produced in laboratories, usually from CBD or THC).

It should be clarified that CBD or industrial hemp flowers contain only traces of THC, in any of its variants (<0.3% THC).

Effects of Delta 8 vs Delta 9

Initially, it was thought that Delta-8-THC could provide the same medicinal effects of THC, without the intense psychoactive effects, which are undesirable for patients. But the truth is that this supposed advantage has not yet been corroborated by science. Current studies showing properties of Delta-8-THC are mostly preliminary (e.g. in animals or in vitro), and evidence on its potential therapeutic benefits is lacking.

Which of the two is more psychoactive?

There is no certain answer to the question of which of the two types of THC is more psychoactive. In pure form, Delta-9-THC is more psychoactive than Delta-8-THC because it has a higher affinity for the CB1 receptor, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects. In fact, the latter is touted as having milder and more manageable effects than THC. However, these are only laboratory results, because:

The actual psychoactive effects depend on the type of product consumed, the form of consumption and the dosage.

Delta-8-THC is usually marketed in pure form, in vapes, gummies and edibles. In these cases, the amount of Delta-8-THC being consumed may be high and give intense psychoactive effects.

In addition, it should be noted that a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), reported analyses of Delta-8-THC products containing unlabeled substances and contaminants. Since the market for neo-cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoids is virtually unregulated, it is possible to obtain poor quality products that can be harmful and produce unpredictable adverse effects.

In natural cannabis, psychoactivity will depend not only on the THC percentage of the strain, but also on its CBD content, as well as other minor cannabinoids (including naturally occurring Delta-8-THC) and terpenes, which can influence how cannabis exerts effects in the body. This is known as the entourage effect of cannabis, and explains how other components of the plant interact with each other resulting in a decrease, modulation or increase of the effect of THC.

What is the duration of the effects of Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC?

The duration of the effects of both compounds may vary according to the dose and the way of consumption. In general, the effects of Delta-9-THC can last from 2 to 6 hours. In comparison, the effects of Delta-8-THC tend to be slightly shorter and less intense, although the duration may be similar, depending on individual factors such as tolerance and manner of consumption.

Ingestion of cannabinoids, such as Delta-8-THC gummies, produces a later but more prolonged peak, resulting in the greatest mental effects and for the longest duration.

Differences in extraction of Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC

The vast majority of commercially available products include synthetic Delta-8-THC, produced from CBD (cannabidiol) or Delta-9-THC (5).

Delta-8-THC is present in cannabis plants in significantly lower amounts compared to Delta-9-THC. Therefore, most Delta-8-THC products on the market obtain this cannabinoid synthetically.

One of the ways to obtain these cannabinoids has been using CBD extracted from industrial hemp, a technique adopted by certain manufacturers because the production of synthetic cannabinoids is more expensive than cannabidiol extract.

Differences between Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC molecules

The differences between Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC molecules lie mainly in the location of a chemical double bond in their structures. In Delta-9-THC, the double bond is at the ninth carbon position of the molecular chain, while in Delta-8-THC, it is at the eighth position.

Chemical formula and molecule of Delta-9-THC and Delta 8 THC, showing their differences.
Chemical formula and molecule of Delta-9-THC and Delta 8 THC, showing their differences. Although they have the same chemical formula (same number of atoms), Delta-8-THC differs from Delta-9-THC by a peculiarity in its chemical structure, and thus induces different effects. Specifically, the Delta-8-THC molecule has a double bond between carbon atoms 8 and 9, in contrast to Delta-9-THC, where this double bond is located between carbons 9 and 10.

This small structural difference affects how each compound interacts with receptors in the brain. Delta-8-THC interacts less strongly with CB1 receptors, as it does not bind strongly to these receptors of the endocannabinoid system, resulting in milder psychoactive effects and a different profile of potential therapeutic benefits.

Comparison between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC

Comparative table

Delta 8 THCDelta 9 THC
OriginPresent in low amounts in cannabis. It is marketed synthetically, in products such as gummies and vapes, produced from CBD or THC.Abundant in psychoactive cannabis (marijuana) varieties. It can also be obtained synthetically.
MoleculeDouble bond at the eighth carbon position in its molecular chain.Double bond at the ninth carbon position in its molecular chain.
EffectsIn pure form, it has a lower affinity for CB1 receptors in the brain, resulting in less psychoactive effects than Delta 9.In pure form, it is more psychoactive than Delta-8-THC, with more intense effects and potential for more significant adverse effects such as anxiety or paranoia.
LegalityIt is not specifically regulated and its legal status varies depending on the region and the regulation on synthetic cannabinoids.As the main compound of psychoactive cannabis, it is subject to strict restrictions.
Comparative table between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC

Frequently asked questions about Delta 8 and Delta 9

Do Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC test positive for drugs?

Yes, both Delta 8 and Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can test positive in a drug test looking for THC because structurally they are very similar molecules. Many drug tests do not distinguish between different forms of THC.

Are Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC suitable for medicinal use?

Delta 9 THC, or simply THC, is widely used in medical cannabis to treat various symptoms or specific medical conditions. In contrast, Delta-8-THC does not have solid scientific evidence to support its therapeutic potential. However, Delta-8-THC is naturally present in cannabis flowers – in very small amounts – and could influence the effect of cannabis by the well-known entourage effect, which is the synergy between all the components of the plant to result in a therapeutic effect.

Can Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC cause side effects?

Yes, both Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC can cause side effects. The most common include dry mouth, red eyes, impaired judgment and coordination, anxiety and paranoia, especially at high doses or when taken frequently. The intensity and nature of side effects may vary from person to person, depending on age (younger brains, greater potential for harm), dose consumed (pure synthetic forms and in large quantities, greater potential for harm or adverse effects), frequency (frequent use, greater potential for adverse effects).

Is it safe to drive after using Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC?

Like any substance that can alter coordination, judgment and reaction times, it is not safe to drive after consuming Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC. Consumption, in whatever dose, can be tested positive in a traffic test and result in a fine (regardless of the dose consumed).

Do Delta 8 and 9 THC produce addiction?

Delta-9-THC has been associated with a potential for dependence and addiction, especially with frequent use and high doses. Delta-8-THC is less studied, but because of its chemical similarities and effects on the nervous system, it may also have addiction potential.

Legality of Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC

In Spain, both Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC are not legal for sale, mainly because they are psychoactive THC variants. Only industrial hemp with less than 0.3% THC is allowed to be sold, provided it is not intended for human consumption.


Cannabis contains a wide range of cannabinoids, including different variants of THC. Delta 9-THC (or simply THC) is the most abundant THC variant in cannabis and is the main psychoactive compound associated with most of the euphoric effects of psychoactive cannabis use.

On the other hand, Delta 8-THC, which is found in lower amounts and has a lower affinity for CB1 receptors, resulting in milder psychoactive effects. The key differences between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC lie in their chemical structure, which results in different effects. Products with Delta-8-THC obtain this cannabinoid synthetically and in large doses (higher than those normally found in natural cannabis), therefore, the consumption of products with high Delta-8-THC content can produce psychoactivity greater than natural THC and adverse effects.

In any case, both cannabinoids can influence mood, appetite and pain, among other effects, and in the long term their consumption in high doses has been linked to paranoia.

At Cannactiva, we are still committed to hemp flowers: non-psychoactive cannabis with all the aroma of cannabis and without its psychoactive effects.


En Cannactiva queremos cambiar la perspectiva sobre el cannabis. Te traemos lo mejor de la planta a través de nuestros productos y de los posts que puedes leer en nuestro [...]

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