Consumer interest in the cannabis plant is at an all-time high, and with good reason. Decades of research into the medicinal and therapeutic potential of cannabis compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes is more accessible than ever before, thanks to the advent of the internet age, smartphones, and sweeping cannabis legalisation around the world.
Of the most recent cannabis compounds to draw the attention of researchers, Delta-8 THC is among the most promising in terms of viability as an add-on to conventional therapeutics and drugs. In this post, we’ll be going over key distinctions between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, as well as why they should matter from a legal- or user-oriented perspective.
A Crash Course on Delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid found in small amounts within cannabis plants. It’s a compound with some psychoactivity, but not as pronounced or liable to impair motor skills and coordination as the so-called “high” from Delta-9 THC. As of this writing, researchers are in agreement that significantly more study and research have to be conducted on the effects of Delta-8 THC to determine the full extent of its potential effects.
What is Delta-8 Flower?
Contrary to popular misconception, Delta-8 flowers do not organically occur in nature. Delta-8 flowers are typically high-quality hemp flowers sprayed or frosted with Delta-8 THC distillate or concentrate which had been processed and refined beforehand.
The effects of Delta-8 THC flower are generally felt within 15 minutes of inhaling, as reported by consumers using them for both medical and recreational purposes. According to these consumers, Delta-8 flower can be smoked or vaped in a dry herb vaporizer, or even rendered into concentrate form (e.g. resin, rosin or shatter) and dabbed.
Delta-8 THC has been found to have antiemetic and analgesic properties in addition to its psychoactive effects. It has been researched for its therapeutic value and use as an anti-inflammatory agent. Cannabinoids like Delta-8 THC have also been shown to inhibit tumor growth in laboratory mice and rats by limiting vascularization, which allows tumors to grow beyond 3mm before becoming vascularized enough to continue growing exponentially.
Delta-8 THC was first synthesized by Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni at the Weizmann Institute of Science. A study found that, compared to healthy non-users, people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) had nearly identical neurophysiological and subjective reactions to smoked marijuana containing either zero, 1.8, or 3.9 percent Delta-8 THC.
How Delta-9 THC is Different
The difference in effects between Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC are caused by their different molecular configurations, where the double bond of Delta-8 is on the 8th chain of the carbon atom, while the double bond of Delta-9 is on the 9th chain. Delta-8 THC is generally considered to have less of a mind-altering effect than Delta-9 THC, whereas the latter is famous for its relaxant, soporific psychoactivity. Delta-9 THC is also much better researched for potential analgesic and spasmolytic applications in the future of natural medicine.
Another key difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC is that the former is argued to be a synthetic cannabinoid rather than an organic one, given it naturally occurs in such minute concentrations in cannabis plants that it must be processed and refined from other cannabinoids in order for an appreciable amount to be isolated.
How is Delta-8 THC Made?
Delta-8 is usually produced via solvent extraction of CBD from high quality hemp flowers. Once a sufficient amount of CBD is extracted, p-toluenesulfonic acid or other acids are used to essentially convert it to Delta-8 THC over a refinement process lasting between 90 minutes and 3 hours.
Delta-8 has been shown to be more effective than Delta-9 THC in producing apoptosis in cancer cells and stopping tumor growth. Differences in effects aside, Delta-8 THC is preferred over Delta-9 THC by many consumers who would prefer to tap into the therapeutic potential of THC, but without experiencing the type of psychoactivity that can impact their physical coordination or ability to keep track of time.
While Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC do have their respective pros and cons over each other, more research into Delta-8 will be needed to determine its full psychoactivity and scope of effects.
Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Bud