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Delta 8 THC vs Delta 9 THC: What’s the Difference?

By now, practically everyone is familiar with delta 9 THC. This is the chemical compound in marijuana that is responsible for the notorious “marijuana high.” But lately, many people have been expounding on the effects and benefits of delta 8 THC.

Delta 8 THC has been hailed as having all of the benefits that come with traditional THC but without any of the paranoia or overpowering effects. Is this true? Is it legal?

There are a lot of questions surrounding delta 8 THC as well as the more traditional delta 9 THC. Luckily for you, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. So keep on reading and we will take you through everything you will want to know!

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

Before we can explain what either delta 8 THC or delta 9 THC is, we must first go over the endocannabinoid system (ECS). By understanding what the ECS is, how it works, and how THC interacts with it, we can gain a better understanding of how all of these concepts relate to one another.

The ECS is an intricate and complicated system that runs throughout the human body. It was discovered by researchers at the end of the 20th century as they were attempting to better understand how THC worked. 

To this day, we are still learning about the ECS and how it works, and what it controls. However, there are some functions and processes that we do know ECS is able to affect. These functions and processes include:

  • mood
  • sleep
  • appetite
  • memory
  • fertility and reproduction

Whether or not you consume marijuana, the ECS still exists and functions in your body.

How the Endocannabinoid System Works 

The endocannabinoid system is made up of endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors. Endocannabinoid is short for endogenous cannabinoid. An endogenous cannabinoid is very similar to a cannabinoid except it is naturally produced within the human body.

A cannabinoid, on the other hand, is produced in the cannabis Sativa plant. 

Anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG) are the two primary kinds of endocannabinoids that we know of so far. These chemical compounds work to keep internal functions running correctly. The body makes these endocannabinoids as needed.

There are endocannabinoid receptors all over the body. The endocannabinoids bind to receptors in the ECS. When this happens, they signal to the ECS that action needs to be taken. 

CB1 and CB2 are the two primary ECS receptors. 

While CB2 receptors are mainly located in immune cells in the peripheral nervous system, CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system (CNS).

Endocannabinoids have the ability to bind to either of these receptors. When an endocannabinoid binds to a receptor, a specific action will be taken depending on where the receptor is and what kind of endocannabinoid it is. 

The endocannabinoids then needed to be broken down after they carry out their function. The enzymes are in charge of breaking down the endocannabinoids.

There are two main enzymes that are in charge of breaking down endocannabinoids. First, there is monoacylglycerol acid lipase. This is an enzyme that is in charge of breaking down 2-AG. AEA is broken down by the fatty acid amide hydrolase.

What Are the Functions of the Endocannabinoid System? 

The ECS is a complicated system and scientists are still trying to figure out how it all works. We do know right now that the endocannabinoid system is in charge of running several functions. These functions include:

  • chronic pain
  • inflammation and other immune system responses
  • learning and memory
  • sleep
  • cardiovascular system function
  • liver function
  • stress
  • digestion and appetite
  • metabolism
  • mood
  • motor control
  • muscle formation
  • bone remodeling and growth
  • reproductive system function
  • skin and nerve function

All of these functions are associated with the process of homeostasis. Homeostasis is when your body works to achieve internal balance. It’s currently assumed that the main role of the ECS is to achieve homeostasis within the body.  

What Is Delta 9 THC?

Before we can explain what delta 8 THC is, we must first go over what delta 9 THC is. Delta 9 THC, or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is a cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant. It is a chemical compound and acts a lot like that the endocannabinoid compounds that are naturally produced in the human body.

How Does Delta 9 THC Interact With the Endocannabinoid System?

The reason why we undergo psychological and medicinal effects when we consume cannabinoids is because those cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid systems. Delta 9 THC is able to get a person high because it interacts with the CB1 receptors in the brain. 

But if endocannabinoids also interact with our CB1 receptors, then why aren’t we high all of the time? That’s a good question. And there are a couple of answers to explain this.

First off, delta 9 THC doesn’t interact with the CB1 receptors in the exact same way that natural endocannabinoids do. 

Also, endocannabinoids are broken down very quickly by metabolic enzymes. These enzymes aren’t as effective on delta 9 THC, so delta 9 THC is able to impact the brain for a longer period of time. 

The Effects of Delta 9 THC on the Body 

Delta 9 THC is able to stimulate brain cells and encourage the production and release of dopamine. This leads to feelings of euphoria in people. 

Delta 9 THC can also affect how the hippocampus processes new information. The hippocampus is the section of the brain that is responsible for making memories. 

Delta 9 THC can also change a person’s way of thinking and cause things like delusions and hallucinations. 

The effects of delta 9 THC usually last for a couple of hours. These effects tend to kick in after about half an hour after ingestions. 

Psychomotor impairment may continue after the felt high has ceased. 

In some cases, the side effects of delta 9 THC can include:

  • anxiety
  • rapid heart rate
  • sedation
  • relaxation
  • elation
  • issues with recalling short-term memory
  • pain relief

Other types of cannabinoids, as well as terpenes – which affect the flavor and scent of marijuana – can mitigate or prevent the negative effects of delta 9 THC. 

Medicinal Uses

People have been using the marijuana plant to treat medical issues for thousands of years. In the United States, many states have legalized marijuana for medicinal uses. Some states have legalized it for recreational purposes. 

Delta 9 THC can be extracted from the marijuana plant but it can also be synthesized in a lab setting. When THC is synthesized in a lab, it is used to treat or prevent nausea and vomiting that comes from chemotherapy treatment. People who have AIDS might use synthesized THC to boost their appetites. 

There are many other medical benefits that are associated with THC. When taken in small doses, THC might be able to improve one’s memory. Also, many people choose to consume marijuana over prescription pills because marijuana is usually less addictive and more natural. 

What Is Delta 8 THC? 

Delta 8 THC, or Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol, is also a cannabinoid that is produced in the marijuana plant. The two most popular and prominent cannabinoids are CBD (cannabidiol) and delta 9 THC.

However, there are hundreds of other minor cannabinoids. These other cannabinoids include THCV, CBN, CBG, and delta 8 THC. The majority of marijuana plants make very small amounts of delta 8 THC. So in order to get a usable amount of the substance, a lot of refinement and processing is involved.

However, delta 8 THC is also more stable than delta 9 THC, which can make it a more workable option when it comes to prescription medications. 

The Difference Between Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC

The biggest difference between delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC comes down to where the location of a certain bond between two atoms that make up each THC molecule. With delta 8 THC, there is a double bond on the eight carbon in the chain. When it comes to delta 9 THC, the double bond is on the ninth carbon in the chain.

It is believed that because of this difference, delta 8 THC appears to produce similar effects to delta 9 THC but is less likely to provoke anxiety or overwhelm the user. 

The Effects of Delta 8 THC 

Delta 8 THC can have psychoactive effects for some users. But it is likely to have less intense effects than delta 9 THC. Many people refer to delta 8 THC as “weed light.” 

Delta 8 THC will still give you feelings of euphoria and stimulate your appetite. It can relax or energize a user depending on the larger cannabinoid and terpene profile, similar to how delta 9 THC works. 

You can also feel high when you consume delta 8 THC. 

The key takeaway is that you can get all of the effects that you can expect from regular THC but with lower intensity. Even experienced marijuana users will feel effects from delta 8 THC.

While the desired effects of THC might be reduced, the negative effect will also be reduced. 

Medicinal Uses for Delta 8 THC

Delta 9 THC is considered to be a potent medicine in certain situations. It has the ability to stimulate a person’s appetite and can treat extreme nausea. 

While marijuana is a fairly mild drug with not a lot of side effects, especially when compared to tobacco and alcohol, it still has its downsides. People who consume too much delta 9 THC may get a headache or feel dizzy, anxious, or paranoid.  

Delta 8 THC has beneficial effects like delta 9 THC but doesn’t come with any of the paranoia or anxiety. 

Today, delta 8 THC is becoming a popular new cannabis product. These products include tinctures, gummies, soft drinks, and vape pens. The rise in the popularity of delta 8 THC is mirroring the increased popularity of CBD.

The Legality of Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC 

The legality of cannabis products in the United States is very confusing. From a federal standpoint, delta 9 THC is illegal. However, many states have legalized the possession of delta 9 THC for either medical purposes or even recreational ones. 

That used to be true for delta 8 THC as well. However, the legal status of delta 8 THC changed after President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law. This made it legal to produce hemp in the United States.

Both hemp and marijuana are varieties of the cannabis Sativa plant. The difference between hemp and marijuana has to do with how much THC is in each plant. In order for a cannabis plant to be legally considered hemp, it cannot contain more than 0.3 percent delta 9 THC.

Marijuana plants tend to have high concentrations of THC and low concentrations of CBD. And the opposite is true for hemp plants. 

However, it is possible to extract a significant amount of delta 8 THC from a legal hemp plant. This means that, at least for now, delta 8 THC is technically legal from a federal perspective. 

However, just like how CBD is legal federally but illegal in some states, the same might be true for delta 8 THC. Because laws surrounding marijuana and hemp are constantly changing, it’s important that you check your local and state laws before making a purchase. 

The Importance of Knowing the Differences Between Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC 

Hopefully, after reading the above, article, you now understand how delta 8 THC is different from delta 9 THC. As we can see, delta 8 THC comes with a variety of benefits that can attract new consumers who are too afraid or turned off by delta 9 THC.

And by knowing this information, you’ll be able to make smarter and more confident purchasing decisions. 

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