In states where recreational or medicinal use of marijuana is legal, cannabis dispensaries offer a wide range of products containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9 THC) and delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8 THC). Both of these compounds come from the cannabis sativa plant, but delta-8 THC is a minor cannabinoid that is present in much smaller amounts. Depending on quality, quantity and other factors, both THC delta-8 and delta-9 THC can produce intoxicating psychoactive effects, or a “high”. Despite their similarities, delta-8 THC and delta-9 also have important differences that you should understand before consuming any of these substances.
Delta-9 THC is the main natural intoxicating component of the cannabis plant. When a person smokes or consumes delta-9 (THC) above a certain threshold, they usually experience a “high”. Some manufacturers market THC delta-9 products to treat or mitigate the symptoms of certain medical conditions or diseases. The FDA has approved only two synthetic formulations of THC, dronabinol and nabilone, which are used to relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and to increase appetite in patients with AIDS.
Studies show that the use of delta-9 THC may have therapeutic benefits for certain conditions, such as nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, seizure disorders, chronic pain, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), and sleep disorders in people with other chronic conditions. Research on the long-term use of delta-9 THC and its effects on sleep is limited; some studies show an improvement in sleep patterns and others indicate that chronic use of delta-9 THC may have the opposite effect, since it alters sleep and delays the onset of sleep. There are more and more case reports detailing recurrent nausea, severe vomiting, dehydration and abdominal pain in long-time users of THC delta-9.Several studies have also linked the use of delta-9 to an increased risk of psychosis, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions, along with substance abuse disorders. Unlike delta-9, delta-8 probably won't test positive for THC in a drug test, unless the test specifically looks for the delta-8 metabolites of THC. However, if the delta-8 THC product contains concentrations of delta-9 THC, a drug test may show a positive result for THC. With the growing popularity of delta-8 THC, some commercial laboratories are now adding delta-8 confirmation testing to drug tests. Both delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC are composed of the same set of elements (carbon, hydrogen and oxygen), and they only differ slightly in the way those elements are organized.
Although they have a similar composition, delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC have many differences. Delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC can produce the positive or adverse effects mentioned above, since both activate the body's CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, including those in the central nervous system. Meanwhile, overstimulation of CB1 receptors due to excessive consumption of either compound can cause lethargy, disorientation, anxiety (and possibly panic), dry mouth and eyes, increased heart rate and loss of coordination. Delta-9 THC has been extensively studied for nearly 60 years, but little research has been published on delta-8.Another important difference is how they are (or are not) regulated. Potency is another difference between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC.
Delta-9 THC can be smoked or vaporized as a flower (yolk) without the need for extraction, although edibles, topical products and other preparations do require an extraction process. On the other hand, almost all THC delta-8 products are synthesized, extracted and purified from cannabis-derived CBD. Making general statements about whether cannabis use is good or bad doesn't provide an accurate picture of either compound. It's important to understand both their similarities and differences before consuming any form of cannabis product containing either compound.