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Not all THC is Equal - Delta-9 vs Delta-8 THC

Not all THC is Equal - Delta-9 vs Delta-8 THC

Posted by Julie Helmer, CBD Business Strategist and Consultant on Jul 2nd 2020

Everyone who is not living in a cave has heard of Delta-9 THC. It is the psychoactive compound present in cannabis that has had the most attention in recent years in addition to the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, CBD. The cannabis plant, including hemp, has over 124 cannabinoids and only a handful have really been studied and marketed. Let’s take a closer look at Delta-9 THC and its close cousin, Delta-8 THC and learn how they differ.

Until all cannabinoids are thoroughly studied, we know currently that Delta-9-THC and Delta-8-THC are the only compounds in the marijuana plant that produce all the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Because Delta-9-THC is much more abundant than Delta-8-THC, the psychoactivity of cannabis has been attributed largely to Delta-9 THC.

But now Delta-8 is being discovered as an alternative to Delta-9 since it produces a less intense, gentle, enjoyable and manageable high. As far as the endocannabinoid system, Delta-9 THC only activates the CB1 receptor whereas, Delta-8 THC activates both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. When both receptors are involved there is an associated physical state known as homeostasis, the body’s natural resting state, when it is not in a fight or fight mode. This is the same effect CBD has on the body.

As far as benefits of Delta-8, they are considerably different than those of Delta-9. In studies dating back to 1974 when cannabinoids were being studied by Professor Raphael Mechoulam, he found that Delta-8 is an enormously powerful immune system activator and eliminated nausea in patients who were ill from cancer medications and chemotherapy treatments. Additionally, it was shown in 1995 during a study done in Israel to shrink tumors.

Also, in US Patents the following is stated:

"Δ8-THC, for the most part, produces similar psychometric effects as does Δ9-THC, but is generally considered to be 50% less potent"

[Δ8-THC] "has been shown in some cases to be 3-10 times less potent"

"Δ8-THC has also been shown to be more (200%) effective an anti-emetic than Δ9-THC"

What is more, some research suggests that Delta 8 potentially helps people produce a neurotransmitter called Acetylcholine, which is responsible for memory, cognition, arousal, and neuroplasticity.

Due to the less sever psychoactive effects, Delta-8 can treat a wider range of cancer patients since it’s better at combatting a lack of appetite than Delta-9. And some cancer patients don’t use Delta-9 due to the panic they feel when the take it. Delta-8 has fewer discomforting side effects so it can treat a wider range of cancer patients. When CBD is added to Delta-8 it diminishes the psychotropic affects even more, so you get the benefits of Delta-8 along with CBD with little to no high.

Another positive about Delta-8 THC is that it is legal in any state that marijuana and hemp derived CBD is legal medically or recreationally. Delta-8 falls into a kind of regulatory gray area since it can be obtained from both the hemp and marijuana plants and can be converted from CBD which has zero Delta-9 THC present. If there are traces of Delta-9 THC present, it needs to be below the federally regulated level of 0.3%.

As a result, extractors and manufacturers have begun to isolate this cannabinoid and convert CBD into Delta-8 and are adding to many products since it features some special effects not seen with other cannabinoids.