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What’s the Difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC?

Do you think that both delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC are pretty dang amazing? You wouldn’t be the only one — so do we. 

But delta-8 and delta-9 are also far more different than their nearly-identical names would imply. Both of them can get you plenty uplifted, but beyond that, they have several important differences!

That’s not to say one of them is better than the other…but it is to say that one of them might be better for you. Keep reading to learn how to figure out which. 

  • Delta-8 and delta-9: apples to oranges?
  • Delta-8 vs. delta-9 THC: what’s the difference?
  • Delta-8 vs. delta-9 THC: are there any similarities?
  • What to look for in premium delta-8 products
  • What to look for in premium delta-9 products
  • Delta-8 and delta-9: can you combine them?

Delta-8 and delta-9: apples to oranges?

If you’re new to such concepts, feel free to view delta-8 and delta-9 THC kind of like apples and oranges. Both are healthy, both taste good, and both are classified as fruit! Beyond that there are a few differences, sure; apples are particularly high in polyphenols, while oranges are higher in antioxidants like vitamin C. 

But here’s the important thing: regardless of which option you choose, you’re choosing something that benefits your mind and body. And it’s just the same with delta-8 and delta-9. Both of them are relaxing, both of them are balancing, and both of them are cannabinoids that come from either cannabis or industrial hemp! 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive a little deeper into three major differences between delta-8 and delta-9 THC. 

Delta-8 vs. delta-9 THC: what’s the difference?

Difference 1: delta-8 is typically sourced from hemp. 

Delta-8 THC is normally sourced from hemp, which explains why any amount of it is considered federally legal. (In case you didn’t know, delta-8 was legalized by the same federal bill that legalized CBD, CBG, CBN, and others). [1

Delta-9 THC, on the other hand, is typically sourced from cannabis, which is why it’s not federally legal. Though there is one exception to this rule extremely small amounts of hemp-derived delta-9. 

Difference 2: delta-8 is gentler.

The second biggest difference between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC is their effects. Were it not for the legal topics we mentioned above, this particular difference would be the most important one by far. Almost everyone who’s tried both delta-8 and delta-9 reports that they’re way, way different. 

How so? While both cannabinoids can get you high, delta-8’s high is calmer and milder. Most users find that they can take large doses of delta-8 products and still feel like they’re in control of the situation.  Delta-8 THC is also usually free from side effects like couch lock or the munchies (some studies hint it may reduce food intake). It’s not called ‘THC lite’ for no reason! The same can’t be said of high-dose delta-9 — take too much and you might just find yourself along for the ride.  

Another thing to keep in mind: delta-8 might be milder and more manageable than delta-9, but it actually lasts at least as long. Just FYI! 

Difference 3: delta-8 THC is more holistic.

Delta-8 THC’s inner workings explain why it, well, works a little more gently than delta-9 does. They also explain why delta-8 is more holistic. What does that mean? Allow us to explain. 

Defined as a philosophy, medicine, or supplement that prioritizes the whole above any of its particular parts, the word holistic essentially means well-rounded

And delta-8 is just about as well-rounded as any cannabinoid could be. Most cannabinoids only work within one dimension of your body’s endocannabinoid system; CBD works mostly on its relaxing CB2 receptors; delta-9 THC works mostly on its euphoric CB1 receptors. Delta-8 THC works on them both! In addition to binding on both types of receptors, delta-8 also bolsters them indirectly, working as what’s called an “inverse agonist” to allow more endocannabinoids to pour in and further activate things. [2]

To give you a better idea of why this is so important, just take a look at what CBD is known to do when it activates CB2 receptors:

  • May restore REM sleep
  • Turns on fat-burning metabolism
  • Boosts internal antioxidant production 
  • May reduce stress and promote adaptation to stress

And that’s not all — here’s what delta-9 THC does when it activates CB1 receptors: 

  • May restore normal circadian rhythm
  • Protects your body from sugar-burning 
  • Protects against internal oxidative damage 
  • May reduce tension and promote flexible thinking

Given that delta-8 THC binds to both types of receptors, one can only imagine how diverse its effects are! According to the National Institute of Health, delta-8 may have “potential antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective activities,” all while having “a lower psychotropic potency than delta-9 THC.” [3]

Delta-8 vs. delta-9 THC: are there any similarities?

Despite the many differences between delta-8 and delta-9, there are also some similarities at play here. 

Both cannabinoids can get you high, both can reduce stress, and both have a rightful place within your health and wellness routine. As Willy Nelson once said, stress is a killer — and cannabis is one of the best natural antidotes. If you need to kick back and unwind, either cannabinoid is likely to be able to do the job.  

What to look for in premium delta-8 products

Delta-8 THC may be great and all, but any truly great D8 product needs to meet a few different standards. Here’s what to ask yourself before buying:  

  • Is it free of synthetic ingredients?
  • Is it made from US-grown hemp?
  • Is it all-natural?
  • Is it vegan?

If you’re ready for some side-effect-free upliftment, be sure to find a product that checks all the boxes. 

What to look for in premium delta-9 products

If you’re looking for an even more immersive experience, consider opting for a little bit of help from delta-9. Just be sure to hold any given D9 product to all the same standards we’ve mentioned above. Bonus points for any delta-9 product that’s full spectrum, too.

Delta-8 and delta-9: can you combine them?

Despite what we’ve gone over so far, don’t feel the need to view delta-8 and delta-9 use as mutually exclusive. You’re completely free to take them both the same day…or even at the same time! Some people find that the two balance eachother out nicely. 

If you’re new to cannabinoids, though, you’ll probably get all the upliftment you need from one or the other. You could always take delta-8 in the morning to help you get up and get going…then take some delta-9 at night to help you kick back and unwind. 
Alternatively, you could microdose with delta-8 and reserve delta-9 for when you really want to get uplifted. The choice is yours, and we think you’ll enjoy how things play out either way!