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Medical Marijuana 101: Delta-8 vs Delta-9 THC

Cannabis has been consumed for centuries, but only recently have we been able to properly understand the compounds that work together to provide various experiences which include the medical benefits we appreciate today. Cannabinoids, also known as phytocannabinoids, are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant and many others such as piper nigrum (black pepper) and cacao. With delta-8 THC becoming widely available in CBD stores around the country, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is returning to the forefront of the medical marijuana conversation. Both Delta-8 and delta-9 are forms of THC, but when people are talking about THC in general, they are referring to delta-9. Delta- 8 THC is a minor cannabinoid that is produced naturally by the cannabis plant in insignificant amounts. It has become popular because of its similarity to delta-9 THC, the cannabinoid that provides the psychoactive effect or “high” that cannabis is known for. However, for all the similarities, there are still major differences between delta-9 and delta-8 THC.

Delta-9 THC is found in abundance in the marijuana plant thus making extraction simple and affordable. On the other hand, concentrated amounts of delta-8 THC are typically synthesized from hemp-derived cannabidiol or CBD with the use of solvents due to its low presence in the cannabis plant. Manufacturing delta-8 THC from hemp is not only easier, but it also allows products that include the compound to be sold outside of medical marijuana dispensaries because it is technically legal on a federal level. The Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production in 2018, does not forbid deriving delta-8 THC from hemp and creating products with it.

One of the main differences between delta-9 and delta-8 is the level of potency. Delta-9 THC is significantly more potent than Delta 8 and has more pronounced effects. Some common side effects can include paranoia and increased anxiety, confusion, and impaired motor skills. Nonetheless, delta-9 THC has a host of medical benefits that include analgesic, antiemetic, antitumor, antispasmodic, antianxiety, and neuroprotective properties. In comparison, Delta 8 has become a favorite because it provides a milder experience that is described as clear minded, euphoric, and relaxing thus making it great for people managing conditions such as anxiety. It also lacks the couchlock or lack of focus that one may face upon consuming traditional delta-9 THC. Another benefit cited by delta-8 consumers is that the experience is not accompanied by anxiety or increased appetite.

However, the mild psychoactive nature of delta-8 has resulted in a restriction on the sale and production of Delta 8 products by several state governments. Delta-8 is currently banned in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. While Delta-8 THC is not banned in Oregon, hemp-derived products with 0.5 milligrams of delta-8 THC or any other products containing “intoxicating cannabinoids”, or “artificially derived cannabinoids” and marijuana products are now both considered adult use items to be sold in dispensaries. Legislative bans and regulatory clarifications are currently being considered in several states including Alabama, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Delta-8 THC products were once on the shelves of Delta 9 PA and other Pennsylvania dispensaries, but for now it remains to be seen if they will return or continue to thrive in our CBD markets.

Delta 9 PA serves medical marijuana patients in Pittsburgh and Greensburg. Learn more at

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