Delta 8 vs. Delta 9: Which One is Best for You?

Tim Rosenberger Tim Rosenberger

February 27, 2022

Every cannabinoid has its upsides and downsides – delta-8 and delta-9 are no different. You may prefer the more intense effects of a delta-9 product, or you could find that the energizing but less psychoactive delta-8 suits you better.

In this post, I want to take a deep dive into hemp-derived delta-8 and delta-9 to help you work out which cannabinoid is best for you. I’ll introduce each cannabinoid in detail before comparing potency, side effects, and accessibility. 

Let’s start with a combined top-five list of my favorite compliant delta-9 and delta-8 products on the market in 2022!

Top 5 Begin Here

1. Best Selling Delta 8 Disposables

HHC Disposable by Genesis (2000mg)

Delta 8 Disposables by Genesis

These potent, fast-acting, and discreet Delta-8 Disposables take a well-deserved first place on my list. The sleek and slender devices pack in 90% delta-8 distillate and plenty of natural terpenes, making for tasty vapor and a more specific high.

CBD Genesis uses all-natural ingredients and pesticide-free hemp extract, which explains the crisp and clean vapor. These disposables work by breath activation and come with a built-in, rechargeable battery.

Choose from a selection of 10 sativa, indica, and hybrid delta-8 pens. All CBD Genesis disposables are third-party analyzed by Marin Analytics for delta-8 potency and Farm Bill compliance.

Strains: Candyland (Sativa), Strawberry Cough (Sativa), Blueberry Lemon Haze (Hybrid), GG#4 (Hybrid), GSC (Hybrid), OG Kush (Hybrid), Strawnana (Hybrid), Wedding Cake (Hybrid), Frooty Pebbles (Indica), Granddaddy Purple (Indica)

2. Most Popular

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Delta Extrax – Urb Delta 9 THC Gummies

Delta Extrax specializes in premium, hemp-derived psychoactive products, and I love these Urb Delta 9 Gummies. Totally legal with 10mg compliant delta-9 per serving, this is one of the best ways of enjoying an authentic weed high legally.

Each candy has less than 0.3% THC, with 10mg of delta-9 infused into a 6-gram gummy. With 10 pieces per pack, there’s more than enough delta-9 for you and your friends to enjoy intense and long-lasting mind-altering effects.

Delta Extrax uses hemp-derived delta-9 distillate and clean, plant-based terpenes in its vegan-friendly gummies, giving them a natural fruity taste. Available in three flavors and third-party tested by Infinite Chemical Analysis Labs.

Flavors: Blueberry Citrus, Guavaberry Fruit, Kiwi Mixer

3. Runner Up

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Delta 8 Factory – Delta-8 THC Flower

Indulge in a classic cannabis-smoking experience with delta-8 flower from the well-known Delta 8 Factory brand. They use CBD-rich hemp cultivated in the United States coated in a pure and potent delta-8 distillate.

Delta 8 Factory notes that the hemp buds make its delta-8 flower naturally full-spectrum. In addition to delta-8 and CBD, you’ll receive the benefits of secondary cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG), terpenes, and flavonoids when you smoke.

The third-party report from Green Leaf Lab shows the THC levels in these delta-8 nugs are well within legal limits, while strains have around 9% delta-8. The analysis also found small amounts of CBC, CBG, and CBN. 

Strains: Apple Jacks, Blue Dream, Bubble Gum, Gorilla Glue, GSC, Grape Ape, Pineapple Express, Tangie Sunrise, Wedding Cake, and more!

4. Runner Up

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Delta 9 THC Edibles by Genesis

Breaking the boundaries and established norms, CBD Genesis has amazed us all with these hemp-based, compliant delta-9 gummies. Their candies have an above-average size to ensure Farm Bill compliance – each 3.3g gummy contains 7.5mg delta-9.

Intriguingly, you’ll also get 1.25mg CBN, CBG, and CBC in every serving. These non-intoxicating cannabinoids induce a mellower delta-9 high and promote the entourage effect, a unique synergy that occurs between cannabinoids.

CBD Genesis makes its gummies using pectin rather than gelatin – so they are suitable for vegans, too! These full-spectrum delta-9 edibles are third-party tested by Botanacor and comply with federal regulations.

Sizes: 20-count (150mg), 40-count (300mg), 80-count (600mg) 

5. Runner Up

Elyxr HHC Tincture (1000mg)

ELYXR LA – Delta-8 THC Tincture (1000mg)

Have a discreet dose of delta-8 wherever you are with a flavored tincture oil from ELYXR LA. Punchy and potent, with 1000mg (33.3mg/ml) delta-8 packed into a 30ml tincture, these oils amplify the cannabinoid’s mild psychoactive properties.

Perfect for adding to your morning coffee or for administering under your tongue, ELYXR LA’s Delta-8 Tincture is versatile and vivacious. The flavors overpower the earthy hemp, which not all users can tolerate.

Choose from six unique blends. Improve your concentration with Focus Spearmint or chill out and unwind with the Relax oil. Marin Analytics supplies third-party certificates for each ELYXR LA Delta-8 Tincture blend. 

Blends: Awake (Lemon Verbena), Focus (Spearmint), Passion (Tropical Passionfruit), Relax (Blueberry Lavender Lemonade), Relief (Cherry Peppermint), Sleep (Mellow Grape) 

What is Delta 9?

Delta-9 is another term used to describe delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or, more simply, THC. The primary psychoactive cannabinoid present in marijuana, delta-9 is the substance responsible for the plant’s famous intoxicating “high”.

In a nutshell, delta-9 is a more potent version of anandamide, an endocannabinoid the body naturally produces. Studies show delta-9 is a partial CB1 and CB2 receptor agonist – these receptors make up part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Delta-9 gets you high by binding with CB1 receptors, which are mostly concentrated in the central nervous system. Through CB1 receptor activation, delta-9 also reduces pain sensitivity and boosts appetite – hence why it gives you the “munchies”!

Unfortunately, while a few states have legalized recreational marijuana, most Americans cannot access THC products. However, clever hemp companies have spotted a legal loophole, making THC available to all. Enter Farm Bill compliant delta-9!

The difference between THC and compliant delta-9

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In chemical terms, THC and compliant delta-9 are the same cannabinoid. But the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill) has opened the door to legal, hemp-derived compliant delta-9 products.

According to the Farm Bill, products with less than 0.3% THC fall under the definition of hemp, not marijuana. In drawing up this legislation to unban hemp, lawmakers hoped such a strict THC cap would stop the emergence of legal hemp highs.

However, hemp companies have used the wording to make super-size edibles that have a high enough delta-9 content to get you stoned while remaining Farm Bill compliant!

Here’s a quick example. A 5mg THC serving would be plenty for a first-time or occasional marijuana user. Providing a gummy with 5mg THC weighs at least 1.66 grams, it would have less than 0.3% THC and comply with Farm Bill regulations.

But if a gummy with 10mg delta-9 only weighs 2 grams, the THC percentage would rise to 0.5%. At this point, the gummy would be classed as containing THC, not compliant delta-9.

And remember, the Drug Enforcement Administration still regards THC as a Schedule 1 drug, the strictest classification in the Controlled Substances Act. 

What is Delta 8?

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8) is an analog of THC. While it’s another naturally occurring cannabinoid, cannabis plants contain very low levels of delta-8. The substance has psychoactive properties, which it exerts by binding to CB1 receptors.

Chemically speaking, the only structural difference between delta-8 and delta-9 is a slight change in the positioning of a carbon-carbon double bond. 

Delta 8 vs. Delta 9

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Delta-8 and delta-9 have more similarities and differences. Indeed, they have more in common than any other cannabinoids in cannabis. But some key factors distinguish them, such as potency and accessibility.

Potency

World Health Organization (WHO) research on THC isomers has determined that delta-8 is between 50 to 75% as psychoactive as delta-9. The weaker intensity of means you’re left with a mellower high or have to take more to make up for it.

The scientific explanation for delta-8’s weaker effects comes from how the cannabinoids bind with the CB1 receptors. Researchers have found that delta-8 has a lower binding affinity than delta-9, hence the reduced psychotropic activity.

However, studies also suggest that delta-8 is more energizing and stimulating than delta-8, producing an uplifting euphoria that doesn’t get you too stoned. If so, delta-8 could outperform delta-9 in daytime situations, when you need to stay focused and alert.

Side effects

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A typical cannabis “bad trip” comes with anxiety and paranoia, as the mind-altering effects take a turn for the worse. Indeed, these adverse mental reaction puts many off using marijuana, even though it wears off as the THC subsides.

But delta-8 may cause less anxiety and paranoia than delta-9, thanks to its milder psychoactive effects. If so, those looking to use cannabis therapeutically may have more joy with delta-8 products.

Accessibility

Accessibility is a growing issue concerning delta-8, with several states moving to ban the substance, even when it’s derived from hemp. As of February 2022, 18 states have restricted or banned delta-8.

Many delta-8 vendors now warn customers in these states not to purchase, as orders will be canceled. But while the delta-8 door may be closing for some, another opportunity is arising in compliant delta-9 – and this one may be harder to stop.

Delta-9 is natural, and the Farm Bill carves out an exemption for it, if only in concentrations up to 0.3%. I cannot see how lawmakers could ban delta-9 without shutting down a hemp industry now worth tens of billions of dollars.

In the CBD market, full-spectrum hemp is considered more effective than CBD-isolate because it’s made with a whole-plant extract. Hemp will always produce a small amount of THC, so banning it seems like a non-starter.

Therefore, compliant delta-9 edibles may be on more secure legal ground than delta-8. We’ll have to see what, if anything, the DEA decides to do about either.

Do Delta 8 and Delta 9 Show Up on Drug Tests?

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Yes, both delta-9 and delta-8 show up on 5 and 9-panel drug tests. No explanation is needed for delta-9, which is just THC, but delta-8 is such a similar cannabinoid that it most likely causes a positive test, too.

Drug tests detect metabolites of various controlled drugs, including tetrahydrocannabinols. Scientists believe that delta-8 produces the same metabolite as THC, THC-COOH, or an almost identical compound.

Whether you will test positive depends on the type of drug test, the sensitivity of the test, and how long it has been since you last took delta-9 or delta-8. Most employers use urine tests, and THC can remain detectable in urine for up to 30 days.

For regular users, the risk of a positive test increases further as THC metabolites accumulate in your system. Strict drug tests will pop for a mere 15ng/ml THC, whereas others are set at a more generous 50ng/ml. 

Types of Delta 8 and Delta 9 Products

At present, delta-9 products only come in edible or drinkable form – as manufacturers need to get the weight up to ensure Farm Bill compliance. 

Edibles: Enjoy long-lasting psychotropic effects with delta-8 or delta-9 edibles, such as gummies, shots, or brownies. Edibles are discreet and handy when in public or with family, but they are relatively slow to take effect.

Flower: With delta-8 flower, you can get high by smoking or vaping. Made by coating or soaking CBD hemp nugs in a delta-8 distillate, flower is among the most versatile delta-8 products on the market. But it does smell like marijuana! 

Vape cartridges and disposables: For a convenient, safer, and discreet delta-8 high, try vaping cartridges or disposables. Cartridges fit onto any battery using 510-threaded connections, while disposables are one-piece devices with a built-in battery.

Tincture oilsDelta-8 oil is a perfect middle-ground between inhaling (smoking or vaping) and oral consumption. Sublingual absorption of delta-8 will get you high in about 20 minutes and produce psychotropic effects lasting up to four hours.

Where Can I Buy Delta 8 and Delta 9 Products?

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Delta-8 is the most visible hemp-based cannabinoid right now, with compliant delta-9 hot on its heels. But while I’m excited to see both going mainstream, I recommend buying products from online stores rather than at a physical shop near you.

All delta-8 and delta-9 products must come with a relevant third-party certificate of analysis (COA). The best online shops make these available for you, but gas station and convenience store clerks probably won’t even know what you’re talking about!

Stay safe with delta-8 and delta-9 by purchasing from a reputable vendor. I recommend CBD Genesis, which has a stunning selection of hemp-based products!

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