This is a question many CBD users have, whether beginner, a novice, or veteran. Simply put, the deltas are confusing. Not because it's hard to understand, but because there aren’t many good explanations that make sense unless you are a chemist. Perhaps you lost interest in the rambly, technical jargon about Delta 8 vs Delta 9 found on many sites and still don’t know what the different “deltas” are. Don’t worry – we’ve got you.
So today, here’s the “I failed chemistry” version that’s meant for everyone to understand. By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of what the deltas are – and which ones would be best for you (if any of them!) to use. Easy peasy!
Quick Recap: What Is THC?
Because the deltas are all THC, you need to know what THC is. Cannabis plants that are used for commercial CBD production are called hemp plants. Though they are similar to marijuana plants, hemp plants produce less THC and more of the CBD and other cannabinoids.
What are cannabinoids? Hemp plants give us about 100 of them, including:
CBD – Cannabidiol
THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol
CBG – Cannabigerol
CBN – Cannabinol
All four of the above are cannabinoids. Cannabinoids carry a variety of health and wellness benefits.
Also found in the hemp plant are flavonoids and terpenes. These are molecules that give the plant its unique flavor and scent. These are included in CBD formulations because a more well-rounded plant profile in the CBD product helps the user to get more well-rounded benefits.
Both CBD and THC are important for CBD products because of the health and wellness benefits we get from them. Only one of the compounds in the hemp plant produces a psychoactive “high” feeling in the user, and that is the THC. Because in CBD products the goal isn’t to have a recreational high feeling but to get the wellness benefits from these compounds, the amount of THC is quite low. In fact, the CDC regulates that the THC content in any product must be 0.3 percent by dry weight or lower.
You’ll see two different types of CBD products: full spectrum CBD products and broad spectrum CBD products. This distinction isn’t about the CBD itself, but differentiates whether THC is included. Full spectrum means that the THC is included and the plant profile in the CBD product contains more of a full spectrum of the plant parts.
You’ll also see products like gummies and capsules that are specifically labeled as THC products, but often with a “delta” number attached.
The type of THC is also important. This is where confusion starts – Delta 8 vs Delta 9 vs Delta 10 and so forth. Now that we’re all caught up – let’s see what these different deltas are.
Where Do Delta THC Versions Come From?
To understand the difference between Delta 8 vs Delta 9 vs Delta 10, you need to know a little about how they are sourced or created.
All delta THC products begin the same way. Hemp plants grow with a molecule in them called THCa, which, naturally, isn’t psychoactive at all. It becomes psychoactive in the extraction process as it is heated or as it dries. And this is where Delta 8 vs Delta 9 vs Delta 10 diverge.
What Is Delta 9 THC?
When THCa in the living cannabis plant is dried out or heated in the extraction process, the molecules change ever so slightly. While on the molecular level these changes are very small, it makes a big difference in the molecules and how they affect humans. During this process, THCa changes into Delta 9 THC, which makes it become a psychoactive molecule. This means if large enough quantities are consumed it can create a high feeling in humans and other mammals.
But Delta 9 THC isn’t the only isomer of THC. We’ll explain what we mean below.
What Do the Numbers Mean on the Deltas?
Now that we understand the conversion of THCa in the living cannabis plant to the external Delta 9 THC molecules (which can be put into CBD products for consumption, application, or even for vaping), let’s learn how sometimes other THC molecules are formed.
All of these different Delta THC molecules are called isomers of THC, meaning, they are all similar “versions” of THC. And just like with the conversion of THCa to Delta 9 THC, even tiny changes to the molecular structure affect the usefulness and effects when used in CBD products. Each affects us differently, so we are able to create CBD products that have slightly different effects – which means you can find the products that are perfect for you!
The different numbers on the deltas determine where in the molecule a carbon-carbon double bond appears. Though all the THC molecules contain this carbon-carbon double bond, the extraction processes or various “manipulations” of the molecules cause these bonds to be located in different places within the structure – thus, creating isomers.
What Is Delta 8 THC?
When the double bond is located at the eighth chain, it is called Delta 8 THC. Delta 8 THC is one isomer that has created quite a fuss, particularly because of how it is made.
The difference between Delta 8 and Delta 9 is significant because while Delta 9 THC forms naturally in the extraction process, Delta 8 formation does not. While a cannabis plant grows, matures, and dies, Delta 9 THC can form quite naturally. Let's say the plant falls over for some reason and dries out in the sun – the THCa will convert to Delta 9 THC, naturally. Delta 8 THC, however, must be formed in a laboratory setting.
Some cannabis companies synthesize cannabinoids like CBD with solvents, creating Delta 8 THC from hemp. Because it comes from hemp, Delta 8 slips through a legal loophole, making it controversial as some say this synthesis is unnatural. Because solvents can be harmful, it is considered a more natural and healthy choice to opt for Delta 9 THC. Delta 8 THC is also a little weaker than Delta 9.
Are Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC Legal?
Delta 9 THC is regulated by the 2018 Farm Bill to be no more than 0.3 percent by dry weight of the finished product. And while these same laws apply to Delta 8 THC, not all states adhere to the same restrictions mandated by federal law. Each state can decide whether or not Delta 8 THC is equal to Delta 9 THC in terms of the law or if they choose to make stipulations regarding Delta 8 specifically.
Some states have implemented more restrictive laws governing the use of Delta 8 THC particularly, even as its use is growing in popularity. Before purchasing a Delta 8 product, research Delta 8 laws by state to be sure it’s legal where you live. Some companies will not ship certain products to states where they are not legal – but this is not always the case. You should take the initiative, yourself, to check on this to be sure you are in compliance.
cbdMD’s products – all of them, with THC or not – are Farm Bill compliant. This means that we make sure there’s not too much THC and also that we source from hemp and not from the more potent cannabis cousin, marijuana.
What Is Delta 10 THC?
There’s one other notable THC isomer and that’s Delta 10 THC. Like Delta 8 THC, Delta 10 THC is synthesized in a lab, but Delta 10 comes from Delta 9 THC instead of CBD. It’s a little less known than the others, but if Delta 10 takes off like Delta 9 and Delta 8 have, then you may start seeing it in more CBD products as well.
When the double bond is located at the tenth chain, it is called Delta 10 THC. In general, Delta 10 is a little less intoxicating and possibly more energizing than other isomers of THC.
Delta 8 vs Delta 9 Effects – Which Is Stronger?
While each of these isomers interacts with the body in similar ways, they are not the same. Each works through the endocannabinoid system to influence various bodily functions like sleep, mood, appetite, cognitive function, and muscle repair. But since the isomers are slightly molecularly different, their influence on the body differs, as well as how each of them make you feel when you use them.
The big question is this: between Delta 8 and Delta 9, which is stronger? Typically speaking, in equal amounts of THC, the Delta 9 is a little bit stronger. Some have even taken to calling Delta 8 a “lite” version of the THC. The effects can vary from person to person, but this is the general consensus.
Either version of THC, when used in a CBD product, produces some common effects for most people, to varying degrees:
- Feeling more calm
- Sleeping better at night
- Generally feeling better
- And for some, ease of digestive discomfort
Though these aren’t all the effects you may feel, they are the main reasons people gravitate toward full spectrum options with THC. But, again, each person responds a little differently. You may experience a wide range of benefits while others may actually feel worse – as some people are rather sensitive to any type of THC. These folks may do better with Delta 8 or Delta 10. You may feel really tired on full spectrum while others feel the best they've ever felt. In fact, you could be one of those people that THC negatively affects. (If this is the case – opt for a broad spectrum solution.)
Some people, for reasons not fully understood, have an anxiety response from THC rather than a calming one. And for others, the THC seems to bother the tummy rather than make it feel more settled. The best way to “test” run your full spectrum options is to talk with your doctor first to make sure it’s OK and then to try them at home when you don’t have to go out driving. Also, follow the instructions on your product labeling. CBD products of any kind work best when used responsibly.
Are the Deltas in All CBD Products?
If you buy a full spectrum CBD product, there will be some of these THC molecules in your product – but which kind of THC is it? The different Delta THC isomers will be in the CBD products labeled full spectrum, but it could be one type of THC or a combination of types.
To know which type of THC is included in a full spectrum product you will have to refer to the product labeling, the ingredients lists, or the Certificate of Analysis for the most precise report.
To Learn More About Delta 9 THC and Others
You can find the lineup of all our full spectrum options that include a selection of isomers, or our Delta 9 THC-specific products, which are clearly labeled as such, at these pages:
Stay tuned to our blog for more information about Delta 8 vs Delta 9 and we’ll continue to keep our eyes on Delta 10 for you, as well. If you’re having trouble selecting the right CBD products for yourself, there are also a few “help” options for you:
- Use our chat on our website to ask your questions.
- Contact us with your questions.
- Refer to the “Find Your Formula” page.
Thanks for reading today and we wish you the best on your wellness journey!