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January 25, 2023 in Delta 8 THC

Delta-8 THC Vs. THC-O

Delta-8 THC Vs. THC-O

If you are in the hemp industry, it can be easy to forget that the vast majority of people don’t know Delta-8 THC from Delta-9, or that Delta-9 THC was known simply as “THC” before it became relatively common knowledge that there is more than one kind of THC.

Delta Elev8 has opened a cannabinoid-infused bar in conjunction with Dead Crow Comedy Club here in Wilmington, NC. I was there last Saturday night, helping out with bartending when needed. I asked several people about their knowledge of hemp and THC.

I found (as I always do) that many people who were plenty familiar with marijuana were nevertheless unaware that Delta-9 THC is the cannabinoid that makes a marijuana plant a marijuana plant and not a hemp plant.

So if you want clarity on the difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, you’ve got plenty of company! In this blog, we’ll talk about Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, as well as THC-O. We’ll also do a close comparison of THC-O vs. Delta-9. Continue reading to learn more.

Let’s Back up a Bit: What is THC?

THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol and is the most well-known of the roughly 120 cannabinoids that can be found in a cannabis plant. It is responsible for the psychoactive effects, the munchies, and helps people sleep. In other words, it causes the high.

I previously mentioned that the presence of THC is what “makes a marijuana plant a marijuana plant.” That’s not quite accurate. “Hemp” plants and “marijuana” plants are both really variations of one plant—the cannabis plant. The distinction between hemp and marijuana is largely that marijuana is cannabis that has been bred to maximize THC content, while hemp is cannabis that has been bred to minimize THC content. That’s the gist, more or less.

To pre-empt any would-be nitpickers, I’ll mention that there are three types of cannabis plants (sativa, indica, and ruderalis), but THC does not play a role in what makes a cannabis plant one of those kinds or another.

Welcome to the Majors: Delta-9 THC

Welcome to the Majors - Delta-9 THC

The reason that we haven’t heard of Delta-8 THC until recent years is that it occurs in very small quantities in any type of cannabis plant. It is therefore what is known as a “minor cannabinoid.”

All types of THC other than Delta-9 THC are minor cannabinoids. By contrast, Delta-9 THC is a major cannabinoid along with CBD, CBG, and five others that are lesser known (THCV, CBCV, CBDV, and CBGV).

Major cannabinoids are commonly found in relative abundance, but of course, not all major cannabinoids are found in significant–or even any–quantities in all plants. A plant might contain 20% THC but only .5% CBD and perhaps none of the others. That’s what makes all the different strains of cannabis so unique and intriguing.

The mixing and matching of the different cannabinoids along with the 200+ terpenes (terpenes are compounds found in a number of plants and determine the various attributes of a specific strain: color, flavor, scent, etc.) produce an endless variety of cannabis plants.

Note: The cannabis plant actually produces THCa, CBDa, CGGa, THCVa, CBCVa, CBDVa, and CBGVa. THC, CBD, etc. (without the “a”) are the result of decarboxylation (the application of heat). This is why you cannot consume a marijuana bud and get high from it without first heating it.

The reason that we haven’t heard of Delta-8 THC until recent years is that it occurs in very small quantities in any type of cannabis plant.

Delta-8 Hits the Scene

The majority of cannabinoids are minor cannabinoids, and Delta-8 THC is likely the most well-known among them. Because Delta-8 can’t be extracted from plants in large amounts like Delta-9, it needs to be obtained from a hemp processing facility where they work with raw material from large amounts of hemp biomass to produce Delta-8 distillate. This distillate is about the stickiest stuff I’ve ever encountered and it typically has a golden hue to it:

Pro tip:  when handling any kind of distillate, coconut oil is the most effective substance  to get it off your hands and cooking utensils

It looks like a liquid but it’s very close to a solid at room temperature. It would take a lot of effort to dig a spoonful out of it without first heating it—perhaps impossible depending on the specific batch of distillate. 

Just about anyone who does know about Delta-8 THC is aware of it because of…

The 2018 Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill

The landmark Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, better known as the 2018 Farm Bill, ushered in a new era of cannabis regulatory reform in the United States. Whether by design or by accident, the Bill allowed for the production and sale of hemp products as long as they contained no more than .3% Delta-9 THC. 

Hemp companies quickly moved to take advantage of the change in the regulatory landscape, and Delta-8 THC products (as well as products derived from other minor cannabinoids) began to find their way out into the world.

I personally did not hear about Delta-8 THC until early 2020. I had launched a CBD company the year before (Carolina Pure) and quickly formed Delta Elev8 after consulting with our hemp attorneys (the very capable Kight Law Firm) and worked on formulating products that we began to sell in early 2021. 

OK, But What IS Delta-8 THC, Exactly?

Right, back to the matter at hand. Delta-8 THC is very, very similar to its better-known Delta-9 cousin. When you hear someone talk about Delta-8 THC being “fake THC” or, God forbid, they compare it to “synthetic weed,”, you are listening to someone who doesn’t know much about which they speak. 

Delta-8 THC is very real THC and has nothing at all to do with “synthetic weed,” which is typically made from bath-salt-type chemicals from China and contains no hemp or marijuana whatsoever.

It is unfortunate that someone chose to name this horrible stuff after cannabis because it has certainly helped spread confusion. Do not mess with ANYTHING labeled “synthetic weed!”

Delta-8 THC shares the exact same molecular structure as Delta-9 with a single exception: Delta-9 has a double carbon bond on its ninth chain while Delta-8 has a double bond on the eighth chain.

I’d be lying if I said I appreciated exactly what this means; I went to three high schools and managed to avoid ever taking chemistry. Go ahead and read up on it further using your preferred search engine but the point is that the two cannabinoids are extremely similar compounds.

Alright, But What is the Difference Between D8 and D9 to ME?

Most people researching the distinction between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC are likely interested in the difference in the effect produced by the two types of THC. I wish there were an answer, but the truth is that there is not. The different cannabinoids are metabolized differently for everyone. 

I can tell you my experience and that of many Delta Elev8 customers who have shared their feedback with me. 

For most people, myself included, Delta-8 creates a similar feeling to the one caused by Delta-9. The primary distinction is that FOR MOST PEOPLE, Delta-8 is not as strong as Delta-9. If I account for that, however, they are similar enough to me that I cannot tell them apart.

By that, I mean that a 15-17mg Delta-9 gummy feels about the same to me as a 25mg Delta-8 gummy. This is true for many people, but certainly not all.

There are outliers at either end of the spectrum: people for whom Delta-8 is stronger than Delta-9 and people for whom Delta-8 doesn’t seem to do much of anything at any dosage. Both of those groups are very much in the minority, but they do exist. 

Despite our name, Delta Elev8 sells Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC products, so I have no motivation to recommend one over the other, and I’m not going to do so anyway. I will say that a significant portion of the people I have discussed this with (which is a lot of people) like Delta-8 as much as Delta-9 or more. It just depends on your unique response to the two cannabinoids.

Flower: An Area Where There is a Large Distinction Between D8 and D9

Large Distinction Between D8 and D9

One group of products where you will notice a large difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC is the flower (buds) itself. Edibles, tinctures, and beverages are made using either Delta-8 or Delta-9 distillate and therefore can be pretty similar.

This is not true with the flower. Marijuana plants consist of 5-40% Delta-9 THC—the upper end keeps climbing as growers one-up each other in the D9 arms race. However, as a minor cannabinoid, Delta-8 THC is not found in any type of cannabis plant beyond trace amounts. 

The Delta-8 THC flower products that you might have seen online or in stores are created by taking hemp flower and treating it with Delta-8 distillate.

While there are plenty of people who dig these products, it has been my experience and that of many others that there just isn’t much comparison between Delta-8 infused flower and actual marijuana (Delta-9) flower.

Marijuana typically has noticeably more powerful effects than Delta-8 flower.

THC-O vs. Delta-8

Comparing Delta-8 THC versus THC-O is like comparing apples and oranges. Both are unique yet similar in the sense that they are derived from the same cannabis plant. They have a few differences, however, that make them distinct.

Delta-8 is an analog of CBD, and while it has many similarities to THC, it produces a much milder, anxiety-free experience than regular THC.

On the other hand, THC-O offers a stronger high that lasts longer due to its water solubility—this means that once ingested, it binds with water in your stomach and is then slowly metabolized by your liver for a full-bodied effect.

THC-O is the most potent form of THC, delivering a strong psychoactive effect and providing the full medical benefits associated with cannabis. Delta-8 offers similar medical benefits with only half the potency, so it’s more suitable for new or skilled users who want to feel relaxed without getting too high.

It’s also great for experienced cannabis users who want a milder but still therapeutic experience. Either way, both are gaining traction among consumers for their claims of pain relief, relaxation and even antiemetic properties.


Delta-8 THC products became increasingly common following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. It is physically very similar to Delta-9 THC, with the sole distinction being the location of a single double-carbon bond at the molecular level.

Additionally, for many people, the effect produced by Delta-8 is comparable to the effect produced by Delta-9, with Delta–8 THC typically being a bit less potent than Delta-9. However, there is no concrete answer to how it will affect you personally until you try it. 

As always, we suggest you start with a small dosage—you can always increase it. If you dismiss Delta-8 as “lite weed” and toss back a couple of 100mg gummies, you might find yourself not doing much for the next 4+ hours. Dose responsibly, and that goes double if you will be driving! For more information about our products, fill out the form or contact us at (910) 832-8108.

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