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What is Delta-8 THC? How it Compares to Delta 9 THC

Key Takeaways

  • Delta-8 THC, or Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, is just one of around 100 phytocannabinoid compounds found in cannabis plants. It has become popular in recent years because it is not as strictly prohibited as Delta-9 THC.
  • Delta-8 has an almost identical molecular structure to Delta-9 and is known to produce some of the same psychoactive effects. However, most users report that Delta-8 THC provides a far less potent hit than Delta-9.
  • The use of Delta-8 THC is considered to be about as safe as using delta-9, as long as it is manufactured to approved standards. With that in mind, it is recommended to only purchase Delta-8 THC from reputable sources. 
  • The legality of using Delta-8 THC in the U.S. is a slightly confusing situation. While it is federally legal and not classed as a controlled substance, almost half of all states have banned its sale and use at a local level.

In the world of hemp-derived cannabinoids, none of them have gained quite as much attention as delta-8 THC. But what is this compound and where does it fit into the grand scheme of cannabinoids? 

Let’s go over some of the most important questions surrounding delta-8 THC. 

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, or Delta-8 THC, is a hemp-derived cannabinoid that has gained popularity due to its somewhat legal status throughout the United States, particularly in states where delta-9 THC remains outlawed.

It boasts significantly less potent effects than delta-9, despite sharing very similar chemical structures. It is generally considered to be as safe as delta-9. 

What is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in the cannabis plant. Owing to its similar molecular structure to delta-9 THC, it shares a number of similarities when it comes to its effects as well. 

It has an almost identical chemical structure to delta-9 THC. Both of these cannabinoids possess a double bond, which is the driving factor behind what gets you high when consumed. 

Delta-8 is growing in popularity throughout the United States where delta-9 remains outlawed. This difference between the two compounds comes from the ability to manufacture delta-8 THC from the hemp plant.  

Another differentiating factor between delta-8 and delta-9 is the lower potency of the former compound. Delta-8 has been reported to have a much milder high than its stronger cousin. 

This actually works out to be a positive feature of delta-8 rather than a drawback for some people who are looking for a milder, more manageable high. 

What Are the Effects of Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC has very similar effects to those from naturally occurring delta-9 THC found in cannabis. However, there are some differences worth noting between the two, but first, let’s cover the main effects. 

The main question we all want to know is this: “Does delta-8 THC get you high?” 

Yes, it does – a little. Delta-8 produces a very similar high to your benchmark delta-9 THC. The biggest difference as we touched on earlier is that it is noticeably less potent than delta-9. 

It can give the same head and body tingle that most of us associate with cannabis, without much of the risk of feeling overwhelmingly high. 

Owing to this, delta-8 can be much better for those who are prone to couchlock when eating or smoking delta-9. 

Instead of having a strong almost sedating quality as you may find with regular THC, delta-8 is reported to have energetic properties along with some mild feelings of head and body high.

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How Long Does A Delta-8 High Last? 

Delta-8 typically lasts about the same amount of time as its equivalent THC dosage. This means the effects will typically last up to a few hours, depending on several factors that always come into play when it comes to cannabinoids. 

Things like personal tolerance, the dosage, and the frequency at which someone uses a compound all play a role in how last the effects will last. 

Of course, another factor is how you ingest it. Edibles will always last a decent amount of time longer than vaping or smoking. When it comes to edibles, they are usually double the dosage of delta-9, but the effects will still be less potent. 

Another benefit is that it’s harder to overshoot a dosage with delta-8. Almost everyone has at some point been too high from a joint, vape, or edibles containing traditional delta-9. 

Delta-8 is reportedly much harder to accidentally take a dosage that leaves you struggling to keep it together for the next few hours. 

Is Delta-8 THC Safe?

Delta-8 THC is considered to be about as safe as delta-9. Delta-8 already occurs naturally in the cannabis plant, meaning people have been exposed to it for countless years without no real drawbacks that have been noted. 

This means that delta-8 is likely just as safe as delta-9 THC which is found in high doses in cannabis plants. The caveat being that it is only safe if it is manufactured under the same regulations as delta-9.

That being said, unregulated products can contain a slew of unwanted ingredients. To ensure you’re being as safe as possible with delta-8, always look for products from reputable brands. 

Can You Vape Delta-8 THC?

Yes, you can vape delta-8 THC. However, like with all THC vape products, it is extremely important to obtain your supplies from a reputable manufacturer that has strict quality control. 

When it comes to vaping THC, there are inherent risks involved. This is especially true when it comes to poorly regulated or black-market products. 

While vaping is much safer than smoking, it has received some flak in the past for being unsafe. 

If you have ever heard of the term EVALI, you may already know that this was almost entirely caused by THC vapes that contained ingredients that they shouldn’t have. The most common of these ingredients was Vitamin E acetate. 

Is Delta-8 THC Legal?

Delta-8 THC still finds itself in somewhat of a legal gray area within the United States. While there certainly is merit to it being legal, there are two sides to every story. 

On the one hand, manufacturers and users alike will advocate that it is protected under the 2018 Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill is supposed to protect all hemp-derived compounds. The bill states that “all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent.”

However, this language hasn’t been as widely adopted as you might think given its federal status. 

On the other hand, there are two counters to this argument though. The first is the Federal Analog Act.  

This act states that “a controlled substance analog shall, to the extent intended for human consumption, be treated, for the purposes of any Federal law as a controlled substance in Schedule I.”  

The second argument is the 2020 Interim Final Rule (IFR) which states “all synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol remain Schedule I controlled substances.”

The result is that delta-8 is getting outlawed in some states due to its rising popularity, while still remaining legal on the federal level. 

Delta-8 Molecule

How Is Delta-8 THC Made?

As we mentioned earlier, delta-8 THC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid, which is the main reason for its somewhat confusing legal status. 

The first step in its manufacture involves creating CBD isolate from hemp plants. This is typically the first step in creating any hemp-derived cannabinoid. 

Being derived from hemp also means delta-8 can be made anywhere within the United States because of the plant’s legal status. 

Once the CBD has been isolated, it is then synthesized directly to delta-8 THC. 

From there it can be made into gummies and other edibles, vapes, and even delta-8 flowers. These are typically just hemp flowers that are mixed with delta-8. 

Does Delta-8 THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

With any cannabinoid, the question of detectability will likely always come up. This is no different when it comes to delta-8. In fact, its lower potency means people probably ask if it will show up on a drug test even more. 

In short, the answer is that delta-8 THC will show up. 

There is no evidence to suggest that this cannabinoid is immune to the various drug tests out there today. Sharing a number of similarities with delta-9 THC when it comes to chemical structure, it will likely be flagged just as easily. 

Furthermore, low-quality products may even contain delta-9 THC. This of course will result in a failed test. 

So then, you might be asking, “How long does delta-8 THC last in your system?” 

The factors that influence how long the drug is detectable are much the same as any THC compound. These are typically how frequently it is used, dosage, and personal tolerance to THC. 

How Does Delta-8 THC Compare to Other Cannabinoids?

We think it’s always a good idea to compare an exciting new compound like delta-8 THC to the various other compounds in its family. This can really help people to determine which cannabinoid may be right for them and which they might want to avoid. 

Some of the most useful comparisons help understand the specific potency and effects, legal status, and how it is made. 

Delta-8 THC

These are some of the most important factors that distinguish delta-8 THC from its relatives in the cannabinoid family.

  • More potent than HHC, less than delta-9 THC
  • Sedating high, often referred to as Indica-like
  • Hemp-derived
  • Legal gray area, outlawed in some states

Delta-9 (Cannabis THC)

Delta-9 is the compound that we all think about when talking about cannabis. It is naturally occurring in both hemp and cannabis plants, although on hugely different levels. 

The effects of delta-9 are well documented and are often what manufacturers aim to replicate with new cannabinoids. 

It is also widely outlawed still within the United States. This is what has caused such a surge in hemp-derived compounds like HHC emerging. 

  • Benchmark potency
  • Legal status fluctuates from state to state
  • Naturally occurring
  • Illegal in many states


Another hemp-derived cannabinoid, delta-10 shares a huge number of similarities with delta-8. 

Both of these cannabinoids are known to have much lower potency than delta-9. However, their effects are said to differ. 

It is typically harder to produce large yields of delta-10, which can cause it to be harder to obtain. It also sits in the same legal gray area as the other hemp-derived cannabinoids mentioned.

It is also gaining popularity in states where delta-8’s popularity has led to it being prohibited. This makes sense as both compounds share fairly mild effects compared to delta-9 THC.

  • More potent than HHC, less than delta-9 THC
  • Energizing high, often referred to as sativa-like
  • Hemp-derived
  • Legal gray area


Tetrahydrocannabinol acetate (THC-O) is one of the strongest hemp-derived cannabinoids out there at the moment.  

It is made from the same initial process as other hemp-derived cannabinoids but is then taken a step further like HHC-O to increase bioavailability and potency.  

This compound really is potential and is even colloquially referred to as the “spiritual cannabinoid” for its near-psychedelic effects that have been likened to low doses of lysergic acid (LSD).

  • Incredibly potent; up to three times stronger than delta-9 THC
  • More psychedelic effects than other cannabinoids
  • Hemp-derived
  • Legal gray area
  • Concerns around vaping it


HHC is one of the most mysterious and least understood cannabinoids out there at the moment. 

Despite gaining some popularity in states where even delta-8 is outlawed, there are certainly more questions than answers surrounding it. This is due to a severe lack of research currently. 

In terms of potency, HHC is the least potent on our list, falling below even delta-8 and delta-10.

  • Hugely less potent
  • Soothing high, similar to high doses of CBD
  • Offers some pain relief
  • Hemp-derived
  • Legal gray area


HHC-O is the stronger sibling to HHC. It is widely regarded as being much more potent than HHC, in the same way that THC-O is up to three times as strong as delta-9 THC. 

HHC-O is made from the same process using acetic anhydride as THC-O. This increases its bioavailability, causing its stronger effects. Despite this, it remains less potent than most other cannabinoids. 

This cannabinoid finds itself in the same legal gray area as the other hemp-derived compounds.

  • Up to three times more potent than HHC
  • Soothing high, muscle relaxation
  • Hemp-derived
  • Legal gray area

The bottom line

Delta-8 THC is a very mild cannabinoid in terms of potency that has gained a huge amount of traction within the cannabis community. It is made from federally legal hemp, which means it is supposed to be legal under the Farm Bill. 

People who typically find that they get too high from delta-9 THC have also flocked to delta-8 for its more manageable effects.

This means delta-8 has the potential to become the cannabinoid of choice for many out there. 

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Versed Vaper Team

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