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CANNABIS EDUCATION: DELTA-8 THC vs DELTA-9 THC


With cannabis, there’s more to the story than simply, “THC gets you high and CBD doesn’t.” While research on cannabinoids and terpenes continues to grow – today we'd like to cover a lesser-known cannabinoid called delta-8 THC. But first, let's do a quick review of delta-9 THC to better appreciate the differences.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol — or “THC,” as it’s more commonly known — was discovered in 1964 when Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam isolated the chemical from Lebanese hashish. Delta-9 THC is primarily responsible for the common effects of elation, sedation, relaxation, laughter, memory impairment, hunger, etc that are associated with cannabis use.

When scientists were trying to pin down how delta-9 THC works, they ultimately discovered the endocannabinoid system. To put it simply, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system in the human body in which specific chemicals (phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids) bind to cell receptors throughout the body and instruct cells to behave a certain way. On a high level, the endocannabinoid system is believed to be responsible for maintaining homeostasis in all functions of the body.


As it turns out, delta-9 THC isn't the only psychoactive component of cannabis: it's analog (delta-8 THC) also has a consciousness-altering quality, albeit less so than delta-9. Physically speaking, the chemical structure of delta-8 THC is very similar to that of delta-9 THC, but with a couple of extra electrons in different places, so delta-8 interacts with receptors in a different way than delta-9 does. The effect is slightly less psychoactive than delta-9, leaving the consumer with a more “gradual” high as opposed to an instantaneous one.


No doubt that some recreational customers reading this might not see the point in using a slightly less psychoactive form of THC, but therapeutic users will appreciate the fact that delta-8 is better at curbing paranoia or anxiety than delta-9. Though there isn’t currently much [readily accessible] research about delta-8 THC alleviating anxiety, firsthand experiences have shown that delta-8 by itself actually feels very similar to a 1:1 strain or concentrate; it instills a sensation of clear-headedness and balance while still being moderately intoxicating. Without making any unsubstantiated medical claims, personal experiences have revealed delta-8 products can be extremely useful for stress management. It also makes working from home a lot more bearable.


Studies have shown that delta-8 expresses an antiemetic effect, meaning that it curbs nausea and vomiting. In a 1995 study, Dr. Mechoulam and his colleagues administered delta-8 to children with cancer, and they were able to completely prevent a total of 480 patients from vomiting after their chemotherapy treatments. The delta-8 was administered in the form of an edible oil (18 mg/m2) every 6 hours, and side-effects were negligible. One drawback for recreational users (but potential benefit for patients) is that delta-8 THC is a more potent appetite stimulant than delta-9 THC; munchies are not negotiable when it comes to d8, so we advise users to prepare by stocking up on healthy munchies.


Now, this is about the point in the article where the author drops the bomb about how delta-8 THC is kinda rare, then they cite the 1975 study about nutrient-rich soil increasing the amount of d8 in cannabis, then you’re basically left feeling like you wasted your time reading about something theoretical that you can’t even obtain. But The Reef wouldn’t do you like that. If you're interested in experimenting with delta-8 THC, we currently carry D8 infused beverages, topical creams, and topical patches by Mobius, as well as Durban Poison D8 cartridges by House of Cultivar. Give our D8 products a try and let us know what you think!


Words By: Ramsey Doudar

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