What is Delta 9 THC? A Guide to the Most Popular Cannabinoid
Whether a seasoned stoner or new to cannabis, you’ve undoubtedly heard of THC - tetrahydrocannabinol. After all, its reputation as the psychoactive component of marijuana makes it by far the most popular cannabinoid in the plant, despite the presence of over 100 other cannabinoids.
THC comes in a few different forms: Delta 8, Delta 9, and Delta 10 THC. Each has its unique molecular structure, though chemically, they are all remarkably similar–the only difference is where a particular double bond on the carbon chain is located. Delta 8 THC has a double bond on the eighth carbon atom in the chain, while Delta 9 has a double bond on the ninth carbon atom, and Delta 10–well, you get the idea.
This minuscule difference in double bond placement has a more significant impact on the associated Delta THC variant than you might expect. Delta 8 THC, for example, is known for its more dialed-back euphoric effect than Delta 9, and Delta 10 is the weakest of the three regarding potency. This leaves Delta 9 as the preferred form of THC for that signature “high” effect, which is why it’s so sought-after by consumers.
How Does Delta 9 THC Work?
Like all cannabinoids, Delta 9 THC works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, a complex network of endocannabinoids, enzymes, and cannabinoid receptors that are responsible for regulating many bodily functions. When Delta 9 THC binds with the receptors in the ECS, it produces many effects, some desirable, others not so much (especially if you overdo it–we’ve all been there!)
How is Delta 9 THC Consumed?
Delta 9 THC is consumed in many ways, from smoking or vaporizing to oral ingestion as an edible. The strength and duration of effects vary depending on the potency of the product and the method used. Inhalation of flower or concentrates usually results in a more immediate effect, while edibles tend to take longer for onset to occur but can last for several hours.
When experimenting with Delta 9 THC products, starting with a small dosage is always recommended, then increasing it gradually to achieve the desired effect. As many of us know all too well, it’s entirely possible to take too much too quickly, resulting in undesired outcomes.
What Effects Does Delta 9 THC Have?
Common effects of Delta 9 THC may include a sense of euphoria, elevated mood, and improved creativity. However, consumption of Delta 9 THC may also result in less desirable effects, including increased heart rate, anxiety, and paranoia if not used responsibly.
A growing body of research indicates that Delta 9 THC may also have certain therapeutic effects, such as a treatment for nausea and an appetite stimulant in cancer patients. Many people turn to Delta 9 THC and cannabis in general for these and other reported medical applications, ranging from pain and inflammation relief to relief from conditions like glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. This has led to a booming industry for both recreational and medical cannabis in the United States and around the world, with a 2021 estimated global cannabis market value of $22.5 billion.
Of course, at this time, the FDA has not evaluated any of this and presently does not officially sanction cannabis claims of any kind.
Is Delta 9 THC Legal?
One major factor in the growing popularity of Delta 9 THC is the production of hemp-derived Delta 9 THC, which has fewer legal restrictions than marijuana-derived THC products and is now legal nationwide. This is due to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp production in the United States, making the development of Delta 9 THC products federally legal, so long as they are derived from hemp and contain less than 0.3% THC by weight.
Although technically legal, certain states have tighter hemp-derived Delta 9 THC regulations. It is up to the individual consumer to determine whether they can safely purchase and consume Delta 9 products in their area.
Delta 9 THC ProductsWith the explosion in the popularity of cannabis products in recent years, there has been an accompanying expansion of Delta 9 THC products. These products range from tinctures and topicals to edibles such as capsules and gummies, as well as dried flower and concentrates. The breadth and depth of these products are sure to expand, making 2023 and beyond an exciting time for lifelong tokers and newcomers alike.
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