Which is stronger, Δ8 or THC?

Written by Sabina Pulone

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the major psychoactive constituent of cannabis plants. The term THC usually refer to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), even if other structural isomers and stereoisomers of this molecule exist. [1]

Δ9-THC is generally found in high quantities in some cannabis chemovars, while delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC) is typically present in minor concentration and it can be synthesized in the laboratory treating CBD with acids and heat. [2]

Δ8-THC is the isomeric form of Δ9-THC in which the double bond in one ring within the molecule is located in a different position: Δ8-THC has the double bond between the carbon atoms labelled 8 and 9, while Δ9-THC has the double bond between atoms 9 and 10. This difference in structure increases the chemical stability of Δ8-THC, lengthening the shelf life and making the compound resistant to its conversion to cannabinol (CBN) over time. [3]

The physiological and psychological effects of THC isomers are comparable, even if Δ8-THC is less potent than Δ9-THC because of its lower binding affinity with the endocannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2: monitoring the effects after intravenous and oral treatment, Δ8-THC relative potency to the other isomer appears to be 2:3. [4] While Δ9-THC therapeutic potential can be affected by its strong psychoactive capability and possible adverse effects including paranoia, anxiety and unpaired sleep, Δ8-THC has less unwanted side effects and less psychotropic properties. Antiemetic, anxiolytic, orexigenic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory are few of the therapeutic benefits linked to THC isomers, although both the medicinal and intoxicating effect will be milder per milligram of material consumed for Δ8-THC in comparison to Δ9-THC. In terms of dosage, it is better to always start from low quantities because, even if Δ8-THC is less potent than Δ9-THC, each individual should experience different degrees of tolerance to molecules. More research should be done in order to exploit completely the positive characteristics of these cannabinoids.



[1] Wall Monroe E. et al.  Metabolism, disposition, and kinetics of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in men and women. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, (1983);   34(3), 352–363. doi:10.1038/clpt.1983.179 [Journal impact factor = 7.266] [Times cited = 401] [2] Marzullo P. et al. “Cannabidiol as the Substrate in Acid-Catalyzed Intramolecular Cyclization”. Journal of Natural Products. (2020). 83 (10): 2894–2901. doi:10.1021/acs.jnatprod.0c00436 [Journal impact factor = 4.257] [3] Abrahamov A. et al. “An efficient new cannabinoid antiemetic in pediatric oncology”. Life Sciences. (1995). 56 (23–24): 2097–102. doi:10.1016/0024-3205(95)00194-b [Journal impact factor = 5.037] [Times cited = 229] [4] Hollister Leo E. et al. Delta-8- and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; Comparison in man by oral and intravenous administration. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, (1973). 14(3), 353–357. doi:10.1002/cpt1973143353 [Journal impact factor = 7.266] [Times cited =73]


About the author

Sabina Pulone

Leave a Comment