Synthetic Cannabis: Difference Between Delta 8 and THC-0

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cannabis plant


The great wide world of cannabinoids just keeps getting bigger. With every new synthetic or trace cannabinoid discovered, the market expands and so does our molecular education. While your living room may smell like the inside of the Mystery Machine, somehow all of us are slowly building a degree in molecular chemistry over figuring out the difference between one cannabinoid and the next. What’s the difference between THC and Delta-8? It’s a double carbon bond on the eighth vs the ninth point in the carbon ring.  Which means that THC-10 is a double-bond at the ten-spot. We’re wearing lab coats already.

So, when a hot new molecule hits the market, most cannabis connoisseurs today are ready to roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty of what makes this next molecule special and unique. Here at Inyo Las Vegas Dispensary, we’re interested in every stage of cannabis processing, starting with the seeds. Each seed’s journey can be followed to jars of glittering buds, natural hemp products, and advanced cannabinoid science – and we love it all. Today, we’re shining the difference between Delta 8 and THC-O. These two molecules are even more closely related than you might realize.

Delta-8 vs THC-O – Quick Facts:

  • Delta-8 and THC-O are both manufactured cannabinoids
  • THC-O is made from Delta-8
  • Delta-8 is made from CBD Isolate
  • THC-O and Delta-8 both have a psychoactive effect
  • THC-O is much more potent than Delta-8 due to bioavailability

What is THC-O?

THC-O is an analog of THC Delta 9, the naturally occurring psychedelic in cannabis sativa. It is a 100% artificial cannabinoid isolate that does not occur in nature.  It is nearly bio-identical to THC Delta-9 (the normal stuff) except for one little detail regarding an altered OH on the molecular chain. It even has the double-carbon bond in the right place, in the ninth position. THC-O has been found to be psychedelic and extremely potent, but also only available in isolate form after all the terpenes have been stripped away during the alteration process.

Fun Facts About THC-O

  • THC-O is really THC-O Acetate. This is partly due to the way it is processed using alcohol or acetone.
  • THC-O is extremely potent, due to its high bioavailability. It is considered 3x more potent than THC and 5x more potent than Delta 8.
  • THC-O is a “prodrug” meaning it does not activate until metabolized by the liver. THC-O takes up to 20 minutes to feel after vaping and up to an hour to feel after eating or dropping as a tincture.
  • THC-O is made from hemp-derived Delta-8.
  • THC-O vape oil is very thick.
  • THC-O Tolerance may be different from typical cannabis tolerance.

cannabis plant

What is Delta-8?

Delta-8 is another analog for THC made legally from hemp cannabis plants. Delta-8 is considered a gentler and less psychoactive alternative to THC while still providing most or all of its benefits. On a molecular level, Delta-8 is nearly identical to typical THC (Delta-9) except for a single double-bond on the carbon ring. In typical THC, there is a double-bond on the ninth position, while Delta-8 has a double-bond on the eighth position.

Delta-8 is not considered to be psychoactive but can be “loopy” in cerebral effects It is milder and slightly less bioavailable than typical THC. However, the molecular structure indicates that it is not the federally restricted molecule, and therefore falls under CBD legality except in states that have taken specific measures against Delta-8 as the first popular manufactured cannabinoid.

How is THC-O Made from Delta-8?

The really interesting thing about THC-O is that it’s made from Delta-8. First, high-CBD hemp plants are cut and processed. The CBD is isolated and then molecularly altered through isomerization into a THC analog that is close but not quite identical in effects to a similar dose of THC-9.

From there, the Delta-8 is dissolved in a high alcohol or acetone-concentrated solution, which strips away the terpenes but leaves a finely concentrated THC isolate. This process with the acetone not only restores Delta-8 to Delta-9 levels of bioavailability by moving that carbon double-bond back to the ninth position, but then splits the OH molecule with an extra Oxygen.

All of this fascinating process results in a few drops of very thick and very concentrated oil that can be vaped, taken as a tincture or cooked with as an edibles ingredient. THC-O, therefore, cannot be found in flower form, but buds can be coated in THC-O product.

purple cannabis plant

What are the Differences Between Delta-8 and THC-O?

Potency and Bioavailability

The biggest difference between Delta-8 and THC-O is potency. Delta-8 is known as a milder version of your typical THC and many even enjoy the opportunity for a low-key vape or edible considering how potent lab-grown cannabis has become. Delta-8’s molecular structure leads to slightly less bioavailability, while THC-O’s bioavailability is quite high.

However, THC-O only becomes bioavailable after it has passed through the liver, requiring a certain amount of time before you start to feel the effects. This may also contribute to the far higher absorption effectiveness compared to Delta-8 which is more conventionally absorbed into the body.

Psychedelic Experiences

Delta-8 is well known for not having any significant psychoactive effect from a simple change in carbon bond location. Delta-8 is considered mild and more similar to CBD strategically. However, THC-O is more potent and more likely to result in psychedelic experiences. If you think that your brain has just processed a bunch of TCH-O, secure yourself somewhere pleasant and chill to enjoy the ride.

Landscape Legality

Finally, because Delta-8 was the first synthesized cannabinoid to hit the markets, some state legislatures have had time to ban or restrict it.  THC-O is legal in 38 states, and most laws against THC-O are blanket policies regarding synthetic cannabis as a whole. This means that if you are looking to buy Delta-8 or THC-O  – especially online or planning to cross state lines with it – think twice. Check your legality map, just in case. Delta-8 and THC-O are federally legal but not every state is cool with the new wave.

Buying Synthetic Legal THC: Which Should You Choose?

Delta-8 or THC-O? Which is the best choice for your desired cannabis experience? Both THC-O and Delta-8 offer an appealing experience.  Delta-8 offers a mild, gentle high that can take effect quite quickly. THC-O, however, provides an intense and psychoactive high that takes hold a little slower. The right experience for you depends on your state, budget, environment, and the effects you hope to enjoy. This is why many dispensaries and individual cannabis brands are expanding inventories to include products from both of these unique and enjoyable synthesized cannabinoids.

Ready to dip your toe into the next wave of synthetic cannabis experiences? No matter what your refining process, it all starts with the right cannabis plant. Contact us today to learn more!

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