Difference between THC and marijuana

Marijuana is one of the main primary cannabis subspecies famous for its psychoactive properties. The cannabis subspecies has approximately 100 identified cannabinoids but features delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive compound or active ingredient derived from cannabis, as its dominant cannabinoid.

However, advances in cannabis research facilitated by the 2018 Farm Bill have led to the development of rare forms of THC available as natural THC products and synthetic cannabinoids. So, what is the difference between marijuana and the rare THC forms like delta-8 THC; is marijuana better than delta-8 THC? Keep reading to gain clarity on the THC VS marijuana debate.

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What Is Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC is one of the minor cannabinoids present in cannabis extract and causes mind-altering effects when consumed. The first mention of delta-8 THC was in 1940, when Roger Adams, an American chemist, successfully isolated multiple cannabinoids from the marijuana plant. However, there was no mention of delta-8 THC until 2018, when one famous cannabis brand launched the first delta-8 THC products into the cannabis market.

As the name suggests, delta-8 THC is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content and, as such, is a THC isomer. Isomers are compounds that share a similar chemical structure but have different atomic arrangements.

An isomer’s unique atomic arrangement gives it unique chemical properties from other isomers. For instance, although delta-8 THC is a psychoactive compound and utilizes a similar mechanism of action to other cannabinoids, it has a unique “high” effect.

Although delta-8 THC binds to endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors, it has a lower affinity for the said cannabinoid receptors and does not overstimulate them, hence its mild psychoactive component. Moreover, more research is necessary to establish delta-8 THC’s full potential in the human body.

Second, unlike delta-9 THC, which is dominant in marijuana, delta-8 THC is one of the many emerging psychoactive CBD products. You can read more about delta-8 THC products later in this post.

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Delta-8 THC Benefits

As earlier stated, little research is available; hence, more research is necessary to establish delta-8 THC’s full potential in the body. Although not FDA-approved, data from national institutes shows that most cannabinoids have therapeutic benefits and function as ancillary therapy to treat rare health conditions like multiple sclerosis alongside other drugs.

Consequently, national institutes like the national cancer institute allow health care providers to recommend medical cannabis for integrative health. Based on THC and medical marijuana research, below are potential delta-8 THC benefits.

  1. Pain Relief

Pain is a prevalent health problem in the US because it is a primary symptom in many medical conditions. Most medical cannabis users take THC to treat pain, and one study shows that 10mg of THC offers a pain relief effect equaling 60mg of codeine and other prescription drugs used to control pain.

Although little research is available on delta-8 THC’s analgesic properties, the THC content in the cannabis extract makes it a potent analgesic. Inhaling or smoking cannabis products infused with delta-8 THC induces instant pain relief. Moreover, ingested delta-8 THC has similar therapeutic benefits, albeit with longer-lasting effects.

However, despite delta-8 THC’s medical benefits as a pain control agent, it cannot substitute a primary therapy. Therefore, seek medical expertise before switching to the herbal remedy for pain relief, especially if you are experiencing severe pain.

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  1. Neuroprotection8

Neuroprotection is another benefit associated with cannabinoids from hemp plants, including THC. It refers to any preventative therapy that protects neuronal cells from degradation or death by inhibiting the progression of neurological diseases.

Neurological disorders like severe forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and seizure disorders affect the brain, leading to declining cognitive functions. One clinical neuroscience study posits that injured brain cells revert to their embryonic state and that, unlike other body cells, neuronal cells do not regenerate.

However, a second clinical neuroscience study shows that cannabinoid receptors play a role in neuroprotection. The study further indicates that CBD and THC have neuroprotective properties, inhibiting the oxidative stress that causes neuronal damage.

Moreover, the FDA approves Epidiolex, a prescription drug of cannabinoids from hemp plants, for treating seizure disorders. However, you must seek medical expertise before using THC for its neuroprotective health benefits. Also, consider the dosage due to THC’s psychoactive effects.

Is Delta-8 THC Safe?

Technically, delta-8 THC is one of the cannabidiol/ CBD products, and the 2018 Farm Bill scrapped hemp plant products like CBD from the controlled substances list due to their limited potential for abuse. Despite its psychoactive effects, there are no reports of adverse events among consumers taking delta-8 recreationally or for medical benefits.

However, despite the low likelihood of causing health problems, delta-8 may cause mild undesirable side effects. Before are the possible side effects you may experience while taking D8 products.

Delta-8 THC Possible Side Effects

  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Slow motor function
  • Elevated heart rates

Such side effects typically occur after taking a sizeable delta-8 dose.

Delta-8 THC Products

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D8 products are available in the following consumable forms for palatable cannabis use.


Delta-8 THC vapes are available in diverse flavors and concentrations. They take effect fast and are best for instant pain control.


D8 gummies are available in multiple flavors and are arguably the most popular THC products.


Smokable D8 THC  flowers from cannabis indica and cannabis sativa plant strains are available for the classic cannabis user.

Is Delta-8 THC Legal?

Federal laws governing cannabis plant use, particularly the 2018 Farm Bill, dictate that it is legal to cultivate, process, and distribute CBD products derived from the hemp plant for adult use and medical cannabis.

However, while CBD and delta-8 THC occur naturally in the plant, delta-8 occurs in small quantities. Therefore, D8’s production process entails a chemical reaction to convert CBD oil molecules into Delta-8.

Consequently, while federal/national institutes classify delta-8 as a legal substance, some state governments view it as a synthetic cannabinoid with psychoactive effects. Therefore, although Delta-8 THC is federally legal, it is a controlled substance in some states.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is a subspecies of the cannabis plant, but unlike hemp plants, it has a high delta-9 THC content. Delta-9 THC has potent mind-altering effects with a high potential for abuse. Consequently, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule Substance under the Controlled Substances Act alongside other drugs with a psychoactive component, including illicit opioids.

Unlike other THC isomers, delta-9 THC binds more strongly to cannabinoid receptors, inducing potent psychoactive effects. Delta-9 THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana and other drugs comprised of marijuana extract.

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Marijuana Use Benefits

Marijuana use is primarily recreational, with most users seeking to experience the mind-altering effects caused by the active ingredient derived from the plant. However, marijuana’s psychoactive component has its benefits, as with medical marijuana.

Like delta-8 THC, the delta-9 THC content in marijuana has medical benefits and is ideal for integrative health at small doses. Medical marijuana plays a significant role in integrative health through expanded access programs whereby individuals with specified medical conditions can access cannabis as an ancillary therapy.

The THC derived from marijuana works similarly to delta-8 THC; hence health care providers can use their medical expertise to recommend medical marijuana doses for pain control, MS, and other chronic health conditions. For example, the FDA approves operating Nabilone, a THC-like synthetic cannabinoid, in treating nausea; one study also shows Nabilone’s efficacy in treating posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms.

Is Marijuana Use Safe?

Although marijuana taken in microdoses induces medical benefits, the active ingredient derived from marijuana has a high potential for abuse. Excessive marijuana use can moderate to severe forms of discomfort.

Moreover, collected data from the National Poison Data System shows an increase in marijuana exposure reports nationwide. Such exposure can cause serious health risks or incur drug possession charges by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Marijuana Side Effects

  • Dry mouth
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Cognitive impairmentWithdrawal symptoms

Additionally, marijuana overuse may cause dependency, leading to withdrawal symptoms.

Is Marijuana Legal?

Marijuana is a federally illegal Schedule 1 controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. However, given that state laws take precedence over state laws like the 2018 Farm Bill, marijuana and THC products are legal in liberal states like California.

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Delta-8 THC VS Marijuana: Differences Between Delta-8 and Marijuana

The above information draws multiple similarities between THC and marijuana. However, below are the distinguishing characteristics between the two natural compounds.

  1. Chemical Structure

Although THC products and marijuana’s main psychoactive compounds are analog, they feature the active group on different molecules. The other molecular structures affect their affinity to endocannabinoid receptors.

  1. Potency

The different molecular structures and affinity for cannabinoids make marijuana’s delta-9 THC more potent than delta-8 THC and other CBD-extracted THC products.

  1. Source/ Extraction Method

Delta-9 THC is the dominant cannabinoid in the marijuana subspecies, while THC is a minor cannabinoid in hemp plants. Given the high delta-9 THC concentration in marijuana, its extraction process is straightforward, using solvent extraction and CO2 extraction. However, hemp-extracted THC products occur in low concentrations, requiring conversion from CBD molecules.

  1. Availability

THC’s federally legal status means it is readily available in CBD dispensaries offline and online. In contrast, marijuana is federally illegal and a controlled substance in most states; therefore, it is not readily available; some expanded access programs, like Kentucky’s, do not offer medical marijuana.

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THC and marijuana have similarities and differences, giving each cannabinoid specific advantages and disadvantages. However, when taking either product, the most important thing is to start low and slowly reduce the dosage to avoid undesirable side effects.