With hemp and all of its derivatives legal by federal law, a multitude of hemp THC products have hit the shelves in recent years. Most recently, though, manufacturers have cracked the code on producing hemp-derived delta-9–the same potent THC molecule responsible for the heavy-hitting psychoactive effects you get from marijuana.
This comes as a shock, of course, since marijuana and Delta-9-THC have been federally prohibited since the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970. Many skeptical consumers want to know–what’s the difference in hemp-derived delta-9 vs weed? Do the two compounds produce the same effects? And if so, how is one legal while the other is labeled as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD?
The only real difference? The source.
Hemp-derived Delta-9 is made from hemp, a federally legal type of cannabis, and produced following hemp industry guidelines. Is it a loophole? Maybe so, but it’s a rock-solid way for hemp producers to make Delta-9-THC accessible to consumers across the country.
Still confused? It’s understandable. Here, we’ll break down all the differences in Delta-9 from hemp and Delta-9 from marijuana, including how they are made, the effects, and exactly how and where they are legal. Let’s take it from the top:
Delta-9 from hemp is exactly what it sounds like–Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol that’s derived from federally legal hemp material. Of course, hemp, by definition, can only contain up to 0.3% Delta-9-THC by dry weight.
So, how do hemp manufacturers take advantage of these tiny quantities? Many people would speculate that the delta-9 from hemp is synthesized using isomerization. (This is, after all, the way that delta-8, THC-O, and many other hemp-derived THC products are made). That’s not the case, though–the Delta-9 is actually naturally derived as a byproduct of the process used to make CBD products.
In other words, hemp’s delta-9 content used to be thrown out as a waste product after CBD was extracted from the plant. This “waste material” is called “mother liquor” and it contains all of the leftover cannabinoids from hemp, like CBG, CBN, CBC, and yes, Delta-9.
From there, manufacturers simply need to abide by the dry weight rule–that hemp products contain less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC by dry weight–which must apply both to the hemp plants and to any product made from hemp. So, a hemp delta-9 gummy, for instance, is legal assuming it contains less than this legal threshold.
While 0.3% may not sound like much, it adds up. A 1 gram gummy can contain up to 3 milligrams of THC. To put that into perspective, an average size gummy bear weighs about 3 grams and could contain just under 10 milligrams of THC.
So, Delta-9 from hemp is not only easy to make and legal to sell, it’s a natural byproduct of the process used to make CBD, so it’s a natural next step for many CBD producers.
So, to the obvious question–is delta-9 from hemp the same as delta-9 from traditional marijuana?
The answer is yes–delta-9 from hemp is the same molecule as delta-9 from marijuana. All cannabis strains are related and contain the same primary cannabinoids, like THC, CBD, CBG, and others. The only difference in the hemp and marijuana classifications is the amountof Delta-9, but the actual molecule is exactly the same.
However, some people claim that hemp-derived delta-9 has a different effect than traditional delta-9. If the molecules are exactly the same, how can that be? Let’s discuss the potential differences.
If we’re talking concentrates, hemp-derived delta-9 and weed derived delta-9 have the exact same effects. They are, after all, the exact same compound. However, hemp delta-9 isn’t available as a concentrate because of the dry weight rule. And not every delta-9 formula is the same, especially when it comes to hemp products.
We mentioned that the only difference in weed and hemp is the THC content, but that’s not exactly the full story. Hemp also typically contains a larger amount of non-psychoactive compounds, namely CBD.
So, if the hemp delta-9 product contains more CBD, the effects may be a bit milder than when Delta-9 is taken without CBD. Why? The two molecules fight for the same endocannabinoid receptors, so less Delta-9 may be absorbed. Still, CBD’s calming effect is the perfect balance for Delta-9, and many people prefer the effects of this dynamic duo.
Some hemp delta-9 products may also contain Delta-8. Since there are no restrictions of Delta-8 content, manufacturers may combine Delta-9 with Delta-8 (which also has psychoactive properties) to create a product that is more potent without crossing the federal Delta-9 threshold. Delta-8 is slightly milder and more relaxing, so this combination may produce effects that are more relaxed than the effects of Delta-9 alone.
Really, though, the same can be said for any combination of THC, cannabinoids, and terpenes–whether from hemp or from weed. Different terpenes and cannabinoid combinations all have different effects, so trying different cannabinoid-terpene combinations is a good way to find a THC product that meets your needs.
One other area where traditional Delta-9 and hemp Delta-9 products differ is regulation. Because traditional cannabis products are legal only at the state level, they are subject only to the state regulations in the state where they are grown and sold.
Hemp products, on the other hand, are subject both to federal and state regulations, which means that they may be more heavily regulated in some, but not all, states.
Because regulations vary so much from state to state, you need to understand how to choose a high quality hemp Delta-9 product. Choosing a high quality product is the best way to ensure that the products you buy will work and contain the actual Delta-9 content that’s listed on the package, which can help to avoid side effects caused by incorrect dosage.
When buying Delta-9 hemp products, here’s what to look out for:
We mentioned that hemp delta-9 is legal by federal standards, but that doesn't always mean that it's going to be legal by state law. Fortunately, hemp delta-9 often falls into the same classification for other hemp derived THC products, meaning it is legal in many states. Some states, however, do have bans against hemp-derived THC products.
Although hemp Delta-9 is still new to the market, you can learn more about your state's position on hemp-derived THC products by reading "Where is Delta-8-THC Legal?"
With it's newfound legal status, hemp derived Delta-9 is becoming more common. Still, you should stick to an experienced hemp manufacturer for your hemp-derived THC products. Shopping online gives you access to a broader range of products and higher quality brands than you're likely to find in local smoke shops.
Looking for hemp derived THC products? Check out our Elev8 Collection.
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