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What is Delta 9 THC?

Delta 9 THC
Written by Alexandra Hicks

Delta 9 THC is basically the essence of cannabis. It’s the reason this plant has been popular in various cultures for hundreds of years. But what exactly is this compound? What are the effects and benefits of using it, and how can you best utilize it? Scroll down to learn more.

The Basics

When people think of “THC”, Delta 9 is what they’re thinking of. Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. THC was first discovered and isolated in 1964 by Israeli chemist and professor, Raphael Mechoulam. For decades, Delta 9 has been at the heart of prohibition efforts because lawmakers were too intently focused on its mind-altering properties while completely dismissing all its many possible uses in the medical and wellness sectors. 

Delta 9 THC can be marijuana-derived or hemp-derived, meaning it can be extracted from both types of cannabis. That said, since there is so little THC at all in hemp, that means it will take considerably more plant matter to get a usable about of delta 9 THC out of it, so it’s not very practical, although it is technically the “legal” option since marijuana-derived Delta 9 is still prohibited.

What is Delta 9? 

Now, let’s talk about what delta 9 actually is, versus the many other cannabinoids found in cannabis. In chemistry, “Delta” refers to the double bond on a molecule’s carbon chain. In the case of THC, we have a few different variations. With delta 9 , the double bond is on the 9th carbon chain, whereas other delta THCs like Delta 8 THC and Delta 10 THC have the double bond on the 8th and 10th carbon chains (respectively).  

In comparison to cannabidiol, both THC and CBD are structurally similar but very different in terms of effects. While THC is the most abundant mind-altering cannabinoid found in cannabis, CBD is the most abundant non-psychoactive one. Both are known to have a huge range of medicinal benefits, and despite CBD having been the main focus of scientific research for many years, lately there has been growing evidence that THC has more uses than previously thought.  

Effects of Delta 9 THC can include: Relaxation, decreased anxiety, increased appetite, feelings of happiness or exhilaration, heightened imagination, improved sensory perception. Some people do experience anxiety, cotton mouth, and dry eyes too.

I personally get a mix of those effects: mainly relaxation, heightened imagination, cotton mouth and dry eyes. Levels of intoxication will obviously vary based on several different factors including body weight and height, tolerance to cannabis and other drugs, whether you ate that day, how much water you’ve drank, and so on.

Medical benefits of Delta 9 THC 

THC has been used therapeutically for centuries and it can treat a diverse range of conditions including pain, glaucoma, nausea, and depression. This particular study, conducted by Psychology Associate Professor Jacob Miguel Vigil and Economics Assistant Professor Sarah See Stith from the University of New Mexico, compared come common ailments treated by cannabis. 

They looked specifically at which cannabinoid offered more effective symptom relief, THC or CBD. The research was published on Tuesday, February 26, in the Scientific Reports Journal. According to their research, “THC exhibited the strongest correlation with therapeutic relief, compared to the more socially acceptable chemical found in cannabis, CBD (cannabidiol).” 

They measured 27 different symptom categories ranging from depression to seizure activity and found that dried cannabis flower high in THC provided immediate symptom relief in most of the cases. Overall, smokable high-THC flower was the most commonly used product and showed greater symptom improvement than other methods of consumption. They gathered this information through the Releaf App, the largest database tracking medical cannabis use in the country. 

Table comparison of Delta 9 THC to other popular psychoactive cannabinoids

“Despite the conventional wisdom, both in the popular press and much of the scientific community that only CBD has medical benefits while THC merely makes one high, our results suggest that THC may be more important than CBD in generating therapeutic benefits. In our study, CBD appears to have little effect at all, while THC generates measurable improvements in symptom relief. These findings justify the immediate de-scheduling of all types of cannabis, in addition to hemp, so that cannabis with THC can be more widely accessible for pharmaceutical use by the general public,” said Vigil. 

Numerous other studies over the years, as well as plenty of anecdotal evidence, have shown that using delta-9 THC may have therapeutic benefits for many conditions, including nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, seizure disorders, chronic pain, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) and sleep disorders in people with other chronic conditions. 

Potential Risks

The risks of consuming THC on a regular basis are quite low, especially in contrast to other common recreational drugs, and even pharmaceuticals. All in all, weed is very safe, but some people don’t enjoy the high from it and may experience anxiety. Other negative side effects have been noted by the FDA and CDC, such as depression, risk of paranoia and schizophrenia, memory/cognitive issues, and more; but these have all been hotly debated over the years.  

How to tone down your high 

Let’s start with basics… how does one get too high from THC? Some obvious reasons include the user being novice, especially if they’re young teenagers or elderly users. That also goes for first-time users, although many people claim to not feel much of high their first time. Getting too high also often depends on the circumstances or situation where cannabis is used, if you’re in an uncomfortable scenario and feeling anxious already, cannabis might add to that and make you feel worse. Other factors worth mentioning are body weight, existing tolerance to cannabis products, underlying health conditions, and whether you ate or slept recently. 

Cannabis edibles are another big culprit here, and that is because of how THC is digested by the body. Additionally, when we digest any type of delta THC, our bodies convert it to 11-hydroxy THC, which is said to be quite a bit stronger than Delta 9. These days, there are also highly potent cannabis concentrates, extracts, and tinctures that can get you 15 or even 30 times higher than smoking conventional cannabis. It’s also harder to dose accurately when taking edibles, as opposed to smoking or vaping.

Concentrates are also worth noting here. With products contain upwards of 80% THC, even a veteran cannabis user can feel some extra intoxicating effects from “dabbing”, or otherwise using concentrates, so that’s also something to bear in mind as well.  

So, now that you are aware of how it happens, let’s talk about what to do if you encounter this problem. The first thing to keep in mind is – stay calm, and don’t panic – the high wears off fast and you’ll be perfectly fine very soon (as a matter of fact, you’re perfectly fine right now, just a little too stoned). Sit down and relax in a cool, comfortable area, focus on your breathing and just chill.  

Water and a snack to help get rid of your High - Cannadelics

The next thing you should do is grab some water and a snack. It’s always good to stay hydrated, which will inevitably make you feel better anyway, and conventional wisdom states that food makes your high go away. You could also try going for a walk, jumping in the shower, or even taking a short nap. 


Whether you smoke it, eat it, dab it, vape it, or rub it on your body, you’re sure to find a use and method to best suit your Delta 9 THC needs. Getting the desired effect will be a different adventure for every individual. It’s an incredibly beneficial and versatile compound that can help with a myriad of medical conditions… not to mention, it’s also fun and safe!

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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.