What’s the Difference Between Delta-8 THC and CBD?

Cannabinoids are becoming more and more popular as the cannabis industry expands. Numerous cannabinoid-based products are now being sold in different forms, including CBD Juul pods, CBD hemp cigarettes, CBD joint and muscle gel, CBD honey sticks, and more. 

The unforeseeable rise of cannabis-derived products is great but, on the other hand, has caused much information overload. Even the most knowledgeable of consumers might still miss some key details. But don’t worry, we’re here to help sort things out.

In this article, we’ll separate CBD from Delta-8, look at each cannabinoid closely, discuss their similarities and differences, and share other crucial information you need to know before making your next CBD or Delta-8 purchase. 

What is CBD?

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found mainly in hemp plants. Though hemp and marijuana plants both contain CBD, hemp has a higher concentration of CBD compared to marijuana. CBD does not produce any significant mind-altering effects, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Additionally, it is one of the most extensively researched compounds. 

CBD is the least stigmatized of all cannabis cannabinoids. As long as the final product contains less than 0.3% THC, it should be readily available across most states. Having gained the favor of cannabis consumers, it has triggered movements from different groups calling for the widening of CBD’s availability nationwide.

While CBD is federally legal, some CBD companies are still experiencing obstacles when it comes to marketing and selling their products. The crackdown on false advertising by employing unsupported health claims is implemented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

What is Delta-8 THC?

Cannabis also contains delta-8 THC. Cannabis is a natural compound that belongs to the cannabinoid family. 

Delta-8 is not synthesized directly from cannabis. Existing in small concentrations, Delta-8 is the product of Delta-9 THC’s degradation over time. However, there are ways of extracting Delta-8 in large quantities. Manufacturers now employ a method called catalytic reaction. 

Also, manufacturers can now convert CBD to Delta-8 within a laboratory setup. This discovery, believe it or not, is due to an oversupply of CBD that caused the price of CBD to go down. Producers then were looking for ways to profit from the extra CBD supply. Through a simple chemical conversion, the industry got creative and started converting batches of CBD into Delta-8. 

While Delta-8 shares a similar molecular structure with other forms of THC, Delta-8 is described to be less psychoactive yet more stable compared to its other THC counterparts – Delta-9 and Delta 10. This difference is due to how Delta-8’s atomic bonds are arranged. If Delta-9’s double atomic bond occurs at the 9th carbon chain, Delta-8’s are at the 8th carbon chain. 

Delta-8 can be extracted from hemp and marijuana but the only legally-acceptable products made from Delta-8 are sourced from hemp. 

Is Delta-8 the Same As THC?

Delta-8 is not the same as THC. Rather, Delta-8 is a form of THC. 

There is a misconception surrounding the term THC and what it means. In a colloquial sense, THC is made synonymous with Delta-9 THC. But THC is a categorical compound that takes the form of multiple isomers (Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10).

An isomer is a compound that shares the same formula as another compound but has a different arrangement of atoms and properties. 

Delta-8, -9, and -10 are isomers of THC. 

Where Do CBD and Delta-8 Come From?

Hemp-derived CBD extracts mainly come from hemp leaves and buds. CBD can be extracted from other parts of the plant as well, as long as it’s above the soil line – this includes the stems and leaves. There is little to nothing found in hemp’s low parts, such as roots and seeds. 

For large-scale manufacturers, extracting CBD from cannabis comes in two types – the carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction method and the solvent extraction method. 

For the CO2 extraction method, CO2 gas is compressed and turned into a liquid state. The liquid is then forced into the hemp flowers (specifically trichomes) and other parts of the plant where CBD naturally exists. The entire solution is then processed again, to which CO2 evaporates into a gas, leaving an unadulterated CBD extract. 

During solvent extraction, instead of CO2 in the liquid state, solvents such as butane, ethanol, and propane are utilized to strip the plant matter off CBD. For the solvents to separate from the extracted cannabinoids, it has to be carefully heated or cooled at specific temperatures. 

Delta-8, on the other hand, is mainly derived from hemp by converting CBD. To extract the cannabinoid, the flower is crushed and fractionally distilled. Once this is done, Delta-8 is isolated through a distillation process, yielding at least 80% Delta-8. 

Delta-8 THC vs. CBD: Explaining the Differences

Delta-8 and CBD differ in intensities when it comes to mind-altering effects because each compound affects some of the brain’s functionalities, such as cognition and perception, differently. Although both cannabinoids impact mood, perception, and emotions, Delta-8 is known to cause mild mind-altering effects.

Delta-8 is an analog of Delta-9 and shares a similar molecular structure. Thus, Delta-8 has a slightly similar binding affinity power that Delta-9 has over endocannabinoid receptors. As a result, Delta-8 causes the same psychoactive effects but is milder in intensity. 

CBD, on the other hand, shares the same molecular structure with the likes of CBG and also binds to endocannabinoid receptors without directly activating them. Therefore, CBD doesn’t elicit the same psychoactive effects as Delta-8 and Delta-9.  

What Do Researchers Say About CBD?

CBD has a decent amount of research conducted to back it up. However, the number of human trials remains a work in progress. In part, most of the hindrance came from the continued classifications made by the DEA, arguing CBD does not possess any medical benefits. 

Despite the overwhelming misleading information surrounding the CBD market, some of the unsupported claims, by themselves, do not constitute CBD not having therapeutic potential at all. Indeed, in 2018, the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) approved the medical utilization of Epidiolex, a purified plant-based CBD extract approved for pediatric cases on specific spectrums of epilepsy.

Under the FDA’s approval, Epidiolex was born out of several randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials and open-label studies. This supports the idea that conducting human trials on CBD shifts the focus from CBD being stigmatized to being seen as a compound with potential. In addition to Epidiolex, a cannabis-based oral spray with a 1:1 ratio of THC:CBD has been approved.

Research on animal models was carried out as well, but these studies were rather sporadic, and the body of scientific work wasn’t as convincing as human trials. Ultimately, it’s in the best interest of the government and its people to be zealous in creating more rigorous human trials on CBD. 

What Do Researchers Say About Delta-8 THC?

Currently, there are 31 studies in total where Delta-8 is one of the only subject matters. Mainly focusing on the therapeutic potential of Delta-8, 27 of the studies are primary ones where Delta-8’s interaction with the ECS is inspected to check for possible interventions for certain conditions. Four of the papers are related studies where Delta-8 is only part of the subject matter observed.

Of the 31 studies conducted, 10 are meta-analyses, 8 are animal studies, 7 are laboratory studies, one study is a human clinical trial, and finally, there is only one clinical meta-analysis. 

The first reported research on Delta-8 that resembles a human trial was done in 1942 by Adams et.al. In a study design involving 77 voluntary subjects from a prison population and a Delta-8 dosage of 30 mg with 30mg increments every two days, Adams reported that the effects of Delta-8 were quite similar to that of Delta-9. 

More research on Delta-8 is expected as federal health agencies are starting to take initiative in supporting multiple large-scale research exploring the potential of Delta-8 and other minor cannabinoids. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) posted a notice of special interest just last July. Additionally, President Joe Biden signed a large-scale infrastructure bill in 2021, which includes provisions for allowing further research on cannabis products consumers purchase from dispensaries. 

CBD & Delta-8 THC: With the Popularity Comes Great Scrutiny

New CBD and Delta-8 brands are popping up daily, creating plenty of innovative cannabinoid products, all catering to different needs and target markets. Although these cannabinoids are sourced from cannabis, they are unique in their own right, also offering their own set of unique effects — so we can understand their increasing popularity.

It’s a thriving industry mostly prompted by CBD and Delta-8’s popularity. However, like any popular product, it comes with scrutiny. For one thing, it’s an advantage for consumers who want a wide variety of options to choose from, but for some, searching for a dependable and quality product can be quite challenging. 

A quality check on 84 CBD products was carried out. Researchers discovered that around 21 and more of these products had less CBD quantity than what was promised on the label. Meanwhile, 18 of the CBD products had traces of THC in them even though the label said they were THC-free. 

Some consumers are worried about the slight lack of oversight on Delta-8 products containing heavy metals and intoxicants due to it being a particularly easy-to-make compound. By simply mixing an over-the-counter CBD with pool and battery acid chemicals, grifters produce products with Delta-8 semblance. 

Mostly sold in gas stations and unlicensed stores, shady Delta-8 products offer a cheap and convenient high that mainly targets unassuming Delta-8 beginners. With that said, buy from trusted and proven CBD brands like Hempzilla. Here at Hempzilla, we value transparency more than anything. We make sure our  CBD products are tested for traces of heavy metals, residuals, pesticides, and other unwanted contaminants. 

See for yourself why we’re the choice of thousands of customers anxious to try quality products that won’t disappoint. 

What Are the Similarities Between Delta-8 THC and CBD?

CBD and Delta-8 are both derived from cannabis. Both are naturally occurring cannabinoids present in cannabis (hemp and marijuana). Both compounds can also interact with the ECS existing in humans and animals. 

Also, federal law sees CBD and Delta-8 as the same in the sense that both are derivatives of hemp. And as long as the source and the product do not go beyond the 0.3% THC limit, Delta-8 products should be at par with CBD in the eyes of the law.

What Are the Regulations Around CBD and Delta-8 THC?

Federal law treats hemp-derived CBD and Delta-8 the same due to the 2018 Farm Bill. The Bill stated that hemp could be legally grown as long as it only yields less than 0.3% of THC. But the authors of the Bill made an oversight. They defined THC as Delta-9, excluding other isomers. With that loophole, the market for legal Delta-8 was born.

Now, as long as the CBD or Delta-8 products contain no more than 0.3% of Delta-9 THC, they are deemed legal. However, some states enforce separate laws regarding CBD and Delta-8. For example, some states might not take the time to distinguish between Delta-9 and 8. Other states ban all forms of THC altogether, including Delta-8. It’s best to check with your local state laws if you’re unsure about the legality of a particular cannabis-derived product. 

Which is Better? CBD Or Delta-8?

There is no absolute answer to this question. Varying factors and a person’s individual needs require different cannabinoids. 

If you’re looking for a non-psychoactive experience, choose CBD. It’s also versatile enough to be combined with other cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN. If you want to take your CBD experience up a notch, you might opt for a full-spectrum extract. The combination of CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids is synergistic and creates an even greater effect together than they would on their own. However, if you’re looking for a more fun experience, choose Delta-8. A decent introduction to cannabinoids is either a tincture or gummies. The same synergistic effect can also happen when consuming Delta-8 with other cannabinoids.

Delta-8 THC vs. CBD: How They Work 

When it comes to how CBD and Delta-8 work in the human body, we need to examine their interaction with the ECS. 

While Delta-8 directly binds with two of the ECS’s main receptors (CB1 and CB2), CBD merely modulates these receptors. Their difference in binding affinities explains why Delta-8 can induce a mild psychoactive effect and why CBD doesn’t. 

Let us look closely at how CBD behaves with the ECS. CBD modulates the ECS’s activity by delaying the breakdown of endocannabinoid receptors that naturally exist in the body and enhancing their signaling power. 

CBD’s versatility when it comes to its perks is mainly attributed to its modulating power with the ECS and its action on 65 other molecular pathways. 

Delta-8 THC vs. CBD: Drug Testing

Drug tests cannot distinguish between types of THC. Unless the method of metabolite analysis is sensitive and advanced enough to pinpoint which type of THC a sample holds (in which most cases isn’t true), average drug tests may not tell the difference between Delta-9, -8, or -10 THC (all of which are forms of THC). 

For drug tests, if you have enough THC metabolites detected in a sample, it may cause a positive drug positive for marijuana. To be worry-free, it’s best to avoid taking any form of THC-laden product a month before your scheduled drug test. This should be followed even if the test is carried out in states where marijuana is legal. 

On the other hand, THC-free CBD should not give you a positive drug test result. It would take an insane amount of CBD for a person to get a positive drug test — somewhere around 2,000mg per dose. That’s far-fetched and 40 times higher than the standard dose a human should intake per day. 


Despite coming from the same plant, CBD and Delta-8 have obvious differences. They produce a different set of effects on the body. One thing is for sure; their differences are mostly dictated by the nature of how they interact with the ECS. 

Regardless of your choice, whether it’s CBD or Delta-8, be sure to purchase products from a source you can trust. The options might be vast, but the regulations on cannabinoids like CBD and Delta-8 are pretty relaxed, so it’s all the more important to be critical about making informed purchases. 

That said, consume products from companies that source extracts from organically-grown hemp and who use sustainable practices.

At Hempzilla, our firm stance on transparency translates to the COAs (certificate of analysis) we produce for each batch of CBD products. As an added cushion, we make sure we comply with all of Colorado and Oregon’s regulations and compliances.