What is Delta-9: THC’s Use, Benefits, Risks, Safety, and Legality

Delta 9 THC image

Delta-9, or delta-9 THC is a natural compound found in cannabis and hemp plants. It’s famously known as THC and is responsible for causing psychoactive effects aka “high” when people use cannabis.

Delta-9 belongs to a group of chemicals called cannabinoids, which interact with our bodies to provide various therapeutic and psychoactive effects.

In the past, the only source of delta-9 THC was from cannabis. However, today, hemp-derived delta-9 has gained widespread popularity in the US.

Is delta-9 legal?

Delta-9 in the form of cannabis is federally illegal in the US. However, each state has its cannabis laws for recreational and medical use. While many states follow the federal law, some have decided to make it legal in the form of cannabis products.

On the other hand, delta-9 derived from hemp plants is legal, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. However, it must contain less than 0.3% of THC on a dry weight basis. This distinction is crucial because it sets hemp apart from cannabis.

While no state legislation forbids hemp plants, making delta-9 legal in all 50 states of the US

So, whenever you see a product mentioning delta-9, it usually comes from hemp and contains less than 0.3% of THC.

Why do people take delta-9?

1. Recreational Use: Many people use delta-9 to experience its psychoactive effects, such as euphoria, relaxation, and altered perception. It can enhance social experiences, creativity, and enjoyment of leisure activities, like watching movies.

Although hemp-derived delta-9 is not as strong as cannabis, it can still make you relaxed “high” after a long day.

2. Wellness benefits: People generally use delta-9 to relax. However, many use it in a particular dosage to find relief from stress, anxiety, and chronic pain. People also take it to get better sleep.

How does delta-9 work in the body?

Delta-9 works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is made up of a network of CB receptors that are spread throughout the body.

When delta-9 enters the body, it binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors and mimics the effects of naturally occurring cannabinoids produced by the body. CB1 receptors are present in our brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are in our immune system and other organs.

When delta-9 binds to these receptors, it temporarily alters how our brain and body work, affecting mood, perception, pain sensation, and memory. This is why people often feel euphoric or “high” when they use delta-9.

But delta-9 isn’t just about getting high. It also has therapeutic potential.

What are the benefits of delta-9?

According to research, delta-9 has many therapeutic and wellness benefits:

1. Pain relief: Delta-9 can help ease chronic pain by working with the body’s endocannabinoid systems to reduce the pain sensation. This can be especially helpful for folks with chronic pain.

2. Reducing inflammation: Delta-9 acts like a natural anti-inflammatory, which can help ease inflammation in the body. 

3. Boosting appetite: The “munchies” that are usually associated with cannabis are the work of delta-9, as their intake can boost your appetite. This effect of delta-9 can help folks who’ve lost their appetite to eat better. 

4. Calming nausea: Delta-9 can settle an upset stomach, making it a potential remedy for nausea and vomiting.

FDA has also approved a medicine made of delta-9 for people undergoing chemotherapy to induce a healthy appetite and manage vomiting and nausea.

5. Mood boost: In the right amounts, delta-9 can take the edge off anxiety and stress, helping you feel more relaxed and happy. However, its higher dosage can have the opposite effect.

6. Better sleep: Delta-9’s calming effects can also help you catch some sleep, making it a potential aid for people struggling with insomnia or other sleep problems.

What are the risks of delta-9?

According to the WHO, delta-9 does not pose any significant risk to public health and safety, and its abuse is rare, if it occurs at all. Additionally, hemp-derived delta-9 products are generally safe and well tolerated by most people over the age of 21, with no notable risks associated with its use.

Although there are some concerns, like:

1. Cognitive impairment: A high dosage of delta-9 can affect your ability to think, remember things, and stay focused. It’s like having a foggy brain for some time.

If you are under the influence of delta-9, avoid activities that require alertness, like driving.

2. Psychological effects: Although rare, you may experience negative psychological effects like anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations when using delta-9 products, especially at higher doses. This usually passes after your body digests the THC.

3. Munchies: You can also experience an increase in food cravings. This is often called the “munchies”. However, many do not take this as a risk.

4. Labeling inaccuracy: According to 2023 research, many delta-9 products in the market are inaccurately labeled. Some contain more than legal levels of THC, while others contain impurities.

To avoid a mislabeled delta-9 product, it is recommended that you shop from reliable brands that provide a third-party lab test result of the product, which is present in the form of a COA (certificate of analysis) on the company’s website.

What to look for when selecting a delta-9 product?

The FDA does not regulate the delta-9 industry, so it is important to research before shopping for a product. 

1. Brand reputation and COA: Select products from reputable delta-9 brands. Look for brands that provide detailed information about the ingredients and test results from independent labs, in the form of COA (certificate of analysis).

Check the COA and make sure that the concentration of delta-9 is less than 0.3% and is free of impurities.

2. Legal compliance: Ensure the product complies with the legal regulations of the US, where products should contain less than 0.3% delta-9 on a dry weight basis to be considered hemp-derived and legal.

3. Start with a low dosage: Delta-9 is effective for most people between 10 mg to 40 mg a day. However, starting with a low dosage is recommended if you are a first-time user. 5 to 10 mg is a good starting point and you can increase it in the next session if it doesn’t work for you.

However, don’t immediately take more if you don’t feel any effect because delta-9 takes time to work, and taking more than necessary can give you an unpleasant experience.

4. Select a type of product: Unlike cannabis, hemp delta-9 doesn’t come in smokable flowers. Rather, it comes in edibles, gummies, oils, and vape cartridges, each offering a different experience.

5. Ingredients Quality: Review the ingredients list to ensure a product contains only high-quality ingredients. Avoid products with unnecessary additives, fillers, and artificial flavors that could compromise their safety.

6. User reviews: Read user reviews to understand customer satisfaction and experiences with the product. 

7. Price and value: Consider the overall value of a product as per its delta-9 potency. Compare prices across different brands and products to find the best option for your budget. 

Is delta-9 addictive?

Hemp-derived delta-9, with its concentration of less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis, has a lower potential for addiction compared to cannabis products.

While delta-9 still carries some risk of addiction, especially with frequent or heavy use, its lower THC concentration results in milder effects and less likelihood of dependence.

It’s worth noting that studies linking addiction to delta-9 primarily focus on cannabis products, which contain higher concentrations of THC (more than 5%).

Research suggests that approximately 9% of individuals who use delta-9 in cannabis form may develop an addiction, with this number increasing to about 17% among those who use it during their teenage years.

As for hemp-based THC products, there is currently a lack of studies examining their potential for addiction. 

Does delta-9 THC show up on a drug test?

While hemp-derived products contain legal levels of THC, they may still be detected in drug screenings.

Most standard drug tests, such as urine or saliva tests, are designed to detect the presence of cannabis through THC metabolites in the body. These tests may produce positive results if the individual has recently consumed hemp-derived delta-9, even if it’s within the legal limit of 0.3% THC.

If you are subject to drug testing for employment, sports participation, or other reasons, avoid using delta-9. If you have concerns about drug testing, consider using THC-free alternatives, like CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD products, or discuss the issue with your employer or healthcare provider.

Final thoughts

As we navigate the world of hemp-derived products, it’s important to approach delta-9 with care. While hemp-derived delta-9 might seem like a safer option compared to stronger cannabis products, there are still things to consider.

Remember, even though delta-9 contains less concentration of THC, it can still have psychoactive effects on your body and may show up on drug tests. It’s essential to be aware of the potential risks, like addiction, and to talk to a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

By staying informed and making responsible choices, we can use delta-9 products in a way that promotes our well-being.


The information provided in this article is meant for general use only and may not always suit everyone’s individual needs. Your health and wellness are personal, so you should consult a medical professional for personalized advice before making decisions based on our content.

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