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Cannabinoid Education Series: What is Delta-9 THC?

Cannabis research is constantly emerging, and if you’re like many people, you might be having trouble keeping everything straight. CBD, THC, HHC, CBN— the list goes on and on. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. At Destino Farms, we believe in providing our customers with accurate information and access to quality hemp-derived products. That’s why we’re breaking down all of your burning cannabinoid questions in our Cannabinoid Education series. This week, we’re covering one of the big ones: Delta-9 THC. Read on to take a closer look at this euphoric cannabinoid, including its effects, benefits, risks, legality, and more.

Delta-9 THC At A Glance 

If you’re just here to refresh your memory, take a look at this handy delta-9 THC cheat sheet:  

What is it?

  • Primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that causes you to feel high. 


  • Affects the endocannabinoid system by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors. 
  • May offer pain relief, relaxation, and mood enhancement.
  • Potential side effects include impaired coordination, dry mouth, and dry eyes. 


  • Pain management, nausea relief, appetite stimulation.
  • Euphoric and uplifting mental effects may support stress relief. 


  • Start low and go slow. This one may make you feel anxious or paranoid with bigger servings. 
  • Buy from reputable sources with lab testing.
  • Never mix with alcohol or other drugs. 
  • Consult a healthcare professional if allergic or unsure.

Legal Status

  • Legal under the 2018 Farm Bill if hemp-derived (below 0.3%).
  • Check local regulations, as THC is a Schedule I Substance 


  • Delta-8/Delta-10 THC have similar effects but are milder.
  • THCa is the same thing, though it’s inactive until you smoke it or vape it. 

What is Delta-9 THC?

Delta-9 THC, short for Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, is a primary psychoactive compound in both cannabis and hemp plants. This cannabinoid is responsible for the intoxicating effects, or the high, you experience when you smoke weed. Delta-9 is a term that's used interchangeably with plain old THC. That said, if you see something labeled "THC," it's talking about delta-9 THC. They're the same thing— so it's pretty easy to remember! 

Where Does Delta-9 THC Come From?

Delta-9 THC comes from Cannabis Sativa L. plants, which include both cannabis and hemp. More or less, hemp and cannabis (or marijuana) are terms used to identify plants based on their THC content as defined by law. Hemp refers to cannabis containing 0.3 percent or less THC by dry weight, while marijuana is cannabis with more than 0.3 percent THC.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably read that Cannabis Indica plants are the ones with THC and the Cannabis Sativa plants are the ones with CBD. However, from a botanical perspective, hemp and marijuana are not distinct species; they are both variations of the same cannabis plant. The only real difference between the two is how much THC they contain. 

Hemp plants are bred and grown to produce less THC and their profiles are manipulated through genetics and environmental factors. Since they tend to be grown more naturally, the true essence of the plant shines through, and you’ll find higher concentrations of CBD, other minor cannabinoids, and terpenes. 

The same goes for cannabis plants bred and grown to produce more THC. These plants are bred for flavor and THC content, and they’re grown under controlled lighting and soil conditions to produce more terpenes and THC. 

However, hemp plants still produce up to 0.3% THC, meaning THC can be extracted from hemp plants and made into edibles, tinctures, concentrates, and more. Since hemp-derived THC is legal on a federal level as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight, hemp-derived THC is becoming popular in areas that don’t have a regulated cannabis program. It's a legal loophole, which we'll break down a little more in a later section. 

An image of a hemp leaf at sunset with the chemical symbol for THC

How Does Delta-9 THC Affect the Body?

Like all cannabinoids, delta-9 THC works directly with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). Your ECS is a complex system full of receptors and neurotransmitters in your body that work together to modulate a few natural background processes, like your body temperature, mood, pain and inflammation responses, immune system function, and so on. Its job is to keep your body balanced, and cannabinoids can influence it. 

When you eat, smoke, or absorb THC through your skin, it interacts with a few of the receptors in the ECS. Unlike CBD, which may indirectly interact with both types of receptors, THC tends to hang out mostly with the CB1 receptors, which are focused mainly throughout your brain and central nervous system. It’s believed that THC’s interactions with the CB1 receptors are a huge part of the high it causes and the consequential therapeutic effects we’re breaking down in the next section. Some evidence suggests that THC might also interact with CB2 receptors, which hang out in your organs, muscles, and skin. When it interacts with your endocannabinoid receptors, THC can affect them and cause various physiological and psychological effects.

Science stuff aside, introducing delta-9 THC into your body will make you high, and it might promote a few great physical and mental effects. 

A Few THC Effects 

THC affects your mind and body in several ways, thanks to its interactions with your ECS and your brain’s reward system. Shortly after enjoying it, you might feel uplifted, giggly, or giddy, thanks to the euphoric high it causes. It may cause you to feel more focused or relaxed depending on the other cannabinoids and terpenes found with it. THC is known for making you feel hungry, too. It's the cannabinoid responsible for getting the munchies. The high sensation may also play a role in your perceptions of pain or stress, which might contribute to its relief from nausea, sour moods, or a lack of appetite. 

Potential Benefits of THC 

The most significant effect of THC is the high it causes, but that high may have a lot of therapeutic potential. Feeling high may help reduce feelings of depression or anxiety. Evidence suggests that THC may also help target inflammation, which might contribute to reducing physical pain alongside the power of masking it with the altered perception from the high itself. 

According to research from 2021, THC may be able to reduce 

To take it a step further, the FDA recently approved medications that contain THC to help target specific medical conditions. For example, a synthetic form of delta-9 THC is used in dronabinol, a drug used to stimulate appetite in people with HIV, undergoing chemotherapy, or struggling with anorexia. 

While delta-9 THC is showing promising research, keep in mind that further studies are still needed to solidify any findings. Remember, cannabinoids shouldn't be used to treat any medical condition, and you should always talk to your doctor to devise a treatment plan that will work best for you. 

What Are the Side Effects and Risks of Delta-9 THC?

There are two sides to every coin, and THC is no different. While Delta-9 THC offers potential benefits, it can also have side effects. Most commonly, people experience dry mouth and dry eyes. In larger doses, it may cause a rapid heart rate, making you feel anxious or paranoid. Some people might find it challenging to think or speak while under the influence, or experience short-term memory loss. THC may also impair your reaction times, so it's important never to drive while high. 

To take it further, some people can't handle THC. It's not uncommon for people to have allergic reactions to cannabis. Some people may also develop cannabis use disorder. While evidence suggests that THC isn't addictive, it can be habit-forming. That said, it's essential to enjoy THC responsibly. Always start with a small serving and work your way up slowly until you achieve your desired effects. 

Two hands passing a smoldering cannabis joint to one another on a baby pink background

Why do people use Delta-9 THC?

THC has been used medicinally for thousands of years, dating back to 2700 BC during the reign of Emperor Shen Nong. The emperor, considered the father of Chinese medicine, is said to have incorporated cannabis into his pharmacopeia. Cannabis was primarily used in teas and concoctions to treat various ailments, including pain, rheumatism, and malaria.

That said, cannabis is still used for its potential therapeutic effects. While there isn't enough evidence to say that cannabis can treat or cure anything, it does show potential— which is why so many people are using it today. 

These days, THC is commonly used for pain management, particularly in patients with chronic pain conditions. It has also been used to alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting symptoms and stimulate appetite in patients with wasting syndrome. 

Medicinal value aside, THC offers some good R&R. The high provides a nice break from stress and may make it easier for you to meditate and connect with the people around you emotionally and physically. It's often used to combat social anxiety or as an alternative to alcohol in a social setting. 

Is Delta-9 THC Safe?

The safety of Delta-9 THC depends on several factors, including how much you take, your tolerance level, and the quality of the product. 

You might start to freak out if you take a lot of THC and don't use THC often. That said, always start with one or two puffs or half the recommended serving for edibles to get started and keep an eye on how you feel. And remember— if you take too much, keep in mind that you're just high, and the worst parts of it will pass in a few minutes when you hit your peak. You’ll usually peak after about 15-20 minutes if you’re smoking or vaping, though it can take up to a few hours if you take edibles. 

The high might be uncomfortable, but THC is usually received and processed easily in the body. It's not something known to have a high or even moderate risk of fatal overdose. That said, you can still have a panic attack or put undue stress on your body when you take it. We suggest taking it under the supervision of a trusted friend and having activities on hand to distract yourself if you start feeling weird. 

Word to the wise: never mix THC with other drugs or alcohol. Alcohol can amplify the effects of THC, which can slow your heart rate and put you in physical danger. Greening out can be dangerous, so don't mix it with other substances. If you're on other medications or concerned you might be allergic to THC, be sure to talk to your doctor to rule out potential complications. 

All that said, THC is generally safe, though the high might be uncomfortable. Don't mix it with other drugs or alcohol, and make sure you purchase your delta-9 THC products from reputable sources that provide lab testing results to keep yourself nice and safe. 

What's the Difference Between Delta-9 THC and Delta-8 or Delta-10 THC?

If you're not new to the idea of hemp-derived cannabinoids, you may have also heard of other delta THCs. Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC are analogs of Delta-9 THC and tend to feel milder. They're all practically the same, though their chemical structure is slightly different, making them less effective at interacting with your ECS receptors. 

On the other hand, delta-9 THC closely resembles a natural chemical we produce called anandamide, or the bliss molecule. Thanks to its resemblance to this natural endocannabinoid, delta-9 THC from cannabis flowers acts almost like a key, fitting perfectly into our biological chemistry. It works seamlessly with your endocannabinoid receptors, offering potentially more potent effects compared to the other versions with different molecular structures. 

Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC are becoming more popular in the hemp industry thanks to their milder psychoactive effects. Many people like them if they're looking for some potential physical benefits of THC without such an impairing high. 

hemp-derived delta-9 THC flower in a vial on a blue background next to smoking and rolling accessories

Is Delta-9 THC Legal?

Hemp-derived Delta-9 THC is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill if it contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. That said, most compliant hemp-derived THC products are edibles since you can get a whole serving in a small gummy. As long as delta-9 THC is extracted from the hemp plant (not marijuana) and contains less than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis, it complies with the Farm Bill. 

With that in mind, it comes down to simple math. By infusing hemp-derived Delta-9 THC into larger gummies and edibles, they're legal to sell as long as they weigh in at less than 0.3% THC. 

However, the legality of Delta-9 THC can vary from state to state. In some places, marijuana is totally legal as long as you have a 21+ ID. In other places, you need a medical card. Federally speaking, the farm bill opened many doors for hemp products to fill the gaps in areas where cannabis isn't entirely legal yet. 

With hemp-derived THC, you're still getting the same THC as you would from cannabis plants, just in a legal loophole. Keep in mind, though, that that may change in the future. To keep yourself safe, always check local regulations and only purchase from reputable companies that will obey the laws in your area. 

Hemp-derived THC and THCa: A Hemp Shop Secret 

For people who prefer THC cannabis flower but don't have legal cannabis in their home state, hemp shops found another loophole. While most companies offer moonrocks, which is essentially CBD-dominant hemp flower dipped in delta-8 THC oils and rolled in kief, some companies also provide THCa flower in the form of pre-rolls or pre-packaged buds. 

THCa is the inactive precursor to Delta-9 THC, making it compliant with the Farm Bill's strict regulations that hemp products must contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by dry weight. But here's the exciting part: THCa has a hidden potential. Applying heat to THCa—by smoking or vaping, for instance—causes a transformation. The heat decarboxylates THCa, converting it into the active Delta-9 THC.

These products are compliant with the Farm Bill's regulations since they start with THCa, which is not psychoactive until you heat it. That said, it's still a natural way to enjoy THC, but for it to work, it just has to be smoked or vaporized. 

Final Thoughts: Delta-9 THC at Destino Farms 

Navigating the world of cannabinoids can be a bit like exploring a vast and ever-changing landscape. At Destino Farms, we understand the importance of clarity and reliability when it comes to hemp-derived products. In the first chapter of our Cannabinoid Education series, we've delved into the complexities of Delta-9 THC, breaking down its effects, benefits, risks, and legal nuances.

As one of the premier online hemp shops, we are dedicated to providing accurate information and access to top-quality products. Whether you're a beginner seeking a gentle introduction or someone looking for a boost of energy or a good night's sleep, Destino Farms has you covered. Consider trying our microdose gummies for a gradual experience or our full-strength Delta-9 gummies for a tailored euphoric journey.

What sets us apart is our commitment to transparency and safety. All our products undergo rigorous lab testing to ensure potency and purity. When you choose Destino Farms, you're not just getting a product; you're joining a community that values your well-being and strives to provide you with the best in the world of hemp-derived cannabinoids. Explore our offerings, embark on your journey, and experience the Destino difference.

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