What is Delta-9?

Posted on November 17 2022

What is Delta-9? Delta-9 refers to a cannabinoid molecule called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as Delta-9 THC. THC is one of the 500 substance molecules present in marijuana and the main psychoactive element in cannabis.

There are at least 113 identified cannabinoids in the plant that have developed throughout the evolution of cannabis and its adaptation to various environments, mostly ultraviolet light, insect predation, and environmental stress.

The cannabidiol CBD is the second most used molecule in marijuana and an essential component of medical marijuana. It’s derived from hemp plants and contains very minimal amounts of THC. CBD can also be taken in many different forms, including oil-based capsules, gummies, and tinctures.

History of Delta-9

We’ve discussed briefly in the introduction what is Delta-9 and how it was derived. Here, we’ll focus more on its history, purpose, use, and its availability in different continents throughout history.

THC was discovered and isolated by the Israeli chemist and professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Raphael Mechoulam in 1969.

CBD and THC have a long history of use that traces back thousands of years. The first recorded usage of these cannabis plants was in China in the medicine, food, and textile industries. The plants were then introduced in America and Europe during the 1600s. 

Cannabis was used in the medical field mostly, and for recreational purposes throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

Chemical Structure

The chemical formula of THC is C21H30O2 and it’s a lipid with double bonds isomers and stereoisomers. THC binds with the receptors located in the CNS (Central Nervous System) and the immune system. THC being a lipid molecule can attach itself to fat tissue as well. The psychoactive effects of the cannabinoid are observed with the activation of the receptors through the inhibition of adenylate cyclase.

How Does it Affect the Body?

The Delta-9 cannabinoid affects the body in various ways after its consumption. A person who consumes Delta-9 THC products might experience giddiness, relaxation, altered perception of place and time, increased focus, happiness, etc. 

According to the chemist Raphael Mechoulam and his research, it was found that once THC was consumed, it was absorbed into the bloodstream and traveled to the brain. There, the molecule attaches to the cannabinoid receptors in the basal ganglia, the cerebral cortex, and the cerebellum, where memory, coordination, thinking, and movement are regulated. 

The effects of THC are exhibited as pleasant euphoria, heightened sensory reception, episodes of uncontrolled laughter, etc. These effects will vary from one person to another, depending on how the product is consumed.  

For example, if Delta-9 THC is consumed with beverages and foods, the effects will be delayed from 30 minutes to an hour. The reason for the delay is the process of movement of the drug through the digestive system first, into the bloodstream and the brain.

Nevertheless, pleasant experiences are not always the case when consuming marijuana. Some people might experience negative effects like fear, panic, anxiety, distrust, or acute psychosis.

Side Effects

However, there might be some side effects like memory loss, anxiety, dry mouth, red eyes, increased appetite, uncontrolled laughter, difficulty speaking or thinking, rapid heart rate, nausea and vomiting, and slower reaction.

And as Dr. Dave says: “Any Δ9-THC should also come in small serving sizes (3 mg or less), so people have the ability to consume a low dose which can have benefits but minimize or avoid the potential adverse effects.”

These effects will be milder and resolve completely once the effect of the cannabinoids has been eliminated from the body.

Is It Legal?

Yes, Delta-9 is federally legal. And can be used in the medical field to support, help and promote the healing of certain diseases. The World Health Organization recommended THC for medical use in 2003 and allowed the sales of Delta-9 THC in the USA. However, on a federal level, THC products should not exceed 0.3% of Delta-9 THC to be legally sold within the country.

But, just because Delta-9 is federally legal, it does not mean that you are exempt from taking a drug test. Whether it’s a regular work screening, a police order, or a medical checkup. A drug test can be performed in many ways, but the most common is via small strips dipped in your urine. This test checks the amount of THC in the fluid. If the strip displays a colored line, the test will be positive. 

Nowadays, Delta-9 THC products are available in pharmacies and online as well.

What Are The Forms of THC?

There are different forms of THC, from traditional leaves, hashish, tincture, powdered leaves, honey butane oil, wax, shatter, tea, or juice. Ever since the substance has been legalized, it has become consumed in various ways. Thus, we’ll discuss the various forms it can take, how they can be consumed, and the psychoactive effects.

  • Powdered leaves - used in a pipe or cigarettes. The marijuana ingredients can be put through a grinding process or a mill and transformed into a powder that later can be used in edible products like cookies, ice cream, candies, etc. 
  • Traditional leaves - marijuana plants that are dried and can be used in a designed water pipe, inhaled, or put into cigars and cigarettes.
  • Hashish - sold in chunks, a resin of marijuana plant that is used in cigarettes.
  • Tincture - an edible form of the plant and particularly popular in patients with certain medical conditions; the tincture might be made with marijuana leaves and glycerin.
  • Teas or juices - not a very efficient way of consuming THC products since it will stay in the body for hours, thus making it for the person impossible to work, drive, sleep or take care of the family. 
  • Shatter - created through extrusion where the left substance is spread on a sheet, and shattered into multiple parts, that can later be sold once it dries and cools down.
  • Honey Butane Oil - this form of Delta-9 THC doesn’t contain any honey, but it’s glossy and yellow, hence the name reference; made through extraction.

Is It Tested?

Delta-9 products and all of their THC content are lab tested and quality testing is mandatory in every region and country where they are legalized.


Now that we’ve analyzed in depth to help better understand what Delta-9 is, its use, purpose, effects, and legality, we can only anticipate the future use of the substance and the laws regarding sales and production.