Difference Between THCA and Delta-8

Hand holding a cannabis preroll

THCA and Delta-8 THC are two of the most well-established cannabinoids on the market. Because these two are so prominent, there is much to consider when choosing which products to enjoy. Whether you’re a seasoned cannabis enthusiast or just starting to dip your toes into the world of cannabinoids, understanding the nuances between Delta-8 and THCA is essential for making informed choices about consumption.

For more information on THCA review our comprehensive guide here.

Key Takeaways

  • THCA is essentially the raw, non-psychoactive form of THC found in the cannabis plant. It transforms into the well-known Delta-9 THC—the primary compound that gets users high when heated through a process called decarboxylation.
  • Delta-8 is a minor cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is similar in structure to Delta-9 THC, which is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, but with a slightly different chemical composition.
  • Overall, the effects of THCA and Delta-8 THC are different due to their different chemical structures and mechanisms of action, with THCA being non-psychoactive until heated and Delta-8 THC producing a mild psychoactive effect compared to traditional THC.

What is Delta-8?

Delta-8 THC is a variant of THC that naturally occurs in cannabis in very small amounts. It’s similar to Delta-9, because it is generally synthesized from Delta-9 THC. However, their chemical structure differs in that Delta-8 has a notable double bond on the eighth carbon chain, compared to Delta-9’s ninth. 

Though it does produce psychoactive effects, Delta-8 is generally considered to offer a milder high, with less intensity and potentially fewer anxiety-triggering effects than its Delta-9 counterpart. Delta-8 produces similar effects to Delta-9 such as euphoria and feelings of relaxation, and may be better for those looking for reduced potency.

Delta-8 vs. THCA: Benefits and Effects


Delta-8 is recognized for its less intense and more calming high compared to Delta-9 THC, cannabis’s main psychoactive ingredient. The impact of Delta-8 differs based on the person, the amount taken, and how it’s consumed. 

Typical effects of Delta-8 can encompass:

  • Euphoria: Delta-8 can elicit sensations of joy, calm, and overall well-being, minus the strong psychoactive impact typically linked to Delta-9 THC.
  • Reduced anxiety: Delta-8 is known to soothe both mind and body, diminishing sensations of anxiety, stress, and paranoia.
  • Increased appetite: Similar to delta 9 THC, Delta-8 can also stimulate hunger, often resulting in “the munchies.”
  • Pain relief: Delta-8 is believed to possess pain-relieving qualities, potentially aiding in the reduction of pain and inflammation.
  • Improved sleep: Delta-8 could enhance sleep quality, especially for those dealing with insomnia or related sleep issues.
  • Enhanced creativity: Many users experience enhanced focus and mental clarity with Delta-8, making it a favored option among artists and creatives.


It is key to remember that you can get two different experiences from THCA: one from the lit cannabinoid that produces psychoactive effects, and a therapeutic experience garnered from raw THCA. When lit, THCA offers many of the same psychoactive effects as Delta-8, but in a more potent form that is almost identical to traditional cannabis.

However, in its raw (unheated) form, THCA may provide unique effects and benefits without any psychoactive effects:

  • Anti-inflammatory Effects – THCA’s potential anti-inflammatory properties could render it valuable in alleviating inflammatory conditions.
  • Anti-Nausea Effects – Research indicates THCA may effectively reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Neuroprotective Effects – Preliminary studies suggest THCA may safeguard the brain from injury or disease-induced damage.

Other Benefits

  • Accessibility
    • A key aspect of Delta-8 is its availability; derived from hemp, it serves as a lawful substitute for THC in numerous regions globally. This ease of access means Delta-8 is more readily available for those looking to explore its potential uses.
    • Furthermore, THCA is readily accessible. Unlike THC, which is subject to legal restrictions in certain states and countries, THCA is generally legal to possess and use in most regions, provided it is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% THC.
    • This accessibility means that individuals residing in areas where THC remains prohibited can still harness the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis through either product.
  • Versatility 
    • Similar to THCA, Delta-8 THC offers a broad spectrum of potential benefits and stands out for its easy accessibility. Being derived from hemp plants, it represents a legal option to traditional THC in numerous countries, enhancing its availability for a wide range of users.
    • Additionally, Delta-8’s adaptability is noteworthy; it can be enjoyed in various formats such as edibles, tinctures, and vaping products, providing consumers with the flexibility to select their preferred method of consumption.
    • One notable advantage of THCA lies in its versatility between its raw and heated forms. It can be incorporated into various consumption methods, such as juicing, smoothies, cooking recipes, or even traditional smoking.

Potential Side Effects: Delta-8 vs. THCA


Although Delta-8 is typically regarded as less potent than Delta-9 THC, it is still a psychoactive compound with potential side effects linked to its use. Individual experiences vary, and certain individuals may be more susceptible to Delta-8’s adverse effects. Obtaining Delta-8 from a reputable source and starting with a low dose, gradually increasing as needed, can help mitigate unwanted side effects.

Some potential side effects of Delta-8 may include:

  • Dry Mouth – Delta-8, like other cannabinoids, can lead to dry mouth, commonly known as “cottonmouth.”
  • Red Eyes – Delta-8 may also induce bloodshot or red eyes, a typical side effect of cannabis use.
  • Drowsiness – Delta-8’s sedative properties may result in drowsiness or lethargy for some users.
  • Impaired Coordination – Delta-8 can impair coordination, affecting motor skills and reaction time. It’s crucial to refrain from driving or operating heavy machinery while under its influence.
  • Increased Heart Rate – Delta-8 may elevate heart rate, which could be worrisome for individuals with underlying cardiovascular conditions.
  • Anxiety or Paranoia – While Delta-8 might possess anxiolytic properties, it can also trigger feelings of anxiety or paranoia, particularly among individuals sensitive to cannabis’s psychoactive effects.


When taken in moderation, most users will generally not experience any severe side effects from either of these cannabinoids. However, it is important to take into consideration some potential effects in the case of taking a larger dose than one should. 

When ingested in its raw form, some of the following effects have been reported from use of THCA:

  • Allergic Reactions – While uncommon, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to THCA or other compounds present in the cannabis plant.
  • Digestive Issues – THCA consumption might lead to digestive discomfort like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, particularly with high doses of tinctures or THCA oil.
  • Drug Interactions – THCA could potentially interact with certain medications, especially those processed by the liver. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating THCA or other cannabis products into your regimen, especially if you’re taking medications.

Before integrating Delta-8 or THCA products into your routine, consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial, especially for those on medications or with pre-existing health conditions.

Cannabis Flower Next to Two Prerolled Cannabis Joints

Photo by 2H Media on Unsplash

Best Ways to Use Delta-8 and THCA


The ideal method for consuming Delta-8 varies based on personal preferences and desired effects, here are some common ways people consume Delta-8:

  • Inhalation – Smoking or vaporizing Delta-8 flower or concentrates provides fast-acting effects, though it may be harsh on the lungs and throat.
  • Edibles – Delta-8-infused food products like gummies, chocolates, or baked goods offer longer-lasting effects, but may take longer to kick in and can be challenging to dose accurately.
  • Tinctures – Liquid extracts taken sublingually (under the tongue) offer rapid effects and precise dosing, but may come with a strong taste and higher cost.
  • Topicals – Cannabis-infused lotions, balms, or salves applied to the skin provide localized relief for conditions like pain or inflammation, without inducing psychoactive effects.


Finding the best way to enjoy THCA can differ based on individual tastes and requirements. For those aiming to bypass the psychoactive effects while pursuing therapeutic advantages, THCA can be utilized in the following manners:

  • Add to topical tinctures for pain relief.
  • Add it to food recipes, smoothies, and other edible goods or beverages.

It’s important to remember that THCA needs to undergo decarboxylation to produce psychoactive effects, which involve heating or exposure to light. This process converts THCA into THC, which is responsible for the cannabis “high.” If you seek psychoactive effects, try the following methods:

  • Prerolls
  • Diamonds or Other Concentrates
  • Distillate/Oil for Use in Vaporizers or E-rigs 
  • Edibles

Delta-8 vs. THCA: Potency

Delta-8 potency varies depending on factors such as strain, extraction method, and product quality. Measured as a percentage of the total weight of cannabis material, Delta-8 potency ranges from less than 1% to over 90% in highly concentrated forms.

Delta-8 potency doesn’t directly correlate with its psychoactive effects or therapeutic benefits, individual responses to Delta-8 can vary due to factors like:

  • Metabolism
  • Tolerance
  • Physiological Differences

Consumption methods also affect Delta-8 potency and effects, with some methods offering higher bioavailability and quicker onset of effects. Starting with a low dose of Delta-8 and gradually adjusting is essential to determine the optimal dose for individual needs.

On the other hand, THCA is measured as a percentage of the total weight of cannabis material, THCA potency ranges from less than 1% to over 20% in premium strains. However, the overall potency of THCA, similar to that of Delta-8 (D8), can vary due to the same factors.

Statue of Lady Justice Holding a Scale

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Delta-8 vs. THCA: Legality

Delta-8 legality varies across jurisdictions due to its status as a component of the cannabis plant, subject to distinct regulations. In the United States, both Delta-8 and THCA are federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp-derived products containing less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis.

However, some states have opted to regulate or prohibit Delta-8 or other hemp-derived products, necessitating awareness of local laws and regulations regarding their acquisition and utilization.

Even in regions where Delta-8 is permissible, access may be restricted to those with medical prescriptions or through licensed dispensaries or cannabis product producers. However, this does not happen as often for Delta-8. Ensuring purchases from reputable sources is essential to uphold quality and safety standards.

The legality of THCA has been even more regulated, with many states opting to sell only for medical purposes with a medical card.

Delta-8 vs. THCA: Cost

The price of THCA and Delta-8 can fluctuate based on various factors, including product quality, potency, quantity, and local market dynamics and regulations:

  • Delta-8 – products may be obtained from licensed dispensaries or producers, with prices typically ranging from around $30 to $80 per gram or more.
  • THCA – products may be found in licensed dispensaries or from authorized producers, with prices typically ranging from approximately $20 to $80 per gram.

It’s crucial to understand that while Delta-8 and THCA are federally legal, cannabis itself is still banned or heavily regulated, posing challenges for those involved in producing, selling, or buying these compounds. This regulatory environment may result in increased prices due to the risks associated with the production and distribution of these products. Therefore, it’s vital to obtain THCA and Delta-8 from trusted sources and comply with the local legal framework surrounding the acquisition and consumption of cannabis products.

Where to Buy Delta-8

If you’re considering exploring Delta-8 products, our partner brand MUNCHIES! is a great place to start. Our inventory boasts a variety of options, from gummies to disposables and cartridges, ensuring there’s something to suit your preferences.

MUNCHIES! meticulously selects premium Delta-8 distillate and natural ingredients for their products, ensuring that each consumption experience embodies the utmost purity and potency.

Prioritize transparency, like Imperial, MUNCHIES! Provides comprehensive product information, including lab results showcasing the potency and purity of each item. With MUNCHIES!, you can trust that you’re getting nothing but the best.

**(Disclaimer reminder: This article is not medical advice. It is based on anecdotal user experience alone. If you are thinking about incorporating cannabis (delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, CBD, etc) into your medicinal routine, please consult a healthcare professional. Do not stop taking any prescribed medications without first consulting your doctor.)

Disclaimer: This article was written in March 2024 and reflects the current laws of the United States at that time. Because cannabis laws in the United States laws are subject to change at any time, please make sure that you are always staying up to date on your federal, state, and local county’s cannabis laws. Additionally, we are NOT encouraging anyone to break the law––we are simply showing people ways to legally and discreetly bring their cannabis products along with them on their travels so that they may have access to those products when they reach their intended destination.

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