Delta 9 THC Alternatives That Are Changing the Medical Landscape

Health & Fitnessby Mashum Mollah15 March 2021

Delta 9

Cannabis is now legal in fifteen states plus Washington D.C. That means people who live in these states can purchase and use THC products recreationally.

For the rest of us, we have to settle for alternatives to Delta 9 THC. That’s why legal cannabinoids like CBD are so popular these days.

But did you know cannabis has more to offer than Delta 9 THC and CBD alone? That’s right: you can take advantage of all of THC’s benefits without dealing with any of the downsides.

Don’t believe us? Well, then you better keep reading to see the truth for yourself!

Why Do We Need Delta 9 THC Alternatives?

By now, you may be wondering: is Delta 9 THC the same as THC? Yes! Delta 9 THC is more commonly known as just THC.

THC was one of the first cannabinoids ever identified, second only to cannabidiol (CBD). As such, we have a relatively good amount of research into this cannabinoid.

The good news is that there are a ton of potential medical benefits of THC. The bad news? THC’s side effects and legal status may mean these potential advantages aren’t worth the cost.

What are these benefits and disadvantages? We’re talking about the next, so check it out.

Delta 9 THC Benefits

Medical marijuana is legal in 36 states plus Washington D.C. as of this writing. People with certain qualifying conditions can apply for a medical marijuana card. This makes it legal to purchase and consume THC products.

Currently, the list of conditions that qualify individuals for a medical card includes:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • ALS
  • Autism
  • Arthritis
  • Anorexia
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Cystic fibrosis (CF)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Nausea
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Psoriasis
  • PTSD
  • Seizures
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Other chronic and/or debilitating diseases and terminal illnesses

THC is also legal to use in states where cannabis is legal for recreational use. Anecdotal reports from legal cannabis users show that THC can also help with anxiety and depression.

Delta 9 THC Disadvantages

THC can benefit your health. But you must be willing to risk the short- and long-term side effects.

Short-term side effects are the symptoms experienced shortly after using THC. These include physical weakness, balance problems, GI issues, drowsiness, dry mouth and eyes, and fatigue. Mental side effects include hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.

A growing body of research also suggests potential cardiovascular effects. People who use THC may experience increased heart rate.

THC also presents the list for long-term health effects. For example, THC may have a long-term effect on mental health disorders. Research has revealed that cannabis can exacerbate mania, worsen PTSD symptoms for some people, and even induce an earlier onset of schizophrenia.

Long-term use of THC also has a recorded effect on memory. Perhaps the scariest side effects are tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal. THC can lead to addiction, which is called cannabis use disorder.

Perhaps worst of all, Delta 9 THC is a Schedule I drug. That means it’s illegal at a federal level. Even if states legalize recreational and medical cannabis, it’s still technically a federal crime to possess and consume THC.

The THC Alternatives to Watch

THC alternatives offer many of the same benefits as Delta 9 THC. At the same time, they come with fewer negative side effects and legal complications.

What are these miracle THC alternatives? CBD, dronabinol, and Delta 8 THC could be the solutions you’ve been searching for. Learn more about them below.


CBD stands for cannabidiol. As we mentioned, CBD was the first cannabinoid researchers identified. It’s also gained attention in recent years for its many potential health benefits and widespread legal status in the US.

The most well-researched benefit of CBD is its effects on inflammation. People who suffer from chronic pain have found relief from using CBD. Other potential benefits of CBD include:

  • Reduces epileptic seizures
  • Helps with anxiety and depression
  • Acts as an antioxidant
  • May prevent stress-induced cardiovascular issues
  • Has anti-bacterial properties
  • Could potentially be a treatment for Schizophrenia
  • Calms skin conditions

Canada even approved CBD as a medical treatment for MS and cancer pain — two of THC’s most touted benefits.

At the same time, CBD has fewer downsides compared to THC. Scientists believe it’s non-psychotoxic (it won’t get you high), non-addictive, and has relatively few side effects.

In fact, CBD may actually help fight addiction to THC and other substances with the potential for abuse. Studies have shown CBD’s benefits for people addicted to opioids, cocaine, and nicotine.

Read more: A Comprehensive Guide to the CBD Oil Laws in the US


Dronabinol is the generic name for an FDA-approved drug. Its active ingredient is a synthetic (AKA man-made) form of THC. Doctors prescribe this medication to people with AIDS and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Why? Like Delta 9 THC, dronabinol can help with nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite. Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of chemo treatments while decreased appetite is a symptom of AIDS.

Despite dronabinol’s benefits, it does have some downsides. One is that you must have a doctor’s prescription to use it. That means you must be undergoing chemo treatments or suffer from HIV/AIDS to get a prescription.

Unfortunately, synthetic THC also has a potential for abuse. Older studies report that most dronabinol users don’t experience feelings of addiction. Still, abusing dronabinol can lead to dependence and, ultimately, addiction.

Delta 8 THC

Delta 8 THC is often referred to as “weed lite.” That’s because it affects the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) in almost the same way as Delta 9 THC.

What is the difference between Delta 8 vs Delta 9 THC? Delta 8 has much milder effects.

There’s a lot to learn about Delta 8 THC. So, we’re taking an in-depth look at this cannabinoid and THC analog next. Keep reading for everything you need to know.

A Deeper Dive Into Delta 8 THC

Did you know that there’s more than one type of THC? The THC we generally refer to as the psychotoxic ingredient in cannabis is actually Delta 9 THC. Delta 8 THC and THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) are other types of THC.

What’s the difference? Delta 8, Delta 9, and THCa are what are known as structural analogs. That means they have the same chemical formula, but their structures are slightly different.

In chemistry, structure determines function. That’s why THC analogs’ slightly different structures confer some similar and some different effects from each other.

Like Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 is a cannabinoid that comes from the cannabis plant. Also like Delta 9, Delta 8 has many beneficial effects. What’s surprising is that Delta 8 presents much fewer side effects.

Delta 8 THC Benefits

Delta 8 THC has many of the same incredible benefits as Delta 9. It can reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, improve appetite, boost mood, and benefit anxiety and depression. But that’s not all.

As we discussed, Delta 8 THC has a slightly different structure than Delta 9. It contains a double bond on the 8th carbon in its carbon chain. Delta 9 THC has a double bond on the 9th carbon in its carbon chain.

Delta 8’s double bond makes it a slightly stabler compound. It also makes Delta 8 THC more attracted to cannabinoid receptors in the body than the ones in your brain.

Why does that matter? It’s the cannabinoid receptors in the brain that make you feel high after using Delta 9 THC. With less affinity for those receptors, Delta 8 THC is also much less intoxicating and, therefore, has a lower potential for abuse.

Delta 8 THC Side Effects

Delta 8 THC offers similar benefits to Delta 9 but with much milder side effects. Dry eyes and mouth and grogginess are the most common complaints from people who use Delta 8 THC.

Since Delta 8 is slightly psychotoxic, using too much can get you high. It can also make you feel paranoid or anxious. To avoid this effect, simply choose a smaller dose.

Is Delta 8 THC Legal?

By now you may be wondering: isn’t Delta 8 too good to be true? How could it offer so many of the same benefits as Delta 9 THC but still be legal? The UN only classifies three cannabinoids as Schedule I substances:

  • Delta 9 THC
  • Dimethylheptylpyran
  • Parahexyl

As you can see, Delta 8 THC isn’t listed. That’s because this cannabinoid is legal. However, you can only buy Delta 8 THC that comes from legal hemp — cannabis plants with 0.3% Delta 9 THC concentrations or lower.

Other Cannabinoids to Consider

Delta 8 THC and CBD aren’t the only other cannabinoids that can compete with Delta 9 THC.

Read more to learn about cannabichromene, cannabigerol, cannabinol, cannabidivarin, and tetrahydrocannabivarin.


Cannabichromene (CBC) may have anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation plays a role in pain and aging, which means CBC could help with these conditions. Indeed, research shows that CBC could be a mild analgesic.

CBC may impact the growth of some cancerous tumors. Animal studies have found that CBC reduced the growth and metastasis of lung cancer cells.

The most interesting and promising benefit of CBC is its antimicrobial effects. CBC has stronger antibacterial effects than many antibiotics. And it also presents with mild antifungal properties.


Cannabigerol (CBG) has very strong antibacterial effects. Like CBC, it also has mild antifungal properties.

Also like CBC, CBG may impact the growth of some cancer cells. However, researchers found that this inhibition was much less significant than CBD’s effects on cancer cells.

Finally, CBG may have benefits for acne and psoriasis. This could have something to do with its antibacterial qualities, but we need more research on this cannabinoid to know for sure.


Cannabinol (CBN) is a weak anticonvulsant that scientists compare to Delta 9 THC and CBD. It seems to fall between the two in terms of anti-seizure benefits.

CBN is also mildly analgesic (it relieves pain) and antibacterial. The latter property may explain why researchers have also found that CBN could be helpful for acne and psoriasis.

Interestingly, CBN presents the entourage effect with some sedatives (drugs that make you sleepy). The entourage effect is a phenomenon that occurs when two drugs work better together than each one does on its own. In other words, CBN can make some sedatives more effective.


Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is perhaps the most well-studied cannabinoid aside from CBD and THC. There’s especially robust evidence for its effects on people with seizures.

In fact, a CBDV-based drug is currently in Phase II clinical trials. It may work against seizures better than CBD.

CBDV’s other promising medical benefit is as an antiemetic. Antiemetics are prescribed to people with nausea and loss of appetite.


Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is yet another analog of THC. Like THC, researchers think it’s promising as an antiemetic. But unlike THC, THCV actually reduces appetite and may assist with weight loss.

Not only is this promising for treating obesity but it also has implications for people with diabetes. That’s because evidence from animal research shows that THCV may increase insulin sensitivity.

Researchers have also shown that THCV reduces seizures in mouse models of epilepsy. Similar to other THC analogs, THCV helps with pain. But it goes one step further — this analog may also help reduce swelling.


Cannabinoids may be the active compounds in cannabis, but they aren’t the only component with potential health benefits. Terpenes — the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its potent smell and flavor — also have promising effects.

Terpenes with potential THC-like medical benefits include:

  • Alpha Pinene
  • Delta 3 Carene
  • D Limone
  • Linalool
  • Beta-caryophyllene
  • D Limonene

Terpenes are also known to influence the entourage effect. That means choosing a cannabis product with added plant components like these terpenes may be more beneficial than cannabis extracts.

Ready to Try One of These Delta 9 THC Alternatives?

Delta 9 THC isn’t the only cool cannabinoid on the block these days. From CBD and dronabinol to Delta 8 THC and more, you can harness all of the benefits and none of the downside of regular THC.

Need more information before you make a final decision about these THC alternatives? Keep scrolling for more articles like this one!

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Mashum Mollah

Mashum Mollah is an entrepreneur, founder and CEO at Viacon, a digital marketing agency that drive visibility, engagement, and proven results. He blogs at

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