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Delta-8 vs Delta-9 THC

Cannabis sativa is a flowering plant that has been cultivated and used by humans at least as far back as the 5th millennium BC. Over the centuries, it has been cultivated into two general varieties: hemp and marijuana. Hemp is primarily grown for industrial purposes ranging from food to rope, fabric, paper, and even building materials like insulation and as an alternative to concrete. Marijuana is primarily cultivated for human consumption of the psychoactive compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in the plant, in particular, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9 THC). According to the Agricultural Act of 2018, hemp is legally defined as any strain of Cannabis sativa that contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight and anything higher is considered marijuana.

Although, delta-9 THC is the most popular cannabinoid, there have been over a hundred distinct compounds isolated from Cannabis by researchers, including cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-8 THC. Both delta-9 THC and delta-8 THC have euphoric effects differing primarily in intensity. Anecdotally, delta-9 THC creates a “high” feeling, while delta-8 THC generates a more mellow “pleasance.” Both can produce relaxed feelings, sedation, reduction in both pain and inflammation, relief from nausea, and an increase in appetite. They also have both been known to cause a stimulating effect, but due to the difference in potency, delta-8 THC is less likely to trigger anxiety, paranoia, and elevation in heart rate and blood pressure, knowns side effects of delta-9 THC. Both delta-8 and delta-9 THC bind to the CB1 and CB2 cell receptors in humans, but delta-9 THC binds more strongly to CB1 receptors, which are located in the brain, and delta-8 THC binds more strongly with the CB2 receptors in the immune system. As a result, delta-9 THC has roughly twice the potency of psychoactive effects while delta-8 THC has a stronger antiemetic (nausea- and vomit-preventing) effect.

In the United States, there are also significant legal differences between delta-8 and delta-9 THCs. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, delta-9 THC was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which bears the tightest restrictions and harshest punishments, but Delta-8 THC was not federally scheduled at the time because it was not known to be a psychoactive component of marijuana. However, the process for extracting delta-8 THC from Cannabis is federally prohibited. Furthermore, the Federal Analogue act of 1986, which categorizes compounds “substantially similar” to Schedule I or II substances like their counterparts if they’re intended for human consumption, may have applied. Meanwhile, if an illegal substance exists in a processual step towards synthesizing a legal substance, then that is acceptable. Using this technicality, companies and individuals have been legally extracting delta-9 THC from hemp, in accordance with the Agricultural Act of 2018, and converting it to delta-8 THC for use and sale. Amidst this legal grey area, some states have enacted their own legislation rendering delta-8 THC illegal at the state level. In August of 2020, the DEA clarified their interpretation of the laws to render delta-8-THC and other extracted analogs of delta-9-THC federally illegal.

Because both delta-8 and delta-9 are present in marijuana, testing for one or the other is usually sufficient to determine consumption of either. Both THC isomers are fat-soluble and can remain present in a user’s body for up to 30 days. Hair testing can determine if a person has used marijuana within the previous 3 months. Hair and saliva testing detects the parent compounds, the un-metabolized drug, while urine testing detects the metabolized versions of the drug, and blood analysis may detect either. Conventional methods for detecting drugs of abuse in biological samples include enzymatic immunosorbent assays (EIA or ELISA) and lateral flow tests.

Pyxis Laboratories produces both delta-8 THC-BSA and delta-9 THC-BSA antigen conjugates and distributes delta-8 THC monoclonal antibodies useful for both qualitative and quantitative determination by immunoassays in biological fluids. In addition to both of these THC isomers, Pyxis laboratories produces and distributes a wide range of drug antigen conjugates and drug antibodies for drug test batteries, including but not limited to:

Cannabinoids, natural and synthetic

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