Exploring THC Variations: What Is Delta-10 THC?

Written by

Mell Green

Mell is a cannabis connoisseur who has been published in nearly 50 online publications surrounding cannabis, including Cannabis Industry Association, Analytical Cannabis, Terpenes and Testing Magazine, Plant People, Byrdie, and...

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Medically reviewed byAbraham Benavides, MD

Medically reviewed by

Abraham Benavides, MD

Dr. Abraham Benavides is an international cannabis science advisor, health coach, and full-tuition merit scholar of the GW School of Medicine. Abe pioneered and published first-author research with the Cannabis...

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Illustration of delta-10 THC with a cannabis leaf
Illustration: Layla Selestrini / CBD Oracle
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Delta-10-Tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-10 THC) is one of many compounds within the cannabis plant, and it has recently started gaining popularity, particularly for those who live in states that have yet to legalize cannabis.

But what is delta-10 THC exactly, and what does this cannabinoid have to offer consumers? 

Key Takeaways:

  • Effects: Delta-10 THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that provides mild euphoria, mood-boosting, and slightly stimulating effects.
  • Potential benefits and side effects: While delta-10 offers potential therapeutic benefits, it is unregulated, and products may contain harmful residues. Consumers should buy from reputable brands with comprehensive lab testing to avoid side effects like nausea, dizziness, and panic attacks.
  • Legality: Delta-10 THC is federally legal in the U.S. under the 2018 Farm Bill, provided it is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. However, state laws vary, so you should check local regulations.

Delta-10 THC: A Beginner-Friendly Minor Cannabinoid 

Delta-10 THC, like delta-8, is a minor cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant family. It is considered a minor cannabinoid because it’s only present naturally in very minimal amounts in the plant.

You probably haven’t heard of delta-10 THC until recently. But, interestingly enough, the cannabinoid was first found almost 40 years ago.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his team discovered the delta-10 THC cannabinoid; however, the chemists couldn’t quite figure out how to synthesize the compound without using anything toxic. Thus, the cannabinoid fell under the radar for a while.

Then, 36 years later, the cannabinoid was accidentally rediscovered in California.

During one of the state’s worst wildfire seasons, a cannabis brand called Fusion Farms had their cannabis flower unknowingly exposed to fire retardants that had fallen from aerial firefighters during the fires. As the company started extracting and distilling cannabinoids for the flower, they noticed something unusual: crystals.

After a few months of scientific research and some careful testing, it was concluded that the cannabinoid that had formed was, in fact, delta-10 THC. 

How Is Delta-10 Made Today? 

We mentioned earlier that delta-10 THC is a minor cannabinoid. However, delta-10 is so rare that it’s nearly impossible to detect in regular cannabis strains. Because of this, chemists have started to figure out ways to curate the delta-10 THC cannabinoid — and without the use of fire retardant chemicals, too. Josh Wurzer, the Chief Compliance Officer at SC Labs, breaks this down for us.

“There are several industry-standard extraction methods that produce cannabinoids, including CBD and 𝝙10 THC, in a concentrated form. However, unlike CBD or 𝝙9 THC, 𝝙10 THC isn’t produced in large quantities in cannabis plants,” he explains. “The vast majority of delta 10 THC on the market comes from synthetic or semi-synthetic sources.”

This means that these days, delta-10 THC is made using a process called isomerization. Essentially, professionals take hemp-derived CBD and, using this process, they manipulate the chemical composition of the cannabinoid to turn it into delta-10 THC.

Because of this, you won’t find cannabis products like naturally grown delta-10 flower. Instead, delta-10 flower is technically hemp flower that’s been coated in or infused with delta-10 extract. 

Psychoactivity, Euphoria, and Gentle Results: The Effects of Delta-10 THC

Delta-10 is one of the newer cannabinoids on the market, and we’re still learning about its effects and potential applications.

One question everyone wants to know when it comes to a cannabinoid like this one is, “Does delta-10 get you high?” And the answer is yes, it does.

Delta-10 THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that will produce euphoric effects; this is believed to be because it may interact with CB1 receptors like THC does although this is yet to be confirmed. However, if that is true then we may speculate that it could also have strong therapeutic effects that many consumers love. In general, delta-10’s potency levels are quite low, making the cannabinoid good for beginners who are just dipping their toes into the world of cannabinoids.

Many cannabis consumers report delta-10 THC offering slightly stimulating, mood-boosting effects that are great for those who need a bit of a pick-me-up. However, many people also find it to be a relaxing option, too. It truly boils down to the product’s blend.

Unfortunately, there just aren’t any studies out there that dictate delta-10’s exact effects or results in the body. The only known study involving delta-10 THC was also done by Ralph Mechoulam in 1988, who found that pigeons were less stoned on delta-10 THC than delta-9 (described as Δ2-THC in the paper using other nomenclature). We’re still learning, but we’ll update you as we go. 

Delta-9 vs. Delta-10: Siblings But Not Twins  

Delta-9 THC and delta-10 THC may have similar names, but these cannabinoids are quite different. From potency to composition and even legality, it’s crucial to understand how these compounds contrast with each other.

Potency is one of the biggest differences between delta-9 and delta-10. As many consumers know, delta-9 THC is quite strong, offering powerful psychoactive properties. Delta-10, on the other hand, is less than half the potency of delta-9 THC. In fact, many people find that delta-10 isn’t even as strong as delta-8 THC. Thus, if you’re used to the potency of delta-9 but consume delta-10, you’ll find that delta-10 is going to be much more subtle in terms of highs than you’re used to.

The lower potency of delta-10 THC is what appeals to many consumers in the first place. Delta-9 THC may be a bit daunting or prove to be too powerful for some, while delta-10 THC offers more gentle, manageable psychoactive results.

It’s worth noting that delta-9 is a natural cannabinoid found in large abundances within the plant. There is nothing synthetic or man-made about it. However, we cannot say the same for delta-10 THC. This cannabinoid does have synthetic properties, as it relies on lab processes in order to be curated in the first place. While it does occur naturally, it’s simply in too small of amounts to meet mass production needs.

Despite delta-9 THC being natural, the cannabinoid is federally illegal in the United States. We will talk more in detail about the legality surrounding delta-10 in a moment, but the cannabinoid is legal under the regulations of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

RELATED: Is Delta-8 Stronger Than Delta-10 THC?

Side Effects & Risks: Navigating an Unregulated Cannabinoid  

The delta-10 side effects and risks are quite similar to other cannabinoids on the market. In general, delta-10 THC is, unfortunately, unregulated in the United States. This means that there is always going to be some risk there in terms of consumption and safety. 

So, is delta-10 safe? Well, it simply depends on where you buy the product from, the quality of the product, and proper dosing. 

Be advised that there aren’t any known publications about the short or long-term health effects of delta-10 THC by itself or advertised delta-10 THC products. There are unfortunately some bad actors who may leave behind unwanted residues, solvents, or byproducts that may have unknown side effects, too.

If you buy from reputable brands with comprehensive, full-panel lab reports, then you are at a much lower risk of having a poor experience. With proper testing, the safety and quality of your delta-10 products are maintained.

“Regardless of what the product is, delta-10 or otherwise, keeping consumers safe is precisely why testing is so important,” says Wurzer. “A novice understanding of chemistry, separation science, and extract manufacturing all play a role in the safety and effectiveness of that product. Testing not only for impurities and cross-microbial contamination will help brands mitigate their risk of recalls due to ingestion illness and poisoning.”

Simply put, you never want to buy a delta-10 product from a brand that doesn’t take the time to test their products for potency and purity. Otherwise, you may find yourself experiencing some mild to serious side effects. This can range from nausea and dizziness to full-blown panic attacks and respiratory issues. This is why we always suggest consuming cautiously and only sticking to brands that go to extra lengths to prove purity and safety. 

On the federal level, yes, delta-10 THC is legal in the United States. The 2018 Farm Bill outlines that hemp-derived products are legal for production, sale, and consumption/use in the country as long as they do not contain more than 0.3% THC by weight.

Nathan A. Lennon from the Reminger law group explains that when it comes to delta-10’s legality “the focus is not on the chemical makeup of the product, but only on it being derived from hemp, and not also being mixed with an otherwise-illegal amount of Delta-9.” Thus, delta-10 products are federally legal as long as they abide by the Farm Bill’s guidelines.

Some states have enacted bans or strict regulations on cannabinoids like delta-10, making them illegal in certain areas. These laws change frequently, so it’s important to double-check your state’s regulations surrounding THC and THC isomers before attempting to buy delta-10 products. 

What’s the Best Starting Dose for Delta-10? 

There is no universal starting dose; however, it’s important for people who haven’t tried delta-10 before to start with a small dose.

You want to start with a low dose (typically around 5-10 mg) and then only slowly move your way up if you need to experience stronger results. As you increase doses, you’ll want to do this in small increments so as to not upset or overwhelm the body. 

Keep in mind that if you have a tolerance to delta-9 THC, you’re going to have to take a larger dose of delta-10 THC to experience the effects that you may be used to. Delta-10 THC is milder in terms of psychoactivity, so consider your cannabis tolerance before trying your delta-10 product. 

Things to Look for When Buying Delta-10 

We asked Elan Lipin, the CEO of Binoid which is one of the largest online retailers for delta-10 products in the US, about what consumers should look for when buying delta-10 to ensure safety and quality. The brand put it simply: “COAs are a good start. Heavy Metal and Microbial testing. Then look into company reviews from customers.” 

When purchasing a delta-10 product, always take the time to read the product’s third-party lab tests. Wurzer elaborates, “If the brand you buy can’t or won’t produce lab data for that specific product and that lot number, it’s a red flag. The Certificate of Analysis (CoA) should prove that it’s been tested for all contaminants and show the lab values (not the label claim) of the potency.” He urges, “Accurate data and transparency are a win-win for brands and consumers.”

Along with checking for COAs, always ensure you’re buying from brands that have good reputations in the industry. As Binoid mentioned, read customer reviews and testimonials to see what others have had to say about the product or the brand. If you find a lot of negative results, then you know what to do. 

Exploring the Ins and Outs of Delta-10 — Safely  

With an unregulated cannabinoid like delta-10, you don’t want to settle for anything less than the best if you’re truly interested in trying out what this compound has to offer. 

Make sure to check for safety regulations, pure ingredients, and find a product that truly resonates with your health and wellness. Then, dose with caution and see what this minor compound can do for you.

Last medically reviewed on April 7, 2023

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