What is Delta-10 THC?

Delta-10 THC is the newest member of the THC family. She’s a mysterious one.

Delta-10 THC pre-roll joint
Photo by Elsa Olofsson / Oracle

We currently know there are nearly 150 separate cannabinoids present in varieties of cannabis, seven of which belong to the family of “tetrahydrocannabinols”, which includes delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, THCV, and THCA. 

Now, with the newly discovered delta-10-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-10-THC), we can now say there’s an eighth member of the family, one that’s quite a mystery to people right now. So, what is delta-10-THC? How does it compare to other cannabinoids? Can it help you?

What is delta-10?

  • Delta-10 THC is one of the newest cannabinoids found in varieties of cannabis — a variant of delta-9 THC and an honorary member of the entire tetrahydrocannabinol family.
  • Delta-10 was discovered completely by accident as a result of Californian bush fires, fire retardant, and months of confusion.
  • Delta-10 is molecularly similar to all other THC variants, thought to cause a mild-to-moderate high but reportedly less so than delta-8 and delta-9 (thanks for the info Reddit!)
  • Benefits are unknown but we speculate therapeutic similarities with delta-8 and delta-9 consumption.
  • Delta-10 is federally legal and available across 38 of 50 US states — very few products are available to purchase.

Delta-10’s weird and accidental discovery 

Delta-10 THC was born in California by accident in the heat of the moment. Literally. Fusion Farms, a Californian company based in Adelanto, San Bernardino County, purchased a batch of outdoor-grown cannabis to make cannabis concentrates, which was around the same time the Californian bush fires were happening. To put out the blaze, aerial firefighters dropped fire retardant from planes and helicopters, causing it to drop on the very same cannabis purchased by Fusion Farms. 

Now, here’s the weird part. During extraction and distillation to remove any unwanted, non-volatile fire retardant contaminants, strange crystals began to appear, almost out of nowhere. These crystals looked like nothing they’d seen before. 

The team purified the crystals and studied them using advanced High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) technology. They soon discovered something similar to cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabicyclol (CBL) with very slight differences. The team then sent it off to a licensed test facility but still couldn’t determine what it was. 

After some months of confusion, the team finally put the puzzle together. The fire retardant created a variant of delta-9 THC, this with a “10” in its name. Technically, it’s an artificially-made cannabinoid.

Delta-10 vs. delta-9 vs. delta-8

Delta-10Delta-9Delta-8
Federally legalFederally illegalFederally legal
Thought to produce a mild-to-moderate highProduces a strong highProduces a moderate-to-strong high
Unknown affinity with CB1 and CB2 receptorsVery high binding affinity with CB1 receptors; less so at CB2High binding affinity with CB2 receptors; moderate binding at CB1
Molecularly similar (double bond on 10th carbon chain)Molecularly similar (double bond on 9th carbon chain)Molecularly similar (double bond on 8th carbon chain)

Delta-10 THC vs. CBD

Delta-10CBD
Federally legal if sourced from hemp and not marijuanaFederally legal if sourced from hemp and not marijuana
Presumed to bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors the same way as delta-9-THCVery little affinity with your CB1 and CB2 receptors — targets other receptor sites instead
Mildly intoxicating, does cause a high, less potent than delta-9-THCNon-intoxicating — doesn’t cause a high

Benefits and effects of delta-10 THC

To be honest, it’s really difficult to determine delta-10’s benefits and effects, simply because this cannabinoid is so new and sufficient animal and human tests haven’t been conducted. 

However, we can speculate and come up with our own theories based on how other THC variants work within your body. All tetrahydrocannabinol family members interact with your endocannabinoid system and can bind to both cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) receptors (some less or more so than others). 

We can, therefore, assume delta-10 is therapeutically similar to delta-9. Possible benefits may include relief from pain, inflammation, sleep problems, nausea, and reduced appetite

Can delta-10 cause a high?

Yes. delta-10 THC causes a high the same way all other tetrahydrocannabinols can (aside from the non-intoxicating THCA). 

According to Reddit users who’ve already tried delta-10-THC via experimental test batches claim similar effects to delta-8 THC, albeit less potent. One user likened it to a Sativa strain, which typically produces a “mind high”, as opposed to a physical “body high”. They also stated other cannabinoids in the mix produced a synergistic effect, amplifying delta-10’s intoxication and euphoria. 

However, others haven’t had quite the same experience, reporting very little (if any) psychoactive or psychotropic effects. 

Of course, anecdotes don’t really give you a well-rounded picture of delta-10’s effects. There are many variables at play here. Tolerance, dosage, experience using cannabis products, body weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), and metabolism all play a vital in how any cannabinoid (delta-10 or otherwise) will affect you. 

Is delta-10 THC legal to buy?

On the federal level, delta-10 THC is legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, provided it’s derived from hemp carrying <0.3% THC and not marijuana carrying more than 0.3% THC. 

However, the federal legality of THC variants and homologs has been called into question. In late-2020, the DEA issued a final interim rule stating all synthetically-derived tetrahydrocannabinols should be placed under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), regardless of whether they’re sourced from hemp or marijuana.

The confusion here lies in the details. The DEA didn’t clearly define “synthetically-derived”, causing a lot of head-scratching among cannabis brands, manufacturers, and producers.

You see, cannabis varieties don’t produce high quantities of delta-10. It must be converted from CBD or delta-9 via an isomerization process, which many believe makes it synthetic despite the original cannabinoid being naturally-sourced. 

As it stands, it’s federally legal. In the future? Maybe not.

Can delta-10 THC cause a failed drug test?

Whether delta-10 causes a failed drug test is unclear but we imagine it probably can. Urine tests, for example, can pick up on not only delta-9-THC but also its variants (delta-8, THCV, etc). We don’t see why this would be any different for delta-10-THC. 

Delta-10 THC may stay in your body for longer than you think.

Delta-10 most likely stays in your body for the same amount of time delta-9 does, which is a lot longer than most people care to know about. 

You see, many wrongly believe delta-9 leaves your body once the high subsides. This really isn’t true (even though we’d like it to be!). 

If you’re a first-time smoker, pretty much tetrahydrocannabinols are detectable for up to 3-4 days via blood, urine, or hair tests. If you’re a casual but frequent smoker (3-4 days per week), they’re detectable for up to a week. For heavy smokers (every day), they’re detectable for 30+ days. 

If you have an upcoming drug test, we recommend abstaining from all THC use (delta-10, delta-8, or otherwise). 

Delta-10 THC is in its infancy but products are on the horizon

If you’re now scurrying to find delta-10 THC products, there’s not much out there. The only one we can find is The Hemp Collective’s Delta-10 Distillate with a potency of around 65-80%. 

Speaking with CBD Testers, David Reckles, a spokesperson for Private Label Hemp Labs, says the company “is ramping up [delta-10] production to prepare for soaring demand”, adding “we think delta-8 and delta-10 have the power to turn the CBD market on its head”. 

From what we’ve seen here at CBD Oracle, he’s right. Delta-8-THC is unbelievably popular as a federally legal hemp-derived high. Everyone’s talking about it and many CBD companies are jumping on the hype train, producing countless delta-8 products to maximize profit. If delta-10 provides the same legal high but with less potency, we could witness it reach a wider consumer-base, especially casual or beginner users looking to enjoy some intoxication without a whopping great high. 

Once delta-10 is isolated properly and product development ramps up, we believe we’ll see various forms of delta-10 THC products hit the market sooner or later.