What’s the Difference Between Delta-10 and Delta-8 THC?

Delta-8 THC vape product

Delta-8 and delta-10 THC are cannabis cannabinoids capable of inducing a mild-to-moderate high depending on the dose. However, delta-10’s high is much milder than delta-8 THC and better for first-time cannabis users who want subtle euphoric effects. Both are legal to buy in the majority of US states and sold online in different product types such as vape carts, distillates, gummies, and flower.

Delta-8 vs delta-10: The main differences

Delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC are both analogs of delta-9 THC (the usual THC you smoke) and belong to the family of “tetrahydrocannabinols” alongside THCA, THCV, and THCP. Delta-8 is roughly 50-66% as potent as delta-9, while delta-10 is considerably less potent (approximately 20-30% less than delta-8).

  • Delta-8 and delta-10 are both molecularly similar to delta-9 aside from small differences in their molecular structures.
  • Due to slight differences in their molecular structures, delta-8 and delta-10 are not the same cannabinoid and behave differently inside your body when consumed. 
  • Delta-8 has a double bond on the 8th carbon ring and delta-10 has one on the 10th carbon ring. As a result, delta-8 is roughly 50-66% as potent as delta-9, while delta-10 is considerably less potent (approximately 20-30% less than delta-8). 
  • Neither delta-8 nor delta-10 causes significant side effects in mild-to-moderate doses. Delta-8 can cause anxiety, paranoia, and fear in high doses.
  • Delta-8 is said to have possible antiemetic, appetite stimulating, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and social qualities. Research on delta-10 is almost non-existent.
  • Naturally-derived delta-8 and delta-10 are also federally legal and protected under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, they might also be viewed as synthetic controlled substances when synthesized from CBD or delta-9.  

How do delta-8 and delta-10 work?

Delta-8 and delta-10 interact with your endocannabinoid system and its receptors the same way as delta-9 THC. However, delta-8 and delta-10 have less affinity with your cannabinoid receptors than delta-9, resulting in a weaker but no less enjoyable high with fewer side effects.

Delta-8 and delta-10’s journey through your body 

  • Delta-8 and delta-10 enter through your gastrointestinal system where they’re metabolized by your liver’s cytochrome P450 enzymes. 
  • Metabolization turns a large portion of delta-8 and delta-10 into individual metabolites 
  • Once metabolization is complete, delta-8, delta-10, and their metabolites weave through your bloodstream and disperse to various areas of your body.
  • Areas of your body delta-8, delta-10, and their metabolites disperse to include the brain, central nervous system, peripheral organs, immune cells, fat tissue, and hair follicles. 

Will delta-8 get you higher than delta-10?

Yes. Delta-8 will cause a stronger, more noticeable euphoric high than delta-10. However, neither are as potent as delta-9 THC, which makes them great if you’re a beginner user wanting to experience a milder high. 

According to anecdotal reports, a delta-8 high boosts your concentration, focus, and mood, while still making you feel calm and relaxed — almost like a Sativa cannabis strain. 

Delta-10, on the other hand, gives you more of a stimulating “head buzz” similar to drinking a few beers in the evening. You’re also less likely to experience a full body high. 

Delta 10 and Delta 8 THC vape product
Some companies combine delta-8 with delta-10 to produce stronger effects.

Why is delta-8 more potent than delta-10?

The reason why delta-8 causes a more potent high than delta-10 is its molecular structure, how it interacts with your endocannabinoid system, and its binding affinity to your cannabinoid receptors, notably cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors. 

While delta-8 and delta-10 have almost identical molecular structures, there’s one key difference. Delta-8 has a double bond on the eighth carbon ring and delta-10 has one on the tenth. This very small but significant molecular difference could be why delta-8 binds more efficiently to your CB1 receptors than delta-10 and gives you a stronger high.  

How are delta-8 and delta-10 THC made?

Cannabis plants naturally produce delta-8 and delta-10 but only in small quantities (up to 1%). This percentage creates headaches for producers looking to create delta-8 and delta-10 products. To circumvent this issue, they chemically synthesize delta-8 and delta-10 from CBD or delta-9 via a structural isomerization process. 

Structural isomerization takes naturally-sourced CBD, alters its molecular structure using specialized organic solvents, and converts it into delta-8 or delta-10. The end result is an extract rich in delta-8 or delta-10 ready to be used as a distillate, oil, or vape product. 

Delta-8 vs Delta-10: Are they both legal?

Delta-8 and delta-10’s legality in the US is complicated. Legislation is conflicting, vague, and open to interpretation. 

Delta-8 and delta-10 are federally legal under the Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill), provided they’re naturally sourced from hemp plants carrying no more than 0.3% THC. 

However, since chemical-based structural isomerization of CBD to delta-8 and delta-10 takes place, they might be viewed as synthetic. Synthetically derived cannabinoids are considered controlled substances and are illegal to use, possess, distribute, and produce under the Federal Analog Act.

Currently, the government and the DEA are attempting to verify delta-8 and delta-10’s legality. In 2020, the DEA issued an Interim Final Rule stating all “synthetically-derived” substances remain schedule I substances, delta-8 and delta-10 included. The DEA’s rule has been met with legal action from hemp stakeholder groups. 

Are delta-8 and delta-10 banned in certain US states?

Yes. Thanks to the federal government’s attempts to verify delta-8 and delta-10’s legality, 18 US states now restrict or outright ban both cannabinoids and their respective products. Even cannabis-friendly states such as Colorado and Alaska prohibit delta-8 and delta-10. 

Are marijuana-derived delta-8 and delta-10 legal?

Delta-8 and delta-10 derived from marijuana are not legal on the federal level and are considered federally controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. However, US states with legalized medical and recreational cannabis allow marijuana-derived delta-8 and delta-10 — Oregon is a perfect example. 

Is delta-8 or delta-10 better for anxiety?

Despite very little scientific research on delta-8 and delta-10 for anxiety, we believe delta-8 is more effective, particularly in mild doses. Why? Because anecdotal reports suggest delta-8 produces an uplifting cerebral high and noticeable cognitive stimulation with fewer negative side effects — helpful for anxiety reduction and mood enhancement. 

However, don’t count out delta-10 just yet. Delta-10 also causes a euphoric high similar to delta-8 and delta-9 but with less potency. If you’re a cannabis user prone to THC-induced anxiety, delta-10’s mildly uplifting euphoric effects might be just what you need.  

Is delta-8 or delta-10 better for pain and inflammation?

Delta-8 THC is better for pain and inflammation than delta-10, particularly when combined with CBD. A recent 2018 experimental study conducted on mice test models discovered topical application of delta-8 and CBD reduced corneal pain and inflammation via cannabinoid 1 (CB1), cannabinoid 2 (CB2), and serotonin (5-HT1A) receptor activation. Delta-8 could also be good for inflammatory diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

Unfortunately, no scientific research on delta-10 for pain and inflammation exists. 

Is delta-8 or delta-10 better for your appetite?

Research shows delta-8 is an excellent appetite stimulator. In a preclinical study on mice test subjects carried out in 2004, researchers discovered 000.1mg/kg of delta-8 significantly increased food consumption and cognitive functionality, more so than delta-9 THC. The researchers also noted delta-8 caused very few cannabimimetic side effects often associated with delta-9 consumption. 

Again, no research on delta-10 for appetite stimulation exists.

Safety concerns surrounding delta-8 and delta-10 THC

The safety of delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC is somewhat unknown. Very few studies provide evidence of any negative long-term health problems from delta-8 or delta-10 consumption. No cases of fatal or near-fatal overdose have been recorded either. 

However, that’s not to say the risks aren’t there. Delta-8 vape products, for example, are a particular concern, especially when they’re created by shady companies.

The U.S. Cannabis Council tested 16 delta-8 THC vape products from unlicensed retailers across the US. None of the products was considered safe or legal. Many of the products carried more than the federally legal 0.3% THC limit and contained harmful contaminants such as lead, nickel, copper, and chromium. Unsafe residual solvents such as hexane, methanol, acetone, and ethyl acetate were also detected. Inhalation of these contaminants can result in lung damage or worse. 

How do delta-8 and delta-10 compare to other upcoming cannabinoids?

THC-O

  • THC-O is a semi-synthetic compound not naturally present in cannabis, whereas delta-8 and delta-10 are naturally occurring (in trace quantities).
  • THC-O is thought to be three times more potent than delta-9, six times more potent than delta-8, and roughly nine times more potent than delta-10.
  • THC-O also causes psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects, whereas delta-8 and delta-10 don’t. 

THCP

  • THCP is said to be significantly more potent than delta-9 THC — roughly 30 times more effective at binding to CB1 receptors.
  • Both delta-8 and delta-10 have five carbon atoms in their alkyl side chains, whereas THCP has seven — this could explain why THCP is better at binding to CB1 receptors.
  • THCP is thought to be a potent pain reliever similar to delta-8.

THCv

  • Delta-8 and delta-10 cause intoxication in mild, moderate, or high doses, while THCV causes intoxication only in high doses (low-to-moderate doses have no euphoric effects).
  • A THCV high is similar to delta-8 but less potent and not quite as noticeable.
  • THCV causes a clear-headed and uplifting high similar to delta-10, while delta-8 causes an energizing high.

Conclusion: Why should you start using delta-8 and delta-10 products?

Despite its questionable legality in the US, delta-8 and delta-10 are promisingly beneficial cannabinoids available across the majority of the US. Their milder effects are perfect if you’re a beginner cannabis user looking for the benefits of THC without a whopping high.

However, since delta-10 is the least studied out of the two, we recommend starting with delta-8 products for now. 

If you’re not experienced with THC products, try starting with a delta-8 oil product and consuming it sublingually for best results. If you’re a seasoned cannabis user looking for a strong delta-8 high, give delta-8 distillates a try. Flash vaporizing delta-8 distillates using a dab rig is a great option here. Delta-8 THC carts are also an effective, fast-acting way of consuming delta-8 THC.