As the legal cannabis industry matures, both product manufacturers and consumers are growing more educated about the therapeutic potential of the cannabis plant and its natural components. This includes cannabinoids, terpenoids and flavonoids. Of these various compounds, the most well-studied and heavily researched include the cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is a unique cannabinoid in that it is the primary psychoactive compound in varieties of cannabis like marijuana. This earns it a schedule I classification under the Drug Enforcement Agency’s drug scheduling system, which is why it’s still technically illegal at the federal level. However, many cannabis consumers are wondering if this is also the case for delta-8 and delta-10 THC. In this post, we go over everything you need to know about the two isomers, as well as how they’re different from delta-9 THC.
What is Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid found in hemp. It is an active ingredient in cannabis, and is responsible for some of its psychoactive effects. Delta-8 THC has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and is currently being studied for its potential role in the treatment of pain, anxiety, and cancer cell proliferation.
Delta-8 THC was first isolated in 1966 by Israeli scientists, led by organic chemist Raphael Mechoulam. Though delta-8 is in fact psychoactive, its psychoactivity is different from that of delta-9 THC. While the latter is commonly associated with a “high” typically characterized by impaired judgment, diminished coordination or motor function and a loss of track of time, delta-8’s neurophysiological effects are derived from its interactions with the endocannabinoid system — a network of cannabinoid receptors that can influence the body’s sensitivity and response to hormones and neurotransmitters like serotonin and inflammatory cytokines.
Because it is derived from hemp, delta-8 is considered legal at the federal level, unlike delta-9 THC.
What About Delta-10 THC?
Delta-10 is, similarly to delta-8 THC, made from high quality hemp flower. First, CBD is isolated from hemp using solvent or CO2 extraction. Then acids like heptane or toluene are used to refine or essentially “convert” the extracted CBD into a delta-8 or delta-10 distillate. The solvents, extraction methods, reactions and acids used vary depending on the target THC delta for production.
Delta-10 THC is also considered legal in all 50 states as of this writing, and can be found in everything from vaping cartridges to common edibles like gummies.
For many newer cannabis consumers, there is some confusion as to the distinctions between Delta-10 and delta-8 THC, Put simply, while the former’s psychoactivity is associated with sensations of energization, focus and well-being, delta-8 is more relaxing, sedative and calming in its effects.
Whether you’re looking into health or dietary supplementation using delta-8 or delta-10 THC, it’s best to be sure only to use products with a certificate of analysis (COA) from a third-party accredited lab validating the product’s potency and contents. In particular, it’s important to ensure that the product formulation has been fully purged of all solvents and contaminants before use.
How They’re Different From Delta-9 THC
On the other hand, delta-9 THC is the primary naturally occurring psychoactive compound in marijuana, and is what’s colloquially referred to simply as “THC” by cannabis consumers of all levels of experience. It’s the primary component that causes the “high” associated with marijuana use, and is also the compound behind many of the therapeutic benefits associated with the cannabis plant.
While delta-8 and delta-10 THC are argued to be “synthetic” cannabinoids in some circles, delta-9 THC is readily available in appreciable amounts within most marijuana strains. Conversely, the other two deltas require extensive processing and refinement to obtain in large amounts. This is why third-party certified delta-8 and delta-10 THC products rarely come with concentrations over 20 percent.
The nature of delta-9’s psychoactivity is also different from delta-8 and delta-10, with an added side effect of impairment. This is why delta-9 only enjoys full legal status in states where recreational use of marijuana is allowed, while delta-8 and delta-10 THC are legal across the country.
With time and additional research, it’s likely more will be known about the respective benefits and distinctions between THC and its isomers. Until then, delta-8 and delta-10 THC are expected to remain fairly niche cannabinoids within the legal cannabis industry.