Delta-10 THC represents one such cannabinoid. This semi-synthetic, psychoactive cannabinoid is currently having its moment in the limelight, with anecdotal reports that it delivers a mood-enhancing, uplifting high.
The legality of the cannabinoid is sketchy. However, it’s derived from industrial hemp, which is legal at a federal level. There’s currently a great demand for THC analogs and alternatives–particularly in US states where Delta-9 THC is illegal.
Given its questionable legal status, can consumers trust Delta-10? Is it safe? And how exactly is it formulated? Leafreport spoke to Masha Belinson from ACS Laboratory, a lab that tests hemp-derived products from 48 states, and Dr. Jordan Tishler MD, a leading expert in cannabis therapeutics at InhaleMD, to find out more.
Delta-10 THC is a naturally-occuring cannabinoid that is found in trace amounts in both hemp and cannabis plants. As it can’t be extracted in large quantities from cannabis, it’s formulated in laboratory settings.
To create Delta-10 THC, CBD oil is first extracted from industrial hemp. The oil undergoes an extensive refinement process to become Delta-10.
”Delta-10 dominant strains do not exist in the market, nor do naturally extracted oils, vapes, and edibles,” says Belinson. “Instead, most companies produce Delta-10 by chemically altering CBD isolate or crude CBD using solvents and acids to make the final product.”
The Delta-10 molecule is what’s known as a semi-synthetic analog of THC. In other words, it’s structurally almost identical to THC, but exerts slightly different biochemical and physiological effects on the user.
What’s more, as Delta-10 is such a rare molecule and often appears in such low concentrations, it doesn’t always show up in the laboratory analyses. Labs require sophisticated testing equipment, like Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) to identify Delta-10. It can sometimes be confused with other minor cannabinoids, or missed altogether. Labeling inaccuracies are a common issue within the cannabis industry.
From a molecular perspective, Delta-9 and Delta 10 are fairly similar. “In the case of Delta-10 THC, the double bond that is usually in one position in Delta-9 has been moved to an adjacent location,” says Tishler.
“Delta-10 and Delta-8 are both THC isomers,” explains Belinson. “That means they differ from each other, and Delta-9 THC, by microscopic chemical differences–Delta-10 THC has a double electron bond on the 10th atom in its carbon chain, Delta-9 THC has a double electron bond on the ninth atom, and Delta-8’s double bond lies on the eighth atom.”
While the movement of a single double-bond may appear to be a subtle difference, it can result in very different effects for the user.
“Delta-9 THC, and to a lesser extent, Delta-8 THC are naturally occurring. We have decades of research on both–though much more on Delta-9,” explains Tishler. “The benefits and safety of Delta-9 are well described in the literature. Less so for Delta-8, but much of the whole-plant cannabis research on Delta-9 includes small amounts of information on naturally occurring Delta-8.”
Belinson points out that when it comes to the effects of Delta-10, what we know has largely been taken from the reports of users or those in the industry. “Anecdotal evidence suggests Delta-10 and Delta-8 are psychoactive, but are much milder than Delta-9. Some experts compare Delta-10 to a mild Sativa (more energizing) and Delta-8 to a mild Indica (more relaxing). In other words, it appears that people prefer Delta-10 during the day to support energy and focus while turning to Delta-8 at night for sleep and relaxation.”
Ultimately, the question on the lips of curious consumers is whether Delta-10 THC is safe. With so little clinical data available, however, there are a lot of unknowns about how Delta-10 interacts with the body.
To date, there is no clinical or scholarly research exploring the biological effects of Delta-10.
“There is nothing known about its safety and efficacy,” says Tishler. “Further, remember that not all cannabinoids are safe: Synthetic cannabinoids are designed for greater potency and can lead to erratic behavior, self-harm, and even death.” Research into synthetic cannabinoids in general also suggests that they are associated with higher abuse potential, more hospital admissions, and unpredictable toxicity.
Belinson emphasizes that consumers thinking of purchasing Delta-10 THC should check that the products have undergone third-party testing.
“To ensure consumers feel comfortable before purchasing Delta-10, we always recommend checking the product label for a QR code that links to the laboratory report, known as a Certificate of Analysis (COA),” recommends Belinson.“Taking it a step further, we urge consumers to verify the batch number of the COA matches the number of the product label.”
There’s little factual information about potential side effects due to the relative newness of the cannabinoid. The lack of regulatory oversight of Delta-10 THC also means there’s more leeway for sub-standard products to slip into the market.
One of the concerns voiced by experts such as Belinson is the potential for contamination. Belinson believes the safety of the cannabinoid rests on the scrupulousness of the manufacturer.
“Delta-10 products are safe as long as manufacturers make them so”, says Belinson. “What do we mean by that? The potential risk with Delta-10 products is that some contain harmful residual solvents and higher-than-compliant levels of Delta-9 THC.”
The formulation of Delta-10 uses solvents or acids, and requires thorough supervision, knowledge, and testing. When synthesized formulations aren’t properly ‘washed’, there’s a risk that contaminants remain in the product, and ultimately consumed.
Residual solvents and contamination can be toxic, or in some cases, carcinogenic. Little is known about the health effects of these impurities in the body.
In the case of Delta-8, which has been around a little longer than Delta-10, stories around adverse effects are beginning to appear. Some users report high blood pressure, vomiting, and diarrhea, which may be linked to toxicity from residual contamination.
As an analog of Delta-9 THC, it’s also feasible that Delta-10 may elicit similar side effects. Some of the more common side effects of Delta-9 include dry mouth, dry eyes, foggy head, low blood pressure, and impaired concentration and coordination. Research is needed, however, to confirm whether this is the case.
Delta-10 appears to fulfil a unique niche spot in the cannabis market. The cannabinoid boasts many of the benefits associated with CBD, with users reporting that the cannabinoid helps them to relax and chill out. However, users also report that it offers a psychoactive edge that may give it more ‘pep’ than non-intoxicating CBD.
Delta-10’s main benefit appears to be its ability to deliver a mild, yet uplifting high. Many commentators agree that Delta-10 has roughly half the potency of Delta-9 THC.In one Reddit forum, redditors expressed that Delta-10 felt like a low dose of Delta-9 THC, promoting curiosity, creativity, and alertness.
Another redditor observed that Delta-10 delivered a head-focused high (as opposed to the more relaxing body high sometimes associated with certain Delta-9, or Delta-8 THC strains). For individuals who want to experiment a little with the psychoactivity of THC, but don’t want the full Delta-9 experience, Delta-10 may represent a “lite” alternative.
Another perceived benefit of the cannabinoid is its legality. In states where Delta-9 THC is illegal, Delta-10 represents an alternative. While the legal status of Delta-10 is ambiguous, the cannabinoid is derived from industrial hemp and is accessible in most states where CBD and hemp-derived products are sold.
At the moment, there aren’t many Delta-10 products on the market, because the cannabinoid isn’t easy to manufacture. The refinement process required to convert Delta-8 THC to Delta-10 THC is extensive. Creating products with high Delta-10 potency is challenging.
Many Delta-10 products therefore also contain concentrations of Delta-8 THC, or even Delta 9 THC. It’s vital to check the product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA) so you know what you’re getting.
As the demand for Delta-10 THC grows, you’ll be able to find in diverse forms, including:
At present, there are no clinical studies exploring whether Delta-10 has unique properties or uses. As an analog of THC, it’s possible that Delta-10 may share similar therapeutic applications, helping to ease pain, soothe inflammation, and promote appetite, among others.
Research in the coming years may reveal potential applications. In the meantime, however, its primary attraction will likely remain among recreational users, seeking a mild yet energizing high.
There are no definitive dosage guidelines for Delta-10 THC yet. In general, what works for one individual may not be ideal for another. The effects of a dose can fluctuate depending on the individual’s height and weight, tolerance to cannabis, and individual metabolic factors. When it comes to dosing any cannabinoid, however, one piece of advice remains consistent: start low and go slow.
With that mind, there are some general guidelines emerging for dosing Delta-10. Delta-10 appears to be about half as potent as Delta-9 THC, so more of the cannabinoid may be needed to experience its effects.
Some users suggest that Delta-10 dosing is very similar to CBD dosing, or Delta-8 dosing. Other Delta-10 users find the following dosing pointers helpful:
Delta-10 exists in murky legal territory. The cannabinoid is synthesized from industrial hemp, which was legalized at a federal level following the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill also legalized the isomers and derivatives of hemp–which would technically include Delta-10 THC.
However, federal legislation pre-dating the Farm Bill suggests differently. The 1986 Federal Analogue Act states that analogues of Schedule I drugs also qualify as Schedule I drugs. Since Delta-10 is an analog of THC, it would also be considered a Schedule I drug.
Tishler argues that the synthesis of Delta-10 has arisen as a response to the prohibition of Delta-9 THC.
“Delta-10 is yet another designer creation aimed at getting past the illegality of Delta-9 THC,” he comments.
Belinson offers a slightly different perspective. “To date, it appears that Delta-10 is permissible in all 50 states–if it is derived from hemp,” she explains. “Delta-8, on the other hand, has been on the market longer and is now banned in 15 states. Delta-9, as most people know, is an illicit substance only federally permissible in hemp at concentrations below 0.3%.”
Following Belinson’s logic, it may simply be a matter of time before Delta-10 starts being outlawed at a state level. Synthetic isomers of THC have already been banned in some states, including Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and Montana.
Similar to other synthetic cannabinoids derived from hemp, Delta-10 may appeal to certain cannabis users. However, the legality of Delta-10 is questionable. There is also a lack of data about its safety at present.
While this situation may change in the future as new data emerges, in the meantime, it’s vital to exercise caution. If you’re thinking about purchasing or experimenting with Delta-10 products, ensure the products have Certificates of Analysis (COAs) from reputable third-party laboratories.