Interest in THC alternatives like Delta-8 and Delta-10 has been rapidly growing. Global Google searches for “Delta-8" alone went up over 700% from 2020 to 2021. Before, cannabis lovers needed to only keep track of the big two cannabinoids: THC and CBD. Now, there is a quickly growing family of cannabinoids to get familiar with as THC develops its own family tree.
While Delta-9-THC is widely considered the OG, you can now find Delta-8-THC and Delta-10-THC products on the market. What are these new forms of THC, how do they compare, and what do we know about them?
What are THC isomers?
Both Delta-8 and Delta-10 are isomers of Delta-9-THC. Isomers are compounds with similar, though not identical, structures. The differences between isomers can be small, from a structural perspective, but can also create noticeably different experiences.
The current state of THC alternatives
THC alternatives are a very new addition to the cannabis industry's product, legal, and scientific landscapes. And while both Delta-8 and Delta-10 occur naturally in hemp and cannabis plants, they occur in very small quantities. At present, the naturally occurring versions of these compounds are not the ones found in most — or likely all — products. Delta-9-THC isomers like Delta-8, Delta-10, and THC-O are currently synthesized from hemp-derived CBD.
As semi-synthetic compounds, when not properly purified after synthesis, Delta-8 and Delta-10 products can contain unsafe contaminants, along with other unknown byproducts that have not been studied for safety and may or may not show up on third-party lab tests. When purchasing these products, consumers should ask questions, look at certificates of analysis (COAs) from independent labs to verify cannabinoid content and safety, and buy from trusted producers.
The legality of these compounds also lives in a gray area. The DEA has made recent comments that could be interpreted to support the legality of Delta-8 and Delta-10 when derived from hemp CBD, though many states have banned both compounds. Before you buy either Delta-8 or Delta-10, be sure to know the legal status of these compounds in your home state.
Delta-10 vs. Delta-8
So, what's the difference between Delta-10 and Delta-8? There is still little scientific data to guide us, but one study done on pigeons supports the idea that both Delta-10 and Delta-8 are less intoxicating than Delta-9.
In one consumer survey, folks reported that Delta-8 produced a milder high than Delta-9 with fewer adverse effects, like anxiety and paranoia. Delta-8's lighter experience is supported in one human research study, and it was also shown to relieve nausea and vomiting in one study of pediatric cancer patients. Another study done on cats suggests that it might have sedative properties, while another done on mice suggests that Delta-8 has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects when applied topically.
Information on Delta-10 is even harder to come by, but most anecdotal reports claim that, when compared to Delta-8, it has a more uplifting effect. In this Reddit thread, some folks liken the effects of Delta-10 to a sativa strain versus Delta-8 having more indica-like effects. It seems that Delta-10 can be milder than Delta-8, though personal reports vary.
When consuming either Delta-8 or Delta-10 for the first time, follow the old adage of starting low and going slow; start with a low dose and give yourself plenty of time before taking more. This is especially true of edibles, which can take upwards of two hours for effects kick in.
While Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC might produce a milder high than Delta-9 THC, you can still overdo it. Consume responsibly.