Delta-10 THC: The backdrop

Yes, you read that right. We have another form of THC to explore – meet Delta 10 THC, a new cannabinoid with a short but interesting history.

Delta 10 THC is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in cannabis. But unlike some of the bigger names like CBD, Delta 9 THC, CBG, CBN and Delta-8 THC, Delta 10 is not a naturally occurring plant compound, although it does start off that way.

This molecular sibling does have many commonalities with Delta 9 and Delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinols, but there are some key differences as well. Let’s explore what we know about Delta 10 THC so far, and why it’s important for you as a consumer and for the industry as a whole. 

The Bizarre Formation of Delta 10 THC

As with many of the nation’s cannabis trends, Delta 10 THC started in California too. However, this time, it was purely accidental. A company called Fusion Farms out of Adelanto, CA, bought some outdoor flower to manufacture concentrates. As many already know, California is subject to almost annual, very large wildfires; and unbeknownst to Fusion Farms, the biomass they purchased was contaminated with fire retardant.

Since they were unaware of the contamination, they continued with the extraction as planned but after the distillation process, unusual crystals began to form. These crystals had a completely different structure than previously observed cannabinoid crystals. After conducting some laboratory tests, it was determined that these crystals were most similar to CBC (cannabichromene), but still not an exact match. They continued testing this structure against all the known cannabinoids and no match was found. This went on for several months.

Eventually, they discovered that it was yet another variation of tetrahydrocannabinol, formed because of plant exposure to those fire retardants – Delta 10 THC. So basically, D10 is an artificial cannabinoid, formed by converting D9 or other cannabinoids using some type of catalyst. In this case, it was fire retardant, but companies are looking at various greener methods to created Delta 10 THC, like certain food-grade additives.

In chemistry, “Delta” refers to the double bond in a compound’s molecular structure. Delta compounds have more electrons and will interact with the body in a different way than single bond cannabinoids. The difference between the Delta THC analogues comes down to where the double bond is located on their chain of carbon atoms. Delta 8 has this bond on the 8th carbon chain, Delta 9 on the 9th chain, and Delta 10 THC has the double bond on the 10th carbon chain. It seems like a small difference, but from a chemical standpoint, it’s substantial. 

How Does Delta 10 THC Effect the Body?

Honestly, it’s hard to say. Because this cannabinoid is so new, there is really no concrete information on how it effects the body and what medical benefits it could provide. I think it’s safe to assume that the effects will be similar to other tetrahydrocannabinols, and that it will likely interact with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors in a similar way.

However, that’s just educated speculation at this point. All that we can say for sure is that Delta 10 THC is less psychoactive than Delta 9 and even Delta 8, though not by much for the latter. It’s likely that you will need higher concentrations of Delta 10 to achieve the same results you would get from the other THCs.

Once the laws open up more, scientists will be able to legally study cannabis and will have more funding and equipment to do so. Right now, most of the studies are coming out of Israel, but since this compound was only recently created in the United States, it has not yet been researched out there.

Notes From an Organic Chemist

A few important notes from Josh Jones, Ph.D., organic chemist and founder of Jonesing Labs LLC., who consults with Fusion Farms. “The first thing I wanted to see was nuclear magnetic resonance [NMR] for the unknown crystal,” he began. NMR spectroscopy is an analytical method used to study different chemical structure.

“If you have a purified substance, NMR allows you to ‘see’ the structure of a molecule. It’s a wonderful tool,” says Josh. “Prior to this NMR data, a lot of people had been seeing this mystery compound show up as a minor component on their distillate COAs, but they thought it was CBC,” Josh said.

“Without having a certified reference standard for Δ10-THC, typical HPLC analysis can misidentify Δ10-THC as CBC or CBL (cannabicyclol.) We looked a bit deeper at the HPLC data, especially using 2D HPLC scans, which show absorbance at multiple UV wavelengths.”

“We then saw a difference between the isolated Δ10-THC and standards for CBC and CBL. In combination, the 2D HPLC and NMR data make a strong case for identifying Δ10-THC as the unknown crystals formed in Fusion Farms’ distillate. Then, as luck would have it, a certified Δ10-THC reference standard was released, which agreed with the GC and mass spectrometry data we collected.”

It was Josh’s lab that found an accurate method for identifying Delta 10 THC, compared standard methods that would mistake this compound for CBC or CBL.

Can Delta 10 THC Get You High?

Short answer, yes. All THC products have psychoactive properties, and thus, can get you high. Delta 9 is going to be the strongest, which is great for some but can cause paranoia and anxiety in others. Delta 8 has similar effects to Delta 9 but is a bit less potent, less intense, and is said to be a great sleep aid.

Delta 10 is similar to Delta 8 when it comes to levels of potency (although some analysis indicates that is a bit less powerful), but where D8 is great for sleep, D10 will make you feel more alert, creative, and energetic.

Since this is a very new cannabinoid and there aren’t many delta 10 products available for the average consumer, you’re not going to find a lot of firsthand reports of how Delta 10 made them feel just yet. We can expect that to change over the coming weeks, as many industry professionals have noticed there is interest in Delta 10 and are working on making products as we speak.

It’s also important to mention that Delta 10 THC will show up on a urinalysis drug test and will probably not be differentiated from Delta 9. So if there is a reason you can’t consume Delta 9 THC, you should also stay away from Delta 8 and Delta 10. 

What Does the Future Hold?

“We’ve been selling thousands of Delta-8 products a day,” said David Reckles from Private Label Hemp Lab. “And based on the feedback from Delta-10 so far, we’re ramping production to prepare for a similarly soaring demand. We think Delta-8 and Delta-10 have the power to turn the CBD market on its head.”

“Many People don’t just want CBD for its natural wellness benefits. They want something to take the edge off. They want to feel noticeably more relaxed and they don’t want to have to get a medical cannabis card to do it. For these self-helpers, CBD alone isn’t always enough. Now that Delta-8 and Delta-10 are available, people are starting to realize these compounds are on a whole other level. Why would people want to go back to the CBD?” David continued.  

The only problem here is that Delta 10 THC might be illegal. Cannabis laws are complicated and according to the DEA, “All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances.” The issue with that statement is the DEA has not defined what constitutes “synthetically derived.” Since Delta 10 is synthetically derived from natural compounds, it definitely falls into a grey area.

That said, numerous companies are already moving forward with Delta 10 THC production using legal and compliant, hemp-derived CBD. “You can create any delta you want–Delta-8, Delta-9, or Delta-10–by chemically altering CBD isolate or CBD crude. If you’re using crude CBD, you’ll generally create the reaction through carbon, and vitamin C derivatives. If you’re using an isolate, you’ll incorporate solvents and acids,” David added. 

Importance of Lab Testing Delta 10 THC

Similar to CBD, Delta 9, and other cannabinoids, Delta 10 THC is measured via Ultra High Performance Liquid Chromatography, but lab employees need to make sure they are keeping up with the latest industry standards to ensure they’re accurately differentiating Delta 10 from CBC and CBL, as mentioned previously.

Delta 10 THC products aren’t like smokable flower or naturally extracted cannabinoids. Delta 10 needs some type of additive to be created, and if these products aren’t made with the proper knowledge, testing, and supervision, companies could be creating bunk products that will make people sick with dangerous toxins like pesticides and residual solvents.

Always look for a Certificate of Analysis (COA) before buying cannabis products online. This will ensure your safety and you can make sure you’re not getting ripped off with products that won’t have the promised effects.

What Type of Delta 10 THC Products are Available?

At this point in time, you won’t find many Delta-10 products on the market. But companies already plan to launch an assortment of Delta-10 items by the end of spring. Different product options will include:

  • Disposable pens
  • Vape cartridges
  • Gummies
  • Tincture / oil 
  • Dabbing syringes
  • Chocolate bars
  • Shatter 
  • Flower and prerolls


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