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Delta-8 vs. Delta-9 vs. Delta-10 THC: What Are the Similarities and Differences?

Lemetria Whitehurst

by Lemetria Whitehurst

April 5, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes
Fact checked by Kymberly Drapcho Medically reviewed by Dr. Abraham Benavides
Delta-8 vs. Delta-9 vs. Delta-10 THC: What Are the Similarities and Differences?

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp products became more accessible across the United States. Thus, cannabis culture has been ever-expanding. And with compounds like Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 THC, figuring out which best suits your needs can be overwhelming.

But fear not! This article will explain the differences and similarities between these cannabinoids so you can choose the right one for your needs. From understanding how they compare to analyzing their effects on the body – let us help cut through all the confusion surrounding these THC varieties. 

What Is Delta-8 THC?

According to findings in the 2022 Journal for Cannabis Research, delta-8 THC is a hemp-derived product gaining popularity due to its unique characteristics and benefits. The product is created from hemp CBD extract and contains synthesized versions of THC and a mix of related, psychoactive cannabinoids. 

Delta-8 differs from other forms of THC because it binds less strongly with the receptors, meaning that it generally produces milder highs while still providing healing properties. For example, these characteristics make delta-8 THC practical in several therapeutic uses, including managing pain and spasticity, improving appetite, and reducing nausea. While delta-8 carries a milder psychoactive effect than ‘normal THC,’ it still produces an experience that can alter mood and perception. 

With lower levels of intoxication, users may feel more at ease during their experience while feeling energized and mentally focused. As a result, delta-8 is an excellent option for those seeking a more relaxed experience versus a full-throttle experience of traditional marijuana products. It is also a perfect choice for those sensitive to THC’s effects or need more clarity for daytime relief.

What Is Delta-9 THC?

Delta-9 THC, also known as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the most popular cannabinoids. It is highly regulated, often illegal, and is the subject of much discussion in recent years. It is the most abundant and potent psychoactive component in marijuana, accounting for approximately 20-30% of its active ingredients. Therefore, it contributes to the feeling of “high” or relaxation people experience after consuming cannabis products.

Delta-9 THC also interacts with cannabinoid receptors in your brain to produce various psychological effects. When taken carefully and appropriately, users can enjoy significant health benefits from delta-9 THC. 

Delta 9 THC occurs naturally in cannabis plants to varying degrees. It can also be synthesized from the CBD in hemp to make hemp-derived delta 9 THC that works in the same way. It’s technically legal this way, but is debated state by state with certain bans in place.

What Is Delta-10 THC?

Delta-10 THC has been getting much attention from the cannabis community lately, but what exactly is it? While it differs slightly in molecular structure from regular delta-9 THC, when ingested, delta-10 can produce many of the same effects associated with traditional delta-9 THC, such as relaxation and mood enhancement.

Some cannabis connoisseurs report it creates a more clear-headed high than typical delta-9. However, due to its weaker ability to bind to CB1 receptors, delta-10 THC tends to produce milder effects. Some users say delta-10’s results are similar to sativas compared to indicas, usually with less anxiety and paranoia.

What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 THC?

While delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10 THC are all part of the same family of cannabinoids, they are unique in their own ways. Surprisingly, each has a similar molecular structure with only a slight difference in the arrangement of atoms. In fact, the only variation between deltas-8 and 9 is the existence of a double bond between two carbon atoms

Each cannabinoid has an array of carbon atoms, with delta-8 having the double bond attached to the eighth carbon, while delta-9 has the double bond attached to the ninth carbon. This distinction gives each compound unique effects on the body when consumed. 

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There is a great deal of difficulty in manufacturing delta-10 THC. Refining it is extensive, making it rarer than the other counterparts. Similar to delta 8 THC, delta 10 must be synthesized from the CBD in hemp to meet mass consumer demand. 

The well-documented therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids are also likely present in each delta, although in different quantities and with clinical research yet to be done on delta 8 and 10. However, any of these versions of THC can cause a person to experience both positive and negative effects caused by overconsumption. 

Importantly, semisynthetic cannabinoids like delta 8 and 10 are messy to create, and can have both known and unknown byproducts that may have short and long-term health risks if not made carefully. Buying from a high-quality and trusted source is very important, but we still don’t fully understand all the possible health risks involved.

In addition, compared to delta-9, delta-8 has half the psychoactive effect, offering a more energetic high that uplifts the user’s mood rather than an intense head high. On the flip side, delta-10 is even less psychoactive than its predecessors, delivering a moderate head buzz alongside therapeutic benefits. 

Will Delta-8 and Delta-10 Show Up on a Drug Test?

Simply put, yes, these cannabinoids might show up on a drug test, given that THC appears in the compound name. Urine sample testing is the most commonly used method employed to detect the presence of delta-9 THC, but it can also pick up metabolites from delta-8 and even delta-10 in users’ systems. 

As savvy cannabis users, it’s always important to keep in mind that any form of THC may be detected in a drug test, so use it with caution. 

When to Use Delta-8 vs. Delta-9 vs. Delta-10

Delta-8, 9, and 10 contain different strengths of cannabinoids, so they are helpful in different situations. For instance, delta-9 is known to be the strongest of the three in terms of effects, so it might make sense to use it when aiming for an intense high or when trying to reap the maximum therapeutic benefits.

Choosing delta-8 or 10 might be better suited for more mild goals. For example, for users who prefer a more subtle feeling of euphoria when high, delta-8 may be the best choice. With delta-10, you can achieve a milder high. These deltas can serve as a middle ground between CBD and delta-9 THC, providing a more mellow experience.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the main difference between delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10 THC is potency and legality. When deciding which one to use, it is essential to consider the degree of effect you want and your local laws. While delta-8 seems like a reasonable choice as it has similar effects as delta-9 while remaining legal in most parts of the US, users should keep in mind that it can still cause impairment.

Plus, depending on individual preferences or medical conditions, some may find delta-9 or even delta-10 to be a better fit. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can always take advantage of different combinations of all three if your state allows. Choosing new types of cannabis is an experiment, so results will vary for each person.

Note: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescribe treatment based on the information provided. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.

This article was originally published in March 2023 and was most recently updated in April 2024.

Post Your Comments

george fraser says:

April 1, 2023 at 7:18 pm

what kind of thc is in med cannabis tinctures or flower?


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