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Delta-8, Delta-9 & Delta-10 THC: What's the Difference?

"Delta-8, Delta-9, and now Delta-10 THC? Back in my day,” you might be saying “we just had the one THC and we liked it! Who asked for these new-fangled THCs?” Even if you are a little more familiar with the many types of cannabinoids, you may be wondering just what is the difference between delta-8, -9, and -10 THCs. After all, wasn’t the original THC pretty well-loved historically? For the longest time, it was the only game in town.

Then, in the past year or so, Delta-8 suddenly came on the market, boasting a smoother, less intense experience than Delta-9 THC. It also had the added bonus of being hemp-derived, and thus legal in a majority of US states (Delta-8 is not permitted in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Utah, and Rhode Island). Now, suddenly, Delta-10 is making its presence known and people are talking about its milder uplift than regular THC.

Why this sudden influx of new Delta-THCs? Is one really better than the other? What do you need to know to be a better-informed cannabis consumer? Thistle Therapies is here to help break down the difference between Delta 8, 9, and 10 THC and pick which one is right for you.

The Different Types of THC

Below you will find the current “big three” for THC, however, these aren’t the only forms known to exist, and even more variants may be discovered. Rare cannabinoids are gaining popularity all across the cannabis landscape, as well as novel methods for harvesting them. In a few years time, you may be consuming a myriad of different THC varieties. However, for now, it seems like these will be dominating the field for the near future.

Delta-8 THC

When it comes to THC molecules, think of Delta-8 as the more responsible, laid-back sibling of the three. Delta-8 enjoys a good time and is still fun to hang out with. However, while Delta-9 is out partying and taking Delta-10 along for the ride, Delta-8 is the one who’s hanging back to enjoy a chilled-out night at home.

When it comes to effects, Delta-8 leans more towards the Indica/CBD side of the spectrum. Although it’s derived from hemp plants like CBD, it binds with the CB1 receptors in the brain. This gives consumers some of the Delta-9 THC experience, such as pain relief, stress relief, and settling the stomach, as well as a general, pleasant body feeling.

Many people who live in non-legal Delta-9 THC states have been turning to Delta-8 THC as an alternative.

Its big selling point is that these indica-like effects don’t also come with the stronger full psychoactive experience of Delta-9 THC. Delta-8 is psychoactive, just to a lesser degree. Instead, the experiences are reported to be more mild and clear-headed.

Delta-8 is thought to have roughly half the potency of Delta-9. Think of it like light beer: a softer alternative, but it will still get you to a similar place as the usual stuff if you continue to consume. Another benefit of Delta-8 is that it is a much more stable molecule. It does not oxidize like Delta-9 and degrade into CBN, which means a much longer shelf life at the same potency.

Delta-9 THC

Delta-9 THC is the celebrity of the three and really needs no introduction. If there’s a party, it will be there. Delta-9 provides the most potent psychoactive effects of the three. It’s also the easiest to distill because it makes up the vast majority of the cannabinoid production in the plant. It’s easily available in flower, as well as concentrates, edibles, and pretty much any other way you want to consume it in a legalized state.

Delta-9 has the most versatility in effects, as well. Depending on the mix of cannabinoids and terpenes contained in whatever form you’re taking it in, its effects can provide emotional uplift, energy, creativity, relaxation, contentment, pain relief and whatever else you need. If you’re looking to get stoned, Delta-9 THC will get you there.

However, because Delta-9 is so strong, consumers have also experienced less-than-great side effects, such as unwanted hunger, anxiety, paranoia, and confusion.

Because it is psychoactive, consumers can also end up spacey, unfocused, or just more off their game than they’d prefer. This is especially an issue for medical patients who may need cannabis to maintain their quality of life, but still have to function at a clear-headed level throughout their day.

Delta-10 THC

If Delta-8 is the laid-back one, and Delta-9 is the partier, Delta-10 THC is more of the athlete. They’re fun, outgoing, and full of energy, but they also know they have to be at practice the next day.

A major difference of Delta-10 THC is that it naturally occurs in such minute amounts in cannabis that it can’t be extracted by normal means. Delta-10 THC was actually discovered as a sort of accident by a California company who’d bought some outdoor biomass to convert into concentrates. They had no idea that the grow had been contaminated with fire-retardant chemicals from a recent conflagration. Once they tested their new concentrate, they discovered an unfamiliar crystalline structure present. After some more thorough work by a third-party lab, they realized the fire-retardant chemicals had created a new form of THC.

Unlike its other THC counterparts, Delta-10 THC is just beginning to enter the market.

No one should be inhaling or ingesting fire retardant chemicals, so the batch was thrown out. The good news is that Delta-10 THC can be made with far cleaner ingredients, including food-grade solvents. Delta-10 is also derived from hemp and thus considered legal in most states as well (however, as always, this is not legal advice, be sure to check your local regulations). Be aware, much like Delta-8, Delta-10 can still make you fail a drug test.

Effects-wise, Delta-10 leans more towards a sativa uplift than Delta-8's indica-style calm. Consumers have said that it gives a milder, but still effective, energetic uplift and mood boost that makes it perfect for daytime use. It provides the familiar creativity, focus, and energy of Delta-9 THC, but in a more subtle way without less of the speediness, spaciness, or paranoia that can also occur. Products are currently still a bit rare, and only a few companies have brought Delta-10 to market. Thistle Therapies is one of the earliest adopters, with others likely to follow.

The Wrap Up

The number of new cannabinoid products coming on the market can seem a little confusing, whether you’re a grizzled old prospector or a frequent cannabis consumer trying to keep up on the latest trends. The good news is, more variety means more opportunities to find the best product for you. If Delta-9 THC is serving you well, stick with it. If you’d like the tranquil, pain-relieving effects while keeping your head clear, Delta-8 may be the one to try. If you’re looking for the uplift without the speediness or anxiety, Delta-10 may be your ticket. In the meantime, Thistle Therapies will keep you updated if any more siblings get added to the THC family.

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