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What is delta-10-THC? Is it safe?

What is delta-10-THC? Is it safe?

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Delta-10-THC is a synthetic isomer of delta-9-THC, meaning it is made from the exact same elements and has the same weight but its parts are arranged differently. There’s very little scientific literature on this compound, but the World Health Organization published a review on isomers of THC in 2018, including delta-10-THC1

According to the WHO review, delta-10-THC is a synthetic cannabinoid that can be synthesized from delta-9-THC but which does not occur naturally in the plant. Delta-10-THC was first synthesized in 1984, but very little research has been done on this THC isomer since that time2.

It is likely that the producers of delta-10 are making it alongside or secondary to delta-8. This would mean that delta-10 is being created by similar methods as those used for delta-8-THC production — applying heat and acid to CBD isolate, chemically converting it into the psychoactive THC isomers delta-8 and delta-10.

How does delta-10-THC affect you ?

Feeding a pigeon, which apparently cannot get high from delta-10-THC
There seems to be only one study that actually evaluated the effectiveness of delta-10-THC — an experiment carried out on pigeons that apparently did not get high. Of course, humans are not pigeons. (Shutterstock)

While many of the online mentions of delta-10-THC suggest it will get you high (a claim that is supported by anecdotal testimonies by cannabis consumers on Reddit), the very little research that has been done suggests otherwise. 

In a product review posted on the site, one Redditor wrote that the effects they got from vaping a delta-10 cartridge was that of a “love child between [delta-8] and CBN.” Other reviewers felt its effects were no different than delta-8-THC, while another Redditor wrote that it “is supposed to be more of an energetic high rather than relaxed.” 

Circling back to the WHO report, there seems to be only one study that actually evaluated the effectiveness of delta-10-THC — an experiment carried out on pigeons that apparently did not get high. How come the only piece of scientific research contradicts all of these user reports? Here are some of the main possibilities: 

  • Labeling issues. Labeling inaccuracies are a known issue in the cannabis industry. Sometimes producers will write anything on their products to increase sales. Since Delta-10 is the cannabinoid buzz right now, it would not be surprising to learn that some producers are marketing and labeling products as delta-10-THC despite them containing numerous other cannabinoids, including delta-8 and even the classic delta-9-THC. 
  • Testing issues. Delta-10-THC is a very rare molecule not often found in laboratory analyses of cannabis products, and its structure may be confused with other minor cannabinoids. It is possible that the products mentioned had a certificate of analysis suggesting the presence of delta-10 when in fact it was another cannabinoid. This confusion stems from a lack of standardization in analytical testing, meaning that some labs may think they have identified delta-10, but in fact it is another cannabinoid.
  • Placebo effect. It is possible that consumers reading about the suggested effects of delta-10-THC had a bias towards these effects, leading to a placebo effect. It’s also probable that most of these products contain other psychoactive compounds like delta-8 and delta-9.
  • Biology. Another possible explanation is the simple fact that humans aren’t pigeons, and that we may react differently to different substances than the effects recorded in the single pigeon study. 
A scientist tests a cannabis extraction in a lab
There’s zero research on the safety of products with high levels of delta-10-THC, so there’s no scientific evidence that these products are safe. (Shutterstock)

Much like delta-8-THC, delta-10 is a synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol. That means it remains a schedule 1 controlled substance, and therefore is illegal on the federal level. Because delta-10 products are being made from hemp-derived CBD isolate, some proponents argue that it is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, but the DEA doesn’t agree. 

Similarly to delta-8, there’s virtually no research that can speak to the safety of delta-10-THC products. If you have legal access to good old fashioned delta-9-THC, there’s really no reason to go with either delta-8 or delta-10-THC. 

Is delta-10-THC safe? 

Much like other newer cannabis products such CBG and delta-8-THC, products with high concentrations of delta-10-THC can’t really be considered safe for two main reasons: a lack of research and the lack of regulation. Unlike CBG and delta-9-THC, though, delta-10 and delta-8 are essentially never found naturally in cannabis flowers. These are synthetic cannabinoids being made by humans, not plants.

On the one hand, there’s zero research on the safety of products with high levels of delta-10-THC, so there’s no scientific evidence that these products are safe. From a regulatory perspective, the reason these products are available to begin with is because they are derived from hemp, which makes it accessible but not regulated. This means that there are no standards or supervision on how these products are made. Your delta-10-THC product may also contain potentially hazardous substances like residual acids or heavy metals. For now, despite their wide availability, it may be wise to lay off the synthetic stuff until we know more about them.


  1. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/IsomersTHC.pdf
  2. Srebnik, M., Lander, N., Breuer, A., & Mechoulam, R. (1984). Base-catalysed double-bond isomerizations of cannabinoids: structural and stereochemical aspects. Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions 1, 2881. https://doi.org/10.1039/p19840002881
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