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Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 vs. Delta 10: What’s the Difference?

closeup of woman blowing smoke and vape on hand

Table of contents

  1. What Is Delta-8?
  2. What is Delta-9?
  3. What is Delta-10?
  4. Similarities and Differences Between Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10
  5. How to Decide Which Is Best for You

Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 are all forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is a cannabinoid — a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant — and is responsible for the psychoactive effects that cause the “high” feeling people experience.

The main difference between Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 is their potency. Delta-9 is the strongest; Delta-8 is weaker than Delta-9; Delta-10 is weaker than Delta-8.  While they have a similar chemical formula, they each have a slightly different structural makeup, causing them to produce slightly different effects on the body.

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What Is Delta-8?

Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive substance that has garnered attention due to its close “relation” with Delta-9.  It can be found in minimal quantities in the cannabis plant and can be derived from the hemp plant in more concentrated amounts.

How It Works

Delta-8 THC works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and it binds to cannabinoid receptors found throughout the nervous system in the brain and body.


Delta-8 has a mild psychoactive effect, so it can get you high. However, this high is typically less intense and doesn’t last as long as the high provided by Delta-9 THC.

Delta-8 can be used in various ways. It can be smoked or vaped, used in a distillate or tincture, or added to gummies or infused beverages.

Potential Benefits

Delta-8 THC may help with:

  • Pain relief
  • Stimulating appetite
  • Reducing nausea and vomiting
  • Relaxation
  • Reducing anxiety 
  • Protecting the nervous system from injury and damage
  • Increasing feelings of euphoria

Risks and Drawbacks

There is currently limited research on Delta-8, so it’s not known what all of the potential risks are. However, Delta-8 is thought to have fewer risks and adverse effects than Delta-9.

Some of the potential side effects and risks of Delta-8 include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Red eyes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor short-term memory
  • Altered sense of time

Delta-8 may also interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.

Another risk to be aware of is that Delta-8 THC is not regulated like Delta-9 is. Also, since Delta-8 may be synthetically produced, it’s essential to be careful of ingredients and chemicals that may have been added to the products that you’re consuming.

The Delta-8 THC found naturally in cannabis differsfrom the Delta-8 THC manufactured by using industrial chemicals to convert CBD, which could be far less safe.

What is Delta-9?

When someone talks about THC, they’re likely referring to Delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC is one of the main cannabinoids responsible for causing a high, and it is found in abundance in the cannabis plant.

How It Works

Like Delta-8, Delta-9 works in the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, and it binds strongly to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body.

THC is a partial agonist (agonists are substances that cause physiological responses) of CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors, meaning that it binds to and activates cannabinoid receptors but not as strongly as a full agonist. This could be one of the reasons why THC from cannabis is so tolerable compared to other drugs and synthetic cannabinoids with greater binding affinities.  


Delta-9 THC can be smoked, vaped, used in edibles, taken sublingually (under the tongue), or used topically.

Delta-9 can be used for recreational or medicinal purposes. The legal status of recreational use, as well as medical use, depends on your state laws.

Potential Benefits

Delta-9 THC has various effects, depending on the strain (cultivar) and the combination of terpenes in that strain. It has many medical uses, including:

Risks and Drawbacks

Since Delta-9 can be pretty potent, several side effects need to be considered, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Euphoria
  • Lethargy
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

What is Delta-10?

Delta-10 THC, like Delta-8, is a minor cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. It is also commonly processed from hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) and may be produced in a lab.

How It Works

Like the other forms of THC, Delta-10 likely works in the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body.  


Delta-10 is commonly used for vaping and smoking. It can also be incorporated into edibles, topicals, or tinctures.

Like the other forms of THC, Delta-10 can be used medically or recreationally, depending on state and federal laws.

Potential Benefits

Although Delta-10 can still get you high, it is less powerful than Delta-9 and Delta-8. And while there isn’t much research on the potential benefits of Delta-10, according to anecdotal evidence, Delta-10 THC may be able to assist with:

  • Stress relief
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Enhancing creativity, euphoric effects, alertness, energy  

Risks and Drawbacks

Like Delta-8, Delta-10 THC hasn’t been studied extensively, so the full extent of the risks and drawbacks isn’t known.

For example, synthetically produced cannabinoids, like what Delta-10 often is, may have negative side effects that aren’t entirely understood.

Similarities and Differences Between Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10

Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 are cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. They are isomers of each other, which means that although they have the same chemical formula, they all have slightly different chemical structures, giving them somewhat different bodily qualities and functions.

For example, Delta-9 is much stronger than Delta-8, and Delta-8 is somewhat stronger than Delta-10. This could be due to the location of a double bond in their molecular chain.

Delta-8 THC has a double bond in the eighth carbon chain, Delta-9 THC in the ninth carbon chain, and Delta-10 in the tenth carbon chain. Even these small differences can affect how a compound behaves in the human body.

These three THC isomers are also found in differing quantities in the cannabis plant. While Delta-9 is a major cannabinoid, Delta-8 and Delta-10 are minor ones.

Despite these differences, Delta-8, Delta-9, and Delta-10 all have psychoactive effects on the body and can interact with the endocannabinoid system.

How to Decide Which Is Best for You

When to Use Delta-8

Delta-8 THC is a good choice for those who want a more mild high. Because of this, Delta-8 could be well suited for beginner cannabis users. Also, Delta-8 has relaxation effects on the body, making it a good cannabinoid for nighttime use.

However, this refers to Delta-8 THC from cannabis, not the industrially-produced Delta-8 THC products you see on shelves being sold semi-legally.

When to Use Delta-9

For people wanting a strong high, such as experienced users, Delta-9-THC is a good choice.

THC is also most commonly used for medicinal purposes due to its high potency. It is also more abundant in cannabis than other isomers of THC, so those seeking Delta-8 THC-like effects ought to use less Delta-9 THC for more comparable effects.

When to Use Delta-10

Delta-10 is another good option for people who want to experience mild psychoactive effects. This means it could be a good choice for beginner users as it’s weaker than Delta-8.

Since Delta-10 is known for its uplifting effects, it’s great for daytime use or when a burst of energy is needed. However, this again refers to Delta-10 THC in cannabis, not necessarily the hemp-derived versions that utilize industrial chemicals to convert CBD to Delta-10 THC. Such products may be unsafe due to pollutants and other safety concerns.

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