Delta 8 / 9 / 10 / 11… How Many THCs Are Out There?
We all know about delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive cannabinoid of the cannabis plant. Recently, delta-8 THC started making a strong impression as an alternate form of THC, with slightly different benefits. We even know there’s a delta-10 THC. So, how many THCs are there out there, and how are they similar?
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Delta-9 and delta-8 THC
The first guy to synthesize THC was chemist Roger Adams. He was the first to identify the compound in the 1940’s, although he was not able to isolate it. This was done in 1964 by Raphael Mechoulam and his team, although Adams was the first to isolate CBD. Mechoulam was able to benefit from Israel’s less restrictive cannabis research laws. He and his team wanted to figure out what it was in Indian hash that was making people act so intoxicated.
The answer, he found, was THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. To be more specific, he isolated the most common form of THC found in cannabis plants, delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC itself does not actually exist heavily in any cannabis plant, but is instead produced from THCA which decarboxylates (generally through sun exposure or heat) to become delta-9 THC. It was learned in the 1940’s that there were many different forms of THC, although how many THCs can be created, was a mystery (and still is).
In the last year or so, another form of THC has been getting more popular, partially due to the 2018 US Farm Bill which legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp for certain purposes. As a form of THC which does not exist in large enough amounts on its own, delta-8 THC requires being sourced from delta-9 THC. It’s formed through an oxidation process, which results in a compound that has shown in testing to have less psychoactive response, to produce less associated anxiety and panic symptoms, to be effective for use with nausea and vomiting due to illness and treatments, and which, due to the oxidation process, is actually more stable over time than delta-9.