Discovering New Cannabinoids: Δ10
Thanks to the scientific method, we live in a world where any question not already solved, presumably, will be eventually. We have the tools. Observe-research-hypothesize-test-analyze-report-repeat.
It’s a system that can bring great comfort to anyone looking closely at that wily queen the Cannabis tree.
So, at this point, we know about delta 9. We know about Delta 8. AND we know there are at least 120 other cannabinoids we know little to nothing about. They sit quietly, waiting to be discovered.
The first step in the scientific method is observation. First, something happens. Then, as an effect of that initial thing, something else happens. Then, someone notices that these things have happened and sets about discovering why. The nature of this process can fall along a spectrum ranging from a slow, quiet evolution of events to a freak accident that rains fire down on your world out of nowhere.
The story of the discovery of delta 10-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ10-THC) falls into the latter category.
In the summer of 2020, California wasn’t doing so well. A considerable portion of it was on fire. Left to its own accord, fire consumes everything in its path. Aerial firefighters try to quell and direct the flames by dropping fire retardant chemicals into the forest. These retardants are swept up in the winds, falling not only along the tree line but also homes, schools, and weed farms.
One California-based upstart was looking to perform their first extractions. They purchased some local cannabis plants not necessarily knowing that they had been growing outside, getting contaminated with flame retardant chemicals and harboring the first isolated crystals of delta 10 THC.
In real-time, the company extracts and distills the contaminated biomass. They systematically remove any component of the cannabis plant besides THC distillate, including the fire-retardant chemicals, while still unaware that there are fire retardant chemicals. Finally, distillate in hand, they notice something is off. Unusual crystals materialize in what should be a smooth substance.
So, through a process of repeated recrystallization, the distillate reduces down to a completely solid form. In this form, it’s pure, unadulterated, and ready for tests. Then, a chunk of the crystalized isolate is put through NMR analysis at a specialty lab. NMR spectroscopy is an extra powerful method for analyzing chemical structures. Most basic labs dealing with cannabis don’t have or need this type of micro molecular power, but this is a special case. The data received back from the lab indicated an entirely new cannabinoid Δ10-THC.
Dialing it In
Next, and this is tricky, the company must reproduce this lightning in a bottle. They know what they have but the why or what how is still up for grabs. Figuring it all out requires building backward. Deconstructing the product that they have to get down even further into its component parts.
Obviously, the solution isn’t to douse healthy cannabis plants with flame retardant chemicals. However, it turns out combining a handful of food-grade additives can convert Δ9-THC to Δ10-THC. Eureka.
Because Delta 10 only exists in small trace amounts in the actual cannabis plant, the only way to try it is in distillate form. Many sites and blogs claim that delta 10 isn’t as intense as Delta 9. But I would argue that because Delta 9 exists prevalently in THC flower, simply smoking Delta 9 THC is way more chill than hitting Delta 10 distillate. Perhaps Delta 10 is technically not as strong as Delta 9. But the way it is distilled and concentrated makes it actually incredibly more intense than smoking the naturally occurring cannabis plant matter. But that’s just my two cents.
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