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August 9, 2023
7 min to read

What Is Delta 6 THC? Everything We Know So Far

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Hayley Heidelbaugh
If it wasn’t obvious from the ever-expanding range of cannabis products, retailers are eager to discover and sell new THC variants. Our hemp-derived cannabinoid catalog is filling up with new products inspired by the success of delta 8 THC.

Delta 9 THC and delta 8 THC are two mainstays in the cannabis market. These are no longer the only “delta” variants on the market, however. Delta 10 and HHC are popular, and newcomers like delta 11 are gaining a toehold too.

Delta 6 THC is the latest variant to find a home in the cannabis marketplace. On the surface, it appears that chemists spent time researching delta 6 in the 1970s and 80s. You’ll find multiple articles exploring the effects and metabolization of “delta 6 THC” from this era.

These references taper off after the mid-1980s, however, and there’s a good reason for that: “delta 6 THC” was once how scientists referred to delta 8 THC. These are actually papers studying delta 8, not the cannabinoid now known as delta 6 THC. We know practically nothing about today’s delta 6 THC, its metabolization, and its effects on the body.

Eventually, THC naming conventions shifted from the monoterpenoid numbering system to the formal pyran numbering system. Delta 1 became delta 9 THC and delta 6 was renamed delta 8 THC. It’s unclear when today’s delta 6 THC was actually identified.

What is delta 6 THC?

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Delta-6-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 6 THC or Δ6 THC) is one of several THC isomers. It shares the same molecular formula as delta 9 THC, the dominant psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. These compounds have identical building blocks and look extremely similar under a microscope, minus the relocation of a double bond.

Shifting one double bond can have a notable impact on cannabinoids and their effects. As we’ve seen in delta 8 and delta 10, rearranging delta 9 THC can lead to a decrease in potency and a clearer, less overwhelming high. Whether delta 6 THC provides a similar experience is still up in the air.

Delta 6 THC is now showing up in blends of hemp-derived cannabinoids. You’ll find this cannabinoid in gummies, vape carts, and disposable vapes. We couldn’t find any delta 6 tinctures, nor any products containing only delta 6 THC. It’s commonly combined with delta 8, THCP, and other emerging byproducts. It’s unclear whether this is because it’s difficult and expensive to produce, or because it’s a marketing gimmick.

Since delta 6 THC has become known, we’ve learned next to nothing about it. It wasn’t until recently that the compound began to appear in commercial products.

Does delta 6 THC get you high?

As with the other THC isomers discovered by science, it's probable that delta 6 consumption will get users high.

Some claim that the intensity of a delta 6 high is comparable to delta 8. Even so, we don’t have any research into the potency or psychoactive activity of delta 6 THC. If the delta 6 blend you’re consuming includes other intoxicating cannabinoids—delta 8 THC, THCP, etc.—then you can expect that product to get you high.

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What are the effects of delta 6 THC?

Seeking information about delta 6’s effects gets messy, even if you’re focused on academic papers. While you can find publications exploring “delta 6 THC,” it seems that virtually all of these studies were on delta 8 THC, due to the shift in naming conventions.

Retailers have also given input on delta 6 THC’s effects. Some claim that delta 6 recently underwent research, with a couple stating that it has anti-inflammatory properties. No sources were provided, and after some digging, we were unable to find them.

Since there don't appear to be any products containing exclusively delta 6 THC, anecdotes should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s difficult to separate the effects of delta 6 from the effects of the other cannabinoids it’s blended with.

The bottom line? We don’t know anything about delta 6 THC, and its effects are a mystery. We can only assume that it will get you high.

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Is delta 6 THC safe?

We have no information on the safety of delta 6 THC. At the same time, there’s no reason to believe that it’s unsafe to ingest.

Stay vigilant and only consume delta 6 products from trusted retailers with transparent safety testing. If you’re unable to find third-party testing results on a manufacturer’s website, move along to the next shop. There’s no guarantee that untested hemp products, including delta 6 THC carts and edibles, will contain what they claim to.

Delta 6 THC vs delta 8 THC

Right now, the essential difference between delta 6 and delta 8 THC is the level of research backing them. There are several claims that delta 6 has a similar potency to delta 8 THC. Other sources state that it’s slightly milder, although neither is corroborated by evidence.

Again, most research we have on delta 6 THC is actually centered on delta 8. It’s not completely clear when chemists revised the naming conventions of THC isomers, but it seems to have occurred in or around the 1980s—because this is when we stopped seeing research on “delta 6 THC.”


comparison of the delta 8 and delta 6 molecular structure
 

Delta 6 THC vs delta 9 THC

Brands universally claim that delta 6 is less potent than delta 9 THC. All the same, these claims are anecdotal and aren’t backed by published research. Based on the delta variants we’ve found so far, at least, it seems likely that delta 6 will offer a less intense high.

As an isomer of THC, delta 6 THC’s structure is almost a perfect copy of delta 9. Both compounds share the formula C₂₁H₃₀O₂ and feature all the same components, just with a unique arrangement.


comparison of the THC-D9 and Delta 6 molecular structure
 

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Will delta 6 THC show up on a drug test?

Yes, it’s highly probable that all THC isomers will convert and be stored as THC-COOH in the body. This is the metabolite that lingers in adipose tissue after cannabinoids are processed by the liver; it’s also the substance that drug tests are seeking out, not THC’s original form.

Discontinue all hemp or marijuana use before a drug screening, even (or especially!) if we lack information on a compound’s metabolization. It’s better to play it safe than deal with the consequences of a failed drug test or pre-employment screening.

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Is delta 6 THC legal and where is it sold?

As far as we’re aware, delta 6 THC occurs naturally in cannabis and is protected under the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the production and sale of hemp in the United States. Commercial delta 6 is converted from legal CBD, just like delta 8 and other THC derivatives. Heat or chemical catalysts are used to complete this process.

Hemp-derived products of any kind are required to contain less than 0.3% delta 9 THC by dry weight. Vape carts, gummies, and disposables from trusted retailers undergo testing to ensure that they’re in compliance with this threshold. All products that exceed 0.3% delta 9 are considered federally illegal marijuana and cannot be sold as legal hemp.

Delta 6 products are limited, and the cannabinoid is only available in blends. You’ll find these products from a handful of online sellers.

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Hayley Heidelbaugh

Vaping since: 3 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: White Wedding, Northern Lights, Platinum Valley, OG Kush

Expertise in: Oil carts, cannabis concentrates, cannabis flower

Hayley Heidelbaugh

I'm a Pennsylvania-based cannabis enthusiast and writer. As a part of the Vaping360 team, I'm eager to help cannabis consumers explore vaping and get the most out of their experience. You can also find me @faeberrystudios on Instagram.

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