The market for hemp-derived cannabinoids is hotter than ever, but experts warn that people should educate themselves about the fundamental differences between delta-8 THC and delta-9 THC products. High Times it was previously reported that delta-8 THC was first partially synthesized in 1941, but there is still much controversy surrounding the ingredient, due to the way it is extracted and converted.
Nektar reports that the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor and other experts want to educate people about the choices they need to make with cannabis.
Chemically, they are almost identical. But that slight difference in that chemical structure results in a different way it interacts with your body and yours [cannabinoid] receptors, explains Dr. Ryan Vandray, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who specializes in the behavioral pharmacology of cannabis.
Most delta-8 on the market is converted from CBD, using a natural solvent and acid as a catalyst, but people inside and outside the cannabis industry disagree on whether delta-8 should be defined as synthetic or natural.
Wandrei also added that delta-9 THC is stronger, so why would consumers go for delta-8?
The reason people call delta-8-THC diet weed [is because] that chemical difference is a little less potent in what it does to the receptor, Wandrei said, adding that delta-8 is about half as effective at producing the same level as delta-9.
Does delta-8 THC get you high or is it a scam? asked a popular Reddit thread in r/veed. The consensus seems to be that it has less psychedelic effects compared to delta-9 THC.
Sales of hemp-derived cannabinoids such as CBD are outpacing adult cannabis and comparable to the craft beer industry, Whitney Economics has found. There are no signs that the industry will slow down.
NORML representatives said High Times that delta-8 is not the primary concern, it’s more the residual chemicals and other byproducts in hemp products at gas stations that you should be most concerned about. Cal NORML’s Dale Gieringer specifically warned against THCO, which he thinks is one of the particularly problematic compounds with the potential for real harm.
Peter Grinspoon, MD, a primary care physician at Mass General Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, supports medical cannabis, but says state medical cannabis programs do a much better job of checking ingredients than stores selling delta-8 products.
Grinspoon explained that the confusion caused by the federal government itself makes it difficult to distinguish what is safe and what is not about hemp-derived cannabinoids.
In addition to the lack of regulation, we have regulatory incoherence of different branches and levels of government. That will make it difficult to get any coherent regulation on things, he told Nextar.
Legal experts noted that the FDA had no intention of legalizing delta-8 when the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, so time is ticking for the hemp-derived cannabinoid industry. But retailers have it practically everywhere.
Delta-8 is so close to delta-9, it’s probably relatively safe, Grinspoon said. But even if we understand that delta-8 is safe for the delta-8 you buy at your local smoke shop, we have no idea what’s in it.
The 2018 Farm Bill cleared the way for the Ninth Circuit Court to rule that certain low-THC cannabis derivatives are exempt from the Controlled Substances Act. This left a loophole for psychoactive hemp products, but the feds never intended to do that.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that delta-8 and similar cannabinoid derivatives have psychoactive and intoxicating effects that can be dangerous to consumers and called on Congress to act and enact regulations. These hemp-derived cannabinoids leave room for the potential for harmful contaminants, the FDA says.
How is Delta-8 THC made?
Delta-8 THC is only found in small amounts in the wild, so in order to get enough to infuse a product, it must be converted from CBD. Roger Adams and a team of researchers at the University of Illinois were the first to report the partial synthesis of delta-8 in 1941.
High Times reported on exactly how it was done:
The publication Chemical and Engineering News (CEN) describes the process as refluxing CBD in an organic solvent, such as toluene or heptane, with p-toluenesulfonic acid or another acid acting as a catalyst. In a controlled, regulated environment, these reactions would be done by doctor chemists to ensure that no harmful by-products remain in products sold to consumers, but the hemp industry is notoriously under-regulated without requiring laboratory testing.
CEN also described the increase in delta-8 THC as a concern.
It’s up to every consumer to be a buyer, beware, or at least know the differences between delta-8 and delta-9 THC, which are significant.
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