By Bri Lesh-Siminitus
Synthetic cannabinoids, what are they?
Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as synthetic derived cannabinoids, are chemicals formulated by humans which can be produced to appear like natural cannabinoids similar to THC and CBD in their effects. These manufactured cannabinoids are frequently sprayed onto plant material, and sold as a kind of “engineered cannabis.”
Natural cannabinoids are often much less potent than synthetic cannabinoids, which can have psychoactive effects on the mind and body. Synthetically derived cannabinoids have been linked to seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, and even death as undesirable side effects.
It is essential to keep in mind that synthetic cannabinoids, outside of pharmaceutical drugs like Marinol, are prohibited in numerous countries, including the United States. If you want to use cannabinoids for therapeutic purposes, you should always talk to a doctor to decide the best course of action.
How do naturally occurring cannabinoids differ?
Compounds produced by the cannabis plant are known as naturally derived cannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for controlling a wide range of physiological processes like pain, mood, appetite, and immune function, is where these substances interact.
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the two naturally derived cannabinoids that have received the most attention and research. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient that gives people the “high”. CBD, on the other hand, has been studied for its potential therapeutic benefits, but does not produce the same psychoactive effects.
In addition, cannabis contains the following naturally occurring cannabinoids:
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), cannabichromene (CBC), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), and even Delta-8 THC which occurs naturally in small quantities of cannabis.
Each of these cannabinoids hold distinct properties and potential therapeutic benefits; however, additional research is required to fully comprehend the effects that they have on the body and the ways in which they can be utilized for medical purposes.
Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as D8 THC, is a naturally occurring minor cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. It has some differences in its chemical structure from Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as D9 THC), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis. The psychoactive effects of Delta-8, are said to be less intense than those of Delta-9 THC.
Can Delta-8 be Synthetically Derived?
There are both natural and synthetic sources of Delta-8-THC. It can be produced synthetically by converting CBD or other cannabinoids into Delta-8-THC through chemical processes, or it can be extracted and isolated from hemp or cannabis plants.
Natural delta-8-THC is generally regarded as safe, whereas synthetic delta-8-THC can be more hazardous. It is essential to keep in mind that synthetic cannabinoids, in general, are frequently significantly more potent than natural cannabinoids.
Before using any cannabinoid product, whether it comes from a natural or synthetic source, it is always best to talk to a doctor.
Why is there an Issue with Delta-8?
Delta-8-THC is a cannabinoid that has recently gained popularity as a legal replacement for Delta-9-THC, which is still against federal law. However, there are some concerns regarding the use of Delta-8-THC’s safety and potential dangers.
One of the main problems with Delta-8-THC is that it is often made artificially, which can result in holding contaminants and impurities that are bad for your health. Additionally, synthetic Delta-8-THC may be significantly more potent than natural Delta-8-THC, which may raise the likelihood of side effects. Delta-8-THC has the potential to produce psychoactive effects similar to those of Delta-9-THC.
Finally, there is a lack of research on Delta-8-THC’s long-term effects, making it difficult to determine its potential dangers and benefits.
A most recent situation in the beginning of June, 2023, occurred in Lancaster, Pennsylvania regarding Delta-8 THC. According to James Wesser of ABC 27 News, Detectives seized Delta-8 and Delta-10 products which were packaged, and marketed in such a way that could be considered appealing to children. The FDA specifically warns about the don’ts about the packaging of products, as well as marketing cannabis derivatives in food products for human and animal consumption. The FDA also warns about cannabis derivatives being added to food products, and that they must meet specific safety standards to be lawfully marketed as a dietary supplement or food additive. In addition to this, a memo was sent to multiple Lancaster stores which noted that delta-9 concentration greater than 0.3% is illegal.
Delta-8 can be considered safe if produced properly, and naturally. There are both good and bad actors selling these products, and we need to provide transparency as much as possible to protect consumers. Here are some ways to ensure you are taking precautions regarding the sale and purchase of these products:
- As a merchant, it is important to adhere to quality control measures, and ensure your products are third-party tested to verify both the purity and potency.
- Provide certificates of analysis to consumers for the products being sold.
- Clearly label products detailing information about the contents, dosage, and intended use.
- Provide clear instructions on how to utilize the products. Include any potential side effects or warnings.
- Avoid making claims about the health benefits of Delta-8 THC, specifically on a website or packaging.
- Avoid designing packaging that may be attractive to children such as teddy bears, kid friendly cereal, and candy.
- Avoid adding Delta-8 to food products.
- Ensure hemp-derived cannabinoids are not exceeding the 0.3% threshold of THC.
Will there ever be more clarity on Delta-8 THC?
Hemp and its derivatives, including CBD, were made legal under the 2018 Farm Bill as long as they contained less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. However, the fact that the Farm Bill did not specifically address the legality of Delta-8 THC has resulted in confusion and uncertainty.
Delta-8 THC has been explicitly prohibited in some states, while it has not been addressed at all in others. There is a strong need for the regulation of delta-8, but sellers and producers of the product should be prepared for any federal changes if delta-8 were to be made illegal.
The situation is still changing, and it’s not clear when more information about delta-8 THC’s legal status will be available. It is essential to keep in mind that the legality of Delta-8 THC can vary from state to state.
Delta-8 and Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania State Department of Agriculture has not yet issued specific instructions regarding Delta-8 THC products. It is also important to note that the legality of the hemp industry can change overnight, and it is the responsibility of the permit holder and retailer to ensure they are abiding by both State and Federal regulations.
“5 Things to Know about Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol – Delta-8 THC.” Https://Www.Fda.Gov/, 4 May 2022, www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/5-things-know-about-delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol-delta-8-thc.
Brown, Joshua, et al. “Natural and Synthetic Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Uses, Adverse Drug Events, and Drug Interactions.” The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Official Publication of American College of Clinical Pharmacology, vol. 61, no. S2, 2021, pp. S37-S52, https://doi.org/10.1002/jcph.1871. Accessed 15 Jun. 2023.
“Farm Bill.” U.S. Department of Agriculture, 20 Dec. 2018, www.usda.gov/farmbill. Accessed 15 Jun. 2023.