Science + Technology

Cannabis science and technology connects researchers, scientists, business and entrepreneurs. Learn recommended quality standards across the cannabis industry supply chain to improve efficiencies centered on providing affordable cannabis therapeutics and to provide quality patient care.

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Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol and the Need to Develop Standards to Protect Safety of Consumers

Introduction

The rapid rise of products, typically marketed as hemp-based products containing delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC, pronounced “delta-8-THC”) has raised significant concerns surrounding the impacts on public health and safety of these unregulated products. Because Δ8-THC typically occurs at very low to insignificant levels in nature in the cannabis flower, it is currently not economically feasible to extract natural Δ8-THC. Thus, products containing Δ8-THC are synthetically derived and thus the crux of the issue. Some estimate the synthetic cannabinoid market to be $10 billion by 20251, amplifying the need for standardization and regulation of not just Δ8-THC, but synthetic cannabinoids in general and the control of the processes before allowing unabated public consumption.

The issue is multi-faceted:

  • Products containing Δ8-THC are being marketed and sold as safe and legal hemp-based products to consumers and lack any formal or informal oversight by public health agencies.

  • Unlike hemp-based products, containing CBDM, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, Δ8-THC is moderately psychoactive.

  • There is uncertainty regarding the legality of these products based on the language in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, the Controlled Substances Act, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Analogues Act, and others.

  • The process to derive Δ8-THC for addition into products begins with cannabidiol (CBD) and is a synthetic process utilizing harsh and toxic chemicals that are not safe for human consumption

  • The process not only creates Δ8-THC but also other cannabinoids including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) as well as many impurities that are not well characterized.

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