Is Delta-8 a Synthetic Cannabinoid?

Is Delta-8 synthetic? No and yes. Let’s find out why both apply. 

Delta-8 THC, THC lite, Delta 8, or simply D8 is rising in popularity at an incredible pace, similar to Cannabidiol. Delta 8 soared at least $10 million in retail sales in 2020 according to New Frontier Data

*Related article: What is Delta-8?

While Delta-8 was discovered in the 70s, it’s still one of the least understood compounds related to cannabis. Alongside the problem of legalese, the debate on whether Delta-8 is a synthetic cannabinoid or not still persists. 

Hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll get a clearer understanding on the topic. 

What is a Synthetic Cannabinoid?

Synthetic cannabinoids, or more commonly known as “Spice,” are usually artificial cannabinoids with the aim of enhancing certain qualities. 

Some of these qualities include increasing the “high” or the numbing effects. However, these enhancements can cause serious side effects, including death by overdose (in extreme cases), which aren’t normally present in standard cannabinoids.

In a recent study, scientists found a link between synthetic cannabinoids and psychosis. 

Aside from psychosis, the scientists also describe that consumption of “spice” can lead to adverse events, including cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, neurologic, psychiatric, bleeding, and death.

But the origins of synthetic cannabinoids were never originally for profit or recreational effects. Instead, it was made because of its capability to act like regular cannabinoids, ergo the name. 

Synthetic cannabinoids were created to help scientists gain access to cannabinoids to run their tests as cannabis was still illegal back in the 60s and 70s. 

It just so happened that the methods used to create synthetic cannabinoids were re-discovered years later to be used for various reasons, both good and bad.

Is Delta-8 a Synthetic Cannabinoid?

No. Delta-8 is NOT a synthetic cannabinoid but it can be synthetically replicated.

WebMD says, “delta-8 THC (or Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol) is a naturally occurring chemical compound called a cannabinoid that’s found in small traces in hemp and cannabis (marijuana) plants.”

When synthetic cannabinoids entered the market, initially through illicit means, they created a buzz because of their enhanced qualities. However, the popularity waned as traditional cannabinoids became legal and were easier to access.

Somehow, the introduction of Delta-8 into the cannabis market and subsequent popularity led some people to believe that it was just another “Spice” made to circumvent the law.

But the truth is, Delta-8 is far from being a “Spice.” In reality, Delta-8 is still a naturally occurring cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant. 

The 2018 Farm Bill effectively legalizes Delta-8, saying cannabinoids derived from hemp are legal. However, compared to Delta-9 THC and CBD, Delta-8 is harder to come by as its natural concentration is relatively low. 

So, if there is a legal technicality for Delta-8, why is there still an ongoing debate on Delta-8’s safety and the misconception that it’s “synthetic?”

Naturally occurring Delta-9 THC and CBD can be chemically converted into Delta-8. However, not all chemical ways of converting compound A to compound B automatically insinuate that the product should be branded as ”synthetic.” 

Think of it similarly to how a human body breaks down a piece of bread to its base components of glucose, carbohydrates, etc., then converting it to fats and proteins. There are chemical changes, yes, but the process is entirely natural.

The issue then comes from the method of how companies generate their version of Delta-8.

The U.S. Cannabis Council, a national trade group reported the “rapidly expanding crisis” in the growing number of unregulated delta-8 THC sales. 

While there are trustworthy companies that properly extract Delta-8 through natural and legal means, there are companies that resort to chemically synthesizing Delta-8 from dubious methods. 

Delta-8 isn’t the only cannabinoid that can be chemically synthesized; however, it’s the one that takes most of the brunt of that misconception.

Delta-8 VS Synthetic Cannabinoid

As previously mentioned, Delta-8 THC is a natural compound that can be extracted from all cannabis plants (marijuana and hemp plants mentioned in the Farm Bill). 

In contrast, “Spice” or synthetic cannabinoids are entirely artificial or, more specifically, synthesized and prepared in laboratories.

As synthetic cannabinoids are prepared in laboratories, their compositions can differ widely, depending on the lab that produced them. Likewise, these synthetic cannabinoids can have different effects due to their chemical makeup, including strong side effects that are not typical in natural cannabis.

“But it was also previously mentioned in this article that synthetic cannabinoids function similarly to natural cannabinoids!” Yes, while true, it is the lack of FDA regulation as well as limited laboratory testing that puts these synthetic cannabinoids into question. 

The scientists who created the original synthetic cannabinoids did so with proper monitoring and regulation, the same efforts undertaken by trustworthy companies that use legal and natural means of extraction.

Lastly, Delta-8 has a characteristically low psychotropic effect versus synthetic cannabinoids, ergo the nickname “weed light.” In contrast, synthetic cannabinoids have varying levels of intoxication that can go as far as a full-blown trip.

The Craze for Delta-8

Whatever Delta-8’s status is, it hasn’t stopped companies from populating the market with products to the same extent as other cannabinoids.

Through the oversupply of CBD extracted from US-grown hemp, it was only a matter of time until people found a way to generate derivatives of cannabinoids from the overabundant resources. 

Behold, the ingenuity of cannabis-related companies and existing cannabis research from the 60s and 70s created a method of turning CBD into Delta-8.

These companies then began to market Delta-8 to consumers who wished to reap the conventional benefits of hemp/cannabis but weren’t keen on suffering the legal setbacks of consuming the plant. 

With no existing FDA regulation alongside limited laboratory testing, the quality of Delta-8 products comes into question and so is their “synthetic” nature.

The Wrap

Delta-8 is a cannabinoid that can prove to be beneficial to people who wish to have an alternative to CBD or Delta-9 THC. 

But due to the slow footedness of lawmakers, it puts the burden of safety on us as consumers. 

Nevertheless, Delta-8 is currently legal and naturally occurring. Lastly, remember to always consult a medical professional if Delta-8 is for you or plan to use it for medical purposes.

Note: At this time, Hemp Crate Co. is not currently carrying any Delta-8 products. There is mass confusion in both the legal community and consumption market. Some vendors are starting to be shut down and other states are drafting legislature to make D-8 illegal. We believe it is best to wait for the process to play out even though we are advocates of all cannabinoids.

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are in no way intended to treat or diagnose any physical ailment or disease.”

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