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Is Delta 8 THC Synthetic?

Alien
Area 52
August 23, 2021 | Blog

Many people are confused about the current state of affairs related to delta 8 THC. 

This cannabinoid is found naturally in the cannabis plant, yet many people are worried it may be synthetic. 

With all the problems that have arisen from synthetic THC in the past, is delta 8 THC any different? 

Here, you’ll learn where delta 8 THC comes from, why experts consider it naturally derived rather than synthetic, and what this means from a legal perspective. 

What Is Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC is an analog of delta 9 THC (more commonly referred to as “THC”). 

Delta 9 THC is the primary psychoactive substance found in marijuana. Delta 8 THC is similar in chemical composition but has a double bond on the eighth carbon bond rather than the ninth. 

Because of this subtle difference, it delivers a milder psychoactive effect, induces less paranoia and anxiety, and causes a more mellow and relaxed experience.

Is Delta 8 THC Natural?

Delta 8 THC is a naturally occurring compound that forms in cannabis, but only in minuscule amounts.

Until recently, the only way to obtain any meaningful quantities of delta 8 THC was to extract and concentrate it from massive quantities of marijuana. These products were illegal and expensive — so there was little public interest in Δ8 THC. 

But times are changing. 

Scientists have recently discovered new methods of isolating and extracting significant volumes of the Δ8 THC from hemp. They’re legal under the 2018 Farm Bill (in most states) and cost less than most delta 9 THC products. 

The fact that Δ8 THC occurs in nature makes it a natural cannabinoid and even making it through natural isomerization processes.

Synthetic cannabinoids refer to the compounds not available in natural sources. These compounds have entirely different chemical structures, potencies, and effect profiles. Many of them have even proved to deliver substantial adverse effects on the body. 

What is a Synthetic Cannabinoid?

Both synthetic and natural cannabinoids stimulate the endocannabinoid system, specifically the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Synthetic cannabinoids do not occur in nature. They must be made in a lab, or else they wouldn’t exist at all. 

Two of the most famous examples of non-classical cannabinoids are JWH-018 and HU-210, both often used in the herbal mixture called “Spice” or K2. Several years ago, these chemicals were considered legal. Headshops sold these products as “legal highs” or “legal weed alternatives.” The problem was that many of these compounds weren’t safe. 

After numerous hospitalizations, issues with addiction, and even several deaths from synthetic cannabinoids in the 2010s, the US government, and several other countries decided to ban them entirely. 

The most problematic members of this class were the non-classical cannabinoids. This refers to any synthetic cannabinoid with no similarities with the cannabinoids produced in plants but can still interact with the endocannabinoid system. 

Delta 8 is not a synthetic cannabinoid because it’s a classical cannabinoid found in nature. There are now well over 100 known classical, natural cannabinoids in existence. A few examples include delta 9 THC, delta 8 THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, CBDV, and THCV.

These cannabinoids have a similar but usually less potent effect on the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Is Delta 8 THC Legal?

hemp buds on a gavel placed with United States flag under

Delta 8 THC is legal in most states, even those where recreational marijuana is still prohibited.

According to federal law and the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and its derivatives are legal provided they contain less than 0.3% delta 9 THC by weight. 

Delta 8 THC is most commonly derived from hemp, so it remains legal at the federal level.

What’s the Difference Between Delta 8 THC and Spice or K2?

While delta 8 and K2 both affect the endocannabinoid system and cause similar effects, there are significant differences between the two. 

K2 or Spice

K2, or Spice, is made by applying synthetic cannabinoids to leaf material, usually spraying them onto marijuana or other leaves.

Unfortunately, K2 can range from harmless to lethal — it all depends on what chemical is being used. K2 could contain just about anything. There are hundreds, if not thousands of synthetic cannabinoids in existence — some have proven to be dangerous and unpredictable. 

K2 producers use whatever cannabinoids are available, along with other chemicals, to boost their potency and addictive nature.

Non-classical or synthetic cannabinoids are significantly more dangerous than classical ones, have longer-lasting effects, and are far more potent — HU-210 can bind to CB1 receptors 100x tighter than standard THC does. 

Many synthetic cannabinoids can be addictive or even toxic

Potential Side Effects of K2/Spice:

  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Lack of concentration 
  • Hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts
  • Violent behavior
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness 
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing problems
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Heart attack
  • Increased heart rate 
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Kidney failure
  • Muscle damage
  • Death

Delta 8 THC

Conversely, delta 8 THC is a classical cannabinoid virtually identical to THC, THCV, and CBD. 

Not only is delta 8 safer, but it also offers many possible therapeutic benefits. This is something not found in synthetic forms of THC. 

Delta 8 THC Side Effects:

Though much safer, delta 8 is not without side effects. These are similar to delta 9 THC’s effects, though on a lower level. Here are the most common side effects of delta 8 THC

  • Sedation
  • Red eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Increased appetite

Delta 8 THC is also legal in most states and federal levels, so it’s easily accessible. 

By purchasing from a reputable delta 8 THC vendor, you’re more likely to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Delta 8 THC: A Natural & Safe Cannabinoid

Delta 8 THC is a natural cannabinoid that shares the same classical cannabinoid shape as delta 9 THC, CBD, and other phytocannabinoids. This makes delta 8 THC far safer than the non-classical cannabinoids found in synthetic weed products like K2 or Spice.

Always check for third-party lab tests when shopping for delta 8 THC products. While Δ8 THC itself is unlikely to pose any danger, some manufacturers don’t follow safe extraction or isolation methods, and contaminants can wind up in the final product.

References Used

    1. National Center for Environmental Health – About synthetic cannabinoids. March 23, 2021. Health Studies – Understanding Chemical and Radiation Exposures. [1]
    2. Breivogel, C. S., Wells, J. R., Jonas, A., Mistry, A. H., Gravley, M. L., Patel, R. M., … & Brenseke, B. M. (2020). Comparison of the Neurotoxic and Seizure-Inducing Effects of Synthetic and Endogenous Cannabinoids with Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 5(1), 32-41. [2]
    3. Scocard, A., Benyamina, A., Coscas, S., & Karila, L. (2017). Synthetic cannabinoids: A new addiction matrix. Presse medicale (Paris, France: 1983), 46(1), 11-22.[3]
    4. Lapoint, J., James, L. P., Moran, C. L., Nelson, L. S., Hoffman, R. S., & Moran, J. H. (2011). Severe toxicity following synthetic cannabinoid ingestion. Clinical Toxicology, 49(8), 760-764. [4]

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