Scientists are raising concerns over synthetic compounds in delta-8 THC products that haven't been tested for safety or toxicity. My thoughts why not keep this natural as cannabis grows naturally.
Delta-8: what is it?
A psychoactive compound like delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC is also a THC-like compound. An active ingredient in cannabis plants, delta-9 THC produces a euphoric experience. The term THC is a common way of describing it.
Despite its similarities to delta-9 THC, delta-8 is a little less potent because of its slightly different chemical structure.
Delta-8 has what potential benefits?
It produces euphoria, relaxation, and perhaps even pain relief, but is much milder than delta-9 THC.
Those who prefer not to experience a strong high may find that the lower potency is a plus.
Research on delta-8 THC isn't sufficiently advanced to confirm whether the benefits are worth the risks. Experts know a great deal more about delta-9 THC than the public.
He says that products containing delta-8 THC contain potentially harmful compounds that have not been studied.
Dr. Chris Hudalla, Founder and CEO of ProVerde Laboratories, makes a warning: consumers are being used as test subjects.
Do you think you would give a pill to a family member or child if you were walking down the street with them?", he said in an interview. It's a lot of knowledge we have about these [delta-8 THC] products-what's in them.
Delta-8 THC has been used in several products, sparking a debate in the U.S. over how the products should be regulated and if they are "legal". In many states, products that contain delta-8 THC have been banned or regulated.
THC concentration in delta-8 form
During the discussion, Hudalla vigorously contested the claims that delta-8 THC is naturally derived from hemp, stressing that the focus should be on safety, not what the products contain.
In natural sources, Hudalla estimates that one kilogram of delta-8 THC requires 55,000 pounds of biomass. When processing is factored in, he estimated delta-8 THC to be worth $500 million per kilo wholesale.
98.5% of the 18,000 cannabis samples analyses by ProVerde Labs contained no detectable delta-8 THC, Hudalla explained. His study found that the average delta-8 THC concentration in samples was .0018%.
A 2020 paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Natural Products, "Cannabis Inflorescence for Medical Purposes: USP Considerations for Quality Attributes," found delta-8 THC to be low or nonexistent in cannabis samples.
The debate between natural and synthetic materials.
One of the 16 authors of the above-referenced paper and a member of the USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) Cannabis Expert Panel, Hudalla, says that delta-8 THC is not being extracted from hemp plants. Rather, he described a "synthetic pathway" where either delta-9 THC or CBD can be converted into delta-8 THC.
Humans have not been studied for their toxicity in the case of synthetic isomers and reaction by-products that result from the conversion process.
The researcher referenced a chromatogram on ProVerde Labs' website showing peaks not found in nature on a sample of delta-8 THC.
Neither the contaminants are being removed nor their toxicity studied, Hudalla claimed.
A Cannabinoid Association, founded in 2020, was co-founded by Matthew Guenther. A chemist, he explained the law to scientists. Guenther owns Blume Holdings, which has two entities in the delta-8 THC market: Delta 8 Science and Bloom Delivery. He co-founded Industrial Hemp Farms and owns Blume Holdings.
As noted in a YouTube video by Guenther, delta-8 THC can be extracted from hemp plants by isolating CBD.
During an interview, he explained that CBD isolate spontaneously converts into delta-8 THC in an acidic environment and can also turn into delta-9.
Enther added, "They're all looking for how to make these compounds as stable as possible."
ProVerde Labs' Hudalla agreed that CBD transforms into delta-8 THC in acidic conditions but said that the conditions required to cause the transfer are "far from natural" - requiring the use of hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid, for example.
Moreover, CBD is never exposed to acidic environments that could result in it being converted to the other isomers of CBD, he said. "Changing chemicals' chemical structures by putting them in strong acids with catalysts is not natural." Synthetics are the only possibility.”
The results of the Delta-8 THC tests
Delta-8 THC products, including ProVerde Labs’ products, are not the only products in the United States with quality concerns. In the U.S., for example, testing results were commissioned. Across products containing delta-8 THC, the United States Cannabis Council (USCC) said the level of delta-8 THC varies greatly. In addition to containing pesticides, heavy metals and illegal quantities of delta-9 THC, the results of the study indicate that delta-8 THC products may also contain heavy metals.
According to USCC, such packaging is often misleading or outright false regarding the ingredients of products, their legal status, or unsubstantiated claims about benefits.
A few laboratories that are members of Hemp Industries Association (HIA) have discovered that there are "many products labeled delta-8 of low quality and questionable labeling" after sampling them in their states, says Jody McGinness, executive director of HIA. Although the data is still thin, it is becoming clear that most, if not all, of what people are smoking and experiencing an elevated level of satisfaction is essentially low-quality delta 9.
Several labs lack the equipment needed to accurately measure delta-8 THCA, McGinness noted.
The potential risks to public health rise when you add that to the proliferation of shady actors with gold rush mentalities, all set loose by the lack of FDA guidance to a mostly confused consumer base," he observed. "At industrial scale, it takes a quality facility with exacting standards to manufacture pure delta-8 in consistent formulations, but there are many other, less expensive, dirty ways to do this."
McGinness says hemp cannabinoids have been subject to scientific regulation that prioritizes public safety.
McGinness says responsible companies in the hemp cannabinoid market "build relationships with their customers based on respect and transparency." These companies are "highly motivated to clear the market of substandard and fake hemp products."
A phone interview and an email follow-up revealed the concerns Nandakumara Sarma, Ph.D., shared about products that contain delta-8 THC.
Some products labeled as delta-8 THC contain less than 60% delta-8 THC, according to Sarma. Another 40% of the sample may contain mixtures of isomers and new synthetic compounds, as well as residual chemicals.
In an emailed statement, Sarma stated that products claiming to contain delta-8 are statistically more likely to be synthetic than natural, since it is not generally considered to be economical or practical to extract natural delta-8 THC at the scale present in such products. "These concerns relate both to identity and purity - given the unknown and untested nature of the synthetic analogs and the remaining compounds."
He has relied on delta-8 THC for decades, and it does not produce the same side effects as marijuana, such as panic attacks. According to him, his company, Delta 8 Science, will sell no more than 25 milligrams of delta-8 THC in each gummy.
Above all else, I would recommend consulting a doctor.
In response to Hudalla and Sarma's follow-up request for comment, Guther did not respond immediately.
It is the other compounds that have yet to be studied which result from the conversion of CBD into delta-8 THC that Hudalla is most concerned with.
Until recently, consumers were unaware of delta-8 THC's toxicity, he asserted. He tells me it's frightening.