Have you ever wondered what the difference is between natural vs synthetic cannabinoids? The federal legalization of hemp did not only make the consumption and sales of CBD legal nationwide but also gave us access to the other 180 different cannabinoids that naturally occur in the hemp plant. This bill allows us to sell and manufacture hemp depending on each state’s written hemp bill. Here in the state of Texas, there are no laws in place to make any of these naturally occurring cannabinoids illegal. However, most manufacturers and chemists have learned that some hemp-derived cannabinoids are psychoactive. This is a good thing for states that do not have access to legal marijuana and can potentially benefit from these hemp-derived cannabinoids that are psychoactive and non-psychoactive. In this article, we will be identifying the different psychoactive cannabinoids on the market and whether or not they are abundantly found in the plant. We will also dive deeper into these synthesized cannabinoids and what is considered synthetic so you can safely consume and be confident shopping for your favorite hemp-derived cannabinoids.

Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol is by far the most popular naturally occurring cannabinoid in the hemp plant. The hemp bill highlights how cannabinoids cannot exceed more than 0.3% of Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol. However, Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol is merely an isomer and is not discussed in the bill whatsoever. 

What is an isomer?

An isomer is a compound with the same formula but a different arrangement of atoms in the molecule and various properties. For example, delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol occurs in smaller amounts in the cannabis plant. The isomerization process can allow the cannabinoid to be transformed into a different isomer to become an isolated form of delta-8. This delta-8 isolate can be infused into gummies, vapes, tinctures, and flowers. Delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol does go through the synthesis in the process of isomerization. However, it is not synthetically created from chemicals. Therefore, it is safe to consume. When talking about a natural vs synthetic cannabinoids, it’s important to keep this distinction in mind. The synthesis process is identical to how other cannabinoids like CBN or CBG are isolated. These cannabinoids are not always abundantly available in the plant; therefore, a synthesis must occur. 

Chemically Made Cannabinoids: 

There are a variety of different cannabinoids that are available on the market that are made through this synthesis process. Keep in mind that some of these cannabinoids on the market can have added compounds that alter the effects, enhancing the experience, which is not always a good thing. For example, tetrahydrocannabinol-acetate is better known as THC-O and is a completely lab-created cannabinoid. Typically it is synthesized by adding acetic anhydride to delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol. Since the acetic anhydride is not a compound naturally produced in the hemp plant, this is when it starts to become a synthetically created product.

Another cannabinoid that is frequently advertised as a naturally occurring cannabinoid is hexahydrocannabinol (HHC). This cannabinoid does occur naturally in the plant; however, it is synthesized using CBD or tetrahydrocannabinol. These hemp-derived cannabinoids are used as the base in the synthesis process, and then the chemical reaction creates the HHC compound. The only issue with HHC is that there is a lack of consistency with the product. Consistency is crucial in the cannabis industry since it can create an uncomfortable experience when overconsuming psychoactive products.

Products containing synthetically derived cannabinoids are slowly being released into the market, and consumers in illegal marijuana states enjoy consuming them because they mimic similar effects to marijuana. However, since the Federal Drug Administration does not regulate the market whatsoever, it leaves consumers wondering if what they are consuming is safe. One of the most significant issues with synthesizing these synthetic products is that low-quality reagents can be used to create low-quality products, which can be a big issue since they might not be pure. Another issue is that the people manufacturing, producing, and selling these products lack knowledge of their creation and what they might contain. Especially when these synthetic cannabinoids are being offered in different consumption methods, it raises concern that when you vape or smoke something that contains harmful chemicals, it can leave long-lasting health issues for the consumers.

It is also very important to highlight that the cannabis industry, in general, has so many misconceptions and one of them being that cannabis is harmful and can create health effects. While there has not been enough research conducted to prove that this is a fact, synthetic cannabinoids hitting the market can cause people to see cannabis negatively. Most people who consume it do it for the medicinal effects, but some do it for recreational purposes. These synthetic cannabinoids are not medicinal, and they produce a more potent high than even marijuana would. Tetrahydrocannabinol-acetate (THC-O) is about three times more potent than delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. And another cannabinoid by the name of delta-9 tetrahyrocannabiphorol has 33 times the bind affinity as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol does. These potent options on the market leave room for people to have an uncomfortable experience with cannabis and can potentially leave long-term health issues.

In Conclusion:

When talking about natural vs synthetic cannabinoids, you want to keep in mind a naturally occurring cannabinoid that is synthesized is much different than a fully synthetic product. Yes, there are many synthetic cannabinoids on the market. It is always important to do your research before consuming something, even when the friendly salesperson tells you it is completely safe. When you go to retailers that sell these cannabinoids that you have not heard about yet, it is essential to ask questions, do your own research, and view the certificate of analysis to ensure that there are no residual chemicals that could be consumed. Since the hemp industry is not actively regulated, it leaves room for errors, and that is why it is the job of consumers to be extra cautious maneuvering through these types of products. As manufacturers and producers of hemp-derived cannabinoids, we work our hardest to make sure that we only bring clean, naturally-derived cannabinoids into our business.