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.  Mostly because of all the problems that have arisen from synthetic THCs in the past.

You may have heard that in several states they are trying to crack down on Delta-8 regulations. This can be stressful if you’re in one of those key states, like Texas, and you have been using Delta 8 for anxiety, stress, sleep, etc.  Whether you are a retailer or a Delta-8 consumer, this affects you to some level. 

In this post, 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 makes delta 8 different than synthetic products?

The first thing you should know: Delta 8 is not a synthetic cannabinoid, there are some out there. You might have heard slangs like K2 or Spice in reference to synthetic cannabinoids. They are lab-produced cannabinoids that can mimic the properties of natural phytocannabinoids (like hemp or marijuana-derived cannabinoids for example).  The legal status of these man-made drugs and the fact that they are oftentimes marketed as marijuana has caused some to take pause. These lab made alternatives are not safe and may also have higher mood-altering properties than their natural alternatives.

The second thing you should know. There has been lot of misinformation and “Cannabating” regarding Delta 8, including those that would lead you to believe it is ALL synthetic. (As recently reported by the Daily Texan on Nov 3.)

Is Delta 8 THC Natural?

Spoiler Alert: Delta 8 is Natural…Generally most people who take the view that ALL Delta 8 is synthetic, ARE NOT chemists and simply misinformed. And I would question what is driving their agenda.

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. 

Why do some think that Delta 8 THC synthetic? Delta 8 is a natural cannabis compound that occurs in both marijuana and hemp. However, its presence can be so little that one needs a massive amount of plant material to procure any significant quantity of this compound. For this reason, some manufacturers choose to create it with synthetic products instead of extracting it directly from hemp. So, while some Delta 8 products may be synthetic, that doesn’t make ALL Delta 8 products synthetic. As with anything else you purchase, know your source and don’t just put anything into your body. Buy from a reputable retailer.

What is a synthetic cannabinoid?

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.

What is 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:

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. 

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. Also, start low and wait 24 hours to see how your body reacts to delta 8. Many of the hospitalizations that you hear about, are a reaction to taking too much delta 8 or mixing it with alcohol or other drugs. Just like any other over-indulgence, alcohol included.

What are the effects of synthetic cannabinoids? According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, the synthetic cannabinoid known as Spice has been shown to lead to illusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, perceptual alterations, dissociation, depersonalization and catatonia, in most cases only temporary but can be serious. While Spice (a truly synthetic marijuana)should be on the list of Schedule 1 drugs, Delta 8 derived from hemp, should not be.

If you are curious about delta 8, be sure to seek out a source that can transparently show that your delta 8 is as it should be – natural. RESTART CBD provides lab tested results to provide transparency into your delta 8 or any other product you purchase from our suite of hemp and CBD products. RESTART CBD products are organically grown and harvested from hemp flower. 

Why does everyone care about Delta 8 being synthetic?

It impacts the legalities (or may). Delta 8 is a legal substance due to the 2018 Farm Bill (Senate Bill 1766) which made delta 8 THC products legal.

Delta 8 THC products are completely legal in California, Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, (Texas, now being targeted), Minnesota , Missouri , Louisiana , Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. The legalities of Delta 8 are one of the reasons that it’s so popular in the CBD and cannabis marketplace. The issue with it being synthetic in the eyes of the law can, as some legal experts posit, cause a shift from the Farm Bill to the CSA (Controlled Substance Act) as a case against Delta 8 remaining legal. (This is all uncharted territory, but the consensus for many is that this won’t happen.)

However, the way that Delta-8-THC is made has everything to do with whether it’s legal, safe, and effective. Unfortunately, not every company is willing to expose the gritty details behind their manufacturing process, but we’re going to break it down.

Is delta 8 synthetic?

First, is delta 8 synthetic or is it natural?  Well, delta 8 is derived from CBD extracted from hemp.  In scientific terms, though, it’s still delta 8 THC.  RESTART CBD Delta-8 products are naturally derived and 100% legal as a result.

Anywhere that states still classify cannabis as “illegal” are seeing a massive surge in popularity regarding delta 8.  Even states with a Medical Marijuana. program. Which is why the Medical Marijuana programs in Texas have been impacted by the legal delta 8 from hemp. And it makes complete sense – a legal way to get high?  Count plenty of residents in!

Texas, North and South Dakota, North and South Carolina, and many more states are seeing enjoyment from a variety of hemp products, delta 8 included.  Some of the largest prohibition states in the country, in fact, still have delta 8 legal for the time being.

But how long will that legal status last?  It’s a valid question. IfdDelta 8 is helping you with sleep, anxiety, stress or a myriad of other ailments, and you do not have access to medical marijuana due to the limits imposed and high costs, you should contact your state representatives and let them know. Now is the time to let your voice be heard.

So, how is Delta-8-THC extracted so that it’s legal?

And why does the Delta-8-THC extraction process matter so much?

Here’s what you need to know:

Is delta 8 THC a natural and 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.

Why are people using delta 8?

The number one reason people are turning to delta 8 THC is because of its legal advantages. This cannabinoid offers a very similar set of perceptual effects as delta 9 THC from marijuana — but it’s legal in 33 states — 12 of which ban the more common delta 9 THC isomer.

However, there’s plenty of other reasons to turn to delta 8 THC as well. It’s because of these additional benefits that many experts believe delta 8 THC is here to stay.

Even as marijuana becomes legal across the United States and elsewhere in the world, it’s likely people will continue to seek out this cannabinoid for its more relaxing profile.

When you walk into a dispensary, you can choose between Sativas, Indicas, or Hybrids. Sativas are generally more stimulating, while Indicas tend to be more relaxing. Hybrids sit somewhere in the middle.

Now, you can also choose between your concentrates as well. Delta 8 THC is like the Indicas — offering a stronger set of effects in terms of the relaxing profile. Delta 10 THC is like the Sativas — with a high affinity for providing more stimulating effects. Delta 9 THC is somewhere in the middle, like the hybrids — but with a bit of a lean towards the stimulating side.

If you’re looking for something psychoactive that leans more toward the relaxing side of the spectrum, delta 8 THC is worth exploring.

Sourcing Delta-8-THC

Before we can answer questions about Delta-8-THC extraction, we need to discuss where Delta-8 actually comes from:

Legal Delta-8-THC is Hemp-derived

Delta 8 is a natural cannabinoid found in almost all varieties of cannabis, including hemp. Manufacturing delta 8 from hemp material makes it legal and accessible by federal law, so the majority of delta 8 on the market is hemp-derived.

Delta-8 Degrades from Delta-8-THC

Hemp contains CBGA, a cannabinoid acid that’s known as “the mother of all cannabinoids,” which becomes THCA, which becomes Delta-9-THC through a process called decarboxylation, or a precise amount of heat exposure.

Delta-8-THC is a degraded version of Delta-9 that’s created when oxidation happens. This may be the reason that Delta-8 is thought to be less potent than Delta-9, and the reason that it doesn’t degrade quickly when exposed to air, giving it a long shelf life.

Hemp-derived Delta-8-THC Concentrations are Low

Since Delta-8 is a product of Delta-9 degradation, it’s safe to assume that it’s available only in low quantities, especially in legal hemp material (which must contain less than 0.3% Delta-9-THC by law). In fact, Delta-8 is usually found in quantities lower than 1%.

Originally, this posed an issue for the researchers who discovered Delta-8-THC, especially after cannabis was made illegal in 1970.

That is until one prominent cannabinoid researcher, Raphael Mechoulam, discovered that Delta 8 THC existed as a CBD isomer, meaning the CBD molecule could be rearranged to create delta 8 THC. Mechoulam filed for a patent in the early 2000’s that detailed a method for converting CBD into delta 8 THC.

What is an isomer?

Delta 8 THC extraction relies on this “isomerization process,” but what does that mean?

An “isomer” is the terminology used to describe two compounds that have the same components, just in a different order. In other words, CBD contains everything needed to become Delta-8, it just needs to be rearranged.

CBD (cannabidiol) is available in abundance in hemp material that is federally legal and accessible. Extracting cannabidiol is the first step to making many of the Delta-8-THC products on the market today.

The Delta-8-THC Extraction Process

Before delta 8 THC can be made, CBD needs to be extracted from legal hemp material, usually using hemp flowers or hemp biomass (meaning the entire hemp plant). There are a variety of different methods that can be used for extracting Delta-8, but they all share a similar first step: Decarboxylation.

The decarboxylation process, commonly called “decarbing,” involves heating the hemp material to precise temperatures. Heat converts CBDa to CBD, which helps boost the potency of the extracted material.

After the material has been decarbed, one (or a combination) of various methods can be used to remove the CBD material from the dried plant material.

Common Delta-8-THC Extraction Methods

The methods used to make CBD products vary greatly, but they boil down to three popular, basic methods: solvent-based extraction, solventless extractions, and oil extractions.

Solventless extractions

These extractions, like Supercritical CO2 extractions or high-performance liquid chromatography, use no solvent. Instead, they require special equipment but are frequently described as “cleaner,” because no solvent can be left behind. All, RESTART CBD products from CBD, CBG, CBC, Delta 8 and CBN use Supercritical C02 Extraction. Providing the cleanest products on the market.

Solvent-based extractions

This method, like the infamous ethanol wash, requires a solvent. Ethanol breaks down and extracts the hemp material, and then some extra steps are required to remove leftover solvent from the extracted material.

Oil extractions

This is the oldest method, which involves using an oil base, like olive oil, and gently heating it to remove the cannabinoid material. This is similar to the way you make cannabis butter at home.

After the CBD material is extracted, it is carefully refined (through methods like winterization and distillation) to create CBD isolate. CBD isolate, a form of CBD that is 99% pure, is the material that is most frequently used to make Delta-8-THC products in the U.S.

Converting CBD to Delta 8 THC

Once the CBD isolate material is ready, it needs to be transformed into Delta-8-THC through a process called “isomerization.”

More specifically, CBD has to be dissolved in a certain acid, most commonly glacial acetic acid. This chemical process first converts some of the CBD to Delta-9-THC, but after 72 hours over half of the original CBD material will become Delta-8-THC.

Finally, the material is carefully refined once more to remove any unwanted materials, like leftover acids, to create a pure and potent Delta-8-THC oil. This material can be used to make the wide variety of Delta-8 products you’ll find on the market today.

Production After delta 8 THC Extraction

In some cases, the delta 8 extract is used as-is, or it may be mixed with various carrier oils, terpenes, cannabinoids, or flavor additives to create a Delta-8 product that is entirely unique.

Regardless of whether the material is used to make vaporizers or edibles or something in between, a good manufacturer will also use a batch-testing process to verify potency and safety.

Although delta 8 THC is a natural cannabinoid, there are various things that could go wrong during the isomerization process that would result in low delta 8 concentrations. For that reason, third-party lab tests are used to hold a manufacturer accountable, prove label accuracy, and otherwise mark a elta 8 product as honest and legitimate.

Does Delta 8 Extract Contain Delta 9THC?

Usually, delta 8 is made from a CBD-rich extract and the final product will contain no delta 9 THC. In some cases, a full-spectrum product may contain trace amounts of delta 9. Hemp products can legally contain up to 0.3% delta 9 THC, but these trace amounts aren’t enough to impact the effects of delta 8 products.

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.

In most cases, that means that the Delta-8 must be hemp-derived and made according to the hemp agriculture standards in the state where it was manufactured. Delta 8 that is made from federally legal hemp generally has the same legal status.

Keep in mind that Delta 8 laws vary by state.

At RESTART CBD, all of our Delta 8 THC products are 100% Farm Bill compliant and are accompanied by lab tests that prove label accuracy.

As you continue to use and purchase hemp products, here are some best practices you can exercise when it comes to delta 8 products as well as a few tips for the companies selling these hemp-derived products.

Tips for Consumers and Retailers

Delta 8’s extraction impacts the benefits. Like any other supplement, the ingredients, purity and harvesting process affect the benefits, and Delta 8 is no exception. There is an influx of Delta 8 products on today’s marketplace with little or no oversight as to what’s inside, making it more important than ever to understand the dedication to quality of the company you buy from as well as to their transparency in showing just how natural the ingredients in your delta 8 product are.

Attention: Delta 8 Consumers

If you’re in a legal state for adult-use cannabis, you can generally purchase delta 8 from a licensed cannabis retailer.  They won’t make as big of surge in those legal states as they do in restricted states.  This also helps to ensure that your delta 8 product has been lab-tested for potency and purity. 

Overall, the lab results should show you if the product is free of pesticides and other chemicals, doesn’t contain any unknown compounds, and contains the cannabinoids it claims to at the quantities it claims.

Attention: Delta-8 Retailers

On the retailer side, we have a quite a few more tips and tricks.

Insurance Coverage

First, you’ll want to maintain adequate insurance coverage on your products.  Even further, request that you vendors and suppliers also take advantage of this coverage.  This helps you withstand the weather of liability, as many other companies will have to stress and struggle through various delta 8 changes and regulations.

Structures in Place

To make sure you’re ready for any adverse events or customer complaints, have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place already.  You want your customers to feel heard, especially when it comes to a substance that isn’t even legal in every state.

Compliant with Relevant Laws

Next, make sure you products are compliant with any and all state laws that are applicable.  This includes any relevant laws that have to do with advertising, labeling, ingredients, or manufacturing.

Don’t Advertise the Wrong Things

Another important tip: don’t spout that the product will get your customers high.  Focus on its other benefits and talk around that fact.  Also, while you’re at it, make sure you’re limiting the concentration of delta 8 THC per recommended serving sizes.  While these precise serving sizes are unknown, just ensure you’re not putting too high of a concentration into any one product.

Restrict Through Age Verification

Purchases should be limited to adults 21 years of age or older.  Even though you’re an adult at 18, there are plenty of laws that require someone to be over the age of 21 to purchase certain products.

GMP Manufacturer

The manufacturing facility you choose should comply with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations.  If you’re contracted with a solid company like that, you should be good to go.

Derive from Lawful Sources

Ensure the hemp you’re deriving your Delta-8 extract from come from lawful sources.  RESTART CBD, for example, follows all legal channels possible when sourcing our distillate, manufacturers, and much more.  All our products are under the strictest of industry regulations so that we make absolutely sure that we get it right every time.

Finally, make sure you’re complying with all federal and state food and drug laws.  This can be done fairly easily by just complying with GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe, procedures.

Know Your State’s Stance 

Delta 8 products can be an excellent alternative for customers in states where greater concentrations of delta 9 THC are illegal. 

Contact RESTART CBD with more questions—we’re happy to guide you to the most appropriate product for your needs.

Tune in with “To Be Blunt’s Pod Cast” host Shayda Torabi for even more insightful information as she interviews our favorite local chemist. Is Delta 8 THC a Synthetic?

Nov 3, 2021 UPDATE: US DOJ-DEA Clarifies Its Position That Hemp-derived Delta 8 THC Is NOT Illegal