InfiniteCAL discusses the numerous issues surrounding the rapidly growing market for Delta-8 THC.
Without question, the Delta-8 THC market has seen an incredible increase over the past year. Appearing across the internet as the hot new topic, misleading information leads consumers to believe the compound is legal and safe to consume.
In a recent interview, Josh Swider from InfiniteCAL shared his insight into this novel product rapidly gaining popularity. After testing nearly 2,000 samples in 2020, he can attest that as the number of products increases, so are the number of producers. With a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry, this is deeply concerning for Swider, as he understands the challenges of producing Delta-8 THC.
Additionally, he explained in no uncertain terms; there’s no gray area with Delta-8, “synthetically producing any tetrahydrocannabinols is absolutely federally illegal and creates a Schedule I controlled substance.”
Creating Delta-8 THC is Not Federally Legal
The products appearing in the market today do not feature plant-derived Delta-8 THC. In the natural world, the plant only produces tiny amounts of Delta-8 THC. Therefore, to make enough Delta-8 THC to bring to market, producers are synthetically creating the compound in a lab.
Swider explained the process in detail, stating, “Companies that are selling Delta-9 distillate and vape carts are synthetically creating Delta-8 by converting Cannabidiol (CBD) isolate into Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol, or converting into Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol.. So the material in the vape cart that claims its 90 percent Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol was not extracted from the plant; someone in a lab created it.”
This process of synthetically creating cannabinoids is expressly forbidden by law. As per the DEA final ruling, the question of synthetically derived forms of THC is no longer a question as it explicitly addresses the issue this statement:
“The [2018 Farm Bill] does not impact the control status of synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols (for Controlled Substance Code Number 7370) because the statutory definition of “hemp” is limited to materials that are derived from the plant Cannabis sativa L. For synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols, the concentration of D9 -THC is not a determining factor in whether the material is a controlled substance. All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances.”
Marketing Delta-8 THC as THC-Free is False
Within the hemp market, labeling a product “THC-free” helps ensure consumers the product they are consuming is legal and non-psychoactive. However, Swider cautions that he’s seen multiple Delta-8 products online labeled “THC-free” or “Hemp-derived,” which is both false and misleading for consumers.
“The process of creating Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol from Cannabidiol isolate is extremely difficult, and it’s nearly impossible to completely separate the Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol from Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol through distillation. The only companies we’ve seen have success with this conversion take additional chromatography steps after distillation to remediate the Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol from the batch of product,” Swider declared.
“It’s misleading to consumers not to identify that these products have been made in a lab instead of extracted from the plant, and it’s even more misleading to claim that the product is ‘THC-Free’ when tetrahydrocannabinol is in the name of the compound being sold,” he added.
A Question of Purity and Safety
Less than one percent of the 2,000 samples tested last year came back as pure Delta-8 THC, and most contained more Delta-9 THC than reported. In fact, of 1,500 concentrate samples tested by InfiniteCAL, a mere six samples tested compliant with the 2018 Farm Bill.
Some of the samples came back “looking like a rain forest,” Swider quipped about the numerous peaks on the chromatographic spectrum representing a range of unknown compounds.
“Remember the vape crisis scare,” Swider questioned. “This was caused by people doing chemistry in their garage and no one checking to see if it’s safe. There’s a reason drug manufacturer’s don’t hand out non-tested products to consumers and say, ‘Here try this out.’”
Swider explained that the process of synthesizing Delta-8 from CBD is done using hazardous chemicals. Without proper manufacturing procedures and clean-up, consumers could be inhaling more than they know.
“We don’t even know what’s in there,” Swider cautioned as he spoke of certain products they tested. “It’s a mess of chromatography that would take a half-million dollars in testing to uncover.”
Why Risk It?
Federal legalization for cannabis is likely just around the corner. With Delta-9 THC being the most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis, the need for creating other THC isomers should really be left to professional chemists. While Delta-8’s reduced psychoactive effects certainly have a place as an alternative to Delta-9, emphasis should really be made to fully understand the natural compounds before we start creating and consuming synthetic ones. Consumers should be cautious.
Swider explained that less scrupulous producers shop around for the most beneficial lab reports. So, they’ll send out their product for testing to three different places and keep the results that portray the best results. Unfortunately, he pointed out, some of these testing facilities aren’t certified labs and could be “just some guy with a make-shift lab in his garage.”
Qualified testing and transparency are critical for consumable products, especially those we inhale. Swider challenged, “Sure, the product may test at 90% Delta-8, but what if the other 10% is something that could kill you?”
Due to the nature of government, until someone actually gets sick, it’s unlikely there will be much of a crackdown on the flourishing market. Unfortunately, this assumption leaves us with just one question – which product and/or producer will be the trigger that ends an era?