Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be the highly recognized cannabinoid in cannabis, However, scientists believe that there may be more than 100 different cannabinoids in cannabis.
One cannabinoid that has recently surfaced in the market is delta-8-THC.
The National Cancer Institute defined delta-8-THC in a Report as an analogue of THC that contains neuroprotective properties that can increase appetite and reduce nausea, anxiety, and pain. It produces some psychotropic effects that are believed to be less vigorous than delta 9, the primary form of THC found in cannabis.
The legal status of delta-8 remains unclear, Depending the Location, where some states allow it ,some not. As several say it's federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill.
In terms of the legality, I think everyone is confused," says Scott Churchill, the director of scientific operations at MCR Labs, an independent cannabis testing laboratory based in Massachusetts. "There are people that say it's illegal because it's a derivative of cannabis, which I believe is how the original prohibition was written, stating that anything that is a derivative of cannabis is illegal. But then the hemp farm bill came out and depending on that language [in the farm bill] is whether or not it created a loophole for non-delta-9."
Delta-8 is reported to have similar psychoactive effects as delta-9, but the effects are much more restrained, says Roger Brown, the president and founder of ACS Laboratory, a cannabis, hemp, and CBD testing laboratory in Florida.
Delta-8 vs. Delta-9: Substance Differences:
The chemical structure between delta-8 and delta-9 is similar, as delta-8 is just an isomer of delta-9.
"The only difference between delta-8 and delta-9-THC is where that double bond is located on the chain of carbon atoms," according to ACS Laboratory. "Delta-8 has a double bond on the 8th carbon chain, and delta-9 has a double bond on the 9th carbon chain. This seems like a small distinction, but it's significant enough to produce slightly different cognitive and physical effects."
Jeremy Sackett, the founder and owner of Cascadia Labs, a cannabis-centric testing laboratory in California, agrees, saying there is a minimal difference between the two isomers because essentially the only difference is the double bond location.
How is Delta-8 Made?
Delta-8 is a cannabinoid found naturally in cannabis but typically only in small amounts. It is most converted in a laboratory from delta-9-THC or CBD.
There are several standard operating procedures (SOPs) that can be used to extract delta 8.
We broke down the delta-8 extraction process:
To start, hemp flower is extracted for CBD isolate, or pure CBD (98%+). Then isolate goes through an extensive process to get turned into a distillate.
Once it is isolate, a solvent is added to melt it down, and then an acid reagent is added to cause the reaction," Justice says. "After the reaction takes place, the new substance is then neutralized with an alkaline material, washed and then distilled to clean it up.”
The final distillate ends up being 60% to 70% delta-8 and roughly 2% to 6% delta-9, but if a company is trying to make a compliant hemp product, it must be under the 0.3% delta-9 THC maximum.
"Certain companies that are manufacturing properly will run it through extensive chromatography to remove the delta-9 or dilute it down to be compliant with the law.
From there, the distillate is sent to the lab for testing.
As delta-8 is a relatively new cannabinoid on the market, the testing process is not always perfect, as many labs do not have the proper SOP’s or equipment in place to properly separate delta-8 from delta-9.
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