As a consumer, you've likely encountered and perhaps even purchased Delta-8 or Delta-10, two cannabinoids that have stirred controversies due to various state regulations and outright bans. Notably, Delta-8 THC was first synthesized in the 1960s, and its recent popularity stems from experimentation with CBD isolate during the oversupply of CBD a few years ago. So really what are Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC are they synthetic cannabinoids as some anti-cannabinoid groups say, or are they natural, better yet safe.
To answer all the question’s surrounding Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC would take a chemistry degree and a plethora of cannabis knowledge. Let’s keep this short, simple, and to the point. The question most people are still sorting through information on: are these isomers natural, a semi-synthetic, or synthetic cannabinoid? The easiest answer here is well it depends on the extraction source, not all Delta-8 or Delta-10 THC is created equal. While these cannabinoids can naturally occur in the cannabis plant and be derived through natural means, the rapidly advancing extraction and synthesis technology has outpaced cannabis genetics. To be clear, no Delta-8 or Delta-10 on market is 100% plant derived, the majority is synthesized in a lab.
Now does lab synthesis make the cannabinoid not natural? The answer to this is yet again, it depends. To truly understand the synthesis of Delta-8 or Delta-10 THC one requires a decent amount of knowledge in basic chemistry and knowledge of the cannabis plants biosynthesis of cannabinoids. The term isomerization is of key importance here. Delta-8 and Delta-10 at their core are THC isomers that cannabis has naturally occur in very limited amounts, below 1%. Extraction facilities have a few options when producing Delta-8 THC. One method is to utilize acid washes to convert CBD to Delta-8 THC or Delta-10 THC. Making the THC isomer a synthetic cannabinoid. Concerns arise about cleaning reagents and other chemicals from the final extract in this method. Making the extract as free of impurities as possible.
The other method is to utilize the THCA waste from the extraction process to create a more natural Delta-8 or Delta-10 THC. This is done by stopping the natural isomerization process at the peak of the sought after isomers conversion. Making a semi-synthetic cannabinoid. Again though impurities still remain in the extract such as solvents. However, with this method we don’t need to worry about re-agents remaining in the final extract. I’m not educated enough on the processes to go in-depth on the topic. Leading to the question of are these cannabinoids safe?
Answering this comes down to knowing the source of your product. Is the brand trustworthy and honest with there business practices? The safety of these cannabinoids depends on the source of the product. Consumers should prioritize brands that are transparent about their business practices, genuinely care about cannabinoids as medicine, and provide certificates of analysis (COAs) from reputable labs. COAs for ingestible or inhalable products should include a full panel, particularly examining solvents and contaminants, including acetone's and acetates.
So all you as a consumer really can do is hope that the synthetic or semi-synthetic forms of delta-8/10 are safe. If you’d like to do your own do diligence see if the brand is willing to or has a full panel COA for the product available. If not, I would avoid that particular THC isomer product or brand all together.
Here is what I look for with my personal business practices, I make sure that the isomer I’m purchasing to create product is from a semi-synthetic process. I do this for a few reasons, those reasons are as follows.
**Reason 1) From the feedback I received from friends who get to try my products before they hit market. 100% of them said any isomer that I knew was semi-synthetic had a better psychotropic “high” effect vs the fully synthetic.
**Reason 2) I’ve known for a while now how the vitamin and supplements industry works and the truth is 90% of vitamins on the market are semi-synthetic utilizing the same acid wash used in semi-synthetic or synthetic cannabinoid creation. So I’ll stick with as close to natural as possible. To be honest 90% is probably a bit high, some companies actually do use natural sourcing for their vitamin supplements.
**Reason 3) Make sure that a full panel certificate of analysis is available either for the product or for the extract that was used to make the product. You’ll be examining the solvent’s and contaminates sections of the COA. Specifically looking at acetone's and acetates, it doesn’t hurt to double check other solvents.
In conclusion, while Delta-10 and Delta-8 THC can naturally occur, consumers should stick with products derived through semi-synthetic processes, backed by a trustworthy brand with a commitment to medicine over profits. Synthetic cannabinoids, identified by names ending with "O" (e.g., THC-O, HHC-O), are 100% synthetic and not found in nature. The long-term effects of consuming synthetic cannabinoids remain unknown, but historical examples like spice and k2 highlight potential risks. In this barely regulated industry, not all cannabinoids are created equal, emphasizing the importance of due diligence as a consumer.