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ANJA Presents: Why Don’t (Licensed) Dispensaries Sell Delta 8?

Ashley Robins
January 09, 2023

You’ve heard of it, but you aren’t exactly sure what it is. It’s in your convenience stores, delis, and gas stations. It’s convenient, accessible, and affordable. But what is it, and why is it so mysterious? How is it different from the stuff you see in dispensaries? Is it different?

Today, ANJA Presents: Why Don’t Licensed Dispensaries Sell Delta 8?

What is Delta 8?

Delta 8 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that is found in minuscule amounts in natural cannabis plants. Delta-8 THC is an isomer of Delta-9 THC. Isomers are chemical compounds that contain the same elements and the same number of atoms but have different molecular structures. That is to say, they contain the same ingredients arranged in different ways. High levels of Delta-8 THC are produced artificially by chemically converting CBD or Delta-9 THC through a process known as isomerization. All Delta-8 THC products are manufactured by some form of chemical conversion. Delta-8 THC is psychoactive, but weaker than Delta-9 THC according to users’ reports. Little is known about its long-term safety, its consumption at high dosages, or its medicinal effects.

Why is Delta 8 Everywhere?

The farm bill is a package of legislation passed once every five years that covers a wide range of agricultural topics. When the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law it removed hemp, defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis with less than 0.3% of Delta-9 (THC), from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Because the bill does not address isomer levels, this omission makes it legal for vendors to sell the various compound, often as edibles, vape cartridges, and tinctures, with no oversight. This differs from Delta-9 products sold in a dispensary; Delta-9 is naturally occurring in large doses in cannabis plants and is subject to multiple regulations and quality control checks.

Thanks to a loophole in the 2018 farm bill, isomers of THC are unregulated at the federal level.

The 2018 Farm Bill consequently triggered the production and sales of minor cannabinoids with intoxicatingly psychoactive effects, such as Delta-8 THC and THC-O-acetate. These products create a grey market as they are used as an alternative to recreational cannabis, especially by consumers who live in those U.S. states that have yet to churn out adult-use cannabis legislation. In other words, Delta 8 is everywhere because it is far less regulated and controlled compared to standard Delta-9 dispensary products.

How is Delta 8 Made?

Delta-8 THC, which cannot be easily obtained from plant material, is now being produced from hemp-derived CBD, particularly CBD isolate. This process involves heating CBD with an organic solvent and using an acid as a catalyst to initiate a chemical reaction. The reaction, which generates heat, is held at a specific temperature for a specific period of time. The acid and solvent combination is then used to transform the CBD isolate into Delta-8 THC.

While you would hope that the solvent used to isolate the Delta-8 has been removed prior to packaging the product, the lack of quality control and regulation means you cannot be positive. The problem with Delta-8 isn’t its existence, but the fact that there is minimal regulation and scientific backing to ensure that it’s safe for consumption.

Is Delta 8 Safe?

According to the FDA, consumers should be cautious of Delta 8 products for the following reasons:

The FDA received 104 reports of adverse events in patients who consumed Delta-8 THC products between December 1, 2020, and February 28, 2022.

National poison control centers received 2,362 exposure cases of Delta-8 THC products between January 1, 2021 (i.e., the date that Delta-8 THC product code was added to the database), and February 28, 2022.

The FDA is also concerned that Delta-8 THC products likely expose consumers to much higher levels of the substance than are naturally occurring in hemp cannabis raw extracts. Thus, the historical use of cannabis cannot be relied upon in establishing a level of safety for these products in humans.

The natural amount of Delta-8 THC in hemp is very low, and additional chemicals are needed to convert other cannabinoids in hemp, like CBD, into Delta-8 THC (i.e., synthetic conversion). Concerns with this process include:

Some manufacturers may use potentially unsafe household chemicals to make Delta-8 THC through this chemical synthesis process.

The final Delta-8 THC product may have potentially harmful by-products (contaminants) due to the chemicals used in the process, and there is uncertainty with respect to other potential contaminants that may be present or produced depending on the composition of the starting raw material.

In other words, #GetANJA, #GetSafe

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