Karhlyle Fletcher   |   July 16, 2022

Is Hemp-Derived Delta 9 THC the Answer to Synthetic THCs?

A hemp industry legal loophole provides an opportunity for the legal production of Delta-9 products, and producers have noticed.
Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

In the path toward the mainstream application of cannabis as medicine, the entire world population must be educated regarding the plant. While much propaganda about cannabis's danger needs to be corrected, Delta 9 remains a controversial and complicated chemical that needs further information advocacy before being integrated into the larger economy.

Regulation of the Delta 9 Economy was Largely Successful

While watching the cannabis industry over the last decade, its apparent victories have been achieved. Throughout the globe and the United States, more and more governments are allowing cannabis markets to come online, proving that the world is ready to purchase, use, and enjoy cannabis products. From places as diverse as Thailand to Minnesota, 2022 has shown little sign of cannabis's progression slowing down.

However, cannabis is more than marketing and consumption. Products labeled indica and sativa fly off shelves, some consumers are purchasing products with various terpene and cannabinoid concentrations, and synthetic Delta-8 products are all the rage throughout non-legal states. Yet, from the beginning, Delta 9 THC has reigned supreme as the substance most associated with cannabis, particularly its psychoactive effects. Now the question is, as the market offers edibles, tablets, carts, and more, where is the THC sourced?

New York has recently passed legislation allowing hemp farmers to grow for the adult-use cannabis market. However, in other markets, hemp farmers have been tempted to use loopholes to create supercharged hemp-derived products that contain concentrations of THC well beyond those found in the regulated market. The danger in such practices is hard to understate as it's unclear if the form of THC is converted via chemical lab processes from other cannabinoids present in hemp. Arguably more concerning is if producers abuse the regulations so that a 60g edible gets packed with 180mg of THC. This practice obeys the stipulation that legal hemp products may not surpass 0.3% THC concentration yet bucks the standard of the adult-use industry in which a similarly sized product would have about 10mgs.

To put that into perspective, try to look at it like this. While the regulated legal cannabis market is being limited to selling the equivalent of a beer, the non-regulated hemp industry is producing and selling moonshine with reckless abandon.

Industry Experts Weigh-In

No one understands the situation better than the cultivators and producers on the ground floor. As hemp farmers are limited to growing plants with no more than 0.3% THC, they are well aware that having the same limit applied to their salable products, whether flower or gummy, allows for an absurd amount of variation in dosing.

To further gain insight into the situation, Cannabis Tech spoke with Amanda Bliss (MSN, RN, APRN, FNP-BC), Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner for Cornbread Hemp, the first Kentucky company to offer USDA-certified organic CBD products, and now they are making use of the natural Delta-9 THC they are extracting from their hemp. 

In response to the rising popularity, Bliss shared her view, "Consumers will say, 'I'll use cannabis until the cows come home because it's natural.' But, let's pump the breaks; cyanide is natural too. Marketers are still preying on the idea that 'oh it's natural, so it's good,' but at the same time, they're starting to produce cannabinoids in like a meth-lab kind of way."

While sketchily created cannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids represent one kind of danger, Bliss also went on to describe another angle pertaining to the natural plant. She elaborated on the potential of hemp as a phytoremediator, saying, "One of the things that they do at the University of Kentucky is grow hemp at the mouths of abandoned coal mines and strip mines in Eastern Kentucky. The hemp is pulling out the heavy minerals and toxins because that's what’s been polluting those waters and those communities for so long.

She continued, “Well, guess what? All hemp does that. You don't have to plant it in front of a mine for it to absorb heavy metals. What are [consumers] going to do? Are [they] going to concentrate that and consume it? God forbid vape it?

Bliss emphasized, “Some of the most appealing parts of the plants are what make it so that we have to be cautious when using it ourselves or suggesting it to others."

The Benefits and Possibly Bright Future for Hemp-derived Delta 9 THC

While the industry must practice due diligence in sourcing safe and reliable compounds for the consumer market, there is an opportunity for progress. As Bliss points out, the difference between heroin and fentanyl is massive, and there is a similar risk posed by synthetic cannabinoids.

The world has already seen several people seriously harmed from consuming synthetic cannabinoids. However, responsibly sourced and transparently reported hemp-derived delta 9 THC may prove to be a safer cannabinoid. Many experts believe that with the right regulation, Delta-9 THC could outcompete and eliminate the rise of delta 8 or the threat of synthetic compounds.

 

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