When the federal Farm Bill of 2018 legalized cultivation of hemp – a member of the banned cannabis family – it also opened legal loophole entrepreneurs could use to chemically produce large quantities of low-cost Delta 8 THC from the plant.
It turns out that hemp’s plentiful cannabidiol (CBD) can be chemically synthesized with acids and solvents to produce large quantities of Delta 8 THC, thus opening the door for a new quasi-legal THC market nationwide.
But cannabis experts around the nation have reservations about hemp CBD’s manufacture into synthetic Delta 8 THC – among them Chris Hudalla, chemist and chief scientific officer for Maine-based ProVerde Laboratories.
“If it was being extracted from hemp, I could make the argument that it was legal,” Hudalla said by email. “But it is not being extracted. Like making methamphetamine from cold medicine, just because the starting materials are legal, does not make the resulting product legal or safe.”
While Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC are still considered illegal controlled substances in Utah, both now appear in the state’s medical cannabis program that opened for business in early 2020.
Neurologist and longtime cannabis researcher Ethan Russo addressed members of Utah’s Cannabinoid Product Board about Delta 8 THC during their Dec. 14 meeting. “Delta 8 THC is a natural component of herbal cannabis, but usually in trace amounts. So it is not inherently dangerous,” Russo said.
That said, Russo concurs that the problem lies in its manufacture into synthetic Delta 8 THC: “As it turns out, this material is being made from an excess supply of CBD. Basically, there’s a glut of hemp material, and people are looking for ways to profit.”
Product Labeling is Vital for Patients
Dr. Ed Redd – a recently retired board member, former state lawmaker, and Qualified Medical Provider for cannabis patients – detailed the lack of direction physicians have in making recommendations to patients and tracking their progress.
“Patients bring products in and show them to me, and I can’t tell what’s in them, quite honestly,” Redd told the product board. “I have no way of learning from my own experience in taking care of a patient – so I kind of operate in the dark because of that.”
Fine hopes that state lawmakers will improve product labeling this session in hopes of keeping patients safe and being able to track therapeutic benefits over time.
“At the very least, we want to understand purity and processing; at the next level, we want to understand what the constituents are in measurable amounts,” Fine said. “But anybody sitting there reading that label cannot with intellectual honesty look someone in the eye and say if I give this to you and you take it as recommended, this is likely what’s going to happen to you. We don’t know.”
What Does Senator Vickers Think?
“In recent years, Vickers has taken the lead on cannabis legislation. On Jan. 14, he said that bill language was being drafted, but he had nothing concrete to report yet.
On Jan. 21, he responded by text, saying, “There are plans to improve labeling.”
And despite widespread concerns over synthetic Delta 8 THC, Vickers said that “all Delta 8 THC products and future similar analogs will be recommended in the medical cannabis program.”
What Does TRUCE Think?
So, TRUCE poses the question…
Is this truly a medical cannabis program?
It seems the regulatory bodies overstepped their authority by allowing these analogs into the market, to begin with, creating an infused market of low-quality cannabis medicine at outrageous prices.
You know what’s laughable, now. The argument to why they intervened with Prop 2, they claimed it was a recreational program.
Yet, what actually happened is the Ag Department created the recreational market with the adoption of these analogs.
What we have in our state is an infused trashy recreational hemp program. This is not medicine. It’s cheaply made specialty highs with no efficacious studies to support any of it.
Instead of enforcing the law, Vickers and legislators are choosing to throw patient and public safety out the window, against the medical advice of the board he created*, to support industry profits.
Absolutely unacceptable. And the farce has gone on long enough.
*(Cannabinoid Product Review Board Dec meeting, TRUCE FB Post 12/20/21)