June 6, 2024

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Experts concerned over unstudied compounds in delta-8 THC products

5 min read

The scientific director of a cannabis testing laboratory is sounding the alarm about products containing delta-8-THC because he said they contain potentially harmful compounds that have not been tested.

Chris Hudalla, Ph.D., founder of ProVerde Laboratories, warned consumers not to use them as guinea pigs.

“If you were walking down the street with a family member or child and found a pill on the street, would you give it to them?” He asked in an interview. “We know that much about it [delta-8 THC] Products – what’s inside. “

The proliferation of Delta-8-THC has sparked a debate about how the products should be regulated and whether they are “legal” under US law. Many states have banned or regulated the sale of products containing Delta-8-THC.

Concentration of Delta-8 THC

Hudalla said the focus should be on whether the products are safe and he vigorously denied claims that Delta-8-THC is naturally derived from hemp.

According to Hudalla, 55,000 kilos of biomass would be required to produce one kilo of Delta-8-THC from natural sources. He estimated that the wholesale price of Delta-8-THC would cost $ 500 million per kilo if you included processing.

By analyzing 18,000 cannabis samples, ProVerde Labs learned that 98.5% of them did not contain measurable levels of delta-8 THC, Hudalla said. Of samples containing delta-8 THC, the average concentration was 0.0018%, he said.

Delta-8-THC is usually low or undetectable in cannabis samples, according to the researchers in a 2020 paper published in the Peer-Review Journal of Natural Products, “Cannabis Inflorescence for Medical Purposes: USP Considerations for Quality Attributes.”

Natural vs. Synthetic Debate

According to Hudalla, one of the 16 authors of the above article and a member of the USP (US Pharmacopeia) Cannabis Expert Panel, no Delta-8-THC manufacturer extracts it from the hemp plant. Instead, he described a “synthetic way” to convert either delta-9-THC or CBD to delta-8-THC.

Hudalla warned that the conversion leads to isomers and synthetic reaction by-products that do not occur in nature and that have not been studied for their toxicity to humans.

He referred to a link on the ProVerde Labs website to a chromatogram for a sample of Delta-8-THC and identified peaks marked in red that do not occur in nature.

“Nobody removes the pollutants or tests them for toxicity,” said Hudalla.

Matthew Guenther is the founder of the American Cannabinoid Association, founded in 2020. He described himself as a chemist experienced in explaining the law to scientists. Guenther said he co-founded Industrial Hemp Farms and owns Blume Holdings, among which there are two entities in the Delta 8 THC market: Delta 8 Science and Bloom Delivery.

According to Guenther in a YouTube video, Delta-8-THC is generally obtained naturally from the hemp plant by isolating CBD.

“When CBD isolate is in an acidic environment, it spontaneously converts to delta-8 THC and can also convert to delta-9,” he said in an interview.

Günther added: “All of these connections try to find their most stable form.”

Hudalla of ProVerde Labs agreed that CBD is converted to delta-8 THC under acidic conditions, but he described the acidic environments that cause such conversion to be “far from natural” – which requires the use of hydrochloric and sulfuric acid, for example.

“The cannabinoids are never in an acidic environment where they would convert from CBD to these other isomers,” he added. “Adding chemicals to strong acids with catalysts to change their chemical structure is not a matter of course. It can only be synthetic. “

Delta 8 THC test results

ProVerde Labs isn’t the only one raising concerns about the quality of Delta-8-THC products on the US market. For example, test results commissioned by the US Cannabis Council (USCC) showed that Delta-8-THC products generally contain “very different amounts of Delta-8-THC,” as USCC claims in a summary of a report. The results also showed that the abstract said Delta-8-THC products may contain pesticides, heavy metals and illegal amounts of Delta-9-THC.

“The packaging of such products is often misleading or completely incorrect about the ingredients of the product and its legal status, and often contains unsubstantiated claims about medical or other benefits,” added USCC.

Through “small sample testing of products in their states”, some laboratories that are members of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) have determined that “many of the products labeled Delta-8 are of poor quality and questionable accuracy for labeling” . said Jody McGinness, executive director of HIA, via email. “The data is still thin, but anecdotally it is becoming clear that much, if not most, of what people smoke and get high is essentially inferior Delta-9.”

McGinness found that many labs do not have the equipment to accurately distinguish and measure Delta-8-THC.

“When you combine this lack of technical capacity with a multitude of seedy actors with gold rush mentalities, and all of them are unleashed on a mostly confused consumer base by a lack of FDA guidelines, the potential public health risks become serious,” he observed. “And the reality is that it takes a quality facility with exacting standards to produce pure Delta-8 in consistent formulations on an industrial scale, but there are many smaller ways to do this cheaply and dirty.”

HIA has advocated science-based regulations for hemp cannabinoids that put public safety first, McGinness said.

Responsible companies in the hemp cannabinoid market “build relationships with their customers based on respect and transparency,” said McGinness, who described these companies as “highly motivated to clear the market of substandard and counterfeit hemp products by using scientific Raising Standards and Accuracy in Labeling. “


In a telephone interview and follow-up email, the Director of Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines shared with 201-year-old USP – Nandakumara Sarma, Ph.D. – His concerns about products containing Delta-8-THC.

Test labs have found that some products labeled as Delta-8-THC only contain around 60% Delta-8-THC, according to Sarma. The remaining 40% contains possible impurities from mixtures of isomers and novel synthetic compounds, as well as residual chemicals, he added.

“Products labeled as containing Delta-8 are highly likely to be synthetically derived as it is generally not economically feasible to extract natural Delta-8-THC to the extent present in these products,” Sarma said in a per Statement sent by email. “This raises safety and quality concerns about identity and purity – given the unknown and untested nature of the synthetic analogs and the remaining compounds.”

Guenther of the American Cannabinoid Association said he consumed delta-8 THC daily and it did not cause the side effects associated with marijuana such as paranoia. He added that his company Delta 8 Science will not sell more than 25 milligrams of Delta-8 THC per gummy bear.

“In addition, you should be honest with a doctor,” he said.

Günther did not immediately respond to a follow-up request for comment on safety concerns from Hudalla and Sarma.

Hudalla emphasized that delta-8-THC is not his primary concern: it is the other compounds yet to be studied that result from converting CBD to delta-8-THC.

It was only recently that consumers were exposed to products containing Delta-8-THC “with no knowledge of toxicity,” he said. “It’s scary.”