In August of 2020, the DEA released a set of interim rules regarding hemp. In this ruling they say, “For tetrahydrocannabinols that are naturally occurring constituents of the plant material, Cannabis sativa L., any material that contains 0.3% or less of D9 -THC by dry weight is not controlled, unless specifically controlled elsewhere under the CSA,” CSA being the Controlled Substances Act.
However in the same paragraph further down, we get to the part that matters to Delta-8 THC advocates; “For synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols, the concentration of D9 -THC is not a determining factor in whether the material is a controlled substance. All synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinols remain schedule I controlled substances.“
By establishing a difference between naturally occurring cannabinoids that are produced in hemp and those that are derived and enhanced synthetically, the DEA virtually made a ruling against Delta 8. This is because, to the likely surprise of many (including myself), Delta 8 THC while naturally occurring in hemp, is in fact synthetically made from CBD when produced for retail sale.
How Delta 8 THC is Made
All cannabinoids, from CBD to THC and beyond begin as CBGA. Because of the shared molecular structure of cannabinoids, manipulating them is simpler than it may seem. While Delta-8 is relatively new, producers have been using these methods to manipulate cannabinoids for a long time to find exotic new cannabinoids.
While Delta-8 THC exists in a wide range of cannabis strains, it is in minuscule, trace amounts. To extract and purify Delta-8 from raw plant material with less than one percent of the targeted cannabinoid is unprofitable. This is why producers have begun converting other, more prevalent cannabinoids like CBD and Delta-9 THC into Delta-8.
The process of creating Delta 8 from CBD is nothing new, and is actually a patented isomerization process. It involves dissolving CBD in a solvent like heptane. An acid is then added into the solution and stirred constantly up to 18 hours on a heat plate. Once the chemical reaction is complete it will separate, where it can then be washed and dried and tested.
Compared to how your average Delta-9 extract is made, Delta-8 is a more lengthy, “synthetic” process. The Delta-8 is not there in the beginning, it is created in the end. And that’s why it’s a problem.