Cannabidiol sales hit a staggering $4.6 billion in 2020.
The CBD boom started in 2018 when the FDA approved it as a dietary supplement. Many different forms of CBD have since been developed, including gummies, edibles, lotions, and drinks.
Recently, manufacturers have begun producing a chemically-altered CBD product known as delta-8. Despite its prior legality, delta-8 is an unregulated and potentially unsafe substance.
Read on to learn about chemically-altered CBD, why the new law bans delta-8, and the benefits of organic, natural CBD.
What are Delta-8 and Delta-9?
Cannabis plants contain several cannabinoid compounds. The most well-known compounds include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD is a relaxing and pain-relieving cannabinoid that does not create a high on its own. THC is a psychoactive compound that creates a euphoric, high feeling in the user.
The most common naturally-occurring THC compound found in cannabis plants is delta-9 THC. The terms "delta-8" and "delta-9" refer to the chemical structure of the THC molecules.
Delta-8 THC is an isomer of the delta-9 THC molecule. This means that their chemical structure is the same except for the placement of one carbon atom.
Delta-8 is generally less potent than delta-9. Delta-8 has remained legal for many years despite laws restricting the manufacturing and sale of delta-9 THC.
How Delta-8 THC is Made
Delta-8 naturally occurs in cannabis plants, but it does not occur as densely as delta-9 THC. Because it produces a weaker high and does not naturally occur in high quantities, the FDA had not previously banned trace amounts of delta-8.
Manufacturers have learned how to increase delta-8 concentrations in hemp products. This effectively turns them into legal THC products through a process that involves heating and stirring in popular solvents including alumina acid-washed, p-toluenesulfonic acid, and/or hydrochloric acid.
Chemically altering CBD molecules closes the "ring" of carbon. This reaction produces more delta-8 than would naturally occur in the hemp plant. This reaction also produces other THC isomers and chemical by-products.
Why Do People Buy Chemically-Altered CBD?
When taken in a high enough amount, delta-8 can produce similar euphoric effects as natural delta-9 THC. In many places where delta-9 cannabis products are illegal or restricted, delta-8 still falls under CBD or hemp laws. People may use delta-8 products to get high or address pain and anxiety.
Why Has Virginia Banned Delta-8?
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) recently published a press release about selling THC-infused products, including delta-8. According to the press release, retailers must meet the Virginia Food and Drink Law requirements.
This law considers chemically-altered CBD to be a food adulterant. The law prohibits the sale of chemically-synthesized cannabinoids in consumable products.
Health Risks of Chemically-Altered CBD
Some research has shown naturally-occurring delta-9 THC to be relatively safe for consumption. Still, little is known about chemically-altered CBD, including delta-8.
Little is also known about the other THC isomers and chemical by-products produced during the creation of delta-8. These other substances may be harmful to human health. Currently, no regulations limit chemical by-products or ensure that delta-8 is safe for consumption.
Other Public Concerns
Delta-8 can produce intoxicating effects in people who consume it. Operating vehicles and other equipment while taking delta-8 can be extremely hazardous. Before the new Virginia law, legal delta-8 consumption presented an unchecked risk for drivers.
Many manufacturers market their delta-8 products with colorful wrappers and sweet, enticing flavors. Children encountering delta-8 infused products may mistake them for candies or baked goods. There is also potential for manufacturers to market these products to children intentionally.
The long-term effects of delta-8 and other chemically-synthesized cannabinoid compounds are not known. Children may be especially sensitive to the intoxicating effects of delta-8. Children may also experience more negative side effects.
CBD Products Included in the New Law
Delta-8 and the newly emerging delta-10 are chemically-synthesized cannabinoids. Delta-8 and delta-10 THC will be prohibited for sale in consumables such as edibles, gummies, tinctures, and inhalants.
CBD products that contain less than 0.3% THC are still legal for manufacture, sale, and consumption. The FDA considers products with less than 0.3% THC content to fall under federal hemp laws. Hanover Hemp's organic CBD products will always comply with Virginia's CBD laws.
Delta-8 and Delta-9 vs. Organic CBD
As previously stated, delta-9 is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. Delta-9 THC is legal in Virginia with some restrictions. CBD is legal in all US states as long as it comes from hemp plants containing less than 0.3% THC.
Delta-8 is chemically derived from legal CBD, but they are not the same. Dela-8 closely resembles delta-9 and produces similar "high" effects. Organic, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum CBD oil will never make a person high.
Full-spectrum CBD contains other elements from the cannabis plant, including trace amounts of THC. Federally legal full-spectrum CBD will always fall below 0.3% THC. Some research shows that the trace amounts of THC and other compounds create an "entourage" effect, helping the CBD to interact with the body.
Broad-spectrum CBD does not contain any THC. However, it can contain other cannabis plant compounds.
CBD isolate is 100% pure CBD. It contains no other plant components and no THC whatsoever. CBD isolate is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and is frequently used in CBD consumables.
Health Benefits of CBD
The FDA has declared that more research is necessary to verify some claims of the cannabis industry. However, existing research for natural CBD looks promising. Anecdotal evidence shows that CBD effectively addresses anxiety, pain, and insomnia.