A scientist with rubber gloves holds up a THC oil container and a cannabis leaf.

Delta 8 to THC Conversion: How Does It Happen?

Delta 8 THC has been making waves in the cannabis industry, offering a unique alternative to its more well-known counterparts, Delta 9 THC and CBD. Unlike the extraction processes for Delta 9 THC and CBD, Delta 8 extraction is an uncommon process. Instead, this cannabinoid is synthesized from other cannabinoids through a Delta 8 THC conversion process. While fascinating, Delta 8 to THC conversion is still a new frontier and should be used responsibly. Here’s everything you need to know about the conversion process of Delta 8 THC so that you can make informed decisions about your cannabis consumption. 

What Is Delta 8 and Why Is It Legal?

Delta 8 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in both hemp and marijuana, although it is present in much lower quantities than Delta 9 or CBD. Despite this, Delta 8 has become increasingly popular due to its unique properties and legal status.

Compared to Delta 9 and CBD, there is far less research on Delta 8. However, many users report effects that are different from either of those other compounds. This is likely due to the slightly different molecular structure of Delta 8, which interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a unique way.

Delta 8 has a double bond on the eighth carbon chain, while Delta 9 has it on the ninth. This small difference makes the binding affinity to CB1 receptors in the brain weaker for Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 THC. As a result, Delta 8 is less psychoactive than Delta 9, which may be why users report a more mellow and clear-headed high.

Delta 8 THC has gained immense popularity in areas of the United States that don’t have recreational marijuana laws. That’s because the legality of Delta 8 THC is a bit of a gray area. While Delta 9 THC is illegal under federal law and in many states, Delta 8 THC is not explicitly listed as a controlled substance at the federal level.

This is because Delta 8 THC can be derived from hemp, which was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill legalized hemp and its derivatives, including CBD, as long as the hemp contains less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC on a dry weight basis. Delta 8 THC is technically a derivative of CBD, which means that it falls under the same legal framework as CBD.

However, some states have begun to take action to regulate or ban the sale of Delta 8 THC products. This has created confusion and uncertainty around the legality of Delta 8 THC, and consumers should be aware of the laws in their state before purchasing any Delta 8 THC products.

How Does Delta 8 THC Extraction Happen?

To extract cannabinoids from cannabis, various methods can be used—such as butane extraction, ethanol extraction, or CO2 extraction. Each method has its own characteristics in terms of efficiency, purity, and safety.

Using butane and alcohol is cost-efficient for many Delta 8 THC manufacturers. However, these chemicals could end up being contaminants in the final product. It’s important that you verify the purity of your Delta 8 extract by reading the third-party lab testing reports provided by the retailer. 

CO2 extraction is often considered the best method for limiting impurities and keeping a potent extract. This process involves using pressurized CO2 to extract cannabinoids from the plant material. The resulting extract is then further refined to remove any remaining impurities.

However, Delta 8 extraction is not a common process because it is present in such low quantities in cannabis. To produce more Delta 8 THC, additional chemical processes are needed. Let’s take a look!

What Is the Delta 8 THC Conversion Process?

The process of converting CBD into Delta 8 THC involves using different chemical reactions like isomerization or distillation to change the molecular structure of CBD and create Delta 8 THC. 

The isomerization method involves mixing CBD with an acid catalyst and heating it to a specific temperature. This causes the CBD to rearrange its molecular structure resulting in the formation of Delta 8 THC.

Distillation, on the other hand, is a more complex process that requires specialized equipment and expertise. During the distillation process, the extract is first heated to a high temperature in a flask or other container. 

This causes the cannabinoids and other compounds in the mixture to vaporize and rise up through a fractionating column. The column contains a series of plates or packing material, which help to separate the vaporized compounds based on their boiling points.

Because Delta 8 THC has a higher boiling point than many other cannabinoids, it can be separated and collected at a higher temperature. Once the Delta 8 THC has been collected, it can be further purified using additional distillation steps or other methods.

Potential Dangers from Delta 8 THC Conversion

While Delta 8 THC can provide some unique benefits and effects, there are also potential dangers associated with its use. One of the primary concerns is the use of chemicals and the lack of long-term studies on the effects of these chemicals on the body.

The process of converting CBD into Delta 8 THC involves using various chemicals and solvents, and if not done properly, these chemicals can remain in the final product and potentially harm the consumer. 

In the isomerization process, the use of acid catalysts and high temperatures can create impurities that may be harmful if they make their way into the final product. These impurities can be difficult to detect, which is why it's important to purchase Delta 8 THC products from reputable companies that have strict testing protocols in place.

The same concerns are present with Delta 8 THC converted using distillation. If not done properly, it can result in a product that still contains unwanted impurities. Furthermore, some companies may cut corners by using low-quality materials or skipping important steps in the conversion process, resulting in a product that is less pure and potentially harmful.

Lastly, because Delta 8 THC is a relatively new cannabinoid, there is minimal research on the long-term effects of its use, and the safety of prolonged exposure to Delta 8 THC remains unknown.

As with any substance that alters the body's chemistry, it's important to make informed and responsible decisions about the use of Delta 8 THC. Seek out products from reputable companies that prioritize safety and quality and be aware of the potential risks associated with Delta 8 THC use. It's also recommended to start with low doses and gradually increase as needed while monitoring for any adverse effects.

Can You Convert CBD to Delta 9 THC?

Technically, it is possible to convert CBD to Delta 9 THC through the same isomerization process discussed during Delta 8 to THC conversion. It would also require acids and high temperatures, which brings the same potential concerns expressed over Delta 8 THC conversion. 

It’s also important to note that the legality of converting CBD to Delta 9 THC is highly questionable. Delta 9 THC is still illegal under federal law and in many states, and the production and distribution of Delta 9 THC products are strictly regulated.

Some states, such as Washington, have regulations in place that prohibit marijuana processors from converting hemp-derived CBD into Delta 9 THC in the legal cannabis market. This is to ensure that all products sold in the legal market comply with state laws and regulations and do not contain illegal substances. It's important for consumers to be aware of these regulations and only purchase products from reputable sources that adhere to state laws and prioritize safety and quality.

The Future of Delta 8 THC

While the legality of Delta 8 THC is still somewhat uncertain, it can be derived from hemp and currently falls under the same legal framework as CBD. However, some states have begun to regulate or ban the sale of Delta 8 THC products, and consumers should be aware of the laws in their state before purchasing any Delta 8 THC products.

Additionally, while the conversion process can produce high-quality Delta 8 THC products, there are also potential dangers associated with its use, like the use of chemicals and the lack of long-term studies on its effects. As with any cannabinoid product, consumers should seek out reputable sources and make informed decisions about the use of Delta 8 THC.

Looking ahead, the future of Delta 8 THC products remains uncertain. While some companies are investing heavily in Delta 8 THC, it's possible that regulations or safety concerns could limit its availability in the future. As more research is conducted and regulations are established, we will gain a better understanding of the potential benefits and risks associated with Delta 8 THC.

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