Synthetic cannabinoids are manufactured in a laboratory instead of being naturally synthesized by the cannabis plant. There are two different types of synthetic cannabinoids. The first type is FDA-approved pharmaceuticals such as dronabinol (Marinol®, synthetic THC). The second refers to various unregulated “designer” mixtures, like “Spice/K2,” sold in convenience stores and smoke shops, which are dubiously legal, and sometimes dangerous. These do not contain classic cannabinoids or have the same safety profile.
So-called “minor” cannabinoids are now being synthesized in large quantities from hemp waste. Synthesized cannabinoids use chemical processes to convert hemp-sourced cannabinoids such as CBD and THC into THCO, Δ8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC), and other cannabinoids that naturally occur in the plant in minimal quantities.
In particular, Δ8 is being marketed as a “legal high” by unscrupulous hemp producers because it is mildly psychotropic. Cannabis researchers have raised concerns about their use and safety in new products sold on the hemp market. Products containing high levels of Δ8-THC are synthetically manufactured using unregulated manufacturing processes that may involve dangerous household products. They are often inaccurately labeled and may contain cutting agents or heavy metals. The adverse effects of these products have been reported to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Budtenders should be aware that if Δ8-rich products are available in the dispensary, they are synthetic, not naturally occurring
Find more information on synthetic and designer cannabinoids in The Budtender’s Guide by Oaksterdam University.