Clarifying Statement Regarding WSLCB Rule Making Authority Re THC Isomers Other Than Delta-9

WASHINGTON: The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board issued the following clarifying statement regarding its rule making authority re: THC Isomers other than Delta-9.

Issue

Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive compound naturally occurring in very low levels in cannabis. With the recent federal legalization of hemp, delta-8 and other THC compounds other than state regulated delta-9, can be chemically derived from CBD that was originally generated from hemp.

Delta-8 derived from hemp has emerged for sale nationwide, including small amounts within the regulated Washington State supply chain, as well as in unregulated convenience stores and commercial internet websites. It is an emerging issue nationwide with concerns surrounding it that include: youth access, health effects resulting from the extraction process, and the impact of a product that is generally unregulated competing with a tightly regulated state cannabis marketplace.

Research

In recent months, the LCB has been researching delta-8 through multiple channels. Discussions are ongoing with state public health officials, cannabis industry representatives and other state regulators through the national trade organization the Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA). Most states are currently fact finding and communicating with Washington and other states. Some have moved quickly to prohibit delta-8 through rule or legislation.

Reason for Policy Statement

On April 28, 2021, LCB issued Policy Statement Number PS-21-01 regarding: The regulation of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), other than Delta-9; and the conversion of CBD, hemp, or both to delta- 8 THC, delta-9 THC, or any other cannabis compound that is not currently identified or defined in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), or both. The LCB’s policy statement is in response to multiple stakeholder requests and national concerns for clarification.

Through PS-21-01, the LCB is notifying the public and stakeholders that the agency will be addressing the issue. State law encourages agencies to advise the public of its current opinions, approaches, and likely courses of action by means of interpretive or policy statements. Current interpretive and policy statements are advisory only. To better inform the public, agencies are encouraged to also convert long-standing interpretive and policy statements into rules.

LCB Intent

The LCB’s intent is to open public discussion around this issue. While the Board has broad rule-making authority to act quickly when the public health, safety or welfare is at risk, the Board’s intention is to approach the issue conservatively and transparently, collecting input and actively collaborating with stakeholders. Until the LCB has reached a conclusion through the public rule-0making process whether to adopt rules to create enforceable requirements regarding products that contain delta-8, this policy statement is advisory. The LCB will continue to enforce existing rules pertaining to packaging and labeling reviews to ensure there is not an excess of 10 mg of any type of THC in edible products.

The policy statement represents the Board’s continued effort to make the public and stakeholders aware of our intentions and invite participation. The Board will soon approve a CR 101 to make the process public and begin standard rule-making. As always, interested parties may sign up for email notifications or check the LCB website at lcb.wa.gov for updates.

WSLCB Issues Policy Statement On Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Compounds Other Than Delta-9

WASHINGTON: Consistent with RCW 34.05.230, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) has published a policy statement concerning tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compounds other than delta-9 and the conversion of CBD, hemp, or both to delta- 8 THC, delta-9 THC, or any other cannabis compound that is not currently identified or defined in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), or both. 

Policy statements are agency-level documents declaring plans or intentions of an agency. Policies are different from procedures, standard operating procedures, or guidance because they apply to the entire organization and are primarily intended to set direction. In contrast, procedures or guidelines typically include specific instructions used to accomplish defined tasks that may be described in a policy.

Notice of WLSCB Policy Statement #PS21-01 was filed with the Washington State Code Reviser on April 28, 2021 as WSR 21-10-045. The policy statement is offered in response to multiple stakeholder requests and national concern for clarification regarding the regulation of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), other than delta-9; and the conversion of CBD, hemp, or both to delta- 8 THC, delta-9 THC, or any other cannabis compound that is not currently identified or defined in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), or both.

Additional information can be found on the WSLCB Policy Statements webpage.

Commission Starts Effort to Limit Unchecked Use of Delta-8-THC, Other Artificially-Derived Cannabinoids

Concern grows about easy access to intoxicants at neighborhood convenience stores

OREGON:  The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has initiated rule making for Delta-8-THC and other psychoactive components of hemp and marijuana that currently fall outside the adult-use cannabis market’s system of testing and labeling. At their regular monthly meeting on March 18, 2021, Commissioners expressed concern about the general availability of this unregulated intoxicating product. The Commission also approved three stipulated settlements for violations committed by OLCC recreational marijuana licensees.

Delta-8-THC has recently emerged for sale nationwide, including in the supply chain of the OLCC recreational marijuana market, as well as in unregulated brick and mortar convenience stores and internet websites. Delta-8-THC is present in marijuana, but the OLCC only regulates Delta-9-THC produced in marijuana. When consumed by humans Delta-8-THC produces an effect (“high”) similar to Delta-9-THC.

Delta-8-THC can also be created from hemp, which is regulated under the federal Farm Bill of 2018. Typically, hemp-derived Delta-8-THC is converted from CBD through a chemical process, which also produces a large proportion – as high as 30 – 50% – of unknown byproducts. Delta-8-THC created from hemp can be found in food products and sprayed on hemp flower.

Delta-8-THC isn’t addressed in Oregon statutes, isn’t included in Oregon Health Authority marijuana concentration limits, and there’s no testing for the Delta-8-THC or the by-products included in its chemical conversion. But Delta-8 products are currently widely available for purchase outside the OLCC adult-use market, even by children.

“When this was brought to my attention alarm bells went off in my head,” said Paul Rosenbaum, OLCC Commission Chair. “You have minors going into grocery stores and they understand very well what this is all about. And let me tell you, if there’s a way to find it, people will do it.”

OLCC’s proposed rule-making would only address the presence of Delta-8-THC and other artificially-derived cannabinoids in products grown, manufactured and sold in Oregon’s recreational marijuana market. But for OLCC and the Oregon Department of Agriculture to take effective action on total THC measurement and tamp down the availability of such products to minors, legislative action is required.

“We don’t have sufficient authority over total THC in Oregon,” said Steve Marks, OLCC Executive Director. “But until we get that and ability to do final product testing to help get these things into the right markets where they’re supposed to be, either in the unregulated hemp CBD market or into our market it’s going to be hard.”

Marks observed that all states are facing the issue of how to regulate Delta-8-THC, but that Oregon is at the forefront in addressing it. Regulatory gaps do remain surrounding the broader issue of intoxicating hemp cannabinoid products in the general marketplace that can be legally sold to minors, and who should be responsible for regulating those products.

“Unregulated hemp has no final product testing,” said Marks. “They only test for Delta-9 in the field. You can’t regulate what you don’t test for. We’re talking about two species of the same plant. And that means that federal and state regulators need to harmonize their oversight of this plant, and work towards across-the-board testing of marijuana and hemp products designed for human consumption before they enter the marketplace.”

The House General Government Committee of the Oregon Legislature is expected to take up the Delta-8-THC issue at a public hearing on Thursday, March 25, where it could consider legislation ensuring that all intoxicating THC products, properly tested and labeled, are sold within the OLCC regulated system and also ban the sale of currently non-regulated Delta-8-THC products to minors under age 21.

The Commission also ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found here on the OLCC website):

STONEY ONLY PORTLAND will surrender its recreational marijuana retailer licenseon the date the sale/transfer of the business is completed, or by 12:00 PM on June 16, 2021, whichever is earlier for two violations.

Licensee is: Stoney Only Portland, LLC; Joseph Babb, Member; Ragna TenEyck, Member; Michael Mullins, Member.

HERB N’ SPRAWL will pay a $4,950 fine and serve a two-day recreational marijuana producer license suspension OR serve a 32-day license suspension for one violation.

Licensees are: Prairie Song Organics, LLC; Yotokko Kilpatrick, Member; Rick Saga, Member.

DEEP ROOTS CANNABIS in Springfield will pay a fine of $3,465  OR serve a 21-day recreational marijuana wholesaler license suspension for one violation.

Licensees are: Premier Concepts, LLC; Mary Jane Wilson, Member; Susie Polen, Member; Braden Smith, Manager.

Curt’s Cannabis Corner: What is Delta-10 THC?

Welcome to the next installment in the new series of educational articles from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network. This collection is intended for cannabis and hemp industry professionals who wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry of this specialand newly legalherb. 

This week we’re dealing with a newcomer to the world of commercial cannabinoids, delta-10 THC. Please remember to #LearnAndTeachOthers™!


CURT’S

CANNABIS

CORNER 

What is Delta-10 THC?

By Curt Robbins

 

 


All cannabis consumers and industry professionals are familiar with the phytomolecule THC that is produced by the cannabis plant. Many, however, aren’t aware that this popular psychoactive chemical compound is but one of several similar THC molecules produced by the plant called analogs (or, more technically, isomers).

The version of THC that differentiates hemp and cannabis, the measure of which has determined the market value of cannabis flowers and related products for decades, is delta-9 THC. However, a variety of analogs of the THC molecule exist. These include THCA (no psychoactivity), delta-8 THC (about two-thirds the psychoactivity of the delta-9 isomer), and THCV (the varin version that delivers psychoactivity, but only in relatively potent doses).  

Other cannabinoids are produced by the plant as similar isomer families, including cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG). In fact, each of these cannabinoids manifests as more than half a dozen isomers. (For CBD, these include CBDA, CBDV, CBDVA, and CBDP. Similarly, CBG offers the isomers CBGA, CBGVA, and CBGV, among others.)   

Recently, the delta-8 isomer of THC has gained attention. A variety of companies in the U.S. have begun selling delta-8 products, mostly in an effort to skirt the federal regulations that prohibit delta-9 THC. Meanwhile, an additional isomer of THC has attracted the attention of entrepreneurs: Delta-10 THC. 

History in California

The story of delta-10 THC is rife with irony. The phytomolecule was recently discovered by Fusion Farms in Adelanto, California. During a wildfire, a batch of outdoor grown plants became contaminated by fire retardant chemicals. These chemicals caused one or more of the cannabinoids in the plants to convert to delta-10 (most likely from cannabichromene [CBC], CBD, or delta-9 THCall of which feature very similar molecular structures). 

Thus, delta-10 THC has been dubbed an “artificial cannabinoid” because it may occur very rarely, or almost never, in nature. Modern manufacturing processes, however, offer the ability to produce the molecule in volume by converting closely related cannabinoids.

Some industry professionals believe that, during testing, delta-10 THC is commonly misidentified as similar cannabinoids, including CBC. “A lot of people had been seeing this mystery compound show up as a minor component on their distillate COAs [Certificates of Analysis], but they thought it was CBC,” said Josh Jones, an organic chemist who consults for Fusion Farms.

 

Business Opportunity

The tenuous nature of regulatory oversight of hemp and cannabis products in the United States means that the legal status of delta-10 is both ambiguous and could change at any time. 

The challenge for companies wishing to produce products rich in delta-10 THC is use of a production method that synthesizes the molecules in sufficient volume to satisfy potential market demand and cause true efficacy in consumers.   

The saga of delta-10 THC illustrates how industrious entrepreneurs and managers within the industry will pursue opportunities to develop novel cannabinoid isomers. These molecules will naturally feature a different binding affinity, which is the exact method by which they attach to specialized cellular receptors in the human body (part of the endocannabinoid system). As such, wellness professionals seeking novel approaches to the management of particular disease states and conditions may be able to fine tune the efficacy of molecules to match use case scenarios and bolster the safety profiles of molecules or particular products. 

Curt’s Cannabis Corner: What Is Delta-8 THC?

 

UPDATE: “Understanding Legal Status”

Editor’s Note:  Welcome to the first installment in the new series of educational articles from technical writer Curt Robbins at Higher Learning LV and MJNews Network. This collection is intended for cannabis and hemp industry professionals who wish to gain a better understanding of the nuanced biochemistry of this specialand newly legalherb.  

For the next two weeks, Curt teaches readers about the hot new phytomolecule delta-8 THC that is causing such a stir among consumers, entrepreneurs, and medical professionals.


CURT’S CANNABIS CORNER

What is Delta-8 THC?

By Curt Robbins

For years, the producers, processors, distributors, marketers, regulators, and consumers of cannabis have focused primarily on only two molecules produced by the plant: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both are sold by thousands of companies in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

 

As a wave of medical and adult use marijuana legalization reaches beyond North America to the far corners of the globe, companies are beginning to promote and exploit additional wellness molecules produced by cannabis and hemp. Creative entrepreneurs and product formulators are seeing the advantages, both financially and legally, of leveraging molecular options beyond CBD and THC. 

The Big Picture

The cannabis/hemp plant species produces three primary families of wellness molecules that, together, number in the hundreds. There are approximately 146 cannabinoids, 20 flavonoids, and 200 terpenesthe majority of which have demonstrated significant medicinal efficacy, as revealed by thousands of peer-reviewed research studies since the late 18th century. 

Before delving into the details of delta-8 THC, it is important to properly frame the topic.   

Understanding Molecular Analogs 

Most cannabis consumers are ignorant of the fact that the chemical compounds produced by cannabis are members of small groups called analogs (sometimes cited as isomers in research literature). In fact, the CBD family features seven distinct analogs, as does the cannabinoid cannabigerol (CBG).    

 

THC is no exception. The analog with which most consumers are familiar is the infamous delta-9 variant (technically called the neutral analog), which produces sometimes significant psychoactivity. There’s also the acidic precursor THCA, which conveys no psychoactivity but significant wellness benefits and is popular as a juiced edible.

Yet another THC analog is the varin version, THCV, which conveys greater psychoactivity than delta-9, but only at more potent doses. An Italian research study published in December 2019 discovered additional THC and CBD analogs, THCP and CBDP, respectively (the researchers dubbed them the phorols). Delta-8 THC is yet another member of this collection of molecular analogs.

While molecular analogs sometimes share many of the same effects when consumed by humans (such as decreased systemic inflammation or an alleviation of depression or pain), such homogeneity cannot be assumed. For example, while delta-8 and delta-9 THC both stimulate appetite, THCV decreases it! Another frequently confusing feature of cannabinoids is a characteristic called the biphasic response curve. This mechanism involves a molecule producing one effect at a low dose and a differentand sometimes polar oppositeeffect at a stronger dose. 

A good example of the mechanism of biphasic response curves is delta-9 THC. At low doses, this molecule is known for helping consumers manage stress and decrease anxiety (“Netflix and chill, dude”). At more potent doses, however, the same molecule can cause increases in anxiety and paranoia and even result in panic attacks. 

In the end, the differences between cannabinoid analogs are good because they provide additional options to patients and lifestyle consumers. Crohn’s disease and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy experience sometimes extreme nausea and lack of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and worsen their health. Wellness molecules that function as effective appetite stimulants are of obvious value to such consumer populations. 

Understanding Hemp vs. Cannabis

To properly understand the characteristics of delta-8 THC relative to the myriad molecules produced by the cannabis plant, one must first gain insight into the legal and technical differences between hemp and cannabis. Hemp is considered any sample of the plant that tests below 0.3 percent (one-third of one percent) delta-9 THC in weight by volume (research has indicated that psychotropic effects do not manifest in most adult consumers until samples feature at least one percent delta-9 THC). 

Hemp and cannabis have been illegal in the United States since August 1937, when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed by Congress. In December 2018, Congress reversed course after 81 years of prohibition by enacting the Farm Bill, which legalized samples of the plant containing below the 0.3 percent delta-9 THC standard employed in North America. Europe features a stricter 0.2 percent delta-9 THC limit, although this may change to 0.3 percent, in alignment with global market leaders such as the U.S. and Canada, in the near future.    

Delta-9 THC is currently considered a Schedule I drug which, by definition, implies that it provides zero medicinal benefit while displaying a strong propensity for abuse. Delta-8 THC, however, is legally categorized as a component of hemp, meaning that it falls under different regulatory oversight and can be sold in dozens of U.S. states. Legally, delta-8 and delta-9 THC are in different universes. From a regulatory perspective, delta-8 THC is managed more similarly to CBD. 

This important legal distinction means that companies can formulate and market products containing delta-8 THC and sell them in most states. Delta-9 THC products, on the contrary, can be produced and sold in only 15 U.S. states, with no interstate commerce or merchant banking permitted under the current scheme of federal prohibition. 

Understanding Legal Status

Hemp and cannabis have been illegal in the United States since August 1937, when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed by Congress. In December 2018, Congress reversed course after 81 years of prohibition by enacting the Farm Bill, which legalized samples of the plant containing below the 0.3 percent THC standard employed in North America, which it defines as “hemp.” Europe features a stricter 0.2 percent THC limit, although this may change to 0.3 percent, in alignment with global market leaders such as the U.S. and Canada, in the near future.    

Both delta-9 and delta-8 THC are currently considered Schedule I drugs by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. This means that all regulatory oversight and legal restrictions placed on delta-9 THC also apply to delta-8. Some of the companies producing delta-8 products are doing so legally under the laws of their home state, but, just as with delta-9 products, in defiance of federal oversight. 

It must be emphasized that such companies remain legal only if they restrict sales of their product to within the borders of their home state. Any interstate commerce activity falls under the strict purview of federal authorities, including the DEA, and Schedule I status.   

Confusion regarding these relatively new laws surrounds many interpretations of the legal status of delta-8 THC and emerging products. Some parties believe that delta-8 derived from hemp (samples of the cannabis plant genome that feature <0.3 percent delta-9 THC) are a legal loophole that allow them to narrowly skirt any laws of prohibition at the state or federal level. 

“You have a drug that essentially gets you high, but is fully legal. The whole thing is comical,” said Lukas Gilkey, CEO of Hometown Hero CBD in Austin, Texas, during an interview with the New York Times

However, many legal authorities paint a different picture. “Dealing in any way with delta-8 THC is not without significant legal risk,” said Alex Buscher, a Colorado lawyer who specializes in cannabis law, during an interview for the New York Times article cited above.

Some companies have invested in production and multi-state marketing of delta-8 products. Unfortunately, they are doing so under the false belief that their formulations are categorized as hemp under the Farm Bill and, thus, legal.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Delta-8 and delta-9 THC fall under the identical categorization and carry the same enforcement mechanisms and penalties.     

Understanding Delta-8 THC

Regardless of the legal status of delta-8 THC, let’s compare and contrast the medicinal efficacy of both compounds. Despite its reputation for helping consumers unwind from a stressful day, delta-9 THC has a nasty reputation for causing the opposite when consumed in strong doses: Elevated anxiety, paranoia, and sometimes panic attacks. Disorientation, confusion, and other forms of distress resulting from too much delta-9 have been documented by hospital emergency rooms and psychologists for decades. 

Delta-8 THC has been reported, through both formal research and anecdotal testimony, to deliver roughly two-thirds of the psychoactivity of the delta-9 isomer, but without the paranoia. This provides an option for those who avoid delta-9 THC or cannabis overall due to a previous negative experience with the herb. 

That said, it should be noted that the potential for consumers, especially novices, to experience increased anxiety or paranoia when consuming any psychotropic substance, especially in potent doses, always exists. Doctors and wellness professionals should experiment over time and “start low and go slow” with the dosing of delta-8. Many consumers have reported positive experiences when consuming delta-8 THC, especially in comparison to delta-9. 

One distinct difference between these two analogs is their relative volumes in plant samples. Most modern cultivars and chemovars (“strains”) of cannabis have been bred to increase delta-9 THC levels (which typically range from 10 to 30 percent), not CBD or delta-8. As such, delta-8 THC is found in small quantities in natural plant samples (typically well under one percent, similar to CBG). Delta-8 is sometimes extracted and concentrated by complex processing equipment requiring specially trained technicians. More often, however, it is synthesized from molecules that feature similar molecular structures, such as CBD and delta-9 THC. 

Some doctors, including Dr. Benjamin Caplan (a clinical practitioner in Boston who recommends legal cannabis to his patients), are finding superior results with their patients when they mix the correct doses of delta-8 and delta-9. Some wellness professionals are employing such a formulation instead of the more traditional delta-9 and CBD mix. 

“While the combination of delta-8 and delta-9 often yields a less euphoric experience, it can be a very pleasant alternative to blends of delta-9 THC and CBD,” Caplan told me during an exclusive interview.

In addition to appetite stimulation, delta-8 THC delivers anxiety reduction, can help treat pain, has shown antioxidant efficacy, and is a powerful tool in the treatment of nausea. Caplan described delta-8 THC as a “fan favorite” among his patients. 

Delta-9 Tolerance Break Tool?

Some companies and caregivers have begun exploring the use of delta-8 THC as a tool to help daily users, especially heavy cannabis consumers, to lower their tolerance to delta-9 THC. Even slight improvements in the relative potency of delta-9 based on reduced tolerance can equal significant monetary savings for such large volume consumers. 

“It’s not uncommon for those who use delta-9 THC to find that efficacy wanes after a long period of consistent use,” said Dena Putnam, President and co-founder of Leafwize Naturals in Orange County, California. Leafwize Naturals sells a variety of vape cart products featuring the dominant ingredient of delta-8 THC.  

Putnam explained how the delta-8 isomer of THC “may offer a way to circumvent the body’s tolerance of delta-9 while delivering similar benefitsall while taking a break from delta-9 in an effort to bring back the full effectiveness” she explained during an exclusive interview. 

Putnam said that delta-9 THC tolerance breaks “can be scary for those who depend on it for daily pain relief and mood management,” but explained that it is “sometimes necessary to reset the effectiveness of the medicine.” She explained how “delta-8 may offer a way to take a delta-9 break while providing a level of medicinal relief that is similar to delta-9.”

When queried about the success of this approach, Putnam explained how she and her staff noted two positive outcomes from their experiment: Delta-8 efficacy that mirrored that of delta-9 and the overall goal of achieving a lowered tolerance for delta-9 THC. Both target outcomes were achieved, somewhat of a unicorn in the world of science-based health and wellness.      

“We found that, after a period of switching from delta-9 THC to delta-8, that delta-8 helped in a manner similar to delta-9,” said Putnam. “More important, when the user resumed consumption of delta-9, the effects were greater, as if they had taken a conventional tolerance break,” she added.

It’s a Wrap

Delta-8 THC, only one of several THC analogs that includes THCA, THCV, and THCP, offers a number of advantages over its sibling delta-9. From the perspective of medicinal efficacy, delta-8 provides 60-70 percent of the psychotropic (psychoactive) effects of delta-9 THC while, typically, delivering little or none of the paranoia and anxiety that may result from delta-9.

Medical practitioners and business entrepreneurs are beginning to recognize the advantages of a world in which phytocannabinoids beyond CBD and delta-9 THC are readily available in thousands of products from hundreds of companies. If businesses like Southern California’s Leafwize Naturals have anything to say about it, that world will be here sooner rather than later.