Although delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8 THC) is the cannabinoid that is receiving the most attention these days, it is by no means the only cannabinoid that has been synthesized or biosynthesized. As researchers shift their attention to increasingly scarce cannabinoids, chemists are looking for novel techniques to obtain vast quantities of molecules that were previously difficult to extract.
CBG (cannabigerol), cannabigerolic acid (CBGa), cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv), and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) are all rare cannabinoids with significant medicinal promise.
To expand on this research and eventually meet market demand, it will be necessary to identify an economical source for big quantities of these cannabinoids in vast numbers. The majority of cultivars now contain only minimal levels of the compound, and the extraction method is time-consuming and expensive to perform properly.
With the cannabinoid-based pharmaceutical industry in the United States expected to reach $50 billion by 2029, there is a strong incentive to develop novel methods of producing these molecules. This necessitates the use of laboratory synthesis techniques such as isomerization and biosynthesis.
THC in the DELTA-8, DELTA-7, AND DELTA-10 ranges (ISOMERIZATION)
The conversion of CBD into delta-8 THC accounts for the vast majority of the delta-8 THC currently flooding the consumer market. A small number of companies are also using delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9 THC) that has been remediated as the major constituent.
Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that is less strong than its sister cannabinoid, delta-9 THC. It is derived from the cannabis plant. Because of the high demand for this compound among recreational users, it is now widely available throughout the United States. Is it still unclear whether or not the Food & Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration will continue to accept this interpretation?
Chemical engineers synthesize delta-8 THC by mixing cannabidiol (CBD) with a non-polar organic solvent and an acid, as stated in “How Delta-8 Is Made in the Lab.” When heated and agitated for an extended period of time (sometimes as long as 18 hours), the mixture turns into the desirable delta-8 THC compound.
The washing and cleansing required are time-consuming, but the process is quite inexpensive and uncomplicated, especially considering the glut of CBD currently available on the market. In a similar vein, producers are also producing alternative types of tetrahydrocannabinol, such as Delta 7 and Delta 10 THC, which are beginning to appear in consumer retail in the form of vape cartridges and candies, among other things.
BIOSYNTHESIS: CBG, CBD, CBDA, AND OTHER STRENGTHENING COMPONENTS
Dr. Andrea Holmes of Precision Plant Molecules mused, “I don’t understand why there’s so much hoopla about Delta-8 THC; what about Delta-10, Delta-7, and even CBN?” in a recent interview. While they’re all created in a laboratory, we’ll focus on one of them.”
According to Precision Plant Molecules, a rising number of firms in the cannabis area, including Hysynth and Colorado Chromatography, are working on alternate lab-grown solutions for a wide array of rare, minor cannabinoids.
Chemists working under the biosynthetic approach use genetically engineered yeast or bacteria to accomplish their goals. These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are transformed into mini-factories that manufacture specific cannabinoids such as CBD and CBDa. In comparison to indoor, greenhouse, or even outdoor plant-based businesses, this technology is significantly more scalable and cost-effective.
BNN Bloomberg recently reported that the price of these biosynthetic cannabinoids might be as low as 10 cents per gram if they are manufactured in large enough quantities. Cannabinoids produced in laboratories and those taken from cannabis plants are entirely interchangeable. Their output is also predictable, regulated, and efficient, which is a huge plus.
K2 AND OTHER SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS, AS WELL AS SPICE AND K2
Cannabis plants naturally create more than 100 cannabinoids, all of which are physically similar at the molecular level and are produced by the plant itself. Both the isomerization and biosynthesis techniques discussed above are aimed at recreating known (and natural) phytocannabinoids in a laboratory environment.
However, the more well-known synthetic cannabinoids manipulate the chemical structure in order to produce completely synthetic molecules that are not found in nature.
These molecules, which have names such as HU-210, JWH-018, JWH-073, AM-2201, and UR-144, are designed to look and act like phytocannabinoids, but with minor structural modifications at the atomic level. Originally intended solely for scientific purposes, they have since been widely embraced by the illicit drug market as a whole.
For a brief period in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the black market was flooded with synthetic cannabinoids. These drugs, which were sold under the brand names “Spice” and “K2,” had a reputation as a “legal” high, but they were also associated with severe toxicity. There has been a link established between these substances and overdose mortality, liver poisoning, heart attacks, and other serious medical disorders.
In states that have legalized recreational and medicinal cannabis, the usage of these cannabinoids for recreational purposes is on the decline. Despite this, they continue to be deadly street drugs with the potential to have catastrophic consequences for users.
These compounds, in contrast to the lab-produced cannabinoids that are currently in short supply due to conversion or biosynthesis, have not undergone comprehensive testing. Researchers have a considerably more restricted understanding of the effects they create as well as the adverse effects they may cause than the general public.
IN THE LABORATORY, THE FUTURE OF CANNABINOIDS
There will, without a doubt, always be a market for cannabis flowers and full-spectrum marijuana extracts. While isolated cannabinoids are showing increasing medical promise, there is a pressing need for a reliable and affordable source.
The extraction of uncommon cannabinoids from plant material is a difficult and unpredictable process that is also inefficient. In the future, processes like as biosynthesis and isomerization will most certainly become the norm for cannabis production, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry. Considering that these lab-created compounds are completely interchangeable with their phytocannabinoid counterparts, these techniques can be used to assist fill in the gaps between the two types of molecules.