Alternative cannabinoids: Delta-8, THC-O, HHC, THCP

Alternative cannabinoids: Delta-8, THC-O, HHC, THCP

What is Delta-8?

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta-8 THC, can be found naturally in the cannabis plant among the famous delta-9 THC. However, the delta-8 content in a plant is always just a very small amount, so all delta-8 products nowadays contain its synthetic version.

To make delta-8, people are using CBD from hemp, and turning it to delta-8 by going through a complicated process using many different solvents and other chemicals acting as catalysts. There is still the lack of regulation. Hence, a lot of irresponsible production is going on all around the world. There’s not many places providing any certificate of analysis of delta-8 products, therefore there is always a huge risk of solvent residue or heavy metal contamination. 

Regarding its effect, Delta-8 is reported to be around half the potency of Delta-9. Users can feel euphoria, happiness, chill, just as how they can feel when using normal cannabis. Medical users are also experimenting with Delta-8 for anxiety, sleep and pain. Although, we still need more research in the future regarding its benefits as well as potential risks.

Because of the 2018 Farm Bill, many consider Delta-8 to be legal in the United States because it is made from the legal hemp plants. However, some states have issued their own law to either regulate, restrict, or prohibit the use of delta-8. Therefore, make sure to check your local laws if you are planning to use this alternative cannabinoid.

What is THCO? 

THC-O, or THC-O acetate is another new synthetic cannabinoid. First, CBD extracted from hemp is converted to delta-8 THC. Then, acetic anhydride is added to make THC-O acetate.

The process is quite dangerous, as acetic anhydride is highly flammable and highly corrosive. Therefore, this process should only be done in a strictly controlled laboratory condition. 

Compared to THC, THC-O is around 3 times stronger. It also takes around 20 to 30 minutes longer to kick in, since it has to be metabolized to deliver the effects.

Similar to THC, users are reporting that THC-O can be great to reduce pain. However, one must consider that due to the unregulated market, THC-O products do not come with guaranteed quality. As mentioned, the process of making THC-O requires acetic anhydride, therefore there is always a risk of products contaminated with this toxic substance residue. Also, no research has been done to determine whether using THC-O leads to any side effects or long-term harm yet. 

Currently, THC-O is a class B drug in the UK. In the United States, its legality is still in a gray area, similar to many other synthetic cannabinoids. It can be considered legal, as THC-O is not listed in the list of controlled substances and is made from legal hemp, under the 2018 Farm Bill. But it can also be considered illegal if the authority decides that it is a THC analog, according to the Federal Analogue Act.

What is HHC?

HHC, or hexahydrocannabinol, is a new trend that has been going on for a while in many alt-cannabinoids communities. 

It is a semi-synthetic product. In nature, HHC can be found in cannabis, but only in a very small amount that is nearly undetectable. Therefore, in order to manufacture HHC products, people have to make it in the labs instead, similar to Delta-8.

However, the process of making HHC is quite unique. It can be made via the hydrogenation of THC, a process similar to turning vegetable oils into margarine. If hydrogenation makes vegetable oils more solid, then in terms of HHC, it makes this cannabinoid much more shelf stable than THC. Right now, most HHC products are made from CBD extracted from the hemp plants.

HHC is reported to be very similar to Delta-9 THC in terms of strength. Users say that it is somewhere between that of Delta-8 and Delta-9. Meaning that HHC is slightly milder than Delta-9 THC, but stronger than Delta-8. They also report that HHC gives a clearer high than THC, with less anxiety and paranoia. However, this is all anecdotal. There is no research conducted regarding this matter yet.

In terms of benefits, HHC seems to be good for pain and anxiety. The side effects are just similar to THC: dry mouth, sometimes dizziness, increased heart rate… Long term side effects are not studied yet though.

Regarding the laws, HHC can be seen as legal according to the 2018 Farm Bill, but can also be treated as illegal substance under the Federal Analogue Act. Therefore, always check your local laws for specific regulations regarding HHC.

What is THC-P?

THC-P is strong. How strong? Really really strong!

It is believed to be more than 30x stronger than your regular THC. This cannabis is very new and was only recently and accidentally discovered by Italian researchers, when they was analyzing a particular cannabis strain in 2019.

THC-P can be found naturally in the cannabis plant, but just similar to delta-8 and HHC, it can only be found in trace amounts. This means that to manufacture THC-P, people have to synthesize in the lab. There is information out there about how to make THC-P from hemp CBD, but it will require a lab setting with many complicated steps involved.

Because THC-P is highly potent, users should be very cautious when trying it. Start at a really really small dose and go slow, or you will risk consuming too much. And similar to the rest of our list here, the lack of regulation means that there is always a risk of fake, cheap products, or products that are contaminated with toxic solvent residues and heavy metals.

Lastly, THC-P can be considered legal because of the fact that it can come from legal hemp, and its name isn’t in the list of controlled substances yet. But it can also be considered illegal due to the Federal Analog Act. So, always check your local laws to make sure that you are not getting into any trouble. 

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