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Leonard L. Frieling Dec. 15, 2022

Summary of a Series on Delta-8 THC

Delta 8 THC Is a New, Complex, and Important Area of Cannabis CBD Cannabinoid Law

Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol, or Delta-8 THC is a hot topic nationally, statewide, legally and scientifically. The legality is disputed, with the discussion primarily involving the 2018 Farm Bill dealing with legalizing hemp and the IFR (Interim Final Regulation) issued by the DEA which states the DEA interpretation of the Farm Bill CBD language.

Was Delta-8 THC and it’s derivation something that was known of before the 2018 Farm Bill, or first identified and investigated after the 2018 Farm Bill? It was KNOWN before the farm bill!

The work of the most famous and respected cannabis and marijuana researcher, Raphael Mechoulam and colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science were synthesizing Delta-8 THC as early as 1967, and were not the first. Synthesis dates back at least as far as 1967. Wikipedia describes the history as including the partial synthesis of ∆8-THC , published in 1941 by Roger Adams and colleagues at the University of Illinois.[39] In 1942, the same research group studied its physiological and psychoactive effects after oral dosing in human volunteers.[40] Total syntheses of ∆8-THC was achieved by 1965.[41] In 1966, the chemical structure of ∆8-THC {Delta 8 THC} isolated from cannabis was characterized using modern methods by Richard L. Hively, William A. Mosher, and Friedrich W. Hoffmann at the University of Delaware.[42] A stereospecific synthesis of Delta 8 THC from olivetol and verbenol was reported by Raphael Mechoulam and colleagues at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1967.[43] Delta 8 THC was often referred to as "Delta-6-THC" (Δ6-THC) in early scientific literature, but this name is no longer conventional among most authors. downloaded 11/16/2022.

The significance is that when the Farm Bill was passed in 2018, Delta-8 THC was already a somewhat known cannabinoid, and its synthesis was already accomplished in several ways. Unlike the most familiar and perhaps most psychoactive and controlled cannabinoid,  Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 has not yet been extensively researched and remains relatively unstudied. Anecdotal “evidence” is pervasive, contradictory, and not yet sufficiently helpful. Government oversight for impurities including fertilizer poisons , mold, strength and strength and nature of impact, and more does need further investigation. The paucity of reliable information is an impediment to the passage of laws and regulations addressing this naturally occurring and also synthesized cannabinoid.  Research is once again, an old story in the cannabinoid history, hampered by the ambiguity of the laws federally and state-by-state as well as by the DEA IFR.  

We’ve heard for decades that “marijuana cannot be legalized because too little is known. Further study is needed.” Of course further study is and will always be needed. Consider that virtually every psychological study has to include the statement that more study is needed. With that in mind, remember that  a vital part of any study is incomplete without that need for and inclusion of specific suggestions for further research being included. Who will know more about what the next steps might be if not the researchers? How will the researchers lay the groundwork for seeking their next grant if this part is excluded? Scientifically, practically, and usefully this part of a study is essential. So virtually every study must generally include the section specifying that 1) more study is needed” and 2) must suggest what those areas for more study might be suggested.

To then say, as we have heard for way to many years, that legalization progress is too dangerous because more study is needed is simply nonsense, and with meaning implied that is illogical and obstructionis.

To get a general understanding of Delta-8 THC, properly denominated Δ8 tetrahydrocannabinol, we must look at the law, orgainic chemistry, and more. The 2018 Farm Bill is significant since the legalization of hemp and CBD with defined low levels of Δ9  tetrahydrocannabinol is directly and clearly discussed.  For simplicity in typing, I’ll use the generally presented form of “Delta-8” and “Delta-9” nomenclature.

What do we already know about the science? A quick assessment of the depth of study is found by searching  This amazing source of information includes summaries of studies, some full studies, and generally the “pay to view” studies are $50 or so. Of primary interest for this summary is the number of “hits” from searches of the site. PubMed consists of some six million words, and over a million edits. A search for “marijuana” produced over 41,000 results. A search for Delta-8 revealed 485 results. Those numbers suggest a lot as to the relative progress in the comparative degrees of published scientific research.

While I suggest that legalization (if not already clear) and regulation is necessary, this is made difficult by the overlap of conflicting laws, organic chemistry, and history. My series of blogs on the subject is an attempt to make these various areas accessible to all, and particularly to those working directly on legislation and regulation. Doing this is one bite, although I have attempted to do so in an hour and a half presentation to lawyers, is biting off more than I personally could chew. It is, IMO in my opinion, not possible. But it IS essential.


Lenny Frieling


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