As a result, CBD appears to be free from the psychoactive effects you might be used to getting from THC. Moreover, CBD is known to balance out the high you get from THC and counteract the ‘negative effects’ from regular THC use or abuse. Though researchers have recently discovered that it might be possible to turn CBD into the psychoactive THC. But how?
Logically, this discovery sparked an interest in scientists to explore if CBD could convert to THC in the stomach. Especially considering that this conversion could never happen using other cannabis consumption methods, such as inhalation or topicals. So, what have they found?
Acid Changes CBD
There is no way of saying what this process will best be used for. Especially considering the fact that cannabinoids like D8-THC are minor parts of the cannabisplant; and D8 is about 50% less potent than D9-THC in terms of psychoactivity. On the other hand though, it is 200% more effective in battling nausea compared to D9.
Most cannabis consumers know that the cannabinoids CBD and THC are pretty similar. The two main components found in weed however, vary significantly. CBD is non-psychoactive, as it has only a weak ability to activate the CB1-receptor in the endocannabinoid system. On the other hand, the substance is classified as a negative allosteric modulator of CB1-receptors from the ECS. Meaning it affects the receptors (found throughout the human body) so that cannabinoids like THC – or your body’s own THC, anandamide – are not well absorbed.
Well, one study used artificial gastric fluid. Obviously this was adjusted to pH 1, to mimic the acidity of actual gastric fluid. The CBD in the study was dissolved in methanol, resulting in a 85% isomerization of the present CBD; into a mixture of D9- and D8-THC.
It could also produce different byproducts and leave a variety of residues requiring cleanup. Webster, Serna, and Raphael's patent highlights hydrochloric acid in ethanol or sulfuric acid in cyclohexane as two options. Other options include p-toluenesulfonic acid and toluene.
Unlike other cannabinoid extractions, notably ethanol-based methods, conversion for Delta-8 requires a non-polar organic solvent. Common solvents include alkanes like heptane.
3. Different Solvent-Acid Combination, Different Results
Step-by-step: Converting CBD into Delta-8
Add acid into the solvent solution. Maintain the mixture at a temperature of 100 degrees Celsius while continually stirring for upwards of 18 hours (stirrer hot-plate required). Popular solvents include alumina acid-washed, p-toluenesulfonic acid, and hydrochloric acid (all known as Lewis acids).
Using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), the washed, converted mixture is separated into its many cannabinoid parts. Testing is critical throughout the process to confirm purity. Conversion is never 100 percent. There will always be a variety of byproducts. Extrakt Labs suggests being upfront with the testing laboratory on the process and formula used to ensure they use the most appropriate tests for residuals.
1. Dissolve CBD into Solvent of Choice
But where is this novel cannabinoid coming from? It's thanks to a surplus of other, more prevalent cannabinoids. Hemp-derived Delta-8 is jumping through legal loopholes and semantics, and it's also relatively cheap to produce in a lab. It's a matter of tinkering with the molecular structure of more benign and plentiful cannabinoids to convert them into Delta-8.
Stomach acid isn’t effective at turning CBD into THC. It’s thought that combining CBD with stomach acid gives a yield of around 3% THC. That’s practically nothing because bear in mind that CBD oil isn’t pure CBD.
But this doesn’t happen on its own. You would have to make it happen. The required condition? You have to cause a chemical reaction by creating a mixture with an acid. This will make the chemical bond that’s required to make change CBD into THC. Needless to say, but this would ruin your oil!.
The answer is yes, but it’s not a straightforward yes. In chemistry, there’s a term called ‘yield’. Yield refers to how much of X you get by combining Y and Z. A 100% yield indicates that all of the precursor substances were turned into your desired substance. 75% is a good yield, while below 50% is no good. Yield can vary based on temperature, time, and lots of other factors.
Does CBD Turn Into THC When You Take It?
The government have taken note of the fact that CBD can turn into THC. While hemp products are legal, what isn’t legal is selling something with lots of THC in it. At the same time, it’s illegal to sell anything that can easily be made into THC. It’s the same reason that fake money printing machines can’t be sold on the high street!
Besides that, conducting your own chemistry class at home is far from safe. Not only do you need to safely store dangerous substances (like strong acids), but the mixture you make won’t be consistent unless you make it under strict laboratory conditions. In other words, sometimes your experiment would result in a yield of 30%; if you’re lucky, it could result in a 90% THC yield.
If you paid attention in chemistry class, you may know that the structure of a chemical compound can be changed under certain conditions. In other words, sometimes a compound can be turned into its isomer. In short, yes: CBD can turn into THC.
You would need to add a laboratory-grade acid to CBD oil to create THC, as well as a full laboratory setup. This is dangerous and illegal and would mean that the CBD no longer has its desired effect.