In February, Hemp Grower interviewed me about HHC production, effects, and testing protocols. After publishing the article, it ranked amongst the site’s top performers. Why? The legal, psychoactive cannabinoid trend, including Delta-8, Delta-10, and THCOa, continues raging, with HHC as its latest headliner.
Processors, manufacturers, and brands are jumping to create products featuring these compounds. And consumers are raiding hemp shops and online stores in droves. The enthusiasm is nothing short of unprecedented, as companies rapidly introduce these innovations into the marketplace. But such speed to market is not always beneficial for end-users, especially in an unregulated market.
So, here I’d like to review the core facts about Delta-8, Delta-10, THCOa, and HHC, and why I believe rigorous testing is the only way to raise the bar on product quality.
Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC
Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC are tetrahydrocannabinols (like Delta-9 THC) that exhibit psychoactive properties. However, these compounds are typically milder than their illicit cousin due to minor molecular differences. Like Delta-9, these Delta-8 and Delta-10 exist naturally in hemp and cannabis plants. However, they appear in such small quantities that it’s nearly impossible to extract enough for commercial production. That’s why processors extract CBD first, then convert CBD to Delta-8 and Delta-10 through a chemical process using a combination of acids and solvents.
Delta 8 THC is legal to use, possess, sell, distribute, and produce within the state of Florida. Nineteen other states have regulated or banned Delta 8. Some of these states, including New York and Colorado, have also banned all THC isomers, including Delta-10 and any future variations. That means consumers, depending on where they live, may be breaking the law by purchasing these products.
High-quality Delta-8 and Delta-10 products present no particular risk. In fact, they may be highly beneficial for people looking for mild euphoria without the intense paranoia that occasionally coincides with Delta-9 THC products. But if companies are creating these formulas without the proper expertise and testing, they may be producing unsafe products with residual solvents and unintended compounds, like Delta-9.
THCOa is also a tetrahydrocannabinol that displays mild psychoactive properties. But unlike Delta-8 and Delta-10, THCOa is produced entirely in a laboratory through a technique called acetylation. This highly complex process can remodel natural substances, like Salicylic Acid into pharmaceutical-grade products, like Aspirin, by substituting a hydrogen atom with an acetyl group. In the case of THCOa, chemists first create Delta-8 from hemp-derived CBD using acids and solvents. Then, they acetylate Delta-8 into THCOa using a reactant like Acetic Anhydride.
To date, there are no known bans on THCOa. However, its tetrahydrocannabinol designation could put it at risk for future restrictions.
THCOa production involves a host of acids, solvents, and reactants that could remain in the products if not properly washed. Additionally, some products contain unwanted byproducts, like Delta-9.
HHC is another legal compound that delivers mild euphoria. However, unlike the others, HHC is not a tetrahydrocannabinol. It belongs to an entirely different chemical class known as hexahydrocannabidiol. Some research indicates that HHC appears in hemp in trace quantities, particularly in the pollen. However, not every expert agrees.
Nevertheless, nearly all HHC products on the market are created using a similar method–and it always involves metal catalysts. Typically, manufacturers start with CBD isolate to convert to Delta-8 (sound familiar?). Afterward, they add two active metal catalysts to convert Delta-8 into the final product.
To date, there are no known bans on HHC. Interestingly, industry experts tell us they have high hopes HHC won’t face the same fate as Delta-8 because it exists in an entirely unregulated chemical category.
HHC production requires acids, solvents, metal catalysts, and chemical reactants that are dangerous when consumed in large quantities. If HHC products are not properly washed, they may contain these unsafe residual compounds. Additionally, HHC could contain accidental byproducts that the consumer doesn’t want to ingest.
The Testing Solution
Fortunately, hemp companies can mitigate these health and safety risks by adhering to Good Manufacturing Practices and by testing products with proper and accredited third-party laboratories. However, they must do their due diligence and look for laboratories like ACS that perfected the methods for analyzing these compounds and can deliver accurate potency information. They should also seek laboratories that offer targeted safety tests to verify products are free from residual solvents, metals, and reactants. Sure, these tests are beyond the scope of compliance requirements, but they’re the only responsible way to launch unexplored innovations.
Even though states do not have testing provisions for Delta-8, Delta-10, THCOa, and HHC (yet), we’ve received an onslaught of requests from honest actors. These companies care about quality and safety and will only sell products that pass the tests. Organizations that care are the reason I have hope for the future of this industry–and the exciting potential of these unique compounds.
Listen to me speak on “All the Buzz on Delta8+Delta10, THCOa, and HHC” at the Alternative Products Expo, March 11 @ 1:50 pm EST in Fort Lauderdale.
About ACS Laboratory
The Most Trusted Cannabis and Hemp Laboratory in the USA™, ACS Laboratory has earned 61 Emerald Test Badges for accuracy in testing in 2019, 2020 and 2021; more than any other laboratory in the USA. ACS Laboratory is ISO 17025 accredited, DEA licensed and CLIA licensed with the largest state-of-the-art facility in the eastern USA. Compliant with the USDA’s rules for hemp testing, ACS is also approved by the Florida Department of Agriculture as a “Designated Compliance Laboratory,” and deemed a “Certified Marijuana Testing Laboratory” by the Florida Department of Health. Due to its success, ACS Laboratory has undergone a 20,000 sq. ft. expansion and increased its reach to 48 states and 16 countries worldwide. Beyond compliance, ACS is committed to innovation, which is why it tests for more cannabinoids than any lab in the country and continuously develops new protocols to analyze lesser-known toxins. Its facility utilizes industry-leading ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and gas chromatograph technology with proprietary protocols to ensure accurate detection and quantitation.
For an inside look behind the scenes, check out this video. Read our blog for up-to-date information on cannabis science and lab testing for both the hemp and cannabis industries. For more information, visit acslab.com, or call (561) 510-8396.