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Many Delta-9 Hemp Products Actually Made from Cannabis, Study Suggests

The study analyzed 53 of the most popular hemp delta-9 THC products on the market.

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Three-quarters of hemp delta-9 THC products cannot be legally sold as hemp in states such as Colorado and Massachusetts, according to a new study published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, commissioned by cannabis consumer research company CBD Oracle. The research shows that 49% of products included delta-9 THC produced by chemically modifying CBD and another 26% used delta-9 sourced from federally illegal marijuana.

The 2018 Farm Bill – due to be updated this year – unintentionally created a plethora of intoxicating-but-legal products through its loose definition of hemp. The main requirement is that hemp contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC by dry weight. This means a 10 g gummy can have roughly 30 mg of THC and still be sold legally across the country as "hemp delta-9." Manufacturers also used the bill to justify converting CBD into delta-8 THC (an isomer of delta-9), which is then also sold as "hemp."

The study, conducted by CBD Oracle and InfiniteCAL Labs, analyzed 53 of the most popular hemp delta-9 THC products on the market. The results showed that while only 2 products exceeded the 0.3% legal limit for delta-9, 66% differed from their stated dosage by more than 10%, and 75% were not tested for impurities by their manufacturer.

Through a new analytical strategy proposed by the paper, they conclude that three-quarters of hemp delta-9 products did not use THC naturally produced by the hemp plant. The lab analysis showed that 49% of products used the same type of reaction banned in states such as Colorado, HawaiiMassachusetts and North Dakota to produce their delta-9 THC, and another 26% illegally sourced it from marijuana plants. This means, in some states, over 75% of hemp delta-9 products are actually illegal.

InfiniteCAL's lab manager Dr. Erik Paulson explained that, "A vast majority of 'hemp-sourced' or 'hemp-derived' delta-9 THC is either cannabis-derived delta-9 or, even more commonly, delta-9 converted from CBD isolate. Although this route starts with hemp, it involves a chemical reaction to create this form of delta-9 THC and thus is not naturally occurring from hemp and is potentially dangerous."

The paper calls on governments to establish maximum THC doses per serving for hemp, establish age limits and mandate lab testing to ensure the safety of consumer hemp products.

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