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Oregon To Ban Sale of Synthetic Cannabinoids

OR ban cannabinoid

Synthetic cannabinoids are artificially produced. These products have been in the cannabis market for years. But now, Oregon has made a move to ban them from the market. Oregon will become the 1st state to prohibit the sale of synthetic cannabinoids starting this month. The reason why Oregon marijuana regulators took this restriction initiative is the concern about the chemicals used in producing such products. This move attracted opposition from cannabis producers, especially those who include synthetically produced cannabinoids called CBN in their products.

A bold move

This unprecedented move of the Oregon cannabis regulators will prohibit the sales of all synthetic cannabinoid products starting this month. The aim is to eliminate unregulated products that appear on the shelves of gas stations, supermarkets, and other retailers. Starting the 1st of July, the state will prohibit the sales of delta-8 THC and other synthetic cannabinoids. But starting July 2023, Oregon will allow licensed retailers by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) to sell synthetic cannabinoid products that are officially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The chemicals used in producing synthetic cannabinoid products are the main reason and concern why regulators have imposed such restrictions. The OLCC’s hemp and processing compliance specialist, Steven Crowley, has this to say about the situation – “We have testing for pesticides. We have testing for residual solvents from the extraction process. We don’t have any testing for any of the whole universe of chemical reagents you could use to synthetically turn one cannabinoid into something else or for any of the by-products of that reaction.”

Based on reports, the FDA has already approved a couple of hemp-derived products. This means that there is a high unlikelihood that the FDA will grant the necessary approval to easily place synthetic cannabinoid products on the shelves of OLCC-licensed retailers. On the other side of the issue, the general counsel at Wyld and Wyld CBD, Gabe Parton Lee, made his own statement. Wyld is an Oregon-based cannabis producer whose bestselling products are gummies that contain CBN. After the 1st of July, the sale of these products will become illegal. 

According to Wyld, there are different ways of regulating synthetic cannabinoid products to ensure that the final products on the shelves are subject to sufficient safety standards and testing. This, in turn, will ensure, to the highest possible degree, the safety of the products without the need for federal research grants or anything similar. The company has started a petition against this motion.

What does this mean?

It will now be a requirement for manufacturers of any Oregon cannabis cannabinoid products that are synthetically extracted or created to seek the approval of the FDA. Then they can sell their products at OLCC-licensed dispensaries starting July next year. Since licensed Oregon marijuana dispensaries aren’t allowed to sell inhalable products like flowers or vapes, this will restrict their inventories to products like tinctures, edibles, topicals, or pills. But the OLCC will make an exception for CBN that is artificially derived. Licensed dispensaries can sell these in non-inhalable forms until July 2023. After this date, these products would also require approval from the FDA. The OLCC will also require the retailers to label synthetically derived cannabinoid products accurately.

A researcher at the University of Michigan named Daniel Kruger has studied the use of delta-8 THC. According to him, the state officials of Oregon are perhaps being overly cautious, which is quite paradoxical, especially when considering the liberalizing trends for delta-9 psychedelics cannabis. There are concerns like heavy metal contamination. Also, there were incidents of laboratories finding levels of delta-9 that were illegally high. Accurate labeling, testing, and ensuring the purity of the products are extremely important. Delta-8 is a psychoactive cannabinoid similar to delta-9, an active cannabinoid that’s more commonly used Since delta-9 is typically found in small quantities, manufacturers derive delta-8 synthetically.

Safety concerns

According to the OLCC, the ban on synthetic cannabinoid products is mainly due to safety issues regarding the chemicals used in producing these products. The OLCC’s hemp and processing compliance specialist, Steven Crowley, claimed that they do have testing processes for pesticides. They have tests for residual solvents when extracting synthetic cannabinoids. But there are no tests for all of the chemical reagents that they could use to synthetically transform a type of cannabinoid into other products. There are also no tests for any by-products that come out of the process.

The chief scientific officer at the cannabis testing company ProVerde Labs, Christopher Hudalla, also had an opinion on the issue in a speech he delivered at the Analytical Cannabis last year. He spoke about the safety and health risks associated with the common production methods for delta-6 THC and other synthetic cannabinoids. According to Hudalla, it’s extremely easy to produce synthetic cannabinoids, especially since CBD is very cheap. Because there is an oversupply of Oregon marijuana, CBD has become very inexpensive. This means that virtually anyone can use this and convert it into a synthetic cannabinoid like delta-8. Hudalla also commented on how there isn’t any regulatory control over this process. These days, even young people consume such products without knowing whether they’re safe or not. According to Hudalla, this is extremely irresponsible.

Penalties faced

Those who will violate the new Oregon cannabis rules could face fines of up to $10,000. Any retailers who want to sell these products should first acquire a special license to do so. Starting July next year, consumers can only purchase synthetic cannabinoid products in OLCC-approved shops. Before becoming available, these products should first get federal approval from the FDA. According to Steven Crowley, while their agency tests for residual solvents and pesticides from the processes of extraction, they don’t have any test for the various chemical agents used to synthetically convert cannabinoids into synthetic products. 

Also, he noted that CBD supply had overcome the demand. This meant that anyone who could afford CBD could easily find different ways to market their products and earn money. People began working on various products that they could convert CBD into. This is how synthetic delta-8 THC products started. Furthermore, the OLCC rules require proper labels for any products that contain synthetic cannabinoids.

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