Oregon is set to become the first state in the union to ban synthetic cannabinoids beginning in July.
State regulators with the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) say they’re restricting sales of the products over concerns about the chemicals used in their production.
What Are Synthetic Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis. A chemical process can be used to isolate them or create them synthetically in abundant quantities, which are used in consumer products. In that the synthetic cannabinoids don’t contain THC, they’ve gone mostly unregulated, which means products like CBN can be sold on the open market, including at supermarkets, gas stations and other retailers.
The best-known synthetic cannabinoid is delta-8 THC. The Centers for Disease Control warned consumers last year that there had been more than 100 delta-8 exposures that required hospitalization in just six months across the country in 2021.
Delta-8, like CBD and CBN, occurs naturally within the plant. However, since it exists in very small amounts, a chemical process is used to extract it from CBD.
“The supply of CBD was outstripping the demand for CBD,” said Steven Crowley, the hemp and processing compliance specialist with the OLCC. “And so, the people who had CBD on hand were looking for other ways that they could market it. People started working on different products that they could convert the CBD into. This is where you get the delta-8 THC products.”
The ban goes into effect this July but starting in July 2023, only the sale of synthetic cannabinoids will be allowed in OLCC-sanctioned cannabis shops after the products undergo rigorous and expensive testing and receive approval from the FDA.