Chemical Conversion of CBD into Δ8-THC & Δ9-THC
As we in the Cannabis industry work to improve our processes, Summit takes a look at the contributions made by cannabis scientists of the past. In this case we are presenting an overview of a chemical conversion of CBD into THC analogues Δ8-THC and Δ9-THC, brought about by Mechoulam (left) and Gaoni (right).
Believe it or not, this research took place back in the 1960s- over 50 years ago. Among other tests, scientists wanted to create conditions similar to the human stomach. This tends to make us think they wanted to see if non-psychoactive CBD could in fact become psychoactive through unintended chemical change during digestion. Their results showed that under certain acidic conditions, CBD does indeed chemically convert to other compounds and cannabinoids; mainly THC analogues Δ8 and Δ9. Though some of the testing methods they used required exotic chemicals like boron-trifluoride and benzene, one method utilized readily available materials with much higher relative safeties- ether and ethanol. With prices and regulation surrounding CBD on the decline, a market for THC analogues derived from CBD isolate may soon exist.
Some things to keep in mind, are that this article is merely a discussion of steps and techniques already presented in scientific texts and patents. Additionally, Gaoni and Mechoulam’s research does not represent the optimal processes for CBD to THC conversion. Anyone reviewing this article, related patents/texts, or conducting R&D, must be fully licensed, certified, and possess the appropriate safety equipment, gear, and knowledge before ever attempting any of the methods or techniques mentioned. Serious injury, poisoning, fire, incarceration, and even death may occur if required precautions are not taken.
- ⦁ Boiled a solution of absolute (200 proof) acidified ethanol with CBD.
⦁ Gaoni and Mechoulam combined 3.0g CBD with 100ml (78.9g) absolute ethanol containing 0.05% HCl (hydrochloric acid).
⦁ The solution was boiled for 18 hours.
- ⦁ Poured solution into water, extracted with ether.
⦁ They poured the boiled solution into water, added ether, and pulled the cannabinoids into the ether layer.
- ⦁ Washed solution with water, dried, and evaporated ether.
⦁ G&M then washed the ether solution with water.
⦁ They dried the solution with sodium sulfate (Na2SO4).
⦁ The ether was then evaporated.
- ⦁ Eluted cannabinoids via chromatography.
⦁ Various cannabinoids and other chemical compounds were removed through chromatographic methods.
Summit believes the demand for highly purified cannabis oils and isolates will keep increasing exponentially, as cannabinoids continue to flood into our lives and manufacturers find new ways to market their goods. Laws are loosening up which allows us to use cannabis in more ways now than ever before. This industry needs pioneers, and sometimes to make something new you need to look at the contributions of legends from the past. –JBV