Currently, Delta-8 is trending in the cannabis market. There are several Delta-8 infused products, ranging from gummies to soft gels. Experts and chief scientific officers raise concerns about the unstudied synthetic compound in Delta-8 toxic for the environment.
What is delta-8?
It is a cannabinoid that comes from cannabis plants. Moreover, more than 200 cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBG, and THC, are present in the plant. It is usually from the hemp plant, rather than from marijuana plants, only in small amounts.
Preparation of delta-8 THC in the laboratory
The extraction of delta-8 using raw material hemp is found to be cost-effective and also time-consuming. Therefore, manufacturers got another way to produce it by cannabinoid conversion. Cannabigerol acid (CBGA) is the mother cannabinoid from which all the cannabinoids evolved. CBGA is then naturally converted into another cannabinoid called CBD or CBG. The products formed are called synthetic compounds. This process affects the environment, genetics of the plants, and many more things.
Let us see the process involved in converting CBD into delta-8.
1. CBD isolate
The extraction process involves purifying the hemp extract into 98% CBD. Now the extract undergoes a complete filtration process, and it removes all cannabinoids and terpenes.
2. Mixing solvent and acid
To the mixture, professionals add a non-polar solvent known as heptane. It should be dissolved completely, and then a chemical reaction is produced by adding an acid reagent. It results in cannabinoid conversion. The solution is stirred well and kept at room temperature.
3. Neutralization and cleaning of the solution
Delta-8 or thc o carts production forms numerous unwanted products, including solvents and acid residues. Therefore, professionals have to clean and filter it using distilled water and sodium bicarbonate, as well as a rotary evaporator.
4. Final product tested
Testing of the final product is an essential part of manufacturing. We can test the quality of the product by using high-performance liquid chromatography. It is a technique professionals use for the isolation of individual compounds. In fact, it helps to confirm that they are devoid of unwanted chemicals.
The concentration of delta-8 THC
Delta-8 THC is a substance that naturally derives from hemp. To prepare one kilo of delta-8 THC, the process requires about 55,000 kilos of biomass from natural resources. It has been calculated that one kilo of delta-8 THC costs $500 million per kilo while processing. Delta-8 THC occurs only in a small amount in the plant. Hence most of the producers are not extracting delta-8 from the hemp plant. They use a synthetic pathway to prepare delta-8 THC from CBD or delta-9 THC. Due to this conversion, isomerization of the substance takes place, and you cannot find the by-products which form in nature. That synthetic compound is not studied.
CBD isolate kept in an acidic environment automatically converted into delta-8 THC and then to delta-9. This conversion is far from a natural process, and it requires the use of hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid, which is synthetic.
Delta-8 THC testing results
U.S cannabis council reported that delta-8 THC products contain different concentrations of delta-8 THC. Testing report from the lab shows that delta-8 THC consists of about 60% of Delta-8 THC and the remaining 40% of impurities with isomers, residual chemicals, and some novel synthetic compounds. Furthermore, the council confirms that delta-8 contains heavy metals, pesticides, and some illegal substances of delta-9 THC. It raised concerns about safety and its quality.
Delta-8 and the environment
The production of delta-8 synthetically produces harmful effects on the environment. Without using proper planning, it may result in sedimentation, habitat loss, fragmentation, reduced streamflow, and pollution to the environment. the toxicity of the unstudied synthetic compounds from delta-8 affects the environment in the following ways:
The manufacturing process of delta-8 requires chemicals, energy, and water. Consequently, It causes a large amount of pollution in the environment. The delta-8 releases volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere, and it interacts with the contaminants and produces ozone.
Environmental impact of water
The production of delta-8 requires about 10% of the water for growth, and there is no need for soil. It does not seem to be hazardous to the nutrition of the soil. But it contaminates water which is dangerous to the planet. The improper disposal of wastewater reaches the sewers, lakes, rivers, streams, and other water resources. Consequently, It causes excessive growth of the phytoplankton and algae, decreasing the oxygen supply and releasing toxic substances into the environment. This condition affects the ecosystem. It is safe to purify the wastewater before disposal. Large-scale cultivators filter it using an RO filter and some industrial solutions like a UV system and pasteurization process. Otherwise, the wastewater may cause cancer, liver disease, and other problems.
Effect of delta-8 preparation on the environment
The preparation of delta-8 in a synthetic way needs battery acids, ethanol, butane, and other alcohols at a higher concentration. These solvents are then discarded directly into the water sources, which harms the environment, aquatic life and emits volatile organic compounds into the environment. When it releases in excess, it may place you in violation of federal laws. It may be an offense, and you will get penalties and a cannabis business license loss. Therefore it is essential to use a high-quality filtration technique.
Effect of water consumption on the environment
A plant needs about 22 liters of water per day. It results in an incredible demand for water. Due to this water demand, some are looking forward to alternatives.
Effect of solid waste on the environment
The waste by-product falls into hazardous and non-hazardous wastes. Non-hazardous wastes are the removed plant material and the products. While, the hazardous wastes are the solvents, batteries, lighting accessories, contaminated debris from the lab, and a vape pen. All these things bring negative impacts on the environment through infecting the landfills. For instance, toxic volatile organic compounds release into the air and contaminate water sources.
Protection of the environment is the responsibility of everyone. Therefore, proper planning is necessary to protect the surroundings from pollution. The cannabis industry offers several benefits to us, and cannabis manufacturers should take care in handling it and should not affect the planet further.
Author: Kaitlin Justice