PHOENIX,Ariz.—Arizona’s proposed SB1271 has generated no small amount of controversy around the issue of synthetic, “hemp-derived” THC, which the proposed legislation seeks to make widely available to the public. While proponents argue that this synthetic version of THC is safe and will help regulate the cannabis industry, critics argue that it poses significant health risks, especially to minors and medical patients seeking alternative treatments.
So what is hemp-derived THC, and what of the growing concern regarding its widespread availability?
The key differences between cannabis-derived THC and hemp-derived THC pertain mainly to their concentrations and legality. THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives users a “high.” Cannabis-derived THC comes from the marijuana plant, which is illegal under federal law but legal for medical or recreational use in many states, including Arizona.
Hemp-derived THC, on the other hand, comes from the hemp plant, which is legal under federal law and has been used for industrial purposes for centuries.
Hemp-derived THC is typically produced by converting CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp, into Delta-8 THC through a chemical process. The resulting Delta-8 THC is then sold as a legal alternative to cannabis-derived THC. However, the process of converting CBD into Delta-8 THC can result in impurities and other unknown compounds that may pose health risks to users.
Furthermore, hemp-derived synthetic THC is more dangerous than its cannabis-derived counterpart due to the potential for contamination during the manufacturing process. While cannabis-derived THC is produced directly from the marijuana plant and has a well-established safety profile, hemp-derived synthetic THC is created through a chemical process that can introduce impurities and other unknown compounds. These impurities can lead to adverse health effects, such as respiratory problems, digestive issues, and cognitive impairment.
The proposed legislation would allow for the sale of “hemp-derived THC,” which is a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis. Proponents of the bill argue that it will provide a regulated and safe alternative to traditional cannabis products. However, critics have raised concerns about the lack of testing and regulation around the production of hemp-derived THC. They fear that the synthetic version of THC could have harmful side effects and could be sold to minors or individuals with medical conditions that make them vulnerable to its effects.
One key figure in the debate is former Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who has expressed his support for the legislation. Ducey argues that the bill would help regulate the cannabis industry and protect public health. However, critics have pointed out that the governor’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry have raised questions about his true motivations.
Medical marijuana patients and advocates have also voiced their opposition to the bill. They argue that synthetic THC is not a viable alternative to traditional cannabis products, especially for patients who require specific strains of cannabis for medical purposes. Additionally, they are concerned that the bill could limit their access to alternative treatments that have been shown to be effective for a range of medical conditions.
Another worry about the adverse effects of the bill’s passage concerns minors. Synthetic forms of THC, such as those found in SPICE and Salvia, have raised public concern about their regulation in the past. These substances have been shown to have dangerous side effects and have been linked to hospitalizations and deaths. Critics of SB1271 fear that the synthetic THC it would allow for sale could have similar effects on minors who are particularly vulnerable to the risks associated with drug use.
Moreover, synthetic cannabinoids have already shown a history of dangerous outcomes. In 2018, a study published in the journal “Pediatrics” found that synthetic cannabinoids caused more than 11,000 emergency room visits in the US over a five-year period. In light of this evidence, it is clear that synthetic forms of THC should be approached with caution and given thorough testing and regulation before being made available to the public.
The controversy surrounding SB1271 highlights the need for comprehensive regulation of synthetic cannabinoids. If passed, SB1271 could have far-reaching negative implications for public health, particularly for vulnerable populations.
It is imperative that Arizona lawmakers take a cautious and comprehensive approach when determining the fate of this proposed legislation. Put simply, the potential risks associated with synthetic THC are too significant to ignore. While the debate around SB1271 continues, it is essential to remain proactive in fighting for the safety and wellbeing of all Arizonans.