Oregon will become first US state to ban synthetic cannabis

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Oregon will soon become the first-ever state to ban synthetic weed sales, which includes products containing lab-grown cannabinoids like delta-8.

Starting on July 1, weed shoppers won't find certain weed gummies and other products at their go-to stores, even if they're THC-free, The Oregonian reported. That's because Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission officials say they're concerned about the unregulated nature of these products, many of which exist in a federal legal loophole.

"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 that you could use to synthetically turn one cannabinoid into something else, or for any of the byproducts of that reaction," Steven Crowley, the hemp and processing compliance specialist with the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC), told The Oregonian.

The federal government has banned or temporarily banned certain synthetic cannabinoids like K2 or "spice," but there are hundreds that remain unregulated at the state level.

Scientists are lab-engineering naturally-occurring cannabinoids 

All cannabinoids, the chemical compounds in weed, start as CBG (short for cannabigerol), or the "mother" cannabinoid, as researchers often call it.

When exposed to environmental factors like light or heat, CBG reacts and turns into other cannabinoids, like THC, CBD, THCV, and CBN. THC, the cannabinoid best known for getting a person "high," but isn't legal everywhere, is also the most commonly occurring one in the cannabis plant.

Hundreds of these cannabinoids exist, but are often found in small quantities in nature. Now, scientists are engineering them to create greater potency in labs.

According to Crowley, the influx of lab-made cannabinoids is related to a surplus of CBD.

"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," Crowley said.

If synthetic weed sellers want to keep their products on store shelves in Oregon, they'll have to apply to the FDA's regulation process. Wyld, which sells gummies with synthetic CBN, filed a petition to stop the ban.

By July 2023, approved synthetic weed products will only be sold at OLCC-sanctioned stores, according to the ban.

Region: Oregon