Oregon will become the first state to prohibit sales of all lab-produced cannabinoids when a new state rule takes effect next month. The rule bans sales beginning July 1 of delta 8 THC, delta 10 THC, HHC. THC-O and THC-P, and will later include CBN. The law does not ban CBD, which can be naturally extracted from hemp without any chemical processing.
The new rule, created by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC), covers what the agency calls “artificially derived cannabinoids”—compounds created by inducing chemical changes in natural CBD extracted from hemp. Most of these so-called synthetic (or semi-synthetic) cannabinoids do occur naturally in cannabis plants, but in such small quantities that extracting them isn’t practical.
The OLCC ban comes less than a month after the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that delta 8 THC is a federally legal hemp product. But that court decision, which also applies to other hemp-derived cannabinoids, only protects manufacturers from federal prosecution. States are free to restrict cannabinoids as they choose, and others may follow Oregon’s lead in essentially banning all lab-produced cannabis compounds.
The new rules will permanently ban inhalable hemp-derived cannabinoid products (including vapes, carts and flower), but may allow sales of edibles, tinctures, topicals and pills in licensed Oregon cannabis dispensaries beginning in July 2023.
No “artificially derived” cannabinoid products will be allowed in dispensaries, however, unless they are first approved as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—an extreme long shot—and also undergo the same Oregon-mandated pesticide and heavy metal testing as other cannabis products. The FDA has not approved any hemp-derived products except the CBD-based prescription medicine Epidiolex, used by doctors to treat seizure disorders.
The ban exempts non-inhalable, hemp-derived CBN from the restrictions for now. But after July 1, 2023, it too will require FDA approval to be sold.
Other states have banned or restricted specific cannabinoids (mainly delta 8 THC), but Oregon will become the first state to prohibit so-called synthetic cannabinoids across the board. The OLCC says the rule is based on health concerns, specifically worries over consumers ingesting or inhaling the residue of chemicals used to process CBD into other cannabinoids.
“We have testing for pesticides,” OLCC hemp and processing compliance specialist Steven Crowley told The Oregonian. “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.”
The OLCCs authority to regulate the growing hemp-derived cannabinoid market was granted when Oregon state legislators passed House Bill 3000 last year.