Synthetic Cannabinoids Banned in Oregon
The state clamps down on products using these compunds.
The days to purchase synthetic trace cannabinoids such as CBG, CBC or CBDA on the open market in Oregon are numbered. In mid-June, the state’s Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission (OLCC) declared that starting July 1st, all synthetic cannabinoids, including popular delta-8 products, will be banned in supermarkets and other unregulated stores. After July 1st, these products will not be able to enter into commerce until July, 2023, and manufacturers will have to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration in order to do so. And even then, these products can only be sold in cannabis dispensaries, so even if the FDA labels such products as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe), consumers will have to jump through additional hoops to get them — that is, if the businesses currently selling these products survive the culling.
The move by the OLCC acknowledges the products’ lack of testing. While cannabis products and raw flower in the dispensary goes through numerous quality checks, non-psychoactive cannabinoids and delta-8 skip this filter. The OLCC in particular expresses concern over the chemicals used to make these cannabinoids and the potential public health risks they hold. “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,” OLCC hemp/processing compliance specialist Steven Crowley told The Oregonian.
An exception has been made for CBN, the cannabinoid that is created when the THC in the cannabis plant eventually degrades over time. Like other trace cannabinoids, it often exists in slender amounts within the plant, which means it is usually created synthetically. Products using CBN have a grace period of one year after July 1st, after which those products will also have to undergo FDA testing to achieve GRAS certification. Moreover, the OLCC will require labeling for these FDA-approved products, that indicate synthetic cannabinoid ingredients. One CBN edibles brand, Wyld, has already started up a petition, which has received 772 signatures as of press time. “The planned ban on CBN goes against the will of voters, who broadly approved the end of cannabis prohibition through safe regulation as mandated in Ballot Measure 91,” the petition argues. “CBN is a naturally occurring, non-intoxicating cannabinoid that provides significant value and potential benefit to consumers. It should not be restricted from use.”
Oregon could be blazing the trail for other states to follow. The OLCC mentioned to The Oregonian that similar bans in other states are being discussed and planned, based on what they’ve heard from their out-of-state peers.
In the meantime, Europe is beginning to see more synthetic cannabinoids popping up in their black market cannabis product. A report issued by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction mentioned that weak cannabis specimens were being sprayed with novel new cannabinoids and sold illicitly. Twenty-one new synthetic cannabinoids alone were reported in the wild last year, and the report warned against the potential for unpleasant experiences from the haphazard application of novel substances on their buds. Moreover, many of the purchasers of these products are buying them without knowing that what they’re consuming is synthetic. It’s likely that the presence of these potentially dangerous substances are here to stay in the illicit market, especially given the potency of the product. As the report says, “This makes it easy to deceive dealers and users, while only a small quantity of synthetic cannabinoid powder is required to give strong cannabis-like effects.”