Oregon will become the first state to ban synthetic cannabinoids sold in its open market products starting next month.
Oregon regulators say they are restricting the sale of the products because of concerns about the chemicals used in their production. But the move comes in opposition to cannabis growers like Wyld, the best-selling jelly beans include a synthetically created version of a cannabinoid known as CBN.
Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis. A chemical process can be used to isolate them or create them synthetically, with enough abundance to use them in consumer products.
Synthetic cannabinoids that do not contain THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana, have not been largely regulated. This means that products like CBN could be sold on the open market, including supermarkets and other retailers.
But a ban by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission will ban the sale of synthetic cannabinoids in the open market, in supermarkets and other stores without a special license, beginning July 1.
Then, starting in July 2023, it will only allow the sale of synthetic cannabinoids in OLCC-sanctioned cannabis stores after the products undergo rigorous and expensive testing and receive approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Perhaps the best known synthetic cannabinoid is delta-8 THC. The Centers for Disease Control warned consumers last year that there had been more than 100 delta-8 exposures that required hospitalization in just six months across the country in 2021.
Delta-8, like CBD and CBN, occurs naturally in the plant. However, it exists in very small amounts, so a chemical process is used to extract it from CBD.
“CBD supply exceeded CBD demand,” said Steven Crowley, a hemp compliance and processing specialist at OLCC. “And so people who had CBD on hand were looking for other ways to market it. People started working on different products that they could turn CBD into. That’s where you get delta-8 THC products.
CBN, which is normally found in the marijuana plant only when it begins to die, is often extracted synthetically from CBD by a chemical process because extracting it conventionally would waste the rest of the plant.
CBN has not been attributed to the same adverse reactions as delta-8. But it is the chemicals used in the extraction process that have caught the attention of the OLCC, Crowley said.
“We have pesticide testing,” Crowley said. “We have tests of residual solvents of the extraction process. We have no evidence for any of the entire universe of chemical reagents that you could use to synthetically convert a cannabinoid into anything else, nor for any of the by-products of that reaction. “
Gabe Lee, general counsel for Wyld and Wyld CBD, said losing the ability to sell CBN jelly beans to stores like New Seasons would mean a loss of revenue for his company and a huge loss for customers.
“The gummy Wyld elderberry CBN is the best-selling gum on earth right now,” Lee said. “It is 20% -30% of our income depending on the state. People love it. “Instead, Lee said the state should demand best practices instead of a total ban.
“There are ways to regulate it, and there are definitely ways to ensure that the final product being sold is subject to sufficient safety testing and safety standards to ensure, as far as possible, the safety of the product without any of larger federal research grants or anything like that, “Lee said.
The only way Wyld and other producers could sell synthetically created cannabinoids to grocery stores like New Seasons after the July ban would be for the FDA to find that they are generally safe for consumers.
The FDA has only approved a handful of legal hemp products, so it is unlikely to approve synthetic cannabinoids for sale in OLCC-licensed stores.
And even if it did, relegating the products to licensed retailers would turn off some customers, Lee said.
OLCC rules would also require disclosure labels for products containing a synthetic cannabinoid. Lee said this could cause undue alarm among consumers.
Wyld has circulated a petition and expects the OLCC to change course.
While Oregon will be the first state to enact a ban on synthetic cannabinoids in the open market, it probably won’t be the last. The OLCC is part of a non-partisan national group of government cannabis regulators. Other states, an OLCC spokesman said, are examining similar bans and policies.