Is Synthetic CBD On The Way?

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Technology has made a big impact on our lives, generally for the better and sometimes for the worse. Vaporizers are one positive way technology has affected our lives since it gives us a better and safer way to use marijuana. But if you thought vaporizers were the last way that technology would impact the world of cannabis, you would be wrong.

That is because synthetic cannabinoids could be on the way. So will you be vaping synthetic cannabinoids after eating your burger made from lab-grown meat anytime soon? Probably not, but even so, there is still a lot you need to know about synthetic cannabinoids.


Synthetic Cannabinoids Not Synthetic Cannabis

I should get it out of the way right now that synthetic cannabinoids are completely different from synthetic cannabis. Synthetic cannabinoids are lab-grown versions of the cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, the most commonly known are THC and CBD. Synthetic cannabis is not actually cannabis, rather it is a chemical compound sprayed onto potpourri that is sold in smoke shops under names like K2 or Spice. 

These synthetic cannabis products are very dangerous despite their questionable legality; anyone who ingests them can expect severe side effects like vomiting, heart palpitations, kidney damage, high blood pressure, and even death. Needless to say, synthetic cannabis should be avoided at all costs.

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How Is Synthetic CBD Created?

Synthetic CBD, aka chemically synthesized CBD, can be created via two different methods. One method is biosynthesis, in which scientists are able to create CBD in a lab using yeast. The other method is by synthesis, where scientists replicate the chemical structure of CBD using artificial means. This is possible because the chemical structure of CBD is relatively simple. 

Creating synthetic versions of natural compounds may seem unusual but it is actually quite common. The best example of this is regular aspirin. Originally, the bark and leaves of the willow tree were used to relieve various aches and pains. The compound responsible for those analgesic effects is called salicin. In 1853 the French chemist Charles Frederic Gerhardt discovered the chemical structure of salicylic acid and created a synthetic version called acetylsalicylic acid. 

That artificial version of salicin would go on to be called aspirin by the Bayer pharmaceutical company in 1899. The “A” stands for acetylsalicylic acid, the “spir” comes from the Spirea plant, which produces salicin, and “in” was a popular suffix for drugs at the time. Penicillin is also a herbal compound that was recreated by synthetic means, so the idea of synthetic CBD is not particularly unusual where science is concerned.

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What Are The Advantages Of Synthetic CBD?

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So, now that scientists can create synthetic CBD, why should they? There are a few reasons why synthetic CBD is so attractive to the pharmaceutical industry and they are as follows.


Extracting CBD from the marijuana plant is currently a much cheaper process than creating synthetic CBD. Despite this, there are many cost advantages to doing the latter. Synthetic CBD is called an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient, or API, and can be manufactured in the same labs companies use to create other APIs. If a company wanted to extract CBD naturally, then they would need to create a facility where they could grow and extract cannabis. Such a facility would be a costly investment for any company. 

There is also the not-insignificant fact that companies can trademark their own version of synthetic CBD. Since CBD is a natural compound, it cannot be patented, but a synthetic version of CBD that has been combined with other beneficial compounds could theoretically be patented. That would allow a pharmaceutical company to make a profit off of their CBD product.


CBD that has been made in a lab will often be purer than the CBD derived from the cannabis plant for many different reasons. One of them is that some of the extraction processes of CBD from the marijuana plant use solvents that could end up tainting the CBD. Also, marijuana is a plant and is subject to the same problems and rigors of any other plant; problems like mold, lingering pesticides, heavy metals in the soil, and more. 

Analyses conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse on synthetic CBD has shown that it has a purity level of 99.9% compared to a maximum purity level of 98.7% for natural, plant-based CBD. Furthermore, the synthetic CBD did not have any impurities, whereas plant-derived CBD did.


Once a pharmaceutical company has created its own version of CBD, they are able to repeat that process to create a chemically consistent batch of drugs over and over again. This is simply not possible with plant-derived CBD since the extraction processes used will yield different percentages of CBD each time.


Even though CBD does not have the psychoactive effects of THC, it still faces some regulatory challenges, particularly if it is derived from the marijuana plant rather than the hemp plant. Synthetic CBD is free of those problems which means that it would be possible for it to get FDA approval. That kind of approval is quite difficult for   CBD since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

After five minutes, open up the vaporizer so that the oven is exposed and give it a sniff, if you still detect even a faint hint of plastic, then continue the burn off the process for another five minutes. If you don’t smell anything, then you’re good to go and can use your vape with weed for the first time.

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Who is Making Synthetic CBD?

So far, only a few companies are making synthetic CBD. Zygel is one brand of synthetic CBD and it is made by Zynerba Pharmaceuticals. It is currently undergoing clinical trials after being fast tracked by the FDA. The British multinational firm Johnson Matthey has also developed a synthetic CBD product that is currently available in limited quantities. 

 Right now, the Delaware based company, Noramco Inc. is the only company producing synthetic CBD on a commercial level. They are one of the largest distributors of FDA certified controlled substances in the world. Noramco is the exclusive supplier of synthetic CBD to Cardiol Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that makes CBD based heart drugs.

Epidiolex, which is manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, is also noteworthy even though it is a plant-based CBD drug rather than a synthetic one. It was approved in 2018 as a treatment for epilepsy disorders and it received an exemption from the DEA because of its medical benefits. That is important since, as mentioned earlier, cannabis is still illegal at the federal level and Epidiolex is derived from the hemp plant.

Will Synthetic CBD Replace Natural CBD?

That is unlikely, though synthetic CBD will almost certainly be the choice for pharmaceutical companies that make CBD based drugs. Natural CBD will likely stick around for more casual and recreational use, so there is no need to throw away those oil vaporizers just yet.

Natural CBD will also likely still be used in the various edible CBD products that are a growing part of the CBD marketplace. So, while synthetic CBD is the wave of the future, there is no need to worry that it will completely replace natural CBD. There is plenty of room for both.

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A huge proponent of the vaping lifestyle who would love it if everyone who smokes makes the switch to vaping instead. Loves CBD and would like to see it infused into everything. Aside from the world of vaping, he also loves reading, health & fitness, gadgets & technology, and culture, both the pop and regular kind.

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