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Synthetic Cannabis (THC-0)

Stoned Sage is written from a patient's perspective first and foremost; while synthesized cannabinoids could have hugely positive implications for the future of medical cannabis, they remain the only form of cannabis that is potentially dangerous to physical and mental states if used as directed.

To be clear, we're speaking of patient use, not recreational use. We don't publish opinions to inform people about recreational use.

We Strongly Advocate Against Synthetic Cannabis For Patients

It's not that things like THC-0 or THC-H aren't, or won't ever be useful; it's that our position is that they aren't safe enough yet for general patient use unless directed and closely supervised by your physician.

Most medical cannabis patients are not closely supervised as far as their day-to-day consumption goes. Forgetting when you last took your medicine could easily turn into an E.R. visit without the correct support structure.

There are potentially damaging (or worse) consequences for overdose, including psychotic breaks, due to the high bioavailablity of water-solluble synthetics that take effect as fast as alcohol and are much more intense than those brought by 11-hydroxy THC.

While these present amazing new opportunities for 'ediblocked' patients, it's just too new for us to document in a way that isn't potentially harmful. We hope that you understand.

For this reason, the only responsible choice is to avoid it, which is currently the choice we're making as we watch and see what develops.

What are synthetics?

Synthetics are cannabinoids that aren't derived from sources that come exclusively from cannabis plants. Synthetics contain certain cannabis extracts, but additional chemicals are needed to make a functional cannabinoid that can successfully bind to your receptors and produce an effect.

Through this process, THC sort of breaks out of jail - it can become available to your system through introduction in water without needing to be transformed to 11-hydroxy through your liver, or being absorbed by your lungs through combustion and/or atomization.

This means two MAJOR things:

  • How much you ingest is exactly how much hits your endocannabinoid system; because 100% of the THC becomes abailable to your body since nothing is left behind as it is transformed in the liver. Doses as small as a few micrograms can cause significant effects.

  • Because of the high bioavailablity, you feel the effects almost immediately, which means you'll be less likely to notice the effects cummulatively. This means it can be much more cravable than other forms, and can lead to taking too much, just like it's easy to drink too much wine.

Deaths have occurred in conjunction with the use of synthetic cannabis products, but it remains unclear how much of a factor, if any, the synthetic played in the cause of death. These cases won't be investigated beyond whatever the medical examiners need to connect the dots, so we can only infer a general sense that they might not be safe for patient use, which is enough for us to recommend against them. We're not putting synthetics on trial, we're supportive of the research, we're just saying now isn't the time.

That being said, we do have some information that you might find valuable, as you make up your mind about what works for you.

Do dispensaries stock synthetics?

Medical dispensaries generally do not, but rules and policies vary by state. With hemp-derived products being legal in most states, medical dispensaries don't need to carry delta-8 as it's generally available in acceptable and consistent quality. Since all of those products are also completely naturally-derived from the plant, they wouldn't qualify anyway.

Synthetics can show up in tobacco shops, or dispensaries in states that have no restrictions on cannabis usage, since there's technically no law prohibiting them. It can be common to find premium hemp flower that has been sprayed with THC-0 marketed as cannabis and there aren't really any laws being broken by the marketing being deceptive other than truth in advertising.

What forms do synthetics come in?

Many. You could make toothpaste that would put you on the moon, for instance - the possibilities are endless. Since you can also smoke them, they can come in the form of something that resembles shatter, badder or even crumble. They can also be suspended in oil tinctures. So, practically anywhere and through the skin as well.

Many states do have something to say about what qualifies to have a THC label on it (and what must), so this is something legislators will have to deal with in order to help consumers make decisions. We encourage an approach of education rather than restriction because research is very much needed as long as patients know the risks - like any other trials.

Bottom line: There isn't one yet.

We can't advocate for or against using synthetic cannabis; it's not time for us to do that yet. What you use is always between you, your doctor, your treatment goals, and how urgent the need to explore synthetic options is. Chronic patients are generally very familiar with these choices already; it's up to you what risks make sense based on your needs and goals.

In states where there are no other options, always look for products that come with verifiable lab results made from reputable growers.