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Will CBD Get Lost in all the New Conversions?

Written by Sabina Pulone

The natural occurring, non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis plants cannabidiol (CBD) has been known to induce many different physiological and therapeutic effects. Many growers have been interested in breeding plants with higher levels of CBD, because of its benefits, efficacy and safe pharmacological profile. Since 2018, CBD attained high popularity as food supplement and in cosmetic products, even if there are concerns regarding the potential conversion of CBD into other psychoactive cannabinoids, included ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), upon improper storage conditions or chemical reactions. Many countries doesn’t allow the cultivation of THC-containing plants because of the well-known psycotropic effect of this cannabis compound: THC levels have to be less than  0.3%, both in the cultivated chemovars and in the final product in order to be legal.

CBD can be converted into other cannabinoids as ∆9-THC, ∆7-THC, ∆8-THC, ∆10-THC, ∆11-THC, iso-THC etc. Most of the reactions involve the use of strong acids like hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid or p-toluenesulfonic acid among others and high temperatures. [1] The conversion of common cannabinoids like CBD and ∆9-THC into more rare ones like ∆8-THC, is nowaday a common practice: with the boom of CBD industry there is now a surplus of CBD flooding the market , together with an excess of ∆9-THC as well. These molecules can be converted into the more profitable THC analog: ∆8-THC doens’t has the same illicit background of ∆9-THC and it can be easlily obtained in the laboratory withouth the need of expensive equipements. The actual depreciation of CBD isolate will not devalue the molecule itself: CBD stays a precious natural compound with strong potential for its health-promoting benefits and it is increasinlgy included in many different forms and products both in the nutraceutical and cosmetic industries. Moreover CBD chemical schaffold attained particular interest in the study and the design of new CBD-based medicines. [2] There is still a lot to be understood regarding the best ways to fully exploit the potential of CBD and CBD analogs. The molecular targets associated with these molecules and the mechanism of action and drug-drug interaction are still argument of research.



[1] Golombek P. et al. Conversion of Cannabidiol (CBD) into Psychotropic Cannabinoids Including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): A Controversy in the Scientific Literature. Toxics. 2020 Jun; 8(2): 41 doi: 10.3390/toxics8020041 [Journal Impact Factor = 3.79] [Times cited= 10 ]


[2] Morales P. et al. An Overview on Medicinal Chemistry of Synthetic and Natural Derivatives of Cannabidiol. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 2017,8(), 422 – doi:10.3389/fphar.2017.00422 [Journal Impact Factor = 5.33] [Times cited = 94]



About the author

Sabina Pulone