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Synthetic Cannabinoids: What Are They & What Are Their Effects?

Synthetic cannabinoid is a very broad term, to say the least.

It can refer to CBD, Delta 8 THC, Delta 9 THC, and a variety of other cannabinoids. These are all created through chemical synthesis in professional lab settings. The best brands and retailers will share lab testing results with customers. They also take many other actions to ensure product purity and quality.

Synthetic cannabinoids can also refer to something very different, and far less safe. Specifically, novel, custom-designed molecules that are added to plant matter with little if any care around safety and purity.

Understanding the difference between the two is crucial to making a safe and informed purchase. Keep reading to learn more.

What are Synthetic Cannabinoids?

There are two major categories of synthetic cannabinoids from a consumer perspective. They are:

Synthetic Phytocannabinoids

Unless you have a strong background in science or medicine, the term “synthetic phytocannabinoid” may seem difficult to understand at first. Let’s break it down to make things a little easier.

A cannabinoid is a chemical found in cannabis and hemp plants. These chemicals all have effects on the human body. Many, like Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC, lead to elevated mood and a changed sense of perception. Others, like CBD, don’t have psychoactive effects but can help address issues like pain and anxiety.

“Phytocannabinoid” is a technical term for a simple concept. It refers to cannabinoids that naturally occur in cannabis and hemp plants, as the University of Sydney explains.

Now, let’s look at the word “synthetic.” In this context, it means using a process of chemical synthesis — turning one chemical into another. Cannabinoids have similar chemical structures. That makes it relatively easy to change one into another in a safe and professional lab setting.

The exact process can vary. For hemp-derived products, it usually involves extracting CBD from hemp plants. Then, that CBD is converted into the desired cannabinoid with various chemical reactions and processing activities. Learn more about how Delta 8 is derived from hemp plants.

Testing is crucial to ensure a high-quality and safe final product. It’s a top priority for reputable brands and retailers.

Designer Molecules

The term “synthetic cannabinoid” by itself generally refers to various man made chemicals, the CDC explains. Common marketing terms include K2, Spice, and synthetic marijuana.

These chemicals are not necessarily (and often aren’t) actually cannabinoids. The common name for them is misleading. They can mimic some common effects of cannabinoids.

However, they can also have a variety of serious side effects. We’ll take a closer look at those issues in the next section.

Designer molecules are not regulated. They are seldom tested by manufacturers for safety, quality, or purity. You can’t count on safety when buying this type of synthetic cannabinoid.

Rows of hemp plants stand in a field.

Are Synthetic Cannabinoids Legal?

Synthetic Phytocannabinoids

When derived from hemp plants, synthetic phytocannabinoids are legal on the federal level. The 2018 Farm Bill made commercial hemp production legal federally.

However, some states, cities, and towns have stricter rules for hemp–derived products. Always check into local and state laws before making a purchase.

Designer Molecules

Many designer molecules are illegal. The CDC explains that various federal and state laws ban many specific chemicals. Recently, more sweeping laws that ban entire categories of chemicals have been enacted.

The Effects of Synthetic Cannabinoids

Effects and Side Effects of Synthetic Phytocannabinoids

There are many lab-synthesized phytocannabinoids available. Each has its own distinct effects.

CBD, for example, is not psychoactive. It doesn’t create the sense of elevated mood seen with many forms of THC (and other cannabinoids). Instead, it can help with issues like chronic pain and sleeplessness.

On the other hand, many types of THC are psychoactive. They create an elevated mood and other effects that make them a more recreational choice. Our guide to popular cannabinoids can help you learn more about commonly sold options.

The side effects of these chemicals are relatively mild. Users may experience issues like dry mouth, red eyes, and nausea. These issues are more common with an excessively large dose than with a recommended dose.

Effects and Side Effects of Designer Molecules

Designer molecules are marketed as causing effects similar to THC. However, that’s often not the case in reality.

These chemicals are also psychoactive. However, the experience of using them can be much less pleasant, and is frequently harmful. Because many active ingredients are marketed under this label, it’s difficult to explain their effects in general.

However, their side effects can be much more serious than what is commonly seen with synthetic phytocannabinoids. The CDC clearly states that these designer drugs can lead to major health risks. These range from irritability and mental health issues to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, kidney failure, and even death.

Designer molecules are generally viewed as a public health issue because of the risk and danger they present.

Drug testing for synthetic cannabinoids is limited. However, that should not be seen as a sign that they’re safe — or even that they offer a good experience.

Synthetic Phytocannabinoids vs. Designer Molecules: An Easy Choice

If you’re thinking about buying synthetic cannabinoid products, make your choice based on safety and intended effects.

Designer molecules aren’t tested for quality or purity. Manufacturers go so far as to label some of them “not for human consumption” as a (short-sighted) liability defense. They generally aren’t even true cannabinoids. And they’re generally not legal, either.

The effects of designer molecules are hard to predict. Most importantly, their side effects are severe. The wrong designer molecule taken by the wrong person can legitimately cause death.

Synthetic phytocannabinoids come from hemp plants. They have the same effects as natural cannabinoids. These are the best synthetic cannabinoids, for 2023 and beyond. They’re lab tested, federally legal, and controlled for quality.

The Delta 8 Resellers team only works with reputable, trustworthy brands that make synthetic phytocannabinoids. We never market or sell designer molecules. You can see the independent lab reports for yourself to ensure quality, safety, and consistency.

Shop our lab-synthesized, quality-controlled, hemp-derived cannabinoid products today!


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