You already know whether CBD itself is natural or synthetic. What about hemp flower containing CBD, though? Is it possible to alter CBD flower to make it synthetic, or are there certain types of CBD flower that contain synthetic cannabinoids?
Your concerns over synthetic CBD flower might not be entirely baseless, but it's easy to avoid smoking synthetic substances in CBD buds. Learn if synthetic CBD flower exists, if it's dangerous, and how to avoid it in this question-and-answer session.
Is CBD flower synthetic? Quick Facts
- No, most CBD flower is not synthetic
- It can be sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids, though
- Many synthetic cannabinoids are very dangerous
- It’s best to stick with all-natural CBD
1. Is CBD flower natural?
As a general substance, CBD flower is absolutely natural. It naturally comes out of Mother Earth, after all, and Cannabis sativa has been the all-natural friend of mankind for countless millennia.
You can do things to CBD flower to make it less natural, though. The most common method is to spray CBD buds with the isolated form of CBD or another cannabinoid. CBD isolate isn’t exactly synthetic, but it’s highly processed down to a pure chemical form.
Some CBD buds are sprayed with fully synthetic cannabinoids, though. It’s possible to spray CBD flower with the active ingredients in Spice and K2, for instance, and more recently, spraying hemp flower with synthetic delta 8 has become quite common.
2. Is hemp natural or synthetic?
Hemp is just another name for Cannabis sativa, the natural plant that has grown all throughout Eurasia and Oceania for uncounted centuries. Hemp seeds, fibers, and oils are just a few examples of the natural products you can derive from this plant, and CBD-rich hemp flower is one of the more recent additions.
When modified, cannabis compounds usually aren’t called “hemp” anymore. This distinction hearkens back to the 2018 Farm Bill, which affords special privileges to naturally occurring non-THC cannabis compounds and places them in the entirely separate regulatory category of “industrial hemp.”
3. How is synthetic CBD made?
Synthetic forms of CBD are generally made with natural forms of CBD derived from hemp. Producing synthetic CBD is rare, though, given the abundance of this cannabinoid in a wide variety of new hemp strains.
Even Epidiolex, the FDA-approved CBD-based prescription treatment for epilepsy and other conditions, just contains pure cannabidiol with no variations. The makers of Epidiolex, GW Pharmaceuticals, don’t disclose the origins of their CBD, but Occam’s razor suggests it’s natural hemp just like every other mass-marketed CBD product.
4. Does CBD flower contain delta 8?
Yes, some CBD flower products are infused with delta 8. This new alternative to delta 9 THC is usually sprayed onto finished CBD flower in isolate form.
CBD buds that have been boosted with delta 8 deliver entirely different effects than what hemp users are used to. Combining cannabinoids might make them stronger regardless of the effects they have on their own, and the mildly intoxicating benefits of delta 8 dovetail beautifully with the deep relaxation of CBD.
Delta 8 has recently exploded onto the scene, opening up entirely new options for hemp aficionados around the country. What many delta 8 users don’t know is that this cannabinoid is almost always synthetic.
5. Is delta 8 synthetic?
Delta 8 is often synthetic, but it doesn’t have to be. New hemp strains naturally high in delta 8 are starting to appear, giving rise to safer and more effective products.
Unlike fully synthetic cannabinoids like THCO and HHC that don’t have any basis in hemp whatsoever, delta 8 is usually converted from CBD or CBG using a mild enzymatic process that doesn’t introduce any dangerous or artificial substances. Still, synthetic is synthetic if you’re a purist, and 99.9%+ of the delta 8 currently on the market used to be a different cannabinoid.
6. Is CBD flower FDA-approved?
No CBD flower products have been approved by the FDA as treatments for any condition. To our knowledge, the only FDA-approved CBD product is Epidiolex, and it is a tincture, not smokeable flower.
In the future, CBD flower products may receive approval from the FDA as over-the-counter treatments. Don’t hold your breath, though: Medical authorities tend to frown on smoking of all kinds, and with so many other types of CBD products available, the unique utility of CBD flower will be hard to demonstrate.
CBD flower may be officially recognized in other ways, though. The US federal government is currently in the process of putting together a comprehensive cannabis reform package that will (we hope) become a reality in the near future.
Any far-reaching attempt to reform US cannabis law would have to deal with the problem of hemp flower. The complexity of the constantly evolving online hemp market may be one of the factors delaying reform.
7. Is synthetic CBD legal?
Any form of CBD that has been synthesized to be chemically distinct is most likely not viewed as “industrial hemp” under the 2018 Farm Bill. Natural cannabinoids, though, are generally seen as separate from the illegal drug “marijuana.”
So, CBD found naturally in hemp is, for all intents and purposes, “legal,” but any modified forms of CBD may be subject to the purview of the FDA, which has taken a hardline stance against modified or synthetic cannabinoids of any kind. CBD never has much chance of causing legal trouble, but synthetic CBD is certainly sketchier.
8. Is CBD a bad drug?
First, we object to the characterization of CBD as a drug, and we aren’t the only ones. Even the FDA doesn’t know what to think of CBD, but at least the DEA knows it's not “marijuana.”
That aside, we usually observe CBD improving lives, not making them worse. The characteristics of a “bad drug” are that it’s addicting, harmful, and useless, and CBD does not appear to be any of these things.
Even in flower, its most potent form, CBD has not been discovered to have any serious side effects. It generally offers relaxing benefits that users rely on for relief for a wide variety of reasons.
So no, CBD is not a bad drug. It’s not a “drug” at all, and even if it were, we think CBD would be on the good side.