Well here’s an interesting turn of events in the ongoing saga of CBD in the United States: people are now apparently attempting to turn the legal, non-intoxicating substance (that is, CBD) into the illegal, intoxicating substance of THC, which is the inherent psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Why are they doing this, you might be wondering? And more importantly (at least to some of you), HOW are they doing it?
In this article, we explore the newfound phenomenon of how to turn CBD into THC, and talk about some of the potentially massive dangers (in terms of both health and legalities) of doing so.
First Things First:
What is the Difference Between THC and CBD?
We won’t go into too much detail here in this article, but basically, the main difference between CBD and THC is that CBD doesn’t get you high. While it comes directly from the marijuana plant just like THC, it doesn’t have any of the mind-altering psychedelic properties.
It does, however, have loads of scientifically proven medical properties and therapeutic benefits, hence the reason why it has become so overwhelmingly popular here in the U.S., as well as across the globe.
The suspected reason for CBD’s lack of psychoactive influence comes down to how it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is basically a network of neurotransmitters and receptors that respond to the active compounds in marijuana. While THC is believed to interact mostly with CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system (hence its mind-altering properties), CBD tends to have more of an affinity for CB2 receptors, which are located primarily in the organ and the immune systems.
As such, CBD extracts (such as oils, edibles, topicals, etc) are able to provide all of the various health benefits of marijuana, without the associated high. While this sounds absolutely incredible, some clever people (or not so clever, depending on how you look at it) have recently been attempting to convert CBD (which is largely legal through a series of loopholes that we’ll talk about shortly) into THC, which of course is illegal on a federal level, and classified as a Schedule I narcotic.
Is CBD Legal?
Notwithstanding the 9 US states in which weed is recreationally legal, CBD is largely considered to be “more legal” than marijuana, simply because of the type of cannabis plant that it comes from, which is the hemp plant.
Basically, hemp is a type of cannabis that contains negligible amounts of THC, and is used more for its fiber and seeds than for its medicinal and/or mind-altering properties. In fact, if a cannabis plant contains less than 0.3% THC, it is classified as industrial hemp rather than marijuana.
This is significant because, while hemp contains virtually zero THC, it is practically loaded with CBD. Also, industrial hemp (which is where most CBD-based products are currently derived from), is currently legal in the U.S. – a massive distinction between it and its “highly illegal” cousin, marijuana.
As you might have guessed, however, some sneaky folks out there have reverted to the decades-old knowledge that, if put into the proper environment and mixed with the proper chemicals, CBD can turn into THC via a series of contained reactions. This is especially concerning in states where marijuana is not legal (medically or recreationally), as what’s happening is people are ordering perfectly legal CBD products and having them shipped to their doorstep, and then trying to turn them into THC in an obvious effort to get stoned.
As you’ll soon find out, though, this is not – we repeat NOT – the best idea.
Does CBD Turn into THC? How Scientists Discovered the Surprising Chemical Reaction
Ever since 1968 when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam (aka the “Father of Modern Cannabis”) observed the phenomenon in a petri dish, people have had somewhat of an indication that CBD can turn into THC when placed under the proper conditions.
The “proper conditions,” as it turns out, is a highly acidic environment at stable temperature – Mechoulam and his lab colleagues used sulphuric acid and methanol, for example, as a solvent, to detect trace amounts of THC after placing an isolated CBD compound in a dish and leaving it sit for several hours.
Also, coincidentally enough since the human digestive system is highly acidic and contains hydrochloric acid, their observation led to huge speculation that CBD turns into THC in the stomach. However this was eventually overturned, as researchers pointed out that the natural reaction only produces negligible amounts of THC, which are excreted through the urinary system.
Either way, with the knowledge that CBD does in fact turn into THC quite easily under acidic conditions, many people have gotten the sharp idea to buy legal CBD, and then turn it into mind-altering THC in a homemade, Walter White-esque laboratory.
How to Turn CBD into THC
Make no mistake – we are certainly NOT going to dish out a step-by-step tutorial on how to turn CBD into THC. For one, we have never tried it and have no idea how to do it. And two, even if we did know how to do it, we certainly wouldn’t recommend that people try and do it DIY-style out of their own homes – there are a lot of complex chemical reactions involved, and a lot of potentially hazardous things could go wrong. (In short, DON’T DO IT!)
Regardless, despite the fact that many of the chemicals required for the “conversion” are expensive and hard to access, numerous people have already attempted the process. Basically what they do is they start out with a concentrated hash oil, otherwise known as BHO wax (hash oil is essentially marijuana flower that has been “stripped” of its active cannabinoids using butane, and then concentrated together in a sticky resin to produce a more intense high).
Once the concentrated hash oil is made from the raw flower, it is then soaked in some sort of a crude acid (some people have used acetic acid), which supposedly converts any of the existing CBD – and other cannabinoids that are present – into the more desirable THC (or at least one of its isomers, like ATHC).
One of the main reasons that people are doing this is to try and turn “crappy” weed into more potent weed (sorry for lack of a better expression). With the general knowledge that low-THC weed doesn’t produce a great high, the idea is to turn the existing CBD into a compound that will provide a much more psychedelic experience. Also, people have even attempted to turn industrial hemp, which contains virtually zero THC, into a product that they can get high off of. However, results are (apparently) very hit or miss – we have actually heard stories of people getting terribly sick (and/or ruining an entire weed stash) just by thinking they are some amateur chemist.
In short, don’t try and enhance the potency of your weed by turning CBD into THC. Scientists don’t even know how to do it efficiently, so you certainly aren’t going to want to trust some random “instructions” that you might find on the internet somewhere.
And moreover, we don’t know about you, but we for one here at MarijuanaBreak would not want anything to do with a cannabis substance that has been tampered with using compounds like dichloromethane (DCM) or boron trifluoride etherate. Just do yourself a favor, and enjoy the weed that you’ve already got.
Final Thoughts on Turning CBD into THC
In short, people have been looking into how to turn CBD into THC for two main reasons: 1) they think they can buy legal CBD and “transform” into an illegal, high-producing THC; and 2) they want to “enhance” the potency of a low-quality weed strain or hash oil that they’ve already got to alter the psychedelic experience.
While science has shown this is certainly possible, the bottom line is that no one really knows how to do it safely and efficiently. Plus, if you are using harsh acids to convert active cannabinoids into THC, you have no idea what other byproducts you may be producing. In short, converting CBD into THC is a highly risky and dangerous process, and is one that you should not pursue.
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