With the hype around CBD and the mad rush to deliver on the demand, here’s one more thing to be aware of: Synthetic CBD or synthetic cannabinoids.

These are lab produced cannabinoids that bind to the human body’s cannabinoid receptors, mimicking what nature does with hemp and marijuana. Beyond even GMO where corporate interests are tampering with the DNA of plants and animals, with synthetic CBD labs are manufacturing from scratch a cannabinoid that mimics the general effects effects of CBD, sometimes the effects of THC for recreational synthetics and other cannabinoids.


Well, to be perfectly frank about it — money. As if it weren’t enough that a massive industrial farming complex is being developed or quickly pivoting to produce cannabis and hemp, and by doing so taking over key parts of what was recently a black market or regulated medical supply chain, to one that can be leveraged by the pharmaceutical companies at scale, and those even less scrupulous.

The advantage of synthetic CBD is consistency. Farming can be notoriously inconsistent. Just ask any farmer. Farming any crop, there many may be unknown herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers introduced or contamination from any number of sources, including mould, insects and vermin. Or perhaps even a plague of locusts.

The extraction process is also has the potential for signifigant risk factors. Many extractors still use solvents — butane, alcohols and heptane are just some of them, and there is probably residue in most solvent-based extractions. Solvent-free extraction — such as CO2 extraction, is one solution, but is not common yet because of equipment, retooling and infrastructure costs. That will change, but it’s not there yet. Also, an extractors practices that include uniform processes, testing and sanitary processing facilities are all risk factors, and until there is more regulatory guidance and compliance, are all potential issues.

So pharmaceutical industry (and again, those even less scrupulous) have done what they always do, mimicking what nature does into a uniform lab based process, and one could be scaled infinitely. That means more profit.

Aside from the most cynical views on synthetics, there are — to be fair, several other things to consider:

  • As mentioned, there is a need for very clean, lab manufactured synthetic CBD for many endless potential pharmaceutical applications, and they would require this type of very clean, very consistent, synthetic pharma-grade CBD and other cannabinoids
  • Synthetics could help fill in gaps in the product supply chains, and address how to integrate cannabinoids with new and different categories, like cosmetics
  • The clinical pharmaceutical research will undoubtably deliver many new cures and medical breakthroughs — cancer research around cannabinoids alone may result in massive breakthroughs in the future, and most likely couldn’t be achieved without synthetics

Until then we are steadfast advocates Full-Spectrum CBD extracts with the accompanying entourage effect. It’s natural, we think it’s better, especially once you find a consistent source and brand to deliver what you need.

Photo Credit: Vinicius Amano

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