Monthly Archives: February 2021

Is CBD Good for Glaucoma and Blurry Vision?

Many of our customers ask about the benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) and the relief it has shown to provide to patients with various health conditions. One of the conditions we’re most often asked about is glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions caused by abnormally high eye pressure that can lead optical nerve damage. If not treated properly, glaucoma can lead to blindness in some individuals. It has been reported that nearly three million individuals suffer from glaucoma, making it one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness.

Medical advancements for treatment, including surgical procedures, for eye conditions have improved significantly in recent years but individuals continue to seek alternative  forms of treatment whether it be holistic options, dietary changes or additions of  supplements.

The use of cannabis for medical treatment has vastly expanded in recent years, now 35 states having medical marijuana programs for patients with certain medical conditions.  Nearly all medical marijuana legislation lists glaucoma as a condition that qualifies individuals access to a medical marijuana card. Since cannabis includes at least 120 different cannabinoids the question arises, should patients be seeking out CBD, THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) or other cannabinoids to relieve symptoms of glaucoma?  Will CBD help minimize blurry vision? Does cannabis and the introduction of cannabinoids help treat glaucoma?

Does CBD Lower Intraocular Pressure?

The naturally occurring endocannabinoid system found in all humans (and our furry canine friends) is a biological system made up of  neurotransmitters and receptors found throughout the central nervous system. Prior research demonstrated that the administrations of cannabinoids can lower intraocular eye pressure, however, this was only for administration of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol.  Researchers actually found that administration of 20 milligrams of CBD did not decrease intraocular eye pressure and administration of 40 milligrams of CBD increased intraocular eye pressure. This would suggest that CBD is not a suitable treatment for glaucoma and could actually do more harm that good.

Does THC Lower Intraocular Pressure?

But what about THC, or delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol? Does THC show efficacy in lowering intraocular eye pressure? The short answer is yes. Research has demonstrated that administering THC does lower intraocular eye pressure, however, patients with glaucoma require 24 hour pressure remediation to protect eyes from damage to the optic nerve.

Thus, THC provides only short term relief for intraocular eye pressure and suggests why the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Glaucoma Society do not recommend THC as a treatment for glaucoma. The risks far outweigh the benefits of using THC for glaucoma treatment as patients would be required to administer THC several times throughout the day, each day, to reduce intraocular eye pressure.

Not only does this present health concerns but would also not be financially justifiable for patients. Since THC is psychoactive, patients  consistently administering THC would not be able to take on everyday activities, such as driving a motor vehicle.

THC Free and Broad Spectrum Definitions and Specifications

The CBD industry is a new and burgeoning industry with roots in the more established cannabis industry; sharing similar processing equipment, supply chains, finished goods and retail opportunities. Many of the jargon or industry terminology in CBD is taken directly from the THC industry with one notable exception, the niche we know of as THC-free products. This unique area of the CBD world is driven mainly by legal, moral, or personal considerations.

Legal Drivers of THC Free Products

The legal drivers of THC free products concern retailers worried about the legal limit of THC in consumer products as well as the requirements for some employers for the absence of THC in their employees. Legal drivers come with declared limits that are objective and quantitative. The moral and personal considerations deal more with not wanting to ingest psychoactive compounds like THC and in that case there are no hard numbers, it is more subjective and qualitative.

So where does this leave the stakeholders in this niche of the CBD economy? There are retail customers in this space who want to purchase safe and reliable THC free products, though these buyers may be misled as to what that actually means as we will see. We have processors, manufacturers and brokers looking to meet this demand with a variety of products featuring nebulous names and wide ranging specifications for THC levels.

What Does THC Free Mean?

The industry as a whole has so far settled on the terms Broad Spectrum distillate or THC free distillate to describe the intermediate distillate products used to make the retail edibles, tinctures, and topicals which have little to no detectable THC. This term “detectable” is where we can start to make concrete definitions and place some context around the discussion of what is a “THC-free” product and why definitions matter.

For context, it is important to realize that there is no such thing as THC Free. THC is removed from hemp derived material using either physically or chemically, physical separations are achieved through chromatography or distillation and chemical conversion of THC into other cannabinoids is achieved using heat and sometimes catalysts. These processes are effective but there is always some amount of THC left, even if it is 1 part per million (1ppm, 0.0001%) there is still THC present. The fact that there is always THC present means that all you can ever guarantee is that a product does not have THC present above a certain detection limit.

Limit of Detection for THC

The detectable amount of any substance is determined by the Limit of Detection (LOD) for a given instrument and/ or method and is derived empirically. This LOD changes depending on the instrument being used, the sample processing method, and can vary between two identical instruments in the same laboratory nevermind variability between different labs.

Since the LOD is so variable between labs and methodologies a product tested at one lab can be “Non-detectable” and then test as detectable at another lab. The notion by retail consumers, shop owners, or finished goods manufacturers new to the CBD world that “Non-detectable” is something concrete and standardized is a reality that we as an industry will have to work hard to address.

We here at Abundant Labs strive to educate our customers and clients on what it means to be non-detectable and really try to understand the needs of our customers. Some manufacturers want to buy TFree THC distillate, while what they really want is to ensure that their finished retail products are guaranteed nondetectable. If you look at the tables below, you can see that a broad spectrum distillate with THC at 0.1% (detectable at any lab) will produce a product that is non-detectable at most labs.

Detection limits, TFree, chromatography, conversion…so many words and terms to learn!!! To summarize what can seem esoteric or needlessly complicated; THC will always be present in a hemp derived product and what the discussion becomes is how much is tolerable for a manufacturer and their customers. At Abundant Labs, we take pride in our ability to understand the needs of our clients, customers and partners; collaborate to meet the desired and acceptable levels of THC my manufacturing safe, effective, and consistent products for the marketplace.

Conversion into Delta-8 THC

What is Delta-8 THC and what are the Concerns?

The consumer market is finding Delta-8 (D8-THC) exploding in the retail space as manufacturers, retail stores and distributors exploit the ambiguities in the federal drug laws with regard to isomers and analogs of Delta-9 THC.  This increase in demand is being met rapidly with manufacturers presenting a variety of products and formulations.  These products vary widely in their safety, effectiveness, purity, strength and method of production.

Let me be clear, the information provided here is meant to educate all of those interested in participating in the supply chain.  We at Abundant Labs have seen many in the market make assumptions about the product or overlook certain aspects due to need for revenue.  Participate at your own risk, we just want to make sure everyone understands what they are stepping into when using these products.   Nothing in this communication is meant to be legal advice. Please consult your own counsel for specific advice with regard to your circumstances.

Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC

D8-THC is one of the 100+ cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp.  Specifically, D8-THC is a structural analog of the more widely known Delta-9 THC (D9-THC).  Due to their structural similarities, D8-THC and D9-THC bind to the same CB1 receptor in the central nervous system  but the subtle structural differences are enough to constitute  an arguably discrete legal definition with respect to the DEA, a feature many are using to market the D8-THC molecule.  The specific structural difference of D8-THC vs D9-THC is the position of the double bond on the unconjugated ring, highlighted here; D8-THC has a double bond between position 7-8, D9-THC has the double bond between position 9-10.  This isomerization or conversion from D9-THC occurs in the hemp plant naturally and accounts for the scarce though detectable amounts in cannabis plants.  Extraction and distillation of D8-THC from biomass is both costly and low yielding and so most if not all commercially available D8-THC is the result of synthetic organic chemistry techniques to convert CBD into D8-THC.

Delta-8 THC Safety and Effects

It is the safety of these CBD conversion reactions that is the largest concern in the retail market place currently.  These chemical conversions involve the use of heat in the presence of acidic conditions to covalently bond the 1’ hydroxyl and the 8 carbon of CBD into the tetrahydropyran ring of THC.  Chemical reactions like this conversion are difficult to control precisely and the slightest fluctuation in temperature, pressure, or acidity can cause other side reactions to take place.  CBD isolate converted under the right conditions by knowledgeable chemists can yield +90% D8-THC with a low likelihood of potentially harmful contaminating products.  The conversion of crude oil or distillates using these acidic methods is considerably more risky with respect to safety.  These less pure extracts and distillates contain a variety of other molecules like lipids, proteins, flavonoids, alcohols, and sugars which when treated with heat and acidic conditions can create a complex mixture of side reactions and products that can be quite harmful.  Cleanup and purification is important when using any other form of starting material besides isolate, though many smaller and less sophisticated labs may not have the chromatographic or distillation capability needed.  The testing of these materials is also key as a typical HPLC potency test cannot identify side products of an impure reaction, HPLC-UV can only identify unknown compounds by conformance to retention times of reference compounds.

The recent push for minor cannabinoid isolates in the retail market has created tremendous business opportunities as well as numerous issues of consumer safety and education.  Until genetics can catch up with this demand, chemical conversions are the only scalable answer to the demand.  Therefore, those who have built their business on offering a natural alternative to help with health issues, you are in fact delivering a synthetic instead.

As mentioned before we are not discouraging or advocating the use of these synthetic alternatives, but we are encouraging everyone to do a couple of things:  First and foremost please educate yourself on what the product is, so when communicating to your clientele you are giving them accurate information.  Secondly,  please do some research on the supply chain for the product.  Make sure you know what it was made from (CBD isolate, crude, etc.) and who made it.  Is the lab who does the conversion cGMP certified? Does their staff have sufficient education (not just experience) and do they have the correct equipment?  Last but equally important please have the products whether bulk or finished tested independently with a reputable lab.

We hope this is helpful and we will make ourselves available for any questions.