By Roger Brown, ACS Laboratory CEO and Founder
Did you know Delta9 and Delta8 THC are molecular neighbors? In fact, their double-bond electrons live just one carbon block away.
This minor distinction makes it difficult for some laboratories to separate the two during testing. But legally speaking, Delta8 and Delta9 THC couldn’t be any more different. Delta9 is a Schedule I illicit substance, while Delta8 remains unregulated and legal to produce. If third-party labs can’t accurately distinguish Delta8 from Delta9, they may accidentally combine the cannabinoids to produce false results. That’s why our team at ACS created a new standard for Delta8 THC analysis. We call it the “it’s not Delta9” test.
We decided to create this standard after one of our clients sent us Delta-8 gummies earlier this year. Our chemists expected the results to show a high concentration of Delta8 THC–the unregulated kind that makes you feel good and doesn’t get you in trouble. But instead, the results revealed a high concentration of Delta9–the illegal kind that gets you high.
My team immediately realized the analysis was skewed and set out to discover why. Once we diagnosed the cause, we created a new standard in hemp testing that employs the most advanced methodology to delineate between Delta8 and Delta9. No other laboratory is doing this, and that’s terrible news for innovative Delta8 companies who rely on accurate results to sell compliant products.
When we dug into the cause of the issue, we quickly realized the industry’s universally accepted testing methodology is flawed. And nearly all laboratories that test Delta8 products using those standards may register inaccurate results. These labs might falsely report high concentrations of Delta9, making the Delta8 product seem illicit when it’s not. On other hand, labs could mistakenly under-report Delta9 concentrations, making an illegal product seem compliant. In both cases, the Delta8 company can face serious repercussions.
“I never trust the first COA I receive,” said Stacey Hamilton, Partner at Boro Hemp. Boro Hemp recently purchased a batch of Delta8 from a raw materials provider that came with a squeaky clean Certificate of Analysis (COA). But Stacey decided to send the solution to ACS to double check the potency results.
“The original COA said the Delta8 solution contained less than 0.3% THC, but ACS’s new Delta8 analysis told a different story. The results of the test showed the solution contained illicit levels of THC. We had to retire the whole batch but luckily ACS caught the error before we went to production,” said Stacey.
Stacey’s story is another example that indicates the current testing methodology works too fast and may not clearly separate the cannabinoids. As a result, the machine that reports the concentrations of Delta8 and Delta9 can accidentally integrate the two. When this happens, inexperienced labs will run into trouble.
The methodology we developed at ACS Laboratory is unique because it allows our lab to perform analysis without accidentally combining these chemically similar compounds. The old method worked way too fast, so we elongated it and incorporated different standards and controls geared toward identifying the unique characteristics of Delta8. The process is much slower and more complicated but well worth the effort.
As the hemp industry evolves, laboratories must continuously re-evaluate methods to ensure we’re producing valid results. Laboratories who fail to rise to the occasion will put their clients at risk. Luckily, ACS is filled with brilliant chemists who are constantly revolutionizing standards to stay ahead of the industry’s changing needs. Innovation and accuracy is the only way forward.