In recent months, there has been an uptick in the number of compounds being labeled and advertised as cannabinoids that offer a legal way to experience a THC high. Some of these compounds are not naturally occurring within cannabis but are rather made by extracting CBD from hemp and then synthesizing it in various ways in order to convert it to different molecular states. The most recent of these compounds to make the news goes by the name hydrox4phc, or PHC.
According to Binoid, a manufacturer of PHC products, “PHC is a derivative of delta 9o, an acetate version of Delta 9 that is made using a unique process that allows the acetate molecule to metabolize once entering the body, leaving behind THC that’s no different from the delta nine extracted from cannabis.” However, what consumers are actually consuming is not delta-9 THC (generally referred to as simply THC) extracted from cannabis. It is CBD extracted from hemp that is exposed to acetate in order to alter it at the molecular level.
While a significant amount of information surrounding this compound is not available, based on consumer reviews of this compound, it tends to offer much stronger and longer-lasting effects in comparison to other cannabinoids. Since this compound was designed to convert to nearly 99% pure THC upon entering the body, it metabolizes similarly to a delta-9 THC edible, and the effects are thought to be very similar. PHC is typically described as being very euphoric, with effects that linger for a good amount of time.
The Legality and Potential Side Effects of PHC
Like delta-9 THC, PHC can also cause you to fail a drug test. Because of how it metabolizes, PHC might actually cause you to fail a drug test quicker than THC and at lower doses. You can find PHC in tinctures, vape pens, gummies, cookies, beverages, and various other types of products. For consumers that are curious about these products, it is suggested that you start low and slow, just as you would with any new product.
Some of the common side effects that have been reported from the consumption of PHC include but are not limited to dizziness, drowsiness, anxiety, confusion, lack of physical coordination, forgetfulness, dry eyes, dry mouth, increased appetite, and low blood pressure to name a few. Since PHC is a psychoactive cannabinoid made with synthetic processes, it is likely illegal in states such as Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington—states that have banned similar compounds.
Cannabinoids Are Chiral: The Difference Between Natural and Synthetic
It’s important to keep in mind that PHC products are not produced naturally like THC products. Compounds such as HHC and delta-8 THC are introduced to outside elements and processes that alter their natural state, which is CBD derived from hemp. This has become a great debate among those in the cannabis industry. Recently, Project CBD released a report stating its concerns regarding these compounds that are being mass-marketed as natural cannabinoid-based products.
The report discusses the notion of chirality in detail, defining it as “a means by which an object or molecule cannot be superimposed on its mirror image by any translations or rotations.” This means that in order for a molecule to be considered “chiral,” it must be able to be distinguished from its mirror image. According to Dr. Matthew Elmes from Project CBD, cannabinoids are chiral and can be distinguished from their manmade mirror-image versions.
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Dr. Elmes also explains that “natural and synthetic cannabinoids can be differentiated, both by minor changes in molecular structure and by the effect it has on the body…it’s become clear that the chirality of cannabinoids is indeed an important factor influencing their effects in the body.”
The Need for These Compounds Can Be Blamed on Prohibition
Although products like PHC are thought to be relatively safe for consumption if processed properly, many experts raise the point that natural is always better. So why are consumers experimenting with all of these new synthetically crafted cannabinoids? All signs point to prohibition, or the fact that THC is federally illegal and remains banned in many states. In an attempt to achieve the effects of THC without breaking the law, many are turning to products like PHC that are technically legal under the 2018 Farm Bill due to being hemp-derived.
If cannabis was federally rescheduled or descheduled, it’s likely that there wouldn’t be much use for products like PHC, delta-8 THC, HHC, etc. Abraham Lincoln stated:
“Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”
Everyone should have full access to cannabis—particularly becomes it comes with much fewer side effects and risks than substances like alcohol. The majority of Americans even agree with this. Until then, use caution when trying new products like PHC, and always get your products from a trusted source that can provide lab testing paperwork.