Does CBD convert to THC in the body?

    October 27, 2022 2 min read

    Does CBD convert to THC in the body?

    Cannabidiol (CBD) is emerging as an apparent modulator of some central nervous system functions that misfire in certain psychiatric disorders. But it is not psychoactive in the sense that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is. A remaining question that arises occasionally in regulatory discussions is whether CBD can ever convert spontaneously or through bodily processes into THC, or perhaps some other cannabinoid molecule that may itself be shown to have psychoactive properties. The general answer concerning THC is that it cannot. 

    There is still mild controversy on this, however. In vitro conversion of CBD to Δ9- and Δ8-THC, both psychotropic, can be made to happen with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, orp-toluenesulfonic acid, a way of simulating incubation in gastric juice.CBD also isomerizes to Δ6-CBD, which elicits THC-like effects in monkeys, upon heating witht-pentyl potassium in toluene-hexamethyl-phosphoric triamide (6:1, v/v). 

    The controversy is over whether this can happen in vivo. In the majority of animal studies, no Δ9-THC or any of its metabolites have been detected in blood or brain tissue. And in human studies after oral CBD administration these have never appeared at all. Why the apparent contradiction in those few animal models? It may have been a function of differing detection methods. Published data, in any case, shows that if there is any metabolic conversion to THC, it certainly would not happen in an amount that exceeds the threshold of pharmacological action. 

    Another reason for the controversy may be that CBD, being an inherently unstable molecule, might auto-convert to psychotropic metabolites during storage. This is not outlandish. Cyclization to Δ9-THC on the shelf has been observed, though both compounds further degraded to cannabinol. The quality of the CBD used in the various studies may therefore be the real locus of the debate.Cannabis-based extracts necessarily contain other cannabinoids, that always include THC. Non-cannabis, synthetically-derived CBD does not. This would seem the reasonable reference material in future studies that attempt to resolve what remaining uncertainty over CBD transformation there is. 

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    The foregoing is a report on trends and developments in the cannabinoid industry. No product described herein is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or syndrome.