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Alt-Noids & the 2018 Farm Bill


Last month I admitted, albeit reluctantly, that my cannabis allegiances may have slightly shifted from team flower to team vape. This shift is just as much of a surprise to me as anyone, considering that I have spent much of my adult life as a “vape hater”. For example, I quit smoking cigarettes in December of 2023 but for years before that, countless of my non-smoking friends and family attempted to turn me on to nicotine vapes as a means to, at the very least, quit smoking cigarettes and eventually wean off of nicotine. There was something about those early nicotine vapes and chunky cloud rigs that irritated my throat, and turned me away from vapes in general for a while. 

Fast forward to living in Texas and despite just not really being a fan, I have a whole new reason to avoid newly-available-in-my-area cannabis vape cartridges. Along with the standard black market wares, counterfeit carts have begun popping up in prohibition states, some of which are rumored to have seriously injured or killed people. Now I’m definitely not messing around with vapes. Occasionally, we would be able to get our hands on one that, for some reason I couldn’t explain, we trusted more than the others. Maybe it came in a sealed pouch or had a scan-able bar code or something, but I was definitely grateful for the rechargeable vape battery I had bought on my last visit to Arizona. 

Fast forward another few years, and we are starting to see a wide variety of products that seem to be virtually tamper-proof. If they are not tamper-proof, per se, because I definitely don’t want to say untrue things, products that it’s unlikely were tampered with. They are sealed, and what appeared to be display boxes of disposable vapes for example. I was able to pull up lab reports for most of them. To me these just seemed like good old-fashioned, trafficked-in-from-out-of-state, black market cannabis products. Fortunately this is the type of product I sometimes still have access to. 

Now, for sure those particular vapes are super duper illegal. Please don’t tell Mr. Williamson County. But what are seemingly not super duper illegal (according to the 2018 Farm Bill) are all of the THC vapes that the convenience stores in my town are selling. Imagine my surprise when I left the house for the first time in weeks in 2021 (sometime that year, because I really didn’t go out in 2020), to see edible gummies and Miracle Alien Cookies vapes at the place where I sometimes get breakfast tacos. Sure, they had sold aluminum trays and Snoop Dogg-branded vapes in the past, but Snoop’s vape was just a cool battery with the ability to vape flower, THC definitely not included. But what the actual fuck is THC-JD?

2018 Farm Bill

First we need to discuss how this is legal. Not only was I surprised to learn that these THC vapes were legal, I was also surprised to learn that these were not delta-8 THC. I just kind of assumed that with the rise in popularity of delta-8 THC in recent years that most legal vapes in my area were delta-8. As a quick refresher, delta-9 THC is the cannabinoid that most people are referring to when they say THC. It’s the cannabinoid that gets you high and delta-9 THC is the most abundant form in cannabis. Delta-8 THC is chemically very similar to delta-9 - for all of our chemists out there, it is identical but for the location of one of the carbon-carbon double bonds - but occurs in such low amounts naturally in cannabis that it’s usually synthetically-derived and has not been studied as extensively as D9. I’ll admit that this is when my very annoying tendency to be kind of a snob kicked in and I turned my nose up at synthetic THC. 

Enter the 2018 Farm Bill. Technically what the 2018 Farm Bill did was “removed hemp, defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis” with what the FDA called “extremely low” concentrations of d9 THC from the definition of “marijuana” under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This allows farmers to grow hemp on an industrial level, which prior to 2018 required farmers to meet “university research pilot requirements of Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill”. 

Not only does this bill allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, it also seemingly opened a loophole for the consumable cannabis industry. See, the Farm Bill allows production of cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC, but doesn’t mention any of the other cannabinoids that are popping up on legal vapes.

Alternative Cannabinoids aka Alt-Noids

Maybe I’m just getting old, but the term “alt-noid” made me laugh out loud. I actually like the term, I think it’s just the right amount of silly, but come on -  it is silly. “Alt-noid” is just an abbreviation of alternative cannabinoid, a term I didn’t know existed until I started doing research for this series. To be fair, I rarely leave my house more than once a month and I alternate between basically the same 4 apps on my phone so my exposure to new trends is, shall we say, limited. Alternative cannabinoids refer to exactly that: cannabinoids that may be alternatives to the more commonly known ones, ie THC and CBD. 

One of the more well known alternative cannabinoids is delta-8 THC and the term seems to encompass both naturally occurring and synthetically derived cannabinoids. Perhaps it’s a little misleading of me to include d8 in that last sentence, as it is technically naturally occurring and often synthetic, but that seems to be the case for a lot of these alt-noids. 

I’ll be focusing on the vape pens that I have experience with: a brand called Looper that invites you to “enter the Looperverse” with live resin, disposable alternative cannabinoid vapes, pre-rolls and cartridges.


The first of these vapes that we tried was the 3 gram disposable Miracle Alien Cookies, which on the box and website claims to contain THC-H, THC-P and 11-hydroxy-THC. So, let’s take a look at what we know about each of these alt-noids.

THC-H, also known as tetrahydrocannabihexol, was discovered in 2020 by a team of cannabis researchers in Italy that also discovered THC-P. THC-H is what is known as a hexyl homolog of d9 THC, which means that the molecules in THC-H are exactly the same as d9 THC, but “arranged uniquely to have distinctive properties from one another”. Although THC-H is naturally occurring in certain strains of cannabis, it’s usually in very small amounts and is obtained in larger quantities, according to the blog section of the Looper website, by an “extraction or isolation process”. It’s claimed that THC-H is 25 times more potent than d9 THC, and the second most potent cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. Surprising no one, I’m sure, we still have a lot to learn about THC-H and its possible benefits, but reviews of THC-H products praise it for help with anxiety and insomnia. 

Discovered just the year before THC-H by the same cannabis research team, TCH-P takes the crown for most potent cannabinoid, believed to be 33 times stronger than d9 THC. Tetrahydrocannabiphorol, or THC-P, is a naturally occurring, albeit in trace amounts, cannabinoid that binds to your endocannabinoid system “at about 33 times the rate of delta 9 THC”. It has been estimated that the high from THC-P can be up to 10 times stronger than your standard d9 high, and some reviews of THC-P products report the high lasting for much longer. 

Last but certainly not least is 11-hydroxy-THC… or at least that’s what Looper puts on the box. On its own, 11-hydroxy-THC probably doesn’t mean much to you and when I first started researching it, I was also thoroughly confused. Turns out 11-hydroxy-THC (also known as 11-OH-THC) is what we use to commonly refer to 11-Hydroxy-delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is the active metabolite of d9 THC. This means that after we consume THC, either by smoking, vaping, edible or tincture, etc, our body metabolizes that THC into 11-hydroxy-THC, and this is where I was getting confused. What is commonly referred to as 11-hydroxy-THC is only found in the body after cannabis consumption, so why is it printed on this box? Guess what? There’s very limited information and I’m still pretty confused. What I can find comes from a one year old reddit post. This post claims that this was used as a marketing strategy by some products and no 11-hydroxy-THC had ever been identified in product lab testing, but that “on October 19th, 2023 an entity teased a lab test that may be a legitimate 11-OH-Delta-8-THC” and that it may start appearing legitimately in products after October 2023. 

To wrap all of this up in as neat a bow as I can manage, I think it’s safe to say that we are making strides in cannabinoid research and application at a staggering rate. So staggering, perhaps, that these alternative and synthetic cannabinoids are emerging and being outlawed at a rate I can barely keep up with, so make sure to check your local laws and regulations before experimenting with alt noids. I do think that the continued progress towards a wider understanding of the array of cannabinoids is a boon, and I am really excited about the future possibilities of curating exact experiences with alternative cannabinoid mixes, like mixing up the perfect cocktail.


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