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Can THC be extracted from Dronabinol?
Q: The State of Iowa and NY both list Dronabinol as: "Hallucinogenic Substanes: Dronabinol (synthetic) in sesame oil and encapsulated in a soft gelatin capsule in a United States Food and Drug Administration approved product." Can it be extracted/distilled from Sesame Seed Oil?

A: One of the amusing side effects of the US control of cannabis medicines has been the creation of Dronabinol (brand name Marinol), soft gelcaps of THC which are normally swallowed. For many users, the effects of Marinol are much less useful than simply smoking the much cheaper and easier to obtain cannabis flowers. Because the product is so undesireable, many who have ended up with a prescription for it have asked this same question: is there some way to get the THC out of it into a useable form?

One medical marijuana patient I spoke with who used cannabis to relieve nausea and pain associated with his artificial heart pump and anti-rejection drugs tried Marinol orally, but found the effects too incapacitating, too slow to come on, and with a long unpleasant comedown. Since the prescription had cost over a hundred dollars, he tried squeezing the gelcap oil onto parsley leaves, letting them evaporate for a period of time, and smoking the results.

He found the smoked effects far preferrable to the approved oral use. He went through the rest of the bottle by smoking, despite the bad taste and harsh smoke from the sesame oil. He never purchased another bottle of Marinol and said he was "extremely disappointed" with the product.

Extracting THC from the Dronabinol gelcaps would be difficult and would require special equipment and solvents. While it might be an amusing academic excercise, it would not be an efficient way to get THC.


A Chemist adds:

I must agree with earth. While it might be an interesting experiment, it would take a good lab setup and supplies to find a reliable technique to accomplish this, since THC itself is an oil at room temperature. Some things that might work would be to try to dissolve the oil mix in a solvent and adjust the solvent conditions with other solvents and/or reduce the volume to just get one component to "crash out" (most likely as an "oil"). Otherwise, one could try to dissolve it in a very non-polar sovlent and run a chromatography column on it. Another possibility would be to boil the oil and attempt to "fractionate" the distillate, as long as their boiling points are sufficiently different. But again, these are techniques that aren't really available to most people, and one would want to analyze your product afterwards (besides just smoking it) to ensure purity and safety (you don't want any solvent or other oil remanents). Find yourself a bored chemist with some free lab time on their hands that don't mind risking their career on an interesting project.



Asked By : Dr. Q
Answered By : earth, psilo
Published Date : 5 / 14 / 2001
Last Edited Date : 5 / 14 / 2001
Question ID : 2725

Categories: [ Chemistry ] [ Cannabis ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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