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From: carlolsen@dsmnet.com (Carl E. Olsen)
Newsgroups: alt.hemp,talk.politics.drugs
Subject: McKinney's THC Story
Date: Sun, 2 Oct 1994 21:34:21
Message-ID: 

TELEPHONE INTERVIEW 
WITH 
LAURENCE MCKINNEY 
CAMBRIDGE PHARMACEUTICAL LABORATORIES, INC. 
POST OFFICE BOX 748 
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS 02139 
(617) 868-9386 
JULY 20, 1991 
 
  OLSEN:   What's the difference between synthetic THC and 
natural THC? 
 
  MCKINNEY:   Molecularly speaking, there's no difference at all.   
The only difference between getting THC out of the plant, is when 
you get it out of the plant, the residuals, the impurities, are 
all these dismissive molecules, which are other plant molecules, 
of course.   When you make synthetic THC, the only residual 
impurity, quote-unquote, is delta-8 THC, so Marinol's technically 
95% THC and 5% delta-8 THC, whereas marijuana is 5% THC and 95% 
plant material which apparently has no effect, because every time 
people give all this testimony and talk about the effects of 
smoking marijuana, or whatever, whenever they talk about the 
effects, the effects are identical from the effects of taking 
THC. 
 
  OLSEN:   You said there's never been any ..., you know, when 
people talk about marijuana, they're talking about THC, because 
none of the other chemicals have ever been tested. 
 
  MCKINNEY:   Exactly.  Well, it's not that they haven't been 
tested, they've been tested, but there's been no real indication 
that they have an effect to the extent that it changes the effect 
of smoking marijuana.  In other words, there's never been a test 
on any of the other drugs that are in marijuana that indicated 
they have dramatic enough effects that they would be changing the 
effect of THC.  Say, maybe, there was, you know, 2% water in your 
orange juice, it wouldn't do a lot of difference to the orange 
juice.  It would be slightly diluted, but you wouldn't taste any 
difference, and you wouldn't feel any difference.  So, what's 
happening is, the government charges, which are totally specious, 
is that there are these other things in marijuana, sure, but not 
one of these other things in marijuana has been shown to be 
dangerous or problematical, nor has it ever been shown that those 
experiencing the effects of marijuana are experiencing the 
effects of anything else but THC. 
 
  OLSEN:   What about the argument that smoking marijuana is bad 
because it's smoke? 
 
  MCKINNEY:   That, per se, is silly, because the National Cancer 
Institute will tell you that unless you smoke more than four 
cigarettes a day, there's no determination that you're moving 
towards lung damage, and very few people are smoking more than 
four joints a day. 
 
  OLSEN:  Is there anything different about marijuana smoke than 
tobacco smoke 
 
  MCKINNEY:  No.  Actually, marijuana does have a slightly 
tarrier smoke.  It's about 30% to 40% tarrier, but, again, we go 
down to how many joints a day. 
 
  OLSEN:  What about the bronchodilator and bronchoconstrictor 
things? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  That has to do with the effects of THC on the smooth 
muscle.  Initially, it acts as a stimulator, which causes smooth 
muscle to contract, which gives you that feeling of your 
diaphragm getting tight, or people say that smoke is expanding.  
That's ridiculous.  Smoke is not expanding their diaphragm, it's 
contracting.  It's because it effects all smooth muscle 
immediately, making it contract. 
 
  OLSEN:  Well, they say marijuana's like a bronchodilator, and 
tobacco is a bronchoconstrictor. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Who say? 
 
  OLSEN:  I've read this over and over again. 
 
  MCKINNEY:   Yeah, well, there's a lot of things.  People used 
to say you could bury your dope in the ground, it would get full 
of mold and everything.  There's a lot of bullshit around in this 
business, because there's so many people 
 
  OLSEN:  I've also heard that it was good for migraines, because 
it expanded the blood vessels in the brain. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Well, that's complete bullshit, because there's 
nothing that's going to give you a headache faster than expanding 
the blood vessels in the brain.  In fact, the two kinds of 
headaches that we normally have, one is caused by constriction of 
the muscles in the neck which drops the blood pressure in the 
brain, the other is caused by exhaustion which by making the 
smooth muscles relax ... 
 
  OLSEN:  Well, it was described to me as the migraine or the 
headache comes from constricting of the blood vessels, cutting 
off the supply of oxygen to the brain. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  No.  No, not at all.  If you cut off the blood 
supply to the brain, you'd be dead.  It just drops the blood 
pressure slightly. 
 
  OLSEN:  Well, just restricting the flow, I mean, somewhat. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Restricting the flow drops the blood pressure, 
doesn't it? 
 
  OLSEN:  I don't know. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Well, let's face it.  You've got X amount of blood 
pressure, and you put less blood in.  Come on. 
 
  OLSEN:  Yeah.  I don't know.  It was described to me as being a 
reduction in oxygen. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  By a licensed physician who had a knowledge of 
cardiovascular things, or some marijuana advocate?  Let's get 
straight here.  Who are we talking to, experts or Merlins? 
 
  OLSEN:  No.  I just heard this.  I'm just checking it out. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Don't believe a thing you hear, unless the guy who 
is saying it . 
 
  OLSEN:  Well, I don't believe a thing I hear.  I repeat it as 
being something I heard, and that's all the value I give it. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Between you and me, I won't pass along anything.  
Ever since I've been in the drug education business, since 1970, 
I always check it out with the medical journals before I repeat 
anything. 
 
  OLSEN:  Well, of course, well, I just thought I'd check with 
you, since you're that kind of a person. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Well, here's the word.  THC from a plant and THC 
from a vat are absolutely identical.  However, since that's the 
case, and since no one smoking marijuana has ever described the 
symptoms of smoking marijuana as being different from those of 
having an effect of THC, we are really putting people in jail for 
an alternative administration of a legal drug, and that's what I 
keep saying.  If you vaporize a plant to get your THC molecules, 
even though they re mixed with a lot of other crap, sure, it's 
ineffective, but it's simply an alternative mode of 
administration.  And the Drug Enforcement Administration has to 
admit that people smoking marijuana are self-medicating 
themselves with THC.  And if you talk about self-medication, 
instead of getting high, and you talked about self-medication 
with crude THC, rather than smoking a doobie, now you re talking 
about using this wonder drug that everyone says is so safe. 
 
  OLSEN:  Yeah.  Yeah, OK, tell me now, what are the two 
chemicals that are used to make THC synthetically. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Olivitol and paramenthadianol , And you react the 
two, and I'm not certain how you react the two, I mean, that's 
the part I don't know.  Do you put it in a pressure cooker?  Do 
you put it in a special apparatus?  Do you do this?  Do you do 
that?  I'm not sure.  But you react the two together.  It is 
being done at Norac Industries owned by Chester, Dr.  Chester, 
McCluskey in Azusa, California.  I mean, this is something that 
ought to he fun.  You could get a sort of a tour of the lab.  You 
could get all the marijuana activists out to Azusa and stand 
around the place where they make the THC. 
 
  OLSEN:  Yeah.  I'm interested in where they get these two 
chemicals from, too. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  They get it from Sandoz in New Jersey. 
 
  OLSEN:  And do you have any idea how Sandoz gets it? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  They make it. 
 
  OLSEN:  OK.  And do you have any idea how they make it? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Yeah, from a lot of other stuff.  I think they start 
with gallac acid.  I'm not certain, but I think they start with 
gallac acid.  I'm not sure, but the thing is, someone told me ...  
Carl Nocka is the man who makes it. 
 
  OLSEN:  OK.  Got his address? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Carl Nocka is the man who makes the olivitol for 
Sandoz.  I believe it's Sandoz, in their chemical division.  He 
describes the process of making olivitol as mouse milk. 
 
  OLSEN:  OK.  Is there any way I could find out from this guy, 
or from anybody else, exactly where the organic compounds come 
from?  What do they start out with?  Where do they get the plant 
material or the mineral material? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  There's no plant material. 
 
  OLSEN:  Well, where do they get the minerals from then, to 
start this whole process? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Well, they usually get them out of the ground. 
 
  OLSEN:  Yeah.  And what are they?  What are the minerals? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Well, it comes down to probably atoms of carbon and 
nitrogen, and things like that.  You see, when you talk about 
biosynthesis, it means the plant, using its own clever bits of 
iona this and iona that, is shifting the molecules back and 
forth.  Let's also recall that the plant doesn't make 
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it makes tetrahydrocannabinolic acid 
and then it has to be decarboxylated by heat.  Now, the other way 
of making THC is to make cannabidiol and then reverse isomerize 
it, which the isomerizer never did do, into THC.  That's the 
Razdan process.  You see, the thing is, that when you're making 
THC, if you let the reaction go too far, you end up with 
cannabidiol.  And, what the Razdan process locked into, the fact 
was, take it all the way to cannabidiol and then turn the 
cannabidiol into THC.  That's how they do Razdan THC, which is 
the stuff that Harry Pars wanted to put on the market.  Remember, 
THC can be made by anybody for nausea, it can't be made by anyone 
else excepting Unimed for weight gain. 
 
  OLSEN:  OK.  Why? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Why?  Because they got an orphan drug from the 
United States government, a monopoly.  That's why this whole 
thing started.  Kapoor, an Indian fellow with $200 million, took 
over Unimed and then he got an orphan drug for weight gain, and 
pushed forward with a lot of government pressure, and they opened 
up the market in Europe by having the UN change their OKs on THC. 
 
  OLSEN:  OK.  What's an orphan drug? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Orphan drug means when a drug supposedly has so 
little market that making the ..., the expense of creating an FDA 
passable version of the drug would exceed the money that a person 
was going to make from it.  It's called an orphan drug.  That 
means that nobody really wants to make it, because it's not 
profitable enough.  So, in order to induce a company to make an 
orphan drug, the government gives one company a monopoly.  So, 
Unimed has a monopoly.  The interesting thing about Unimed is 
that it's owned by an Indian named John Kapoor who lives in 
Chicago, but it's distributed by Roxane Laboratories which is 
wholly, privately, owned by the German drug cartel Boehringer-
Ingelheim, which means that the profits from this drug are going 
to Germany.  And, the people who make the olivitol are Sandoz.  
It's a Swiss company.  So, the profits from the manufacture of 
the raw ingredients go to Switzerland.  All the money from this 
wonderful drug goes out of the United States, increasing our 
deficit.  If we grew it in this country and made it, it would be 
American THC.  This is sold by the Germans, with ingredients made 
by the Swiss.  And we could do it all ourselves.  The original 
work was done by Arthur D. Little and was picked up by Unimed 
back in 1983, because no one else wanted to make it.  The 
capsules are made by Banner Laboratories in Los Angeles.  So, the 
THC, pure THC, is shipped from Norac to Banner, Banner puts it 
into capsules and ships it to the Cleveland, Ohio, warehouse of 
Roxane Laboratories. 
 
  OLSEN:  How do you think that the government can keep marijuana 
illegal then? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Well, because, you see, the law, as was written by 
John Mitchell, is the Controlled Substances Act.  If it was the 
Controlled Drug Act, we'd have a real problem, because in modern 
day we don't think of a drug as being a collection of substances, 
but as being a specific molecule.  But, by calling it a 
Controlled Substances Act, you can play all sorts of legal 
rubbery games like saying that cocaine is in Schedule 2, because 
there's a medical use for cocaine, but crack is in Schedule 1. 
 
  OLSEN:  And the coca plant is in Schedule 2. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Yes.  But, what I'm trying to point out is, although 
cocaine is in Schedule 2, and they can't get it out of Schedule 
2, to make more money for the police and the Justice Department, 
crack is in Schedule 1, which means there is no medical 
intervention, it's all in the hands of the police, although, 
chemically speaking, crack and cocaine are precisely the same.  
It's simply another form of it.  And that's why I say you have 
the Controlled Substances Act.  That's how you can have the 
entire peyote plant in that category, or the entire marijuana 
plant, because it's a substance.  THC is in Schedule 2.  
Marijuana is in Schedule 1.  It's in Schedule I supposedly 
because it contains a drug called THC which is in Schedule 2.  
However, if you take the THC out of marijuana, it's still in 
Schedule 1, even though its got its drug taken out of it, because 
it's the marijuana that's the controlled substance, and that is 
the trick to a controlled substance.  They could make Scotch Tape 
into a controlled substance. 
 
  OLSEN:  Why is marijuana then, without THC, in Schedule I and 
tobacco is legal? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Because, in Schedule I in the Controlled Substances 
Act they define a number of different items, and marijuana is 
defined as the leaves and the flowering tops and everything made 
of the marijuana plant.  That's the legal definition. 
 
  OLSEN:  But how can you call it due process, I mean, how is it 
fair that a classification include something and doesn't include 
something else, when they both fit the same definition? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  No one ever said the body of law in any country is 
particularly good.  In Arabia, they chop your head off.  I mean, 
let's face it, the laws are never anything but the current 
reflection of popular political opinion.  So, what you're looking 
at here is a drug which is itself, at 95%, considered to be a 
wonder drug, safe, never been an overdose.  OK?  But, at 5% in a 
plant, it's in the same category as heroin.  In other words, when 
it's 20 or 30 times more potent, it's legal.  But, when it's so 
crude, when it's in its crudest form, it's like saying gasoline 
and crude oil ... 
 
  OLSEN:  Well, aren't they saying, because of the fact that it's 
only 5% and it's mixed with all this other stuff, that that's why 
it's worse that the 95% pure? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Well, what they're saying, whenever you try to make 
marijuana into Schedule 2, is that there are all these other 
things which haven't been tested.  They make you put marijuana 
through the same test you'd put THC through, which is to say, 
what are the impurities?," and of course there are 423 molecules 
in marijuana, only one of them is THC.  So, if you take out the 
THC, how many impurities have you got?  422.  That's how they do 
it.  Because, normally, when you make a drug, you've got to test 
the impurities and see if they're OK, and see if they have any 
effect.  Can you imagine anyone wanting to test 422 other 
molecules?  Now, the only thing I have, there's been a change in 
the generic drug laws that says you don't have to duplicate the 
entire procedure, but you do have to make it equivalent, its got 
to have the same effect.  And when the FDA told us that they 
didn't care where you got THC from, as long as it was 95% pure, 
there was some question there.  But what it comes right down to 
is that nobody in the marijuana movement, including Richard 
Dennis, wants to put their money behind the one simple routine 
that would change everything, which I've been talking about for 
the last four years, which is a very simple movement to change 
the definition of marijuana in the rule books.  All you have to 
do is include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as one of the legal 
products of the plant, along with hemp seed and hemp cloth and 
hemp this and hemp that, and the whole thing would fall apart 
immediately, because then you would have the anomaly of a plant 
which had its active ingredient removed still being in Schedule 
1.  It would fall apart on its own ridiculousness.  And yet ... 
 
  OLSEN:  In other words, you're saying that it would be looked 
at like tobacco? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Yeah.  I mean, it wouldn't be looked at like 
tobacco.  Suppose that you had a lemon, and vitamin C was legal, 
but lemons were illegal because they had vitamin C, and a lemon 
was defined as everything that comes off the lemon tree. 
 
  OLSEN:  Yeah.  Well, you re saying marijuana is illegal because 
it has THC in it. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  I'm saying that the way that the government keeps 
marijuana illegal is by broadcasting the idea that marijuana 
contains a dangerous drug.  The dangerous drug they refer to is 
THC at 5%.  On the other side of their mouth, they're calling THC 
a safe and harmless drug at 95%.  In other words, when the THC is 
in sesame oil, which is the only other ingredient in Marinol, 
surrounded by a gelatin capsule, it's a wonder drug.  When the 
THC is in a hemp stalk, surrounded by hemp fibers, it's Schedule 
I criminal, and how it would be illegal for us to hack our way 
into there and pull the legal drug out.  You see, to us, to our 
way of thinking, and our argument all along, we're going into a 
plant to pull out something legal, and we're calling the plant 
illegal because its got the legal stuff in it.  It doesn't make 
any sense.  You can simply say that the people smoking marijuana 
are self-medicating themselves with the effects of THC, which are 
found by the government to be safe, efficacious, and absolutely 
harmless.  There's never been an overdose, there's never been a 
death.  And they're just people who have, you know, nausea maybe?  
Who knows, maybe they want to gain weight.  Fine, let them self-
medicate.  Why can't they medicate by taking it out of the plant?  
It's like saying you've got to have pure synthetic maple syrup, 
you can't tap a tree. 
 
  OLSEN:  So, is there another way to get THC out of marijuana 
besides smoking it, and without refining it? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  No. 
 
  OLSEN:  Is there some way to use the raw marijuana at home, 
does it have to go through some ... 
 
  MCKINNEY:  You can't get pure THC out of it. 
 
  OLSEN:  You can't? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  You can't.  No.  You can get maybe a solution as 
high as 65% or 75%, you can.  That's about as high as you con go.  
The reason it costs nearly as much to make natural THC is because 
there's so much more gunk to clear out with the liquid 
chromatograms.  When you've only got two molecules to separate, 
it's not so hard.  When you've got 400 to separate, it's harder. 
 
  OLSEN:  It would be more expensive to make THC from a plant 
than it would be to ...? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  As expensive.  Until you get into serious large 
production, there's no real advantage.  The one thing that's the 
biggest advantage is you don't have to rely on a lot of complex 
expensive chemicals made by a lot of complex expensive companies.  
When Carl Nocka said that making olivitol was mouse milk, what he 
meant was it takes a hell of a lot of whatever they use to make 
it out of to make a little bit.  It's a very low yield process.  
That's why olivitol costs $1,000 a kilogram.  Very expensive.  
Now, in the making of THC from the raw materials, it costs a lot 
more to refine it, but the raw materials are cheaper.  You see, 
the liquid chromatogram uses packed columns of silica gel which 
will retard certain molecules and let other molecules go through.  
And what happens is that it retards the cannabinoids say, but 
then eventually the little granules in the tube become all 
clogged up with what they're trying to sieve out.  And the 
problem is because there's so many similar molecules to THC in 
the gunk, that you can't run the solution through the tubes more 
than two or three times and it's all gunked up.  And, silica gel 
costs $150 to $250 a kilogram.  It's like sand.  It's specially 
treated sand, for all intents and purposes.  But the fact is, 
it's expensive, and when you have a synthetic, which only has 
delta-9 and delta-8, you can see it's a lot easier to separate 
them.  Still, the most expensive part of making the synthetic is 
separating the delta-9 so you end up with a 95% solution. 
 
  OLSEN:  You have to do this no matter how you make it, right? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  You always have to go to the liquid chromatogram for 
the last stage.  The thing is, when you make it synthetically, 
you end up with an 80% solution, and there are only two molecules 
in that solution.  In the making of natural , you end up with a 
75% solution, 25% of which is made up of 420 different other 
things.  However, generically speaking, this may not be as 
important if it's shown that tests have no differences in the 
effect.  The only reason that Perdue-Frederick dropped that is 
because there wasn't enough sales of the synthetic.  Otherwise, 
they would have backed us with the natural. 
 
  OLSEN:  They would have kept testing? 
 
  MCKINNEY:   They would have backed us with the natural.  They 
didn't test.  They never got to that stage.  But the funny thing 
is that, of course, if they push the synthetic enough, or course, 
other people will come in line and start working with the 
natural, hopefully.  And, if they're going to make the natural, 
they're going to have to make it out of the plant, and the plant 
will have to drop to Schedule 2, as all precursors of Schedule 2 
drugs have to be in the same schedule.  You can't have a 
precursor of a drug in a higher schedule than the drug itself. 
 
  OLSEN:  What is a precursor?  You mean the plant? 
 
  MCKINNEY:  The plant, the poppy. 
 
  OLSEN:  The coca plant? 
 
  MCKINNEY:   Yeah.  The poppy plant is in Schedule 2, opium 
poppy.  And, if, say, for instance, if mescaline became legal, 
they'd have to put peyote in Schedule 2 for the same reason.  And 
that's why I keep saying, if we can only get natural THC into 
Schedule 2, it would force marijuana into Schedule 2.  But the 
nutniks in the marijuana reform movement are all a bunch of ex-
hippies sitting around rolling doobies on the back porch and 
gazing at the sun and saying, "Oh wow!"  They're not realizing 
there are two important things to do.  First, it's very easy to 
change the definition if it looks like you're doing it to keep 
marijuana away from people.  And by simply slipping in a 
definitional change in the marijuana definition in the law, state 
by state, you can slip that through the legislatures with no one 
getting excited, because they wouldn't understand what you were 
really doing.  It sounds like you're, you know, bringing the 
definition up to date, because in 1985 THC became legal, 
therefore, THC is defined as the psychoactive drug in marijuana, 
and that's the way it's defined in the Physician's Desk 
Reference, the PDR. 
 
  OLSEN:  Well, you know, Iowa's law says that marijuana's in 
both Schedule I and Schedule 2.  Schedule I says it has no 
medical use, and Schedule 2 says it does, and what you just said 
would be a way to solve, to make the Iowa law make sense and 
accomplish exactly what they tried to accomplish without making 
it look like a bunch of idiots wrote it. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  You can change the definition so that marijuana is 
illegal, excepting for the products, and one of those products 
would be pure, it could be pharmaceutically pure THC. 
 
  OLSEN:  Which would be Schedule 2. 
 
  MCKINNEY:  Yeah.  Now, the legislatures and the lawmakers know 
if anyone wouldn't realize what they were doing by changing that 
to make it clear that only pharmaceutically pure THC from the 
marijuana plant would be considered legal, but the rest of it's 
no good, it sounds like you're making it impossible for someone 
to do this, but whet they are doing is that they're making 
marijuana the precursor of a legal drug. 
 
CARL ERIC OLSEN 
(515) 243-7351