THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is one of the numerous chemical compounds or cannabinoids found naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant. It is also the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. THC’s psychoactive effects typically result in delusions, altered perception of time, anxiety, and panic. Under the 2018 Farm Act, hemp may only have 0.3% or less. It does not produce ‘high’ sensations when consumed.
Generally, THC exists in different structural forms but has the same chemical constituents. These different forms are called THC isomers. Delta-9 THC, often referred to as THC, is one of the THC isomers found naturally in abundance in cannabis plants. Others include Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, Exo-THC, and Delta-7 THC occur naturally in small concentrations.
Yes. THC is legal in Utah under the state’s medical marijuana and hemp laws. Medical cannabis became legal in 2018 after the passage of the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. The Act allows patients with qualifying medical conditions to purchase a 30-day supply of THC products recommended by physicians. Utah also permits hemp production and distribution through the Hemp and Cannabinoid Act. Under this Act, only residents aged 21 or older can purchase hemp-derived THC products containing no more than 0.3% THC.
The THC concentration in hemp plants is usually 0.3% or less, as federal and state hemp laws require. On the other hand, the THC potency in marijuana often varies depending on the strain. Some marijuana concentrates or extracts contain up to 90% THC, which is illegal in Utah.
The THC potency in marijuana has increased significantly over the past decades due to advancing cultivation techniques centered on breeding high-THC products. In the 1960s and 1970s, before modern cultivation practices, marijuana usually contained barely 4% THC. However, marijuana strains seized and analyzed by the DEA in recent times show THC concentrations above 15%. Common marijuana strains in Utah typically contain between 20% and 30% THC. Some of these strains include:
Hemp or marijuana products in Utah usually show the percentage composition of cannabinoids present. Most products only show the THCA concentration, which differs from the THC potency. THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid found in raw cannabis, is the acidic form of THC. When consumed raw, THCA does not produce psychoactive effects. However, smoking, vaping, or heating raw cannabis typically converts THCA into THC. In weed labels, THCA levels only show the potential THC content after heating. Other forms of THC compounds found naturally in marijuana in order of abundance include:
The 2018 ballot measure, Proposition 2, approved by Utah voters, legalized marijuana-based THC for medical purposes. The Utah Medical Marijuana Program kicked off the same year after the state lawmakers passed House Bill 3001 to replace the ballot measure. According to Utah medical marijuana law, patients and caregivers must carry state-issued medical marijuana cards to purchase or possess marijuana-based THC products legally. Cardholders may only purchase high-THC products from medical cannabis pharmacies licensed by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). Utah medical cannabis law prohibits THC products in the form of edibles and smokable flowers.
In 2019, Utah Governor signed Senate Bill 105 to allow the cultivation and processing of hemp plants containing no more than 0.3% THC. The bill aligned with the 2018 Hemp Farming Act and authorized the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) to regulate hemp production. In 2023, Utah lawmakers passed House Bill 227, permitting the production of consumable hemp-derived cannabinoids. According to the new amendment, retailers must obtain UDAF licenses and not sell cannabinoids to minors under 21 years. The hemp law also permits the transportation of hemp across state lines, provided the THC potency is not more than 0.3%.
According to Utah Code §41-6a-517, driving with any measurable controlled substance, such as THC, in the body is illegal. Medical marijuana cardholders are required to keep THC products sealed while operating their vehicles. Violating Utah DUI laws may result in class B misdemeanor charges.
Violators may also face additional penalties such as jail sentences, community service hours, and mandatory installations of ignition interlock devices.
Yes, THC can appear on drug tests, such as urine or blood tests. Generally, the probability of drug tests detecting THC presence in the body depends on the following:
When ingested or inhaled, THC goes into the liver, metabolizing into THC-COOH and other secondary THC metabolites. These metabolites do not get consumers high, but they do not leave the body immediately because they are fat-soluble.
THC metabolites can remain detectable in urine for up to three to seven days after use. In the blood, THC metabolites often stay for up to 24 to 48 hours after the last consumption. Saliva may contain THC metabolites for as long as 72 hours after the last use of THC, while THC may remain in hair follicles and can be detected for up to 90 days after the last consumption. THC detection period is not the same for all consumers. Individuals with a long history of THC consumption may fail drug tests after 30 days of last use.
THC oil is a cannabis concentrate extracted from marijuana plants. The THC potency of THC oil varies between 50% and 80%. Due to the high THC concentration, consuming THC oil may produce severe psychoactive effects and lead to hallucinations, psychotic episodes, and confusion. THC oil differs from CBD (cannabidiol) oil. However, they are both extracts containing high concentrations of cannabinoids. In contrast to THC oil, CBD oil typically has more than 50% CBD and does not produce psychoactive effects. Physicians often recommend CBD oil for treating seizures and neuropathic pain.
Most manufacturers use Carbon Dioxide extraction to make CBD oil and THC oil. Others use liquid solvents like ethanol or isopropyl to extract THC resin from marijuana. After extraction, a carrier oil (olive or coconut oil) is used to dilute the thick resin to produce THC oil. Manufacturers use THC oil to make cannabis-infused food products such as edibles, gummies, and beverages. THC oils may also be sold as vape cartridges, topicals, and skincare products. Ingesting or inhaling THC oil is safe, provided the consumer is mindful of the dosage.
THC distillate is the purest and most concentrated form of THC extract, usually containing more than 90% THC. Consuming THC distillate can result in very intense psychoactive effects. THC distillate and CBD distillate are both extracted from cannabis plants. However, CBD distillate contains pure CBD, while THC distillate contains pure THC. Also, THC distillate is a marijuana-derived product, while CBD distillate is typically extracted from hemp. THC distillate can be produced using the molecular distillation process to remove all impurities from THC oil. It is often used to make cannabis edibles and vape cartridges. Due to the high THC potency, consumers should be cautious of how much THC distillates they ingest or inhale.
THC products derived from hemp are available at any UDAF-licensed hemp retailer in Utah. Utah permits hemp-derived Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC products but prohibits hemp retailers from selling to residents under 21. High-THC products derived from marijuana are available at licensed medical marijuana pharmacies, accessible only to medical marijuana cardholders. In Utah, smokable THC or cannabis-infused edibles are currently illegal.