Is THC-O Legal in Utah?

Is THC-O Legal in Utah?

No. Per Utah’s HB 227, signed into law in March 2023, the state classifies all artificially derived cannabinoids as adulterants, meaning that they cannot be sold as hemp products under the 2018 Farm Bill or any state law. Hence, THC-O, which is a synthetically derived cannabinoid, cannot be sold legally in the state.

However, Rule 68-28 of the Utah Administrative Rules makes it legal to use artificially derived cannabinoids in a medical marijuana product as long as they are at least 95% pure.

What is THC-O?

THC-O, a synthetic cannabis compound derived from hemp extracts, stands out among cannabinoids extracted from hemp due to its unique psychoactive effects. Unlike CBD, CBG, or CBN, THC-O is not naturally present in the hemp plant. Despite not being a mainstream cannabinoid, THC-O is rapidly gaining popularity within the cannabis community due to its reportedly high potency levels.

The synthesis of THC-O involves a chemical conversion using acetic anhydride, a colorless and highly inflammable liquid commonly employed in the production of fibers, plastics, pharmaceuticals, dyes, and explosives. The synthesis begins with the conversion of hemp-extracted CBD into Delta-8 THC while the final step involves using acetic anhydride to transform Delta-8 THC molecules into THC-O acetate.

The potency of THC-O remains a topic of interest, and while reliable information on the popular claims remains scant, anecdotal reports suggest that cannabinoid is more potent than conventional THC compounds. Consumers describe THC-O as a more psychedelic form of THC, offering a unique and spiritual psychoactivity compared to other cannabinoids. Similar to the delayed onset experienced with cannabis edibles, THC-O takes time to metabolize in the body before its effects are fully activated. THC-O is commonly available in various forms including vape cartridges, tinctures, and gummies.

Is THC-O Legal Under Federal Law?

No. THC-O is classified as a controlled substance because it is a synthetic cannabinoid. It falls outside the parameters set by the federal Controlled Substance Act for compounds related to, and classified with, hemp. Consequently, federal law prohibits the manufacture, distribution, or possession of THC-O, aligning its legal status with that of traditional marijuana.

The legalization of industrial hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill is contingent on the cannabis plant containing no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. While THC-O products typically adhere to this threshold, the Farm Bill also specifies that synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol maintains its classification as a Schedule I substance. This implies that, despite meeting the bill’s Delta-9 THC content criteria, synthetically produced THC-O cannot be legally sold as an industrial hemp product.

In response to a direct inquiry from North Carolina attorney Rod Kight, the DEA provided clarification on THC-O’s legal status on February 13, 2023. This clarification serves as a warning to hemp processors and retailers that engaging in the possession, distribution, or sale of THC-O may lead to criminal charges pursuant to federal law.

How Long Does THC-O Last in the Body?

THC-O can stay in the body for several weeks, even months after use. It is difficult to know exactly how long it takes for the metabolites of the compound to exit the body. However, some factors that can influence the length of stay in the body include:

  • User's Metabolism and Age: Individual genetic makeup can significantly affect the metabolism of THC-O and its metabolites. Genetic variations in the enzymes responsible for metabolizing substances may result in variations in how quickly or slowly THC-O is processed. Age can also play a role, as metabolism tends to change with age. Younger individuals may metabolize THC-O more rapidly than older individuals
  • Amount Used: The quantity of THC-O consumed directly correlates with the concentration of metabolites in the body. Higher doses often lead to higher levels of metabolites and extended detection windows. Smaller amounts may result in quicker metabolism and elimination, shortening the duration of metabolites in the body
  • Method of Administration: The method of THC-O administration can influence the onset of effects and the duration of the cannabinoid in the body. Inhalation methods, such as smoking or vaping, may lead to faster effects and potentially quicker elimination. Other methods, like edibles or tinctures, may have delayed onsets, impacting the overall duration of THC-O in the system
  • Frequency of Use: Regular and frequent use of THC-O can lead to the accumulation of metabolites in the body over time. This accumulation may result in an extended detection window. Infrequent or occasional use may contribute to quicker elimination and a shorter presence of metabolites in the system
  • Use with Other Medications or Intoxicating Substances: Interactions with other medications or substances can affect the metabolism of THC-O. Some substances may enhance or inhibit the enzymes responsible for metabolizing THC-O, altering its elimination rate

Can You Fail a Drug Test for Using THC-O?

Yes. THC-O is detectable via standard drug tests as these tests typically only test for THC metabolites. Since THC products produce similar metabolites, your test will return positive if you have consumed THC-O recently. The following are approximate periods over which THC-O metabolites can be found in the body:

  • Urine Tests: THC metabolites can often be detected in urine for up to 3 days following the last consumption. Regular users may experience longer detection windows, with the possibility of failing urine drug tests even after 30 days of abstinence
  • Blood Tests: THC metabolites can be detected in blood samples for 12 to 24 hours after the last use
  • Saliva Tests: THC can be detected in saliva for to 72 hours after the last use
  • Hair Tests: Hair tests can detect THC use in a hair sample for an extended period, up to 90 days following use

THC-O vs Delta-8

Delta-8 THC, occurring naturally in the hemp plant albeit in minimal concentrations, produces milder psychoactive effects in users. Whether derived from hemp or through the isomerization of Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC provides a more moderate and clearer high, commonly linked to decreased anxiety and paranoia. Its therapeutic potential for addressing issues like pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders has led to its use in various wellness products.

THC-O induces higher intoxicating feelings and is used more for recreational purposes. Anecdotal reports also suggest it is nearly 8 times more potent than Delta-8 THC and that its side effects are also more intense than Delta-8 THC’s.

THC-O vs Delta-9

Delta-9 THC is the most popular cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and is the compound responsible for creating the intoxicating feeling experienced when marijuana or cannabis is used. It occurs naturally in cannabis and hemp plants. THC-O has only recently gained popularity and does not occur in hemp or marijuana plants.

When you use Delta-9 THC, you can expect typical feelings of relaxation and euphoria, but these effects are not as intense as those induced by THC-O. For many users, THC-O induces a stronger head-high experience and, in some cases, can induce psychedelic effects. Some users compare THC-O's effect to the feelings experienced from using magic mushrooms or psilocybin. Others say the effects are only slightly similar and not comparable. Note that effects may differ from one user to the other owing to several unique conditions.

Overall, THC-O is believed to be at least three times more powerful than Delta-9 THC. Anecdotally, the side effects of using THC-O, such as grogginess, increased heart rates, and paranoia, are also said to be more intense than Delta-9 THC.

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