THC is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, a cannabinoid present in Cannabis plants. It is also known as Delta-9 THC. Cannabis is known for its strong psychoactive effects, and THC is the compound responsible for this. A psychoactive substance is one that induces changes in the temperament and behavior of an individual. When it enters the bloodstream, THC reacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human body. CB1 receptors are responsible for maintaining motor and cognitive functions in humans, activities such as sleep, hunger, body temperature, anxiety, memory, and consciousness. CB2 receptors are present in the liver and immune system. Because it interacts quite powerfully with the human endocannabinoid system, THC is known as a phytocannabinoid.
THC refers to delta-9 THC or one of the various isomers of the compound produced synthetically. An isomer of THC is a compound that has a similar chemical structure but interacts differently with the body's endocannabinoid system and produces a different effect. The following are some of the common isomers of THC:
Delta-7 THC: This isomer is not naturally part of the cannabis plant and is made using CBD from hemp. It has lower psychoactive effects than delta-9 THC
Delta-8 THC: This isomer was first isolated in the 1970s. Its psychoactive effects are milder than those of delta-9 THC. It is particularly effective as an anti-nausea therapeutic drug. It also helps to stimulate the appetite. Delta-8 interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. Because it occurs naturally only in minuscule amounts, delta-8 THC is created synthetically from hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD)
Delta-10 THC: ItDelta-10 THC is not as strong a psychoactive compound as Delta-9 THC. It exists in small amounts in the cannabis plant. As a result, delta-10 THC is synthetically produced from hemp-derived CBD
Exo-THC: This is an isomer that is produced from Delta-9 THC by synthesis. It is not naturally present in the cannabis plant
Only THC products derived from hemp, and containing no more than 0.3% THC, are legal in Kentucky. Delta-8 and delta-10 THC products are widely sold in the state. Kentucky strictly prohibits the use, sale, or possession of marijuana-derived THC. There is no medical marijuana program in the state.
In the 1960s, THC potency in cannabis was around 2%. In the 1970s, it rose to around 5%. Between 2009 and 2018, THC potency in cannabis samples seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and analyzed by the National Center for Natural Products Research rose from 9.75% to 13.88% in 2019. The NCNPR test results from 2021 show that THC potency stood at 15.35%.
The sinsemilla method of growing cannabis was especially important in producing high-THC strains. Sinsemilla refers both to a particular variety of cannabis, and the cultivation method adopted to produce it. Sinsemilla cannabis is bred to produce no seeds and more THC-rich flowers. Cannabis flowers contain more THC than other parts of the plant. While THC potency can reach 12% in flowers, it is only about 2% in the leaves. Sinsemilla cannabis plants are females cultivated in greenhouses in order to reduce the risk of pollination that would arise if they were planted in open outdoor fields.
The Godfather OG strain of cannabis is known to have a THC potency as high as 34%. Other high-THC strains of cannabis commonly sold in dispensaries and online stores include the following:
Banana Kush: 27%
Chocolate OG: 30%
Durban Kush: 27%
Grease Monkey: 31%
Pacman OG: 29%
Laughing Buddha: 21%
Lemon Meringue: 21%
Manufacturers of THC products are mandated to provide labels listing the proportions of THC, THCA, and other ingredients in their products. When a THC product label provides a figure for 'Total THC Potency,' 'Total THC,' or 'Activated THC,' it refers to the sum of THC that the consumer can expect to ingest when the product is exposed to heat. THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinol acid, is the original chemical compound that is modified into THC when it is heated. A package of fresh cannabis flower, for instance, will have a high THCA percentage relative to its potential THC percentage.
The cannabis plant contains THC and its other isomers in varying degrees of abundance. They are listed below:
Delta-9 THC: This is the most prominent compound in cannabis and is the most psychoactive. Delta-9 THC is activated when its precursor compound, THCA, is decarboxylated(exposed to flame /heat). It is consumed for its therapeutic benefits in managing medical conditions such as nausea, glaucoma, fibromyalgia, and Parkinson's disease
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): This isomer is known to be more prevalent in varieties of Cannabis sativa that are cultivated in Africa
Tetrahydrocannabiorcol (THCC): It does not cause any psychoactive effects in consumers. THCC is specifically produced in the pollen of the Cannabis plant
Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP): Because this is a newly discovered isomer, THCP is still being studied by scientific researchers. THCP was isolated in 2019. It is reputed to have a potency level at least 33 times that of delta-9 THC
Delta-7: This isomer is created synthetically
Delta-8: This synthetic isomer of THC is strong in its psychoactive effects, but significantly milder than Delta-9. In Kentucky, it is processed from hemp-derived CBD, and widely sold. It is reputed to be an effective painkiller and is known to provide therapeutic relief from nausea, vomiting, and anxiety. It is one of the most popular hemp-derived THC products
Delta-10: Of all the isomers of THC, this has the lowest psychoactive effects. It is not produced in large amounts naturally and is now commonly synthetically produced from hemp-derived CBD. It is legal in Kentucky, and is sold in vape cartridges and as a distillate
In November 2022, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed two Executive Orders that will legalize the use of medical cannabis for qualifying patients in the state, as well as regulate the delta-8 THC market in the state. Executive Order 2022-798 will go into effect on January 1, 2023. The new law also provides immunity from prosecution to Kentucky residents who may be found in possession of cannabis and cannabis-derived THC products. It also provides a legal pardon for Kentucky residents who were convicted of cannabis-related offenses that did not involve violence. Only Kentucky residents suffering from at least one of the 21 medical conditions listed in the Executive Order would be able to access cannabis and cannabis-derived THC products.
Executive Order 2022- 799, which went into effect on November 15, 2022, is intended to regulate the sale of hemp-derived Delta-8 THC products in Kentucky. The Executive Order authorizes Kentucky's Secretary of Health and Family Services to apply the state's labeling requirements for hemp-derived CBD products to delta-8 THC products. In Kentucky, hemp-derived CBD products must carry labels indicating that they contain a THC level within the legal limit of 0.3%. Governor Beshear's Executive Order specifically stated that Delta-8 THC products are not illegal either under Kentucky or federal law. The new law aims to protect public safety by imposing certain requirements on the labeling and packaging of Delta-8 THC products in Kentucky.
Both the 2014 Farm Bill andt the 2018 Farm Bill recognized industrial hemp as an agricultural crop and legalized its cultivation and processing across the U.S. The Farm Bills authorized the cultivation and processing of only hemp-derived CBD products, which have to possess a THC level of 0.3% or less. Kentucky has a thriving hemp farming industry, and hemp-derived THC products are sold in health stores, dispensaries, and online across the state.
Cannabis is currently illegal in Kentucky, whether for medical or recreational purposes. It is illegal to drive a vehicle in Kentucky while under the influence of cannabis. The state maintains a strict stance against the use or possession of cannabis or any THC product. According to Section 189A.010 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, it is compulsory for any driver suspected of being under the influence of cannabis to submit to a drug test. Refusal to submit to the drug test will result in the revocation of the offender's driver’s license and a doubling of the statutory jail sentence. Hemp-derived products such as delta-8 and delta-10 THC are, however, legal for sale and purchase, so long as they contain no more than the statutory federal limit of 0.3% THC.
Drug tests can reveal the presence of THC in the human body. Whether THC will show up on a drug test in Kentucky is determined by the quantity of cannabis consumed by the individual, the duration between the test and the consumption, the specific drug test involved, and the frequency of cannabis consumption by the individual whose samples are being tested. Other factors that can determine how THC is metabolized include the sex of the cannabis consumer and the individual's rate of metabolism. THC tends to metabolize differently in women than in men, sometimes taking longer in women because of their higher levels of fat tissue.
THC is metabolized by the human body in different ways and by different organs. If THC is consumed by inhalation, the physical and psychoactive effects can be activated as quickly as 15 minutes as the vapors enter the lungs and bloodstream. THC does not stay as long in the blood as in other parts of the body, like the hair or urine.The liver metabolizes THC into the metabolites carboxy-THC and 11-hydroxy-THC. The greater proportion of THC is eliminated from the body as feces, while the rest is eliminated from the body through urine.
THC is also retained in body tissues, although for differing lengths of time:
Blood: THC can remain in the blood and be detectable for about 12 hours after it has been consumed
Urine: THC traces can remain for a long time in urine. For up to 30 days after cannabis consumption, drug tests can determine if an individual has taken a THC product. For this reason, the urine test is the most preferred for THC detection
Hair: THC can be detected in hair follicles up to 90 days after consumption
Saliva: THC is only detectable in the saliva for up to 24 hours
THC oil is a concentrate made from Cannabis plants. It is produced either by immersing the raw extract in ethanol or by supercritical C02 extraction. THC oil is especially potent.
THC oil and CBD oil are similar in terms of their molecular form. They differ because THC oil is a psychoactive cannabis-derived cannabinoid, while CBD oil is hemp-derived and can be ingested without triggering any psychoactive effects. CBD oil is also processed using the supercritical C02 extraction method.
Consuming THC oil in the form of capsules or edibles is one means of enhancing its therapeutic effects, as oils linger in the body more than THC delivered by means of smoke. Ingesting THC oil is also a preferred option for patients who are allergic to cannabis smoke. THC oil is sold in a variety of formulations, ranging from plain oil to capsules, vapes, and butter.
THC distillate is a highly refined extract from the cannabis plant. It is made using a four-stage process of extraction, winterization, decarboxylation, and distillation. While it is true that all THC distillates are oils, not all THC oils can be classified as distillates. The difference lies in the composition of the respective substances: the THC distillation process tends to vaporize and refine away most of the terpenes and cannabinoids in cannabis. On the other hand, the processing of THC oils aims to retain as much of its cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes as possible. THC distillates are more potent concentrations of the substance, containing up to 90% THC, whereas THC oils retain THC potency of around 80%.
THC distillates differ from CBD distillates in one important regard. THC distillates are processed from cannabis and are psychoactive, while CBD distillates are processed from industrial hemp and have no psychoactive effects.
Kentucky residents can legally purchase delta-8 and delta-9 THC products with no more than 0.3% THC concentration. Dispensaries and online stores in the state sell THC products in such formulations as vape cartridges, topicals, oils, edibles, tinctures, dab rigs, and gummies.