Is THC-O Legal in Kentucky?


Is THC-O Legal in Kentucky?

Yes, it is legal to use THC-O in Kentucky. Per Sections 260.850 to 260.869 of the state's Revised Statutes, all hemp products (derived or processed) containing an acceptable level of THC are legal in the Commonwealth. Following the passage of House Bill 544 in March 2023, hemp-derived substances became regulated products in Kentucky. Only adults, aged 21 years and older, can purchase hemp-derived products, including THC-O-based products, from online stores.

What is THC-O?

THC-O is a cannabinoid derived from hemp with psychoactive effects similar to those of marijuana. Short for tetrahydrocannabinol-O-acetate, THC-O is not naturally found in the hemp plant but synthetically made from hemp-derived CBD. Typically, it is made by extracting CBD from the raw hemp plant and then transforming it into Delta-8 THC using a method known as isomerization. The resultant Delta-8 THC is then mixed with acetic anhydride to produce THC-O, a non-natural cannabinoid and semi-synthetic analog of THC.

First-hand consumers of THC-O-infused products believe THC-O causes a powerful high with psychedelic-like effects. It is estimated to be at least three times as potent as Delta-9 THC and five times stronger than Delta-8 THC. As a result, THC-O should be used with caution. Users should expect strong psychoactive effects such as sedation, euphoria, and hallucinations or visual distortions when consuming THC-O-based products. THC-O can be infused into various product forms, including edibles, vapes, oils, and flowers. Common edible products are gummies and chocolates.

While the consumption of THC-O-based edibles is safe, users are advised against smoking or vaping THC-O. THC-O is processed by combining Delta-8 THC with an acetate ester (acetic anhydride), and subjecting it to heat can lead to the formation of ketene, a dangerous lung toxicant. As a result, people who frequently smoke or vape THC-O risk cumulative lung damage by repeated small exposures to ketene.

Is THC-O Legal Under Federal Law?

No, federal law prohibits the consumption of THC-O and all THC-O-based products. Although the 2018 Farm Bill considers all hemp derivatives legal, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has now clarified that only naturally derived substances from hemp are legal. Through a February 2023 letter, the DEA declared THC-O as a federally controlled Schedule 1 substance, arguing that it is synthetically manufactured. While many individuals still purchase THC-O products online, the DEA could take enforcement actions against THC-O vendors and manufacturers without notice and charge them with violating the Controlled Substance Act.

How Long Does THC-O Last in the Body?

While the effects of THC-O can clear within three to four hours after use, its metabolite, 11-hydroxy-THC, can remain in the body for between 2 days and several weeks. The average duration depends on the consumption method, frequency of consumption, the amount of THC-O consumed, and a person's overall genetic disposition. Generally, THC-O metabolites tend to stay longer in the body system of frequent and heavy users.

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

Yes, it is possible to fail a drug test for using THC-O. When THC-O is consumed, it enters the body, and its effects become activated once the liver metabolizes it. Typically, the metabolites will remain in the body for some time after consumption and can show up on drug tests. Depending on the type of drug tests and some other factors, THC-O metabolite can be detected from the first day of use to several weeks after the last consumption. Popular drug tests, including urine, blood, hair follicle, and saliva tests, can detect THC-O metabolite in the body.

Depending on the frequency of use, consumption method, and dosage, the following are the various detection windows for THC-O metabolite in the body after the last use of THC-O:

  • Hair follicle test - Up to 90 days
  • Blood test - Between 48 hours and 7 days
  • Urine test - Between 24 hours and 30 days
  • Saliva test - Between 6 hours and 48 hours

THC-O vs Delta-8

Delta-8 THC is a hemp-derived cannabinoid with psychoactive properties like THC-O. However, while Delta-8 THC occurs naturally in trace amounts in hemp, THC-O is synthetically manufactured from CBD in the lab because it is not naturally found in the hemp plant. As a result, Delta-8 THC is legal under federal law, but THC-O is considered illegal and a controlled substance. Both THC-O and Delta-8 THC cause a "high" when consumed. However, THC-O is more potent than Delta-8 THC, according to users. This means that THC-O users will experience a stronger kind of high than Delta-8 THC users.

Like Delta-8 THC, THC-O also provides several therapeutic benefits. Both hemp cannabinoids can help users get to sleep more quickly. Similarly, like Delta-8 THC, THC-O is believed to be of immense help as a therapeutic supplement for many types of pain. Both compounds can also promote users' mental relaxation and boost their moods. However, Delta-8 THC does not produce psychedelic effects like THC-O. Although the current research on THC-O is limited, experience from first-hand consumers has revealed that it may be highly beneficial in several other areas.

The consumption of THC-O and Delta-8 THC can cause certain side effects. For instance, using Delta-8 THC may lead to dizziness, tremors, hallucinations, and vomiting. Similarly, potential side effects of THC-O include disorientation, sleeplessness, low blood pressure, dry eyes, and dry mouth.

THC-O vs Delta-9

Delta-9 THC is the most common type of THC, and it is a naturally occurring compound in the hemp plant, although in small amounts. Unlike Delta-9 THC, THC-O is made synthetically in the lab through a process known as isomerization. Although both cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system similarly, THC-O is reported to have more potent effects than Delta-8 THC. However, the effects produced by both compounds can vary from person to person. Hemp-derived Delta-9 THC is legal under federal law, but this is not the case with THC-O because it is synthetically produced.

The benefits associated with Delta-9 THC and THC-O are similar, and they include appetite stimulation, stress management, pain alleviation, and relaxation. However, both also produce some side effects. The potential downsides of THC-O include eye redness, sleepiness, feelings of nervousness, dry mouth, and paranoid thoughts. Similarly, the side effects of Delta-9 THC can manifest as anxiety, feelings of nausea, feelings of mental fog, memory loss, anxiety, and fast heart rate

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