Most people think that hemp has become legal because it doesn’t contain THC. And while that might be partially true, it’s important to highlight that CBD hemp flower does in fact contain THC.
Tetrahydrocannabinol caused quite a commotion after researchers pinpointed it as the only psychoactive compound in cannabis. And while hemp definitely doesn’t cause any mind-altering effects like marijuana, it still contains THC. The key is in how much it contains.
Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC
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The Cannabis sativa L. plant produces a broad range of natural organic compounds called cannabinoids. This family of compounds exists exclusively in the cannabis plant and interacts directly with the central nervous system to produce effects like relaxation, calm, and mental clarity.
To date, researchers have identified around 120 different cannabinoids, all of which perform their own little role in the grand scheme of cannabis benefits. And of all of those cannabinoids, only one proves to possess mind-altering effects and it’s called tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.
At certain doses, THC can cause changes in a person’s cognition and may even lower their inhibitions. This may then result in engagement in risky and potentially dangerous behavior, and even criminal activity.
How Much THC is In Hemp Flower?
Because of THC’s mind-altering effects, lawmakers illegalized marijuana way back in the 1930s in an effort to protect individuals from the possible hazards that it can cause. And because marijuana and hemp both come from the same plant, they were lumped together as one and the same.
Modern-day science has proven however that hemp and marijuana are in fact two entirely different commodities. While marijuana contains up to 25% THC, hemp touts THC levels of just 0.3%.
Farmers have seen tremendous success keeping hemp THC levels this low that the 2018 Farm Bill actually designates that figure as the threshold for hemp. That is — any part of the Cannabis sativa L. plant that contains 0.3% THC automatically qualifies as hemp.
So exactly how much THC is in hemp? The answer is not a lot. At just 0.3% THC, hemp does not cause any sort of high, and might not produce a positive result on a drug test.
Different Kinds of THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol is an umbrella term used to refer to a number of different organic compounds in that sub-group. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, the specific form of THC that’s illegal is called delta-9 THC. This naturally occurs in cannabis and causes profound mind-altering effects even at low doses.
But that’s not the only kind of THC you’ll find.
An isomer of delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC occurs naturally in hemp. But at such low concentrations, it’s hard to produce enough delta-8 THC by extracting it directly from hemp. So instead, manufacturers take samples of delta-8 THC from the plant matter and then synthesize it in labs to manufacture enough product.
Interacting with the same CB receptors as delta-9 THC, the only thing that differentiates delta-8 THC from its psychoactive counterpart is that its double bond exists on the eighth carbon molecule as opposed to the ninth. In this way, delta-8 THC produces much milder effects.
Another isomer of delta-9 THC, delta-10 is a synthetic cannabinoid that’s manufactured in labs. Again, it occurs in very small amounts in natural hemp plant matter. So manufacturers have to synthesize the stuff in laboratories to produce enough products.
Delta-10 THC produces more sativa-like effects, which means it will wake you up and make you feel energized and upbeat. The stuff often comes in the form of edibles like gummies and chocolate, but some manufacturers sell delta-10 THC tinctures and oils at a steep cost.
Are Any Forms of THC Legal?
For the record, delta-9 THC remains an illegal substance at the federal level. Of course, local laws might vary depending on your state, city, or county. But generally speaking, delta-9 THC products remain highly controlled and regulated throughout the country.
The story changes however with delta-8 and delta-10 THC. Technically, they shouldn’t be legal considering how closely related they are to delta-9 THC. But loopholes in the 2018 Farm Bill prevent authorities from cracking down on the products.
According to the law, any part of the hemp plant and all of its derivatives are considered legal as long as they contain 0.3% delta-9 THC or less. The law makes no mention of its isomers. So as long as your delta-8 and delta-10 products come from hemp, you should be in the clear.
A word of caution though — just because you have these products shipped to your location without much of a hassle, it’s important to remember that they might still trigger a positive on a drug test. Another thing is that some locales have imposed their own regulations regarding these products as a response to Bill’s loose ends.
Buying Low THC Hemp Flower
As a law-abiding citizen, it’s probably the last thing on your mind to deliberately purchase CBD hemp flower with excessive THC concentrations. But it does happen. Irresponsible vendors that source their product from shady farms end up selling hemp flower that doesn’t actually meet legal requirements.
So it’s up to you to perform your share of due diligence so you can avoid buying products that aren’t up to code. Here’s what you can do:
- Ask for certificates of analysis – Reputable vendors release a document called a certificate of analysis or a CoA with their products. These detail the cannabinoids in the sample and tell you how much THC it contains.
- Transact with reputable sources – Shady vendors with ultra-low prices might catch your attention, but only go for vendors with an established reputation. All too often, unscrupulous brands draw in customers with low prices but fail in terms of quality assurance.
- Ask for fresh stock – A few vendors go the extra mile and tell you how old a specific batch is. Whenever possible, ask for fresh stock. That’s because age and exposure to elements can change hemp chemistry and actually increase THC content depending on storage conditions.
Now You Know
So maybe CBD hemp flower contains some THC, but that shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. As long as you’re getting your stash from a reputable source with verified CoA you should be in the clear.
But just in case you were hoping to explore the interesting world of THC, options like delta-8 and delta-10 THC provide similar effects minus the legal worries.