THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical compound or cannabinoid present in the Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants from which marijuana and hemp are derived. THC is one of the most important cannabinoids. When ingested, THC interacts with the CB1 receptors in the human brain and sets off the neural systems that influence the ability to think, perceive time, memorize, feel pleasure, and coordinate the body. THC is a psychoactive substance, meaning that it can cause alterations in the mood of a consumer. Such mood alterations include feelings of euphoria, intoxication, and 'highness.'
THC is present in both hemp and marijuana. The key difference is that marijuana contains higher concentrations of THC than hemp. Marijuana has THC concentrations that have been proven to reach as high as 90%. This THC content is what decides the legality of hemp and marijuana in the U.S. Federal law considers any Cannabis sativa or indica substance or derivative with a THC level above 0.3% to be marijuana, and thus illegal. Legal hemp in Missouri contains a THC level of 0.3% or less.
THC has different isomers. Isomers are essentially variants of THC which have been synthetically altered by the process of isomerization to produce higher levels of the compound. Isomers of THC include compounds such as delta-7, delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10:
Delta-8 THC: This isomer is produced from oil extracted from hemp-derived CBD. When ingested, delta-8 is known to induce sensations of calmness in consumers. It also sets off receptors in the brain
Delta-9 THC: This is the most commonly known isomer on THC. It is naturally present in the cannabis plant and highly psychoactive. Delta-9 THC can be consumed in different ways: as smokable flower, as edible brownies and cookies, as oil, tincture, concentrate, and distillate
Delta-10 THC: This isomer of THC is also chemically produced from hemp-derived CBD oil. It is not as psychoactive as delta-9 THC. Delta-10 is sold in edible forms, as gummies and vape cartridges
Exo-THC: This is a synthetic isomer of THC. It is also known as Delta-9,11-THC
Missouri laws regarding THC use are contained in Article XIV of the State Constitution, which was enacted in 2018. It grants Missouri residents the right to possess and consume cannabis with a THC content exceeding 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Qualifying patients under the Missouri Medical Marijuana Regulatory Program are allowed to purchase 4 ounces of cannabis flower from dispensaries upon the recommendation of their doctors.
All forms of hemp-derived THC are legal in Missouri, except those which have a THC content that exceeds the legally permitted limit of 0.3%. Cannabis-based delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is, however, illegal in the state. Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, and is legalized in Missouri only for medical purposes. Missouri residents can legally purchase hemp-based delta-8 and delta-10 THC products.
THC levels in cannabis plants vary. In Missouri, legal hemp and hemp-derived products must not have a THC level above 0.3%. Cannabis sativa is higher in THC than the Cannabis indica variety of the plant. Other factors, such as the cultivation method adopted and the genetic traits of the plant can also influence THC levels.
There has been a steady increase in the potency of THC since scientific testing began in the 1960s. In the 1970s, THC potency in cannabis ranged between 1%- 5%. Today, tests on cannabis reveal that its potency has increased tenfold to around 67% in some cannabis products. This is attributed to a number of factors, such as the adoption of sophisticated farming methods and the diverse range of THC products now available, from tinctures to concentrates to edibles. Feminized cannabis seeds are specially cultivated to yield THC-rich plants. Cannabis concentrates are particularly high in THC content. In 2021, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) found that the average THC percentage in seized cannabis was 15.35%. Statistics published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and citing DEA laboratory records indicate a steady rise in THC levels over a 26-year period from 1995 to 2021.
Popular cannabis strains with high THC levels are available in dispensaries across the United States, including Missouri. Some of these strains and their THC level are:
Bruce Banner: 30%
Ice Cream Cake: 23%
Kush Mints: 27%
Mandarin Cookies: 26%
Ultra Sour: 25%
Yoda OG: 24 %
Cannabis products carry labels indicating the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) and THC. Both cannabinoids share chemical similarities, but THCA is a precursor to THC. In its original state, THCA is not psychoactive. Raw THCA, naturally present in cannabis, is converted to THC when heated, such as when it is smoked or vaped or when it is exposed to sunlight. The process by which THCA becomes THC is known as decarboxylation. On a cannabis product label, 'Total THC' indicates the potential level of THC that will be created when the consumer ignites the cannabis or decarboxylates it.
Several THC compounds, known as isomers of THC, are present in weed. They are listed below, in order of prominence:
Delta-9: This is the prime cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, the compound which is responsible for its psychoactivity. It is consumed both for medicinal and recreational reasons
THCV(Tetrahydrocannabivarin): In terms of its molecular form, THCV appears like THC. When ingested, it produces the same type of psychoactive effects as THC. Unlike THC, however, THCV reduces consumers’ appetite for food. It has therapeutic properties and can be used to treat bone-related medical conditions like osteoporosis, as well as conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer's, and anxiety. THCV is known to be more prevalent in Cannabis sativa varieties. Certain cannabis strains are specially bred to contain high levels of THCV
THCC(Tetrahydrocannabiorcol): This isomer of THC is specifically present in the pollen of the cannabis plant. Unlike THC and THCV, it cannot induce psychoactive effects
THCP (Tetrahydrocannabiphorol): This isomer of THC is the most recently isolated of all. Its discovery was first announced in 2019, and since then, scientists and researchers have been at work trying to unravel all of its latent properties. THCP is said to be more potent in connecting with CB1 receptors than delta-9 THC
Delta-7 THC: Because this isomer of THC does not occur naturally in the cannabis plant, it is created synthetically
Delta-8 THC: This THC isomer is naturally occurring in the cannabis plant, but not in sufficient amounts. For this reason, it is usually synthetically developed as an isomer from industrial hemp. Delta-8 THC has similar psychoactive properties to Delta-9 THC
Delta-10 THC: This is an isomer of THC with less intense psychoactive properties than other isomers like delta-9 and delta-8 THC. It is sold in the form of THC distillate and vape cartridges
In November 2022, Missouri voters approved the ballot initiative, Amendment 3. This gives residents of the state who are 21 years of age and older the right to possess and consume THC products recreationally without the fear of being prosecuted. Previously, access to marijuana and THC products was restricted to Missouri residents who were qualifying patients and enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program. The provisions of Amendment 3 will go into effect on December 8, 2022. As was the case with the medical marijuana program, the new rules on marijuana and THC products will be supervised by the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services.
THC products are now legalized in Missouri. The 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to possess and consume hemp with no more than 0.3% THC concentration. Examples of such isomers include delta-8 and delta-10 THC, which do not occur naturally but can be extracted from hemp. Dispensaries, convenience stores, groceries, and other retail outlets in Missouri sell delta-8 and delta-10 THC products. THC products are also available for purchase online in Missouri.
Cannabis products containing more than 0.3% THC are considered high in Missouri. Low THC products contain no more than 0.3% of the compound. Medical marijuana cardholders in Missouri are authorized to purchase cannabis products with a THC content above 0.3%.
It is a Class B misdemeanor to be found driving under the influence of cannabis in Missouri. The misdemeanor charge is levelled against individuals caught in possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis. Drivers caught in possession of cannabis while driving face the revocation of their Missouri driver's license. First-time offenders face a jail term of up to six months. A $500 fine may also be levied against first-time offenders. Drivers suspected of operating their vehicles under the influence of cannabis undergo an on-the-spot drug impairment assessment.
A drug test can detect the presence of THC in an individual's body. There are several factors, however, which can determine whether a drug test will detect traces of THC in either the blood, urine, hair, or saliva of an individual. The period between when an individual ingested THC and when a test is conducted can influence the outcome of a test. Also important is how frequently an individual consumes THC. A heavy consumer of marijuana and THC products is more likely to have more detectable traces of THC in their system than an occasional consumer. The quantity of THC ingested also plays a part in determining whether THC will show on a drug test in Missouri.
THC is processed and eliminated by the body in different ways. A key determinant in how the body metabolizes THC is the method of ingestion. After the liver metabolizes THC into carboxy-THC and 11-hydroxy-THC, it is partially absorbed by the body, then passed out in the feces and urine.
In blood samples taken from a test subject, THC presence can be detected 12 hours after ingestion. In urine samples, THC can be detected for as long as one month after the cannabinoid was ingested. THC can be traced in the saliva of an individual for at least 24 hours after consumption. In hair samples taken from a THC consumer, the presence of the cannabinoid can be detected for up to 90 days after ingesting or smoking it. An individual with a high body mass index (BMI) will invariably store up more THC in their tissues and organs than an individual with a lower BMI.
THC oil refers to either a concentrate or a resin made from the cannabis plant. THC oil is extracted from the marijuana plant material in several ways. It can be dissolved in a chemical like ethanol, filtered, and then heated at a controlled temperature. THC oil is sold in formulations such as capsules, vape cartridges, and edible products.
The difference between CBD oil and THC oil is in their sources: CBD oil is processed using industrial hemp, while THC oil is processed using cannabis. Industrial hemp contains more CBD than THC. CBD oil may contain trace levels of THC, as well as elements of carrier oils like olive and industrial hemp seed, which some processors use in producing it. CBD oil often contains cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA).
THC distillate refers to a specially refined form of the cannabinoid which has been processed to remove most of the terpenes that occur naturally in the plant. The finished product is usually without the signature taste and aroma of undistilled cannabis extract. Distillation entails three processes: winterization, decarboxylation, and final separation. Winterization removes such substances as lipids, fats, and waxes from the raw cannabis extract. One method of winterization involves dissolving the raw cannabis extract in a chemical like ethanol and then freezing the resulting mass. Next, the extract undergoes filtration to remove the unwanted compounds.
THC distillate and is known to be highly potent. Not all THC oils are distillates, as some do not refine away the terpenes and plant material. The difference between THC oil and THC distillate is that THC oil may retain all of the natural terpenes and cannabinoids of cannabis, while THC distillate tends to refine away most of those same compounds, leaving a purified form of THC. THC distillate also differs from CBD distillate because they are made from separate raw materials: CBD distillate comes from industrial hemp, while THC distillate comes from cannabis.
Because of its extremely high potency, THC distillate is especially psychoactive. THC distillate can be safely ingested and is consumed in various ways in Missouri: it can be taken sublingually, that is, placed under the tongue and absorbed into the body. THC distillate is also used in edibles and in cooking. It is used in vape cartridges and dab rigs. THC distillate can be applied transdermally, that is, on the skin.
Missouri residents can buy delta-8 and delta-9 THC products in state-approved dispensaries, retail stores, and online. These THC products come in various forms, such as edibles, vape cartridges, gummies, and shots.