Is THC-O Legal in Minnesota?

Is THC-O Legal in Minnesota?

No. Although Minnesota defines hemp in the same way as the federal Farm Bill and legalizes Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC, THC-O is prohibited. Hence, it is illegal to sell or use THC-O in Minnesota.

What is THC-O?

THC-O, also called THC-O acetate, is a synthetic cannabinoid. While certain cannabinoids like CBG, CBD, and CBN may be derived from the hemp plant naturally, THC-O is not found naturally in hemp plants. Instead, THC-O is synthesized with acetic anhydride. Acetic anhydride is a highly flammable liquid commonly used to make fibers, plastics, dyes, pharmaceuticals, and explosives. The process of making THC-O starts with extracting Delta-8 THC from the hemp plant. Delta-8 THC molecules bind to acetic anhydride molecules to form THC-O which appears like a viscous brown liquid, like motor oil.

There is little scientific research on the effects of THC-O. However, anecdotal reports suggest it produces stronger psychedelic effects than other cannabinoids. Some commonly reported positive effects of THC-O include pain relief, anxiety relief, and appetite stimulation. Many users have also reported that side effects such as hallucinations, dizziness, seizures, nausea and vomiting, sedation, muscle weakness, and paranoia, outweigh the positive effects. THC-O is available in the form of vapes, edibles, oils, and tinctures.

Is THC-O Legal Under Federal Law?

The DEA has recently addressed inquiries from cannabis attorney Rod Kight regarding the legality of Delta-8 THC-O and Delta-9 THC-O. Controversies had trailed the legal status of THC-O due to arguments concerning the nature of the cannabinoid compared to some hemp other derivatives. Note that the Farm Bill legalized all derivatives of hemp in 2018, provided they contain no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.

According to the DEA's legal interpretation, THC-O does not meet the Farm Bill's hemp definition because hemp plants do not naturally produce this cannabinoid. Consequently, THC-O is classified under the DEA's Controlled Substances Act definitions. In the DEA’s response letter to Rod Kight, the DEA reaffirmed that all forms of tetrahydrocannabinols (THCs) are considered Schedule I controlled substances. This includes naturally occurring or synthetically produced THC compounds, along with their isomers and derivatives.

The DEA elaborated by declaring that Delta-9 THC-O and Delta-8 THC-O are tetrahydrocannabinols with chemical structures and pharmacological activities akin to those found in the cannabis plant. Therefore, Delta-9 THC-O and Delta-8 THC-O meet the definition of 'tetrahydrocannabinols,' and they, along with products containing Delta-9 THC-O and Delta-8 THC-O, are subject to control under Schedule I by 21 U.S.C. § 812(c), and 21 CFR § 1308.11(d)".

How Long Does THC-O Last in the Body?

When you consume THC-O, it is absorbed into various body tissues or metabolized by the liver into 11-hydroxy-THC. While about 20% of the compound may leave the body through urine and 65% through feces, the rest is stored in the body. Among chronic THC-O users, THC metabolites build up in fatty tissues faster than they can be eliminated. Hence, THC can also show up on a drug test several weeks after use.

Like many drugs, the duration that THC-O metabolites can remain in a person's system varies with respect to other factors, such as:

  • Frequency of Use: Regular use may lead to a buildup of THC-O in the body over time. Increased frequency of use can result in a longer detection window. Infrequent or occasional use may lead to quicker elimination of THC-O and its metabolites
  • Metabolism: Individual variations in metabolism, influenced by factors like age, weight, and overall health, play a significant role. Faster metabolism generally contributes to quicker clearance of THC-O from the system. Unique physiological differences among individuals impact how their bodies process and expel THC-O metabolites
  • Route of Administration: Inhalation methods (smoking or vaping) often lead to a quicker onset of THC-O effects. Inhaled THC-O may be eliminated from the body more rapidly compared to other administration methods. Edibles and tinctures can have a delayed onset, and the effects may last longer, impacting the overall duration of THC-O in the system
  • Hydration: Adequate hydration can potentially expedite the elimination of THC-O through urine. Dehydration may slow down the elimination process, prolonging the presence of THC-O and its metabolites. Hydration levels can influence the concentration of THC-O in bodily fluids and affect drug test results

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

Yes. Standard drug tests typically focus on detecting THC metabolites rather than specific THC compounds. Since THC-O undergoes metabolic processes similar to other THC cannabinoids, drug tests will return positive for THC use if you have consumed THC-O products recently. However, the test result may also vary depending on the type of drug test employed. Typical drug detention windows are shown below:

  • Urine Tests: THC-O is typically detectable in urine for 3-7 days after use
  • Blood Tests: THC-O is generally detectable in the bloodstream for up to 48 hours
  • Saliva Tests: THC-O can be detected in saliva for 24-48 hours post-use
  • Hair Follicle Tests: Hair follicle tests have a longer detection window and may identify THC-O metabolites for up to 90 days

THC-O vs Delta-8

Delta-8 THC is a cannabinoid found in trace amounts in hemp plants. Unlike THC-O, it occurs naturally in cannabis plants but may also be synthesized from the more popular Delta-9 THC. Delta-8 THC and THC-O differ in the following ways:

  • Production: Delta-8 THC is directly extracted from hemp or synthesized from Delta-9 THC through isomerization. THC-O is also created by acetylating Delta-8 THC or Delta-9 THC, introducing an acetyl group and altering the molecule's structure
  • Effects: Delta-8 THC produces milder psychoactive effects compared to THC-O, often described as calming and anxiety-reducing. THC-O is reputed to be 6-7 times more potent than Delta-8 THC, delivering a more intense, possibly psychedelic experience
  • Accessibility: Delta-8 THC products are widely available in various forms since the THC compound occurs naturally in hemp plants and has a simpler extraction process. On the other hand, THC-O products are less readily available due to the controlled environment required to manufacture

Delta-8 THC has undergone more scientific research than THC-O, leading to a better understanding of its effects and safety profile. However, research continues on THC-O, requiring further investigation into its long-term effects and potential health risks. Note that individual factors, such as body composition, metabolism, and prior experiences with cannabinoids, may mean that the effects experienced by users may vary significantly between individuals based on factors.

THC-O vs Delta-9

Delta-9 THC is the most common form of THC and is well known for its psychoactive effects. The high feeling experienced by marijuana users when consuming cannabis is due to Delta-9 THC. However, despite sharing the "THC" name, there are certain differences between Delta-9 THC and THC-O, such as:

  • Source: Delta-9 THC occurs naturally in cannabis plants, but THC-O is synthetically produced in laboratories through a process called acetylation, adding an acetyl group to Delta-9 THC molecules
  • Production: Delta-9 THC is usually extracted directly from cannabis plants. However, THC-O requires chemical modification of Delta-9 THC or Delta-8 THC in a controlled laboratory setting
  • Effects: Delta-9 THC produces a range of psychoactive effects, including euphoria, relaxation, altered perception, and increased appetite. Anecdotally, THC-O is reported to be 3-5 times more potent than Delta-9 THC, delivering a stronger and potentially psychedelic experience with intense visuals and auditory hallucinations
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