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Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
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THC has become complicated since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law. The chemical compound itself hasn’t changed, but it’s now subject to vastly different laws nationwide.
The terminology around THC can also be confusing. If you’re wondering what hemp-derived delta-9 is, it’s actually less complicated than it sounds. Delta-9 is a form of THC, so hemp-derived delta-9 is just THC that comes from hemp instead of cannabis plants.
No matter where it’s sourced from, all delta-9 is the same. The compound binds to the same cannabinoid receptors in the body and imparts the same trademark high at the right dose.
The main difference between hemp-derived and standard THC is the extraction process. Since hemp plants are legal on the federal level, many manufacturers extract delta-9 from hemp rather than marijuana, which is still illegal federally.
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What Is Hemp-Derived Delta-9?
Delta-9 THC is the most prominent psychoactive compound in Cannabis sativa plants, including marijuana and hemp. Marijuana strains contain varying levels of potent THC, creating their famous psychoactive effects.
Hemp plants, on the other hand, have lower levels of THC due to federal limits. Industrial hemp contains no more than 0.3% THC, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Regardless of whether it comes from hemp or marijuana plants, delta-9 is delta-9.
The term hemp-derived delta-9 simply refers to THC extracted from hemp plants, making it federally legal and available in nearly every state across the country.
Hemp-Derived Delta-9 vs. Conventional THC
At a molecular level, there is no difference between regular and hemp-derived delta-9. That means THC that comes from hemp can still deliver the intense, intoxicating effects many users seek, depending on the concentration.
The practical differences between hemp-derived delta-9 THC and conventional THC are in their potency at the product level. Most regulated cannabis products have no THC potency limits and contain higher concentrations between 15-25%. These products can be powerful and include:
Hemp-derived delta-9 products come in many of the same forms and are legal as long as they contain less than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. The key here is the term “dry weight.” Since there are no guidelines on dry weight for THC products like oils and edibles, manufacturers can get around federal potency limits with some creative math.
That means consumers can buy hemp products with delta-9 dosages similar to those found in regular THC products, and both product types can get users high.
For example, a moderate to high delta-9 THC dosage in a cannabis gummy is 10-20 mg, which produces a reasonably strong psychoactive experience for users. Hemp-derived delta-9 THC gummies often contain similar dosages yet still fall within the legal 0.3% limit.
Benefits and Uses
A massive benefit of hemp-derived delta-9 is it’s federally legal in the United States, making it safe to consume without fear of consequences.
From a health perspective, hemp-derived THC can have many potential benefits, like relieving anxiety, pain, inflammation, and more. Like conventional THC, hemp-derived delta-9 shares the same therapeutic effects, including:
- Boosting mood and giving users a feeling of euphoria
- Providing feelings of wellness, relaxation, and a sense of calm
- Stimulating appetite and reducing nausea
- Improving sleep quality and helping with insomnia
Potential Risks and Side Effects
Like THC from marijuana, hemp-derived products are generally safe with moderate use. However, there are some unwanted effects that can surface if you use too much or a product is too strong, including:
- Heightened anxiety
- Dry mouth
- Feeling uneasy, unhappy, or dissatisfied
- Low blood pressure
Adverse effects are usually mild and often occur from taking too high a dose. Other potential concerns regarding hemp-derived delta-9 are linked to the much less stringent regulations in the cannabis industry for producing these products under the Farm Bill.
Dosage and Potency
It’s common to see hemp THC dosed at the same levels per serving as standard THC products sold in licensed cannabis dispensaries. However, consumers who may assume all hemp contains low, non-psychoactive THC levels could accidentally ingest too much and experience an unwanted high.
Testing and Quality
Regulated cannabis products undergo rigorous laboratory testing to ensure consumers receive a quality product free from chemical solvents, heavy metals, and other contaminants. However, the Farm Bill does not stipulate federal testing rules for hemp-derived products.
As a result, most states only require potency testing for compliance purposes, leaving consumers at risk of ingesting tainted or mislabeled products. Consumers should only buy from brands that publish a Certificate of Analysis (COA), a document that confirms the lab testing of any finished product and (generally) ensures its THC potency.
The Bottom Line
Hemp-derived delta-9 THC is molecularly the same as delta-9 THC from marijuana plants. It’s just extracted from hemp instead of marijuana. This makes it legal under federal law. However, this legality comes with some risks. Hemp-derived delta-9 is not required to undergo the same types of tests as THC from marijuana, so it’s important to ensure that any hemp-derived products you buy have a COA.
If you do live in a state that has legalized medical marijuana, though, Leafwell can help you sign up for a medical marijuana card. Schedule a visit with our team to get started.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is delta-9 from hemp legal in every state?
Hemp-derived delta-9 is legal in almost all 50 states under the Farm Bill — as long as the products contain less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.
However, some states have started outlawing cannabinoids derived from hemp, such as delta-8 and delta-10, to counteract the Farm Bill’s loophole regarding psychoactive hemp products. Idaho is the only state that explicitly bans all hemp products containing any form of THC.
Why is hemp delta-9 legal?
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp at the federal level, defining hemp as any part of Cannabis sativa that contains a delta-9 THC concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. The law states that hemp-derived products and hemp extract are legal, provided they conform to the 0.3% THC limit.
Where can you buy hemp-derived delta-9?
Hemp-derived THC products are available almost everywhere. Consumers can purchase hemp delta-9 from shops, convenience stores, dispensaries, and online.