THC means tetrahydrocannabinol. It is one of the numerous chemical compounds known as cannabinoids in the Cannabis Sativa plant. THC is psychoactive. It is the cannabinoid in marijuana responsible for the intoxicating effects felt by users after consumption. THC exists in both hemp and marijuana plants. However, marijuana plants contain higher levels of THC than hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp as a cannabis plant with no more than 0.3% THC.
THC is a mind-altering chemical compound that disrupts the functions of the brain and nervous systems. It binds with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). THC is also addictive. It alters the brain’s reward system by lowering dopamine levels in the brain, making it difficult to stop using it. THC induces relaxation and calming effects. However, when consumed in large quantities, users may experience impaired memory and paranoia. THC isomers have the same chemical formula but different properties and arrangements of atoms in the molecule. Popular isomers of THC include Exo THC, Delta-6a(10a) THC, Delta-7 THC, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-10 THC.
Yes, THC is legal in Louisiana. Per Section 40:1046 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, marijuana-derived THC is legal for medical use in Louisiana. Persons aged 18 and older with qualifying debilitating medical conditions may legally purchase and use marijuana-derived THC products to alleviate their conditions. In 2022, Louisiana amended its hemp laws through House Bill 758, legalizing adult-use consumable hemp products. The bill permits persons 21 and older to purchase adult-use consumable hemp products, provided it contains no more than 0.5 milligrams of total THC per package.
However, marijuana-derived THC is illegal for recreational use in Louisiana. Per Section 40:966 of the Louisiana Revised Statute, marijuana-derived THC is a Schedule I controlled substance. Therefore, it is unlawful to possess, sell, use, or distribute marijuana-derived THC for recreational purposes in the state.
THC potency is the amount of THC contained in marijuana or hemp plants. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp may only contain 0.3% THC or less. Anything above this limit is considered marijuana under federal law. THC concentration in cannabis plants has increased over time.
In the 1960s, weed plants contained an average of 2% THC. By the 80’s, the THC content in cannabis rose to about 5%. Today, with companies researching and experimenting with different strains and varieties of weed, THC content in cannabis stands at over 15%, with some strains having up to 30% THC by dry weight. Between 1995 and 2021, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that the potency of THC recorded from samples of cannabis seized increased within the period. The report shows a 4% THC concentration in 1995 and 15% THC by 2021. The THC concentration of popular weed flowers and strains available in dispensaries across the United States includes Godfather OG (35%), L’Orange (30%), Banana Kush (27%), Silver Haze (23%), Scones (20%), and Yoda OG (19%).
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid, or THCA, is a cannabinoid found in fresh, unprocessed cannabis plants. It is a precursor to THC, and it is non-psychoactive. However, when exposed to extreme heat through decarboxylation, THCA is converted to THC. The THCA levels found on weed labels do not represent the THC levels in cannabis products. THC exists in various structural forms called chemical analogs in weed. They have similar properties but different physiological reactions. THC compounds found in weed include Delta-9 THC, Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), Tetrahydrocannabiorcol (THCC), Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP), Delta-7 THC, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-10 THC.
Marijuana-derived THC is legal for medical use in Louisiana. In 2015, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law Senate Bill 143, legalizing cannabis for medical purposes. The bill permits marijuana-derived THC for persons with qualifying medical conditions and tasks the Department of Agriculture and Forestry with regulating medical marijuana. However, in 2022, House Bill 697 and House Bill 698 authorized the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) to assume regulatory authority over the Louisiana medical marijuana program. The program permits registered patients to legally purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana-derived THC products every 14 days. Marijuana-derived THC products are illegal for recreational purposes.
Hemp-derived THC products are also legal in Louisiana. In 2022 the state amended its Industrial Hemp Act through House Bill 758. Under this Act, consumable hemp products sold in Louisiana may only have a total THC concentration of up to 1%, and the total THC in a product must not exceed 8 milligrams per serving. Similarly, the THC concentration in floral hemp plants must not be more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. Louisiana law authorizes medical marijuana pharmacies to dispense marijuana and hemp-derived THC products. It also permits online sales and delivery within the state.
Louisiana does not have a legal THC limit while driving, like alcohol, with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. However, per Section 14:98 of the Louisiana Revised Statute, it is illegal for residents to drive under the influence of a controlled substance, including marijuana (THC). Louisiana metes out harsh penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) of intoxicating substances, including THC.
THC can be detected by a drug test. Generally, the possibility of detecting THC metabolites depends on several factors, including the following:
THC metabolites can remain detectable in the body for several weeks after the last use. THC is fat-soluble. When consumed orally, it is absorbed into the organs and fat molecules of the body, while some are absorbed into the bloodstream. The THC stored in the body tissues is broken down into metabolites by the liver and can remain in the user's systems long after the effect of THC wears off. When frequently consumed, THC accumulates faster in the fatty tissues than the body can eliminate. Consequently, THC metabolites can remain in the body for some months, especially for frequent users.
Depending on the type of drug test and the frequency of use, THC metabolites can be detected within hours or weeks from the last use. A blood test detects THC within 12 hours of use. Urine tests can detect THC within 5 - 30 days, depending on the frequency of use. THC metabolites show up in saliva tests within 72 hours of previous use, while a hair follicle test can detect THC for up to 90 days after the last use.
THC oils are the concentrates obtained from cannabis flowers and plant materials. The oil is extracted using high pressure, extreme heat, and solvent-based or solventless extracts to transform cannabis plant materials into oil. THC oil contains high levels of THC, and it is psychoactive. Although THC oil can cause intoxication, it is relatively safe to consume if used moderately. THC oils can be consumed by dabbing, with vape pens and cartridges, or sublingually.
CBD oil is not the same as THC oil. CBD affects the body differently from THC. It is non-psychoactive and does not produce a high. Instead, CBD oil is known for its therapeutic and relaxation effects.
THC distillates are a highly refined and condensed form of THC extracted from the cannabis plant. THC distillate is a highly potent concentrate containing only THC. It is made by taking pre-extracted THC oils and further refining and separating the cannabinoids from the flavonoids, terpenoids, and other impurities. The extracted material is heated to a vaporization point and condensed into a thick amber oil. THC distillates contain very high purity levels, with some having a THC concentration of 95% or higher. THC distillates are immensely psychoactive, giving users a more intense high. Inexperienced cannabis users must exercise extreme caution when consuming THC distillates. THC distillates may be ingested as a smokable joint, with vape pens, or sublingually.
THC oils and THC distillates are different. THC oils contain terpenes and other compounds. In contrast, THC distillate is the purest form of THC, stripped of all other compounds and additives. Also, THC distillates differ from CBD distillates. THC distillates are extracted from marijuana plants, while CBD distillates come from hemp plants. CBD distillates do not contain THC; therefore, they do not produce intoxicating effects.
In Louisiana, marijuana-derived Delta-9 THC and marijuana-based Delta-8 THC are legal for medical use, while hemp-based THC products are legal for adult use. Residents can legally purchase these products from licensed pharmacies and dispensaries across the state. THC products available in Louisiana dispensaries include tinctures, oils, solutions, extracts, suppositories, edibles, lotions, capsules, and transdermal patches. Louisiana law permits residents to purchase these products online.