Massachusetts Delta THC Overview >
THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. It is the chemical component of the cannabis plant that is majorly responsible for its psychoactive effects. THC is present in both marijuana and hemp varieties of the species Cannabis sativa L. However, marijuana contains more THC content than hemp. Per the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp may only have 0.3% THC or less.
As a psychoactive compound, THC interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) by binding to the brain's CB1 and CB2 receptors. This interaction is responsible for the different effects THC causes on the mind and body, some of which are more pleasant and desirable than others. THC exists in various forms known as isomers. THC isomers have the same chemical formula but different atomic structures (arrangement of atoms). Common THC isomers include Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, Exo-THC, and Delta 6A(10A)-THC.
Yes, THC is legal in Massachusetts. The approval of Question 4, a ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in the state in 2016, created Chapter 94G of the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL). Hence, adults aged 21 or older can legally consume marijuana-derived THC. Similarly, the approval of Question 3 in 2012 legalized medical cannabis, permitting patients living with certain conditions to use THC to treat or manage their ailments. Additionally, in line with the 2018 Farm Bill, Massachusetts allows the sale of hemp-derived THC products, provided the THC content does not exceed 0.3%.
The amount or concentration of THC in weed is known as THC potency, and it is typically expressed as a percentage of THC by weight of dried cannabis or volume of oil. Under federal law (the 2018 Farm Bill), hemp may only contain up to 0.3% THC; otherwise, it is considered marijuana. THC potency in dried weed has increased tremendously over time from as low as 2% in the 1960s to around 25% today. The THC potency in some marijuana strains is even higher than 25%, with concentrates having upwards of 95% THC concentration. The upward change in THC potency in weed is primarily because marijuana plants are intentionally being bred to contain more THC. Depending on the product, the THC level of weed products is expressed in milligrams per gram, package, or unit.
The National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) often conducts analyses on weed seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to track THC potency in weed sold in the U.S. illegal cannabis marketplace. According to a report, the amounts of THC in weed samples provided by the DEA to the NCNPR have increased from about 4% in 1995 to over 15% in 2021. Common weed strains in Massachusetts and their average THC potency include Grease Monkey (31%), Banana Kush (27%), ACDC (6%), Alien OG (25%), and Blue Dream (18%).
In its natural form, weed contains THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol acid), a non-psychoactive form of THC. Subjecting cannabis to a high temperature through a process known as decarboxylation activates THC. The THCA level found on most weed products is not the same as the THC content. The THCA content is the potency of such products at the time of purchase, while the THC level represents the total THC content when heated, for instance, by smoking. Other THC compounds found in weed include Delta-9 THC, THCV, THCC, THCP, Delta-7 THC, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-10 THC.
Weed and THC products are legal in Massachusetts, and the Commonwealth's marijuana laws permit the sale of marijuana-derived THC for medical and recreational purposes. The Commonwealth legalized medical cannabis in 2012 after voters approved a ballot initiative known as Question 3. Question 3 established the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program, allowing patients with certain debilitating conditions enrolled in the program to use medical cannabis, hence, marijuana-derived THC. A qualified patient can possess up to a 60-day cannabis supply, subject to a maximum of 10 ounces of marijuana-derived THC.
Adults aged 21 years and older can use marijuana-derived THC for recreational purposes, in line with Question 4, a ballot initiative that legalized adult-use cannabis in Massachusetts. They can possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis-derived THC on their person and have up to 10 ounces at home. Hemp-derived THC products with a maximum of 0.3% THC are also legal and available in the Commonwealth, in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill. Massachusetts marijuana laws permit Cannabis Control Commission (CCC)-licensed cannabis dispensaries to sell marijuana-derived THC products in-store and online. Similarly, consumers can purchase hemp-derived THC products from licensed dispensaries within Massachusetts borders.
In Massachusetts, if the THC concentration in any hemp-derived THC product is over 0.3%, it is considered high. Otherwise, it is low or normal, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill. While Massachusetts does not have a specified legal THC limit, there are currently two bills on the floor of the legislative House relative to THC potency. The first is HD 2841, which seeks to cap the maximum THC content of marijuana flowers at 10% and ban vape cartridges with more than 10% THC or 5 mg per metered dose. Similarly, SD 465 aims to adopt reasonable limits for every cannabis product sold by licensed dispensaries in the state.
As stipulated in Section 24(1)(a)(1) of the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL), it is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicating substance, including marijuana (THC). However, the state has no specified limit for THC while operating a motor vehicle, unlike alcohol, with a blood alcohol content limit of 0.8%. Driving a vehicle with any observed level of impairment by THC is unlawful in the Commonwealth.
When they suspect drivers of driving under the influence of THC, most law enforcement officers find evidence of marijuana use, including visual and smell, and examine the drivers' reflexes, balance, and cognition to establish their suspicion. This is because breath or blood testing will not accurately determine when THC was consumed.
Yes, THC can show up on drug tests, depending on some factors, including the following:
Body Metabolism - Individuals with faster metabolism pass out THC from their system faster than those with low metabolism
Frequency of THC Use - THC has a high tendency to show up for a more extended period in heavy users than in persons who only consume it occasionally
Body Mass Index (BMI) - THC metabolites are usually stored in fatty tissues. Hence, it will stay longer in the body of someone with more fat cells
THC Consumption Method - THC consumed by ingestion often stays longer in the body than when smoked
Consumer's Sex - Men tend to metabolize THC faster than women because of their lower body fat levels
One of the factors determining how long THC stays in the body is the consumption method. When consumed orally, THC is first absorbed by the body tissues, including the heart, body fat, and brain. The body tissues will gradually release stored THC metabolites back into the bloodstream and then into the liver for elimination. THC moves quickly into a consumer's bloodstream through the lungs when THC is smoked or inhaled and metabolizes faster than when ingested.
Depending on the frequency of use, THC can remain detectable in the blood for up to 12 hours and between 24 to 72 hours in saliva after the last use. THC can show up in urine for up to 30 days and up to 90 days in hair samples after it was last consumed.
THC oil is a resin extracted from cannabis plant material and cannabis flowers. It is made by extracting useful THC and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant using various extraction means and suspending the cannabinoids in carrier oils. Commonly used carrier oil includes hemp and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oils. On the other hand, CBD oil is made by extracting cannabinoids from hemp.
THC oil is formulated to have high THC content, while CBD is created to have high CBD (cannabidiol) concentration. The THC content in CBD oil is extremely low. THC oil is potent and can intoxicate consumers. However, it is safe to ingest, but first-time THC oil users are usually advised to use it cautiously because of its high potency. Although most THC oils are formulated to be used in vape cartridges and pens, some are suitable for dabbing.
THC distillate is a highly purified THC form derived from the cannabis plant. It is made by subjecting cannabis to a distillation process using special equipment to heat raw oil extracted from cannabis to its vaporization point. The vapors, including the cannabinoids in the vapors, are then captured, the result of which is clear to amber-looking thick oil with over 97% THC. The distillation process strips off everything from terpenes to lipids, leaving solely THC.
While a THC distillate contains only THC, THC oil has lipids and terpenes. THC distillate is not the same as CBD distillate. CBD distillate is extracted from hemp, while THC distillate is extracted from marijuana. THC distillate is more potent than CBD distillate and can get users high. Because of its intensely high potency, inexperienced consumers are advised against using THC distillate. THC distillate can be ingested, smoked, and used topically.
Massachusetts does not prohibit the sale of hemp-based Delta-9 THC, marijuana-derived Delta-9 THC, and hemp-derived Delta-8 THC. The Commonwealth aligns with the 2018 Farm Bill and permits the sale of all hemp-based products, including Delta-8 THC. Delta-THC products exist in various forms, including tinctures, oils, vapes, dabs, and edibles (candies and gummies). Residents can purchase these products online and from licensed dispensaries in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.