Is THC-O Legal in North Dakota?

Is THC-O Legal in North Dakota?

THC-O is illegal in North Dakota. Per HB 1045, signed into law by Governor Doug Burgum in April 2021, all THC products created through chemical isomerization involving the conversion of Delta-8 from isolated CBD using chemicals in a laboratory are illegal. In April 2023, the governor also signed SB 2096 into law, extending the restrictions of HB 1045 and explicitly excluding products containing Delta-8 THC and chemically derived cannabinoids, such as THC-O, from the definition of hemp.

What is THC-O?

THC-O is a minor cannabinoid created via a process called acetylation, which involves introducing an acetyl group to Delta-8 THC. Acetylation converts Delta-8 THC into Delta-8 THC-O-acetate, which is later broken down into THC-O. THC-O is sold in various forms: wax dabs, flower, oils, tinctures, edibles, and oils. THC-O is anecdotally considered to have the following beneficial effects:

  • Enhanced creativity
  • Pain relief
  • Euphoria
  • Fun and happiness
  • Mental and physical upliftment

While anecdotal evidence suggests it is safe to use, a study suggested that inhaling THC-O can lead to an accumulation of toxic ketene in the lungs.

Is THC-O Legal Under Federal Law?

No. As THC-O is created in the laboratory and is fully synthetic, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration rules that it does not meet the definition of hemp. Pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp, defined as a cannabis plant with a Delta-9 THC content below 0.3%, was removed from the definition of marijuana. Accordingly, THC compounds containing no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC were categorized as hemp as approved for cultivation and use. While THC-O products contain no more than the permitted amount of Delta-9 THC, the 2018 Farm Bill also reiterated that any synthetically-derived THC remains classified as a Schedule I substance.

Therefore, the DEA maintained that THC-O cannot be excluded from the federal Controlled Substance Act, meaning that it is as illegal as marijuana or Delta-9 THC.

How Long Does THC-O Last in the Body?

The duration THC-O remains detectable in the body varies and can be influenced by several factors, such as:

  • Frequency of Use:
    • One-Time Use: For individuals who use THC-O infrequently or in a single instance, the metabolite may be detectable for a shorter period, typically up to 10 to 15 days
    • Regular Use: Consistent and frequent use can extend the detection window, with metabolites potentially being detectable for up to 30 days or even longer
  • Consumption Method:
    • Inhalation: When THC-O is inhaled, its presence in the body may be eliminated more rapidly compared to other consumption methods
    • Edibles: THC metabolites from the consumption of edible forms of THC-O typically stay in the body longer than those produced by inhalation
  • Quantity Consumed: The amount of THC-O consumed plays a crucial role in the length of time taken for it to exit the body. Consuming higher quantities typically results in more metabolites circulating in the body, potentially extending the detection period
  • Body Fat and Metabolism: Metabolism and the distribution of fat cells can influence how long THC-O remains in the body. Persons who have high-fat levels will retain THC-O metabolites for a longer duration. The efficiency of an individual's metabolism contributes to the speed at which THC-O is processed and eliminated. Persons of older ages, such as adults in their 50s, tend to have a slower metabolism, meaning that THC-O metabolites may remain in their bodies for much longer than younger adults in their 20s

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

It is possible to fail a drug test after using THC-O. THC-O metabolizes in the same manner as other THC products, making it likely to show up on most drug tests. Standard drug tests typically look for 11-hydroxy-THC, a THC metabolite created by the body after THC consumption. Delta-9, THC-O, and other THC analogs trigger this same metabolic response in the body. Therefore, regardless of what type of THC product is consumed, 11-hydroxy-THC will be present in your system.

The detection window for THC-O in the body varies depending on the type of test. The following are approximate periods over which THC-O metabolites may be detected in a drug test:

  • Saliva test: Saliva tests are the least sensitive and can only detect THC-O for up to 24 hours after use
  • Blood test: THC-O can be detected in blood tests for up to 36 hours after use
  • Urine test: THC-O can be detected in urine tests for up to 30 days after use
  • Hair test: THC-O can be detected in hair tests for up to 90 days after use

THC-O vs Delta-8

Delta-8 THC is a compound found in both hemp and cannabis plants. It was made legal via the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018 and is known for its mild psychoactive effects when compared to Delta-9 THC. THC-O does not occur naturally in cannabis as it is a synthetic cannabinoid created via a chemical process.

While Delta-8 THC effects fall in a middle ground between hemp-derived cannabidiol and Delta-9 THC, THC-O effects are stronger than Delta-8 THC. THC-O's effect is believed to be about 7 times stronger than Delta-8 THC. Both compounds produce similar impacts and side effects in users, but anecdotal evidence suggests THC-O users experience more intense benefits and adverse effects.

Delta-8 THC and THC-O may both be used to relieve stress and reduce inflammation. Common adverse effects of both include increased appetite, red eyes, and grogginess.

THC-O vs Delta-9

Delta-9 THC is well known and is the primary psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant. It is responsible for the "high" feeling experienced when using cannabis. THC-O is a synthetic psychoactive cannabinoid created by combining Delta-8 THC with acetic anhydride. While THC-O does not occur naturally like Delta-9 THC, it appeals to many THC users due to its increased potency.

THC-O users report that it is roughly 3 times stronger than the regular Delta-9 THC. Often referred to as a psychedelic cannabinoid, THC is said to induce hallucinatory effects in users, especially at higher doses.

Not much research has gone into investigating the specific benefits of THC-O. However, anecdotal evidence suggests it shares similar benefits and adverse effects with the more popularly known Delta-9 THC. Users have reported sedative effects, euphoric feelings, and therapeutic benefits such as pain relief and improved sleep quality. However, the side effects of THC-O may also be more intense due to its higher potency.

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