Is THC-O Legal in Georgia?


Is THC-O Legal in Georgia?

The legal status of THC-O is unclear in Georgia. While the state does not have a specific law addressing THC-O, the closest legislation addressing the compound in the state is HB 213, which was signed into law in May 2019. The bill legalized Delta-8 THC until the Gwinnett County District Attorney issued a contrary opinion in 2022.

Patsy Austin-Gatson, the Gwinnett County District Attorney, in a non-binding opinion issued in January 2022, stated that Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, Delta-7 THC, and other THC isomers are illegal in Georgia. Following police raids on THC distribution centers in February 2022 and the seizure of over $2 million worth of products, a lawsuit ensued, resulting in a 30-day restraining order granted against Austin-Gatson and the DA Office and later an injunction in April 2022. In March 2023, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the decision. Therefore, the raids, arrests, and prosecutions to restrict the sale of Delta-8 THC-derived products may continue.

What is THC-O?

THC-O, also known as THC acetate ester, is a synthetic cannabinoid. Unlike many cannabinoids that may be extracted from cannabis plant matter, THC-O cannot be extracted from plant matter. It is created in the laboratory first by extracting CBD from hemp. Then, hydrogenation and other processes turn it into Delta-8 THC. Subsequently, a substance called acetic anhydride is added to the Delta-8 THC, turning it into THC-O-Acetate.

THC-O is available to users in pills, flower, edibles, tinctures, and oils. There is yet little research on the safety of THC-O use. However, while anecdotal evidence suggests THC-O use is safe, note that THC-O products are not being regulated currently. THC-O offers stronger psychedelic effects than most THC isomers on the market and is often used to help with sleep, mental relations, pain, and inflammation. It may also produce adverse effects such as anxiety, dizziness, tiredness, nausea, paranoia, and dehydration. Specifically, a study surveying 267 individuals revealed that THC-O users reported low to moderate levels of distortions in their cognitive abilities and few visual hallucinations.

Is THC-O Legal Under Federal Law?

Many THC-O proponents argue that since THC-O is derived from Delta-8 THC, which in turn is made from hemp, it is legal federally pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill enacted in 2018 had stated that hemp-derived cannabinoids containing less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by dry weight concentration be considered legal.

With controversies trailing the legal status of THC-O, a North Carolina attorney, Rod Kight, wrote to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in August 2022, inquiring about the DEA's stance on THC-O. In a February 13, 2023, response letter by the DEA, the agency clarified that tetrahydrocannabinols refer to cannabinoids naturally contained in the cannabis plant. The DEA stated that Delta-9 THC-O and Delta-8 THC-O do not occur naturally in cannabis plants as they can only be synthetically obtained. Therefore, Delta-9 THC-O and Delta-8 THC-O do not fall under the definition of hemp and are regarded as Schedule I controlled substances.

How Long Does THC-O Last in the Body?

The duration THC-O remains in your system varies based on several factors. The frequency of use plays a crucial role; a one-time use may result in a detection window of 10 to 15 days. On the other hand, regular and consistent use of THC-O can extend the metabolite's detectability to around 30 days or even longer. The consumption method also plays a part in determining how long THC-O remains in the body. If THC-O is consumed via inhalation, it leaves the body quicker in comparison to when consumed in edible forms.

The quantity of THC-O consumed, alongside individual factors such as body weight and metabolism, further influences the duration of detectability in your system. The interplay of these variables contributes to varied timelines associated with how long THC-O or its metabolites remain in the body.

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

Yes. Drug tests may still yield positive results due to the presence of THC-O or its metabolites in your body. The key factor contributing to this outcome is that THC-O undergoes the same metabolic process in the body as Delta-9 THC. The specific metabolite targeted by drug tests is known as 11-hydroxy-THC, which is formed after the body processes THC. Both Delta-9 THC and THC-O, along with several other cannabinoids, share a similar breakdown process by the liver, creating the metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC. Consequently, you may fail a drug test if you have consumed THC-O recently.

Depending on the drug test, THC-O can show up in the following periods:

  • Urine: If you only use THC-O occasionally, it will be detectable in urine for up to 15 days. If you are a daily or frequent user, a urine test may detect THC-O use for up to 30 days
  • Blood: THC-O and THC-O metabolites are typically only detectable in the blood for about 36 hours after the last consumption, regardless of frequency of use
  • Hair Follicle: If you are a regular THC-O user, a hair sample test may detect THC-O use for up to 90 days
  • Saliva: The saliva test has a short detection window. THC metabolites are usually only present in saliva for about 48 hours after the last use

THC-O vs Delta-8

Delta-8 THC is a compound present in cannabis and hemp plants in trace amounts. It occurs naturally in the cannabis plant and is an isomer of Delta-9 THC. THC-O, on the other hand, is not natural. It is a synthetic compound produced by combining Delta-8 THC with acetic anhydride.

THC-O is significantly different from Delta-8 THC in terms of potency as it binds at a higher rate than Delta-9 THC with the endocannabinoid receptors. Anecdotally, THC-O is said to be 6-8 times more potent than Delta-8 THC, with users reporting enhanced mental high and strong euphoria likened to other psychedelics. With milder effects, first-time THC users may prefer Delta-8 THC as it produces a relaxing and sedating effect on consumers.

THC-O vs Delta-9

Delta-9 THC is the most common type of THC. It is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in cannabis plants, including trace amounts in hemp plants. Compared to Delta-9 THC, THC-O is less known and is an acetylated version of THC, meaning that it has an acetyl group added to its chemical structure.

THC-O and Delta-9 THC, while both belonging to the THC family, exhibit distinct effects and potential side impacts. Delta-9 THC is associated with uplifting effects that induce a sense of calm, relaxation, and often euphoria. Users commonly report mood enhancement, making it a popular choice for inducing restful sleep. Delta-9 THC's effects can vary, and individuals may experience increased creativity, heightened sensory perception, or a more relaxed state.

On the other hand, THC-O is considered more potent than Delta-9 THC, meaning its effects may be more overwhelming for some individuals compared to Delta-9 THC. Users often report more pronounced and intense effects, with many suggesting it to be at least 3 times more potent than Delta-9 THC.

In terms of potential side impacts, both compounds may share similarities due to their interaction with the endocannabinoid system, such as dry mouth, red eyes, and altered perception of time. However, the intensity and specific nature of side effects can vary between individuals, with THC-O potentially producing harsher side effects.

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