Pennsylvania THC Overview

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What Is THC?

THC, also called tetrahydrocannabinol, is the cannabis compound responsible for most of the plant's psychoactive properties. THC is responsible for the "high" felt after consuming cannabis. The THC cannabinoid is a class of chemical compounds that interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system. THC stimulates neurons that affect pleasure, memory, reasoning, coordination, and time perception by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Several studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that THC may be used to treat various medical ailments. Recreationally, THC may produce euphoria and relaxation in users.

THC is available in various forms in the cannabis plant, while other forms may be synthesized from naturally occurring THC forms. Among the most notable isomers of THC are:

  • Delta-3-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-7-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-10-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Exo-tetrahydrocannabinol

Is THC Legal in Pennsylvania?

Only hemp-derived THC is legal in Pennsylvania. Such THC products are required to contain more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. It is illegal to sell or consume marijuana-derived THC in the state.

How Much THC is in Weed?

THC concentrations vary significantly between cannabis products and strains. According to federal law, CBD products must include no more than 0.3% THC, whereas marijuana products typically have between 5% and 25% THC.

Since the 1960s, when cannabis was reported to contain only 4-5% THC, THC levels have increased considerably. This disparity has meant a significant increase in the potency of cannabis products compared to the past. In particular, cannabis edibles are renowned for their high strength and THC concentrations.

Some low-THC strains, such as Cherry Wine and Sour Space Candy, have less than 1% THC. High-THC strains, such as Pineapple Express, have THC concentrations of at least 20%. Wappa and OG Chem are two cannabis strains with high THC levels, both measuring roughly 26%. Ghost OG. strain commonly known as Ghost OG Kush has one of the highest THC concentrations of any cultivar. Its THC content is around 28%.

The THC content of marijuana products is listed on the product's label under "Potency Analysis." The product labels also indicate CBD, CBDA, and THCA concentrations.

In the order of abundance, the following THC compounds are found in weed:

  • Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
  • Tetrahydrocannabiorcol (THCC)
  • Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP)
  • Delta-7 Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-8 Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-10 Tetrahydrocannabinol

Pennsylvania THC Laws 2022

Marijuana-derived THC is illegal in Pennsylvania except for registered patients under the state Medical Marijuana Act and within the stipulated 90-day supply limit. Although marijuana-derived THC is illegal in Pennsylvania, small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in certain cities, including Harrisburg, York, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, and Philadelphia. In some of these Pennsylvania locations, possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana is a civil violation, not a criminal offense.

In 2018, the United States legalized hemp-derived THC products not containing more than 0.3% THC for use under the 2018 Farm Bill. The bill removed cannabis and its derivatives with low THC content (0.3% or less) from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substance Act. Pennsylvania abides by the 2018 Farm Bill and permits residents to purchase hemp-derived THC products containing no more than 0.3% THC.

What is the Legal Limit for THC While Driving in Pennsylvania?

Per Volume 34 Issue 7 of the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the minimum threshold amount of controlled substance or its metabolites, which must be present in the blood, was initially set at 5 nanograms per milliliter. However, this threshold was amended to 1 nanogram per milliliter (1 ng/ml) in 2011, per the April 30, 2011, edition of the state bulletin.

Any amount of THC metabolites at or above this threshold may be used as evidence of a per se violation of the law prohibiting the driving or operation of a vehicle while under the influence of Schedule I metabolites and may be used as evidence in a prosecution for driving under the influence of drugs.

Note that according to Section 3802(d)(1)(i) of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, the driving, operating, or exercising of physical control over the movement of a vehicle when there is any amount of a controlled substance (Schedule I), or a metabolite of that substance in the blood is prohibited in the state.

Will THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

Yes, THC will show up on a drug test depending on several factors including:

  • Amount of THC consumed: The higher the amount of THC consumed, the longer it will take the body to break down and eliminate it from the system
  • Genetics: Certain enzymes can accelerate the elimination of THC in the body. The presence and concentration of such enzymes is often an inherited trait
  • Frequency of use: THC's effect can be cumulative. That is, the more you use it, the more it builds up, and it becomes easier and quicker to detect
  • Body Fat: Since THC is fat-soluble, it binds to fat molecules and remains in the system for longer. Therefore, persons with a more significant proportion of body fat may metabolize marijuana more slowly
  • Metabolism: THC is removed from the body system through the functions and activities of the body. A person with a rapid metabolism will often eliminate THC faster than a person with a slower metabolism
  • Type of drug test: Certain drug tests usually only detect THC in the body for a few days. Others may detect THC taken up to 60 days ago

How Long Does THC Stay in the Body?

Drug tests are used to test for the presence of THC and its metabolites in the body. THC metabolites remain in the body long after the effects of marijuana have worn off. However, the detection windows for drug tests depend on the test administered. The following are THC detection window estimates for different drug tests:

  • Urine test: Approximately 3–30 days after THC consumption
  • Saliva test: Approximately 24 hours after consuming THC. Some saliva tests have detected THC use for as long as 72 hours. THC may be detected in oral fluid longer than in blood for chronic THC users. Smoking THC products and exposure to THC smoke are common ways in which THC may get to the saliva
  • Hair test: The most sensitive drug tests are hair tests, which may detect THC in the body for up to 90 days after consumption
  • Blood test: Blood tests can detect THC in the plasma for up five hours, although THC metabolites are detectable for up to 7 days after the last use

What Is THC Oil?

THC oil is oil derived from the cannabis plant. THC oil is made from hashish or marijuana through solvent extraction. Another form of cannabis oil from the cannabis plant is CBD oil. However, CBD differs from THC oil because it is derived from the hemp plant and contains little to no THC content (less than 0.3%). THC oil is safe to ingest and may be consumed using vape carts and pens. THC oil may be consumed using a dab rig or consumed sublingually.

What Is THC Distillate?

THC distillate is a highly refined form of cannabis-derived THC. Even when using a cannabis flower (typically with 20% THC) to produce THC distillate, the final product of a distillation process has 90-99% THC. Since the distillation method is used in making THC distillate and not solvent extraction, purer forms of cannabis extracts can be obtained. The result is a concentrate with very high concentrations of THC and no contaminants. THC distillate is flavorless and odorless and can be consumed through vapes, e-cigarettes, or topically. The effect of THC distillates is almost instantaneous. THC is already active during the distillation process, producing a very potent substance. It is safe to consume THC distillate, but it is not recommended for first-time cannabis consumers as small amounts can quickly induce intoxication.

Where to Buy THC in Pennsylvania?

You can purchase hemp-derived THC products from vape and smoke shops in Pennsylvania. Also, pharmacies and health food stores may offer hemp-derived THC products. Marijuana-derived THC products are available at medical marijuana dispensaries but may only be purchased by qualifying individuals with physicians' recommendations. Additionally, THC products may be purchased from online shops and shipped by the U.S. Postal Service.

THC Edibles Dosing Guide

THC Amount Expected Effects Who Should Use It?
Up to 2.5 mg Improves mental focus and mildly relieves pain and stress First-time users and microdosers
2.5 - 5 mg Provides stronger pain relief and euphoria. May impair judgment, perception, and coordination Medical marijuana patients, recreational marijuana users, and those looking to calm sleeps
5 - 10 mg Produces stronger euphoria. May also alter perception and impair coordination Users with high tolerance to THC
10 - 20 mg Very strong euphoria likely leading to higher likelihood of impaired judgment, slower reaction times, anxiety, and altered perception Users with particularly high tolerance to THC and medical marijuana patients with malabsorption syndrome (reduced gastrointestinal absorption)
50 - 100 mg Guaranteed mood and perception alteration along with impaired coordination. Likely to cause significant side effects such as pain, increased heart rate, and nausea Medical marijuana patients living with severe chronic pain, cancer, or other intractable conditions such as inflammatory disorders
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