THC means tetrahydrocannabinol. It is one of the numerous chemical compounds called cannabinoids in the Cannabis Sativa plant. THC is psychotropic. It is the chemical responsible for altering an individual's mental state after consuming marijuana. Marijuana and hemp varieties of the cannabis plant contain THC. However, marijuana has higher levels of THC than hemp. Per the 2018 Farm Bill, legal hemp may contain no more than 0.3% THC concentration on a dry weight basis.
THC is a potent hallucinogenic compound. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and binds to the cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, throughout the brain and body. This interaction is responsible for the euphoric high and sense of relaxation. However, THC can also cause undesirable effects such as paranoia and anxiety. THC exists in various forms known as THC isomers. Sometimes referred to as THC analogs, THC isomers are compounds that have the same chemical structure as THC but different positioning of atoms. Popular isomers of THC include EXO-THC, Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, Delta-7 THC, and Delta 6A(10A) THC.
Yes, THC is legal in West Virginia. Per Section 16A-3-2 of the West Virginia Code, marijuana-derived THC is legal for medical use in West Virginia. The state’s Code permits persons aged 18 years and over with debilitating medical conditions to purchase and consume marijuana-based THC to alleviate their conditions. Also, hemp-derived THC is legal in West Virginia. In 2002, the West Virginia Legislature amended its hemp laws through Senate Bill 447, recognizing industrial hemp as an agricultural crop. The bill legalized industrial hemp with no more than 1% THC concentration, permitting its possession, sale, and purchase.
Marijuana-derived THC is illegal for recreational use in West Virginia. Per West Virginia Uniform Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance and is illegal for recreational use. The state prescribes penalties, including fines and jail terms, for the unlawful possession of marijuana-derived THC without a valid recommendation from a licensed medical practitioner.
THC potency is the concentration of THC in cannabis plants, shown as a percentage of THC by volume of oil or by dry weight. THC concentration can be 0% in hemp-based THC products and up to 90% in marijuana-derived THC products. Typically, hemp may contain no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill. THC concentration above this limit is considered marijuana.
Over time, the THC concentration in weed has increased. In the ’60s, the THC concentration in weed was as low as 2%. By the 80’s, THC potency had risen to an average of 5%. Today, THC concentration is at 15%, with some strains possessing up to 30% THC or more. The rise in THC potency is credited to companies trying to gain a competitive advantage by experimenting with new strains to produce more potent weed. In 2022, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published a report on the THC potency in weed from illegal cannabis seized over a period. The DEA reports that weed potency increased from 4% in 1995 to over 15% in 2021. The THC levels of popular weed flowers and strains in West Virginia include Grease Monkey (31%), Gorilla Glue (29%), Banana Kush (27%), White Widow (25%), and Blue Dream (21%).
Weed contains tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), a cannabinoid in raw cannabis plants. THCA is a predecessor to THC. It is non-psychotropic and does not produce intoxicating effects due to its molecule size. Its molecules are large and do not bind effectively to the cannabinoid receptors in the body. THCA differs from THC. THC is obtained from THCA through decarboxylation, a process that uses heat or light to alter the chemical structure of THCA to become THC. Consequently, the THCA levels found on weed labels do not reflect the total THC in the product. THC has various structural forms known as analogs, having similar molecular structures but different physiological effects. Some popular THC compounds in weed include THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin), THCC (Tetrahydrocannabiorcol), THCP (Tetrahydrocannabiphorol), Delta-7 THC, Delta-8 THC, and Delta-10 THC.
Marijuana-derived THC products are legal for medical use in West Virginia. Governor Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 386 into law creating the Medical Cannabis Act. The Act allows residents with certified medical conditions to purchase and use marijuana-derived THC to alleviate their conditions. Per the Act, persons with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by a licensed medical practitioner, can legally purchase a 30-day supply of the amount of marijuana-based THC product prescribed by their physician.
Hemp-based THC products are legal in West Virginia. In 2019 West Virginia amended its hemp laws to align with the 2018 Farm Bill through House Bill 2694. The bill defines hemp as all parts of the Cannabis sativa plant, including its isomers and derivatives, with no more than 0.3% THC concentration. It permits the cultivation, processing, and commercial sales of hemp-based THC products. West Virginia law authorizes residents to purchase marijuana-derived THC and hemp-based THC products from retail storefronts and online dispensaries.
West Virginia has no specified THC-drugged driving limit, like for alcohol, with a concentration of 0.08%. Nonetheless, Section 17C-5-2 of the West Virginia Code prohibits residents from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, including medical marijuana-derived THC. The Code specifies the penalties for driving in an impaired state. The penalties include jail terms between 6 months to 10 years, fines ranging from $100 to $5,000, and license suspension or revocation. Persons under 21 driving while impaired with THC risk a jail term of between two days to 1 year and fines between $200 to $1,000.
Yes, THC is detectable in drug tests several days to weeks after the last use. The duration THC metabolites stay in a user system varies according to use patterns. In general, the following factors influence the duration THC metabolites remain detectable in the body:
THC stays in the body for remarkable periods from the last use. When consumed, THC is absorbed into the body's organs and tissues or metabolized by the liver. While most of the THC consumed is excreted from the body, the rest is stored in the body’s fat cells. Over time, the THC stored in the fatty tissues is released into the bloodstream to be metabolized by the liver. Depending on usage patterns and individual characteristics, THC builds up faster than it is eliminated, staying in the body for many weeks or several months.
Depending on the sample taken and the individual's use patterns, THC is detectable within hours or weeks from the last use. A urine test detects THC metabolites within 5 days and up to 30 days for frequent users, while the detection window for blood tests is up to 12 hours. A saliva test can show THC metabolites in a user's system within 72 hours after the last use, while hair follicle testing can reveal THC metabolites for up to 90 days after the last use.
THC oils are concentrates extracted from cannabis flowers and cannabis plants. THC oil can be extracted without solvents or with solvent-based extracts. Both extraction methods require high pressure and extreme heat to alter cannabis from plant to oil. THC oil is psychrotrophic. It induces a “high” when consumed and may be unsafe, with undesirable side effects if not used in moderation. Most THC oils can be used sublingually, by dabbing, or with vape pens and cartridges.
CBD oil, or Cannabidiol oil, is made by extracting cannabinoids from the flowers, stems, and leaves of hemp or marijuana plants. It contains high levels of CBD and trace amounts of THC. Consequently, CBD oil is non-psychoactive. It does not alter the user’s state of mind to produce an intoxicating effect. CBD oil is safe for consumption and is known for its neuroprotective and therapeutic effects.
THC distillates are super-concentrated and highly purified forms of THC extracted from cannabis plants. They are stripped of all compounds and materials, including terpenes and impurities, leaving only the THC. THC distillate is made by a molecular distillation process, which involves heating and pressurizing the extracted material to the vaporization point and then condensing and collecting the evaporated material. THC distillates are extremely potent, with some THC distillates having up to 99% THC concentrations. Due to its potency, it is highly psychoactive, giving users a more intense high. Although THC distillate is relatively safe to consume, it may be unsafe for inexperienced cannabis users. THC distillates may be consumed with vape pens, sublingually, or as a smokable joint.
THC distillates are not the same as THC oils. THC oils contain other materials and compounds, such as terpenes and plant lipids, while THC distillates are stripped of all compounds leaving only the THC content. Also, THC distillates are different from CBD distillates. THC distillates are extracted from marijuana plants, while CBD distillates come from hemp plants. CBD distillates, unlike THC distillates, are non-psychoactive and do not give a euphoric high when consumed.
West Virginia residents with qualifying medical conditions can purchase marijuana-derived Delta-9 THC products. Also, residents can purchase hemp-derived-Delta-8 THC legally for recreational use. THC products are available in licensed dispensaries and can be purchased from online vendors in the state. In West Virginia, medical marijuana dispensaries can only dispense marijuana-derived THC as oils, pills, topicals, liquids, dermal patches, and tinctures. Edible marijuana-based THC products are not legal in West Virginia at the moment.