Delta 9 THC: What is Delta 9? Is it safe? Is it legal?

What is Delta 9?

Delta-9 THC (D9) is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in traditional cannabis; it’s what gets you “high.” Delta 9 is a naturally occurring molecule that is most commonly associated with marijuana. It’s found throughout the growing plant—in the stems, leaves, stalks—but mostly concentrated in the flowering buds, sometimes in quantities as great as 30%. 

Delta-9 THC is also a cannabinoid found in hemp. Again, it’s a naturally occurring molecule found throughout the plant. In hemp, however, Delta 9 cannot exceed 0.3% by dry weight. (Comparatively, the concentration of D9 THC is approximately 100 times greater in marijuana.)


Hemp Derived Delta 9

Hemp derived Delta 9 is exactly what it sounds like: Delta 9 THC that has been extracted from hemp plants. Hemp plants naturally produce Delta-9 THC, but federal law mandates that hemp (and hemp products) may not contain more than 0.3% of this psychoactive cannabinoid.

When hemp plants are processed for extraction, cannabinoids are isolated through distillation and saved for use in products further down the supply chain. For years, laboratories have been isolating CBD, which is the most available cannabinoid in hemp. But with recent advances in science, labs have learned how to convert CBD into lesser cannabinoids, including Delta 9 and other THC isomers.


Delta 9 vs THC

Until recently, when people talked about “THC”, they were talking about Delta-9 THC. Most users, and even cultivators, didn’t realize that there are other closely related THC molecules that are slightly different in not only their structure but also their effects. Recently, the fast-growing science of cannabis has shown us that there are many different THC isomers, including Delta 8, Delta 9, and THCa.

Isomer’ definition: Two or more compounds that share a molecular structure but differ in how the atoms are arranged. E.g., Delta-9 was discovered in cannabis and first isolated in 1964, but the recent boom in hemp-derived cannabinoids has led to the discovery of several more THC isomers.What are the Effects of Delta 9?

Will Delta 9 Get You High?

Yes. Delta-9 THC is the traditional cannabinoid that gets users ‘high.’

The effects of Delta 9 are about twice as strong as the effects of Delta 8 or Delta 10. If you’re trying Delta 9 for the first time, start low and go slow.

Delta 9 edibles can be especially powerful. Many users of D9 edibles and gummies report a ‘body high’ that feels deeply relaxing.


Delta 9 Side Effects

Side effects of Delta 9 may include tiredness, red eyes, paranoia, anxiety, and appetite stimulation.

Side effects of Delta 9 differ for each user, and they may range from severe to mild/nonexistent. It depends on your body, mood, and previous experience with cannabis.


How Long Do the Effects of Delta 9 Last?

Most users report euphoric effects that can last from 2-6 hours.


Is Delta 9 Safe?

Delta 9 is safe when sourced from reputable companies using certified labs. The extraction process does use chemicals that can be harmful if not processed the right way. Certified labs will always test for residual solvents to ensure your safety.

Not all Delta 9 is created equally! When shopping online, choose a vendor that works with a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified lab. Pick up the phone or send an email directly to the store and ask them questions about their practices and policies. If they don’t know the answer (or they don’t reply,) then move on to another company.

Unfortunately, there are manufacturers who, in their effort to make a quick buck, produce an inferior, sometimes even dangerous, product. 

Delta-9 THC … Federal and State Laws

Even though it’s been around for thousands of years, there’s a lot of confusion around Delta-9 THC. The fast-growing hemp industry and fast-changing cannabis laws have left a lot of people wondering what Delta 9 is all about. Let’s look at some or the most common questions about Delta-9 THC.


Is Delta 9 Legal?

Delta-9 THC is legal to buy and sell online if the D9 is: 1.) derived from legal hemp, and 2.) less than 0.3% by dry weight. 

To understand how Delta 9 can be legal in the eyes of the federal government, let’s take a step back to the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, which defined hemp in the following way:

The term `hemp' means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

The Farm Bill legalized not only cannabis sativa L. plants and flowers with a concentration of less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC, but also it’s derivatives and extracts. 

So according to the federal government, Delta 9 is legal when two specific circumstances are met: 

  1. The Delta 9 is derived from hemp
  2. The Delta 9 concentration is not more than 0.3% by dry weight

Many states have medical and/or recreational programs that enable residents to enjoy Delta 9 from marijuana. But it’s important to note that at the federal level, any amount of Delta-9 THC remains illegal if sourced from marijuana.


Is Delta 9 Legal in Texas? Is Delta 9 Legal in Florida? What About Other States?

Hemp derived Delta 9 is currently legal in 42 states, including Texas and Florida. These states follow the regulations outlined by the 2018 Farm Bill, which permits hemp derived Delta 9 in quantities that do not exceed 0.3% by dry weight. A few states have restricted or banned the sale of Delta 9.


States Where Delta 9 is Restricted

California is the only state with general restrictions on hemp derived Delta 9. These include testing and packaging requirements.


States Where Converted Cannabinoids are Banned

A few states have banned all cannabinoids that have been chemically converted. These laws were passed in reaction to the widespread sales of Delta 8, which was one of the first cannabinoids to be converted from CBD. In these states, hemp derived Delta 9 is banned: Colorado, North Dakota, Washington.


States Where Delta 9 is Banned

Idaho is the only state that bans hemp derived Delta 9.


States Where Delta 9 is Disputed but Still Legal

In a few states, the legal status of hemp derived Delta 9 is still being determined: Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Vermont.

*Updated May 2023

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