Is THC-O Legal in South Carolina?

Is THC-O Legal in South Carolina?

No. It is illegal to purchase or use hemp or marijuana-derived THC-O products under South Carolina law. According to an October 4, 2021, opinion issued by the state's Attorney General's Office, South Carolina designates all isomers of THC as Schedule I controlled substances and not covered by the state's Hemp Farming Act. THC-O, a synthetic compound, cannot be legally purchased or consumed in South Carolina.

What is THC-O?

THC-O is an acronym for tetrahydrocannabinol-O-acetate. It is a synthesized cannabinoid derived from hemp plants in the lab through an extremely hazardous and complex process. It is synthetically produced because it cannot be found naturally in hemp. The production process involves extracting CBD from hemp and converting the CBD to Delta-8 THC. Thereafter, the Delta-8 THC is mixed with acetic anhydride to create THC-O-acetate. Like Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC, THC-O is psychoactive, but it is a more potent cannabinoid. It is believed to be five times stronger than Delta-8 THC and three times as potent as Delta-9 THC.

THC-O-based products are safe for human consumption at reasonable doses. However, because of its intense psychoactive properties, users are advised to start with very low doses. THC-O-infused products are available in forms such as edibles, vape pens, tinctures, oil, and flowers. However, experts advise consuming edibles over smokable THC-O products. This is because THC-O contains acetic anhydride, which, when subjected to heat (as in smoking), can produce a dangerous gas called ketene. Ketene is known for causing serious lung damage, similar to that seen in the EVALI epidemic in 2019, especially with repeated intake.

Is THC-O Legal Under Federal Law?

No. For several years, Americans assumed that THC-O was legal under the 2018 Farm Bill until February 2023, when the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made it clear that synthetic cannabinoids such as THC-O-acetate are prohibited under federal law. The DEA made this clarification in a written response to Rod Kight, a North Carolina attorney who sought to know the status of Delta-8 THC-O and Delta-9 THC-O under the Controlled Substances Act.

Dr. Terrence L. Boss, Chief of the Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section of the DEA Diversion Control Division, explained that THC-O is not like Delta-9 THC, which is naturally found in the cannabis plant. According to Dr. Boss, since THC-O does not occur naturally in the cannabis plant, it cannot be categorized as hemp and, hence, cannot be sold legally under the 2018 Farm Bill. Accordingly, the DEA classified THC-O and all other synthetically produced compounds as Schedule I controlled substances.

How Long Does THC-O Last in the Body?

How long THC-O takes to clear off from a user’s system can vary based on factors such as the amount of THC-O product consumed and the delivery method. Generally, it takes between 3 and 8 hours after use. After consumption, the body metabolizes THC-O into 11-hydroxy-THC, which can remain in the body for many weeks. The time it takes the body to clear 11-hydroxy-THC depends largely on how regularly it is consumed and other factors, such as the user's metabolic rate and body fat percentage. Considering these factors, it may take about 30 days or more for THC-O metabolites to leave the body after the last dose.

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

Yes, there is a high possibility of failing a drug test from consuming THC-O products. THC-O leaves a metabolite (11-hydroxy-THC) in the body, which can remain detectable for many hours to several days after the last use. Typically, THC-O metabolites will show up on a drug test for cannabis because that is exactly what drug tests are meant to screen. Anyone billed to take a drug test is advised to desist from ingesting THC-O-based products several days or weeks before the test, depending on the test type. The detection windows for THC-O with popular drug tests are listed below:

  • Blood test - Between 24 hours and 36 hours
  • Saliva test - Between 24 hours and 72 hours
  • Urine test - Up to 30 days
  • Hair follicle test - Up to 90 days

THC-O vs Delta-8

Delta-8 THC and THC-O are both cannabinoids of the hemp plant. The major difference is that THC-O is synthetically produced in the lab, while Delta-8 THC occurs naturally in hemp, albeit in trace amounts. Both cannabinoids are psychoactive and cause similar effects in consumers, but THC-O is more potent than Delta-8 THC, and it produces psychedelic effects. THC-O binds strongly and faster with endocannabinoid receptors and is believed to be four to five times stronger than Delta-8 THC. Because of its milder euphoric effects, Delta-8 THC is often recommended for new THC users. THC-O is meant for persons looking for a more potent high.

THC-O and Delta-8 THC potentially have some medicinal uses. They are believed to be beneficial in treating symptoms like bodily discomfort, nausea, and poor sleep. They are also helpful with pain and inflammation management and offer feelings of relaxation. However, Delta-8 THC and THC-O also have potential drawbacks. For instance, Delta-8 THC consumption can lead to anxiety, vomiting, hallucinations, confusion, tremors, and dizziness. Similarly, ingesting large amounts of THC-O can potentially lead to low blood pressure, dry eyes, disorientation, and dry mouth.

THC-O vs Delta-9

Delta-9 THC is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and it naturally occurs in abundant quantities. On the other hand, THC-O is synthetically made by adding acetic anhydride to THC molecules derived from hemp. THC-O is about three times more potent than Delta-9 THC and produces borderline hallucinogenic effects.

Although Delta-9 THC is commonly used for recreational purposes, it is also effective for medicinal use for glaucoma, inappetence, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and pain relief. Similarly, THC-O can help promote sleep or relaxation, reduce anxiety, and foster creativity. Both cannabinoids also have their downsides, especially when taken in unreasonable amounts. THC-O's side effects include dry mouth, dry eyes, lightheadedness, and changes in perceived color and brightness. Delta-9 THC overdose can cause memory loss, slowed reaction time, anxiety, red eyes, and fast heart rate.

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