DEA: Delta-8 &-9 THC-O are Not Considered Hemp

An Update On A Statement From The DEA

In a recent statement, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has clarified that cannabinoids Delta-8 and -9 THC-O acetate ester are considered illegal controlled substances. This decision has significant implications for the growing cannabinoid market, as it declares these increasingly popular compounds to be in violation of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).

An image of tall hemp plants being grown outside on a cloudy day.
The DEA makes an important distinction between synthetic and natural cannabinoids.

The DEA’s position is that Delta-8 and -9 tetrahydrocannabinol-O do not occur naturally in the cannabis plant and can only be obtained synthetically. They consider it a non-natural cannabinoid.

In this recent development, the DEA has declared the synthetic cannabinoids delta-8-THC-O and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-O as federally prohibited substances, regardless of their derivation from hemp.

An image of a gavel smashing a hemp leaf upon a background of hemp leaves.
The legal status of hemp-derived compounds is constantly changing.

Is THC-O legal?

This decision stems from tetrahydrocannabinol-O’s synthetic nature, which deviates from the hemp definition and places it under the non-exempt synthetic THC category, as found in Schedule I. 21 U.S.C. § 812, Schedule I(c)(17), and 21 CFR 1308.11(d)(31).

The Federal Analogue (also sometimes written as the Federal Analog Act) Act (21 U.S.C. § 813) emerged in 1986 as a vital component of the United States Controlled Substances Act.

Serving as a legal shield, this act ensures that any chemicals bearing a striking resemblance to Schedule I or II controlled substances are bound by the same restrictions, contingent upon their intended use for human consumption.

THC-O acetate’s legal status contrasts with naturally occurring cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol and THCV, which remain federally permissible if derived from hemp.

What Is Tetrahydrocannabinol-O Acetate?

Tetrahydrocannabinol-O, or THC O Acetate, is a synthetic cannabinoid produced via the reaction of THC with acetic anhydride. It should be noted that tetrahydrocannabinol-O and Delta-9 THC, Delta-8 THC, and even Delta-9 THC acetate all have similar chemical structures and pharmacological activities, which means they all have psychoactive effects.

However, there are some differences in their effects. For example, tetrahydrocannabinol-O effects have been found to offer a more intense experience than normal Delta-9.

Additionally, THC-O acetate products tend to produce psychedelic effects, such as what some might describe as hallucinogenic, compared to Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol’s more balanced physical and psychoactive effects.

An image of chemist beakers, flasks, and tests tubes possibly used with acetic anhydride.
Only chemical research specialists working with specialized equipment should handle the chemical processes associated with the colorless liquid known as acetic anhydride.

What is Acetic Anhydride?

Acetic anhydride is a chemical compound used in the production of tetrahydrocannabinol-O, as mentioned above.

It is also used for other synthesizing purposes, such as acetylation reactions.

Acetic anhydride is generally considered to be a hazardous substance and should be handled only by trained professional chemists due to its corrosive and highly flammable nature.

The vapor of acetic anhydride is also known to be harmful.

While this harsh substance is not included in the end THC-O products, its involvement in the process has some individuals wondering, “Is THC-O safe?”

An image of various hemp-derived products displayed on a black wooden table.
The 2018 Farm Bill and the legalization of hemp have led to an explosion of hemp-related products.

Federally legal hemp

Hemp is a commercially sold plant material that has a wide range of uses. It is an important part of the cannabis industry and cannabis products as it provides a natural source for hemp-derived cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD) and dozens more psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds.

The hemp plant is federally legal in many countries due to its low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive cannabinoid found in other varieties of cannabis – and widespread acceptance as an industrial and food product.

As a result, commercially sold hemp products can be easily obtained in many stores or online and have become popular nutritional supplements, cannabis oil, culinary items, natural skincare ingredients, textile fabrics, and a variety of other consumer goods.

While hemp typically lacks significant amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (the phytocannabinoid responsible for causing intoxicating effects), its leaves and flowers produce a variety of other cannabinoids, including CBD and CBG.

Legalized in 2018 by the Farm Bill, federally legal hemp provides access to hemp-derived cannabinoids for mainstream consumer consumption, presenting new opportunities and innovations within the cannabis industry with products ranging from topicals to edibles.

As such, federally legal hemp presents a truly unique chance to explore opportunities that were previously impossible due to restrictions on traditional cannabis markets.

Related Article: What Is THC-P And What Are Its Benefits

An image of a person possibly enjoying a THC-O enhanced beverage.
This cannabinoid’s effects are said to be stronger and more psychedelic than traditional cannabis.

What are the effects of THC-O acetate?

Interestingly, tetrahydrocannabinol-O is said to be two or threefold stronger than a Delta-9 THC drug found in marijuana. Measurement of the effect of THC compared with delta 8 THC, delta 10 THC, and HHC are, of course, subjective.

THC-O Effects

Recently, in many cases, THC-O acetate products have been getting more attention than Delta-8 THC because it can potentially create much greater psychoactive effects than most other forms of THC.

This version, THC O acetate, is stronger than many THC forms, but its psychoactivity is quite different. Many consumers say that THC-O acetate produces a psychedelic high that has near hallucinogenic effects.

An image of a very green hemp plant being grown outdoors in the sun.
From a legal standpoint, naturally grown hemp and its compounds are more in line with the 2018 Farm Bill.

Where does Tetrahydrocannabinol-O currently sit in legal terms?

The situation remains ongoing and complex as several prominent lawyers in the cannabis and hemp legal status realm have stated the DEA may not have the final authority to make THC acetate illegal.

Ultimately, this decision from the DEA serves as a reminder that those looking to purchase THC-O products, THC-O edibles, hemp-derived products, and other cannabinoids must ensure they are buying from a reputable source that can provide evidence of the product’s content, lab testing, and origin.

Navigating the ambiguous realm of cannabis legality can be challenging. However, imagine the transformation that could stem from federal oversight, standardization, and rigorous testing protocols.

These measures would boost industry growth, empower consumers and their safety, and cultivate a consistent and dependable market landscape – all while mitigating the inherent risks in these currently somewhat uncharted territories.

An image of fuji apple-flavored gummies that contain THC-O.
This compound is available in many delicious, fruit-flavored gummies.

Follow our blog at Danu Wellness for hemp news and updates

Stay informed and be aware of changes in THC-O legality and keep up with the latest industry news and regulations, as some cannabinoids’ legal status may be rapidly changing.

It’s important to stay one step ahead!

As always, be sure to consult with your physician, healthcare team, or other healthcare professionals before using THC-O products.

We encourage you to reach out to us at Danu Wellness in Bedford, Texas, with any questions you may have!

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