THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, the most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. It is famous for the psychoactive effects it has when consumed. Cannabinoids are a set of unique compounds found in cannabis that interact with the body differently. Generally, THC is responsible for the high associated with smoking marijuana. Depending on the percentage content, THC can provide a wide range of sensations, including desirable relaxing effects and non-pleasant, uncomfortable feelings, such as depression and anxiety. While people often think of THC as recreational, it has several health benefits. For instance, THC can help relieve insomnia, inflammation, nausea and vomiting, and appetite loss.
THC is present in hemp and marijuana. It is also the defining difference between these two varieties of the cannabis plant. Marijuana has high amounts of THC, which is why it produces a more potent effect, making it famous for getting consumers high. Most high-quality marijuana in Indiana contains between 25% and 30% THC. Conversely, legal hemp contains low amounts of THC, and they do not intoxicate users. Per the 2018 Farm Bill, legal hemp must not have more than 0.3% THC content. In compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp cultivated in Indiana must test below 0.3% THC.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is generally referred to as delta-9 THC. THC exists in many variations, some naturally occurring at low concentrations in the cannabis plant, while others, such as delta-9 THC, are abundant. A chemical conversion or modification of cannabis compounds is required to produce higher amounts of low-concentration THC. This chemical process is commonly called isomerization, and the resulting THC variants are known as THC isomers. Generally, THC isomers have a similar chemical formula as THC but a different atomic structure, hence, different reactions. Notable isomers of THC include:
Delta-8 THC - Delta-8 THC is a natural and synthetic isomer of THC. It is less psychoactive than delta-9 THC and often used for therapeutic purposes like pain relief and inflammation reduction. Delta-8 THC is legal in Indiana, provided it is derived from hemp and complies with the 0.3 THC cap
Delta-10 THC - Delta-10 THC is not naturally produced by cannabis but via synthesis from hemp-derived precursors. It creates a lighter, euphoric high. Consumers say that delta-10 is uplifting and best used in the daytime
In compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, delta-9 THC is legal in Indiana as long as the THC concentration does not exceed 0.3%. Similarly, per Indiana Code 15-15-13, cannabinoids, derivatives, and isomers of hemp are legal in Indianans; delta-9 THC fits into this description.
All hemp-derived delta-8 THC products, except delta-8 flower, are legal in Indiana. In 2019, Indiana legislators passed SEA 516 (Senate Enrolled Act 516) to ban smokable hemp flower. The Act also criminalized the sale of smokable hemp in the state. There have been several legislative attempts, including House Bill 1224, to overturn this ban, but they all failed. Hemp-derived delta-10 THC sourced from Farm Bill-compliant hemp plants with no more than 0.3% THC is also legal in Indiana.
Although marijuana is still illegal in Indiana, the amount of THC or potency level in weed varies depending on the strain. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in weed, and its levels determine its effect on the body and brain. Studies revealed that weed potency has increased over the past decades. Cannabis is more potent today than it was in the 1960s. In the 1960s and the 70s, THC potency hovered between 0 and 5%. Today, weed potency has come up to an average of 15% to 20%, while marijuana extracts can contain up to 50% THC.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the percentage of THC in weed seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2021 was 15.34%. It was 13.27% in 2020. THC potency varies among weed strains and cannabis products available in marijuana dispensaries. If the THC level of a cannabis product is around 18%, it is regarded as mid-range. Any weed with THC levels over 20% is considered high. Currently, many strains in the market contain more than 20% THC. Pacman OG, a strong variety of marijuana, has up to 29% THC content and causes a high euphoria that immediately relaxes the body when consumed. Similarly, Godfather OG, often referred to as the most potent marijuana strain, contains a 34% THC concentration. Another Indica-dominant strain, Grease Money, packs a THC level of 31%.
Marijuana product labels often list the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) available for use. THCA is the raw form of THC. It is non-psychoactive in its natural state and only becomes psychoactive (THC) when heated in a process known as decarboxylation. Generally, the total THCA amount on a cannabis product label informs consumers about the product's psychoactive THC level. The more THCA a marijuana product contains, the more THC levels it will have. While delta-9 THC is the most talked-about and the most abundant variation of THC in the marijuana plant, other THC forms also exist in weed. The common THC compounds found in weed include:
Delta-9 THC - This is the most abundant THC compound in weed. It binds to the CB1 receptors in the nervous system and brain to cause mind-altering effects such as bodily relaxation and reduced memory. Although delta-9 THC is psychoactive, it has some therapeutic benefits
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) - THCV is the least known THC type formed as a byproduct of THCA breakdown through decarboxylation. It does not cause mind-altering feelings in low doses, but higher doses can cause a "high." Rather than stimulate appetite like some other THC compounds, THCV suppresses it
Tetrahydrocannabiorcol (THCC): THCC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in male marijuana plants. It is non-psychoactive, but some studies have shown it may offer strong analgesic effects for some types of pain
Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP): THCP is an analog of THC with much more binding affinity for the body's CB1 receptors than delta-9 THC. As a result, it produces an intense and euphoric feeling
Delta-7 THC - Delta-7 THC is a synthetic compound formed by manipulating delta-9 THC structure through a series of chemical reactions. While research into it is limited, and it is not produced commercially yet, this THC isomer seems not to be psychoactive but appears to cause a full-body relaxation
Delta-8 THC - Delta-8 THC accounts for less than 1% of the cannabis plant. Most delta-8 THC products available in dispensaries are made from the chemical conversion of delta-9 THC and CBD. Typically, delta-8 THC is formed when delta-9 THC ages and becomes exposed to oxidation
Delta-10 THC - The marijuana plant has significantly low traces of delta-10 THC. Hence, most delta-10 THC products are made synthetically or developed in labs
Marijuana is considered a controlled substance in Indiana. As a result, medical marijuana and recreational cannabis are still illegal in the state. However, Indiana excludes products having low-THC hemp extract from the state's controlled substance definition. Per Indiana Code 15-15-13-7, low-THC hemp-based products containing no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC are legal. This means that residents can purchase and consume low-THC CBD products, provided they are derived from hemp, from online and retail shops. However, Indiana Code 35-48-4-10.1 prohibits the possession, manufacture, and delivery of smokable hemp as described in Indiana Code 35-48-1-26.6.
In 2018, the United States legalized hemp and its derivatives containing no more than 0.3% THC after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, delta-8 THC products are considered hemp derivatives and are legal at the federal level, provided they do not exceed the federal legal limit for delta-9 THC. While some states still prohibit delta-8 THC by extending the 0.3% THC limit to other isomers of THC, Indiana sticks to the 2018 Farm Bill rules. As a result, it is legal to purchase delta-8 THC products in Indiana.
Per Senate Bill 52, low-THC hemp products in Indiana must contain 0.3% delta-9 THC or less to be considered legal. CBD products with THC content not exceeding 0.3% are exempted from the state's definition of marijuana. Generally, driving under the influence (DUI) is not limited to alcohol. Law enforcement may also charge a person with driving under the influence of marijuana in Indiana.
Under Indiana law, a person does not need to be impaired to be found guilty and convicted of DUI, and there is no legal limit for THC while driving. Law enforcement officers only need to prove that THC or its metabolite was in the person's system while operating a vehicle. Unlike alcohol, it is possible to detect weed in a person's body system even several weeks after last use.
DUI of weed in Indiana has varying penalties depending on the offender's criminal history. Depending on the number of violations, offenders are charged with misdemeanors or felonies, and the penalties may include jail sentences, cash fines, and driver's license suspension. However, under Indiana Senate Bill 201, a driver found to have marijuana in their system will not be charged with DUI, provided they do not cause an accident or show signs of impairment from weed.
Whether THC will show up or not in a drug test in Indiana depends on several factors. These factors include how much THC is smoked/ingested, how often the drug is consumed, how long ago the drug was consumed before the test, the drug's sensitivity, and the fat level in a person's body. While alcohol vanishes from the body in only a few hours, marijuana remains in the body much longer. Typically, THC accumulates in fat tissue and slowly diffuses back into the blood, increasing the time it takes to leave a person's system.
How the body processes and eliminates THC depends on the method of consumption. If ingested (consumed orally), cannabis is first absorbed from the intestines and then sent through the liver, where the liver cells eliminate it. After metabolism in the liver, it is excreted mostly in feces and less in urine. THC inhaled moves from the lungs to the blood and brain. Due to the high level of enzymes in the liver, it is the main place where the metabolic transformation of THC happens. Experiments have also revealed that THC metabolism can take place in the brain.
How long THC remains detectable in the body depends on how often a person smokes/ingests marijuana and the type of tests the person undertakes: Based on the frequency of intake, tests will detect THC in a person's body as follows:
About three days for a person who smokes/ingests marijuana for the first time
Between 5 to 7 days for someone who smokes/ingests cannabis three or four times a week
30 days or longer for someone who smokes/ingests marijuana once or more daily
Based on the type of test taken, THC may remain detectable in a person's system as outlined below:
THC remains detectable in saliva for approximately 24 hours after use and sometimes up to 72 hours
THC remains detectable in the blood for only 3 to 4 hours
THC can stay detectable in urine for an average of 3 to 30 days after smoking/ingesting cannabis
THC remains detectable in the hair for up to 90 days after marijuana use
THC oil is oil formed by extracting the cannabinoid (THC) from the cannabis plant. It typically contains high levels of THC. The main difference between THC oil and CBD oil is in their psychoactivity. While THC oil may get a person high, CBD oil may not. The THC content of legal CBD oil in Indiana must not exceed 0.3%. THC oil is made by converting THCA to THC, distilling it, and subjecting it to a purification process. This process produces a highly concentrated THC oil distillate that is usually combined with natural oils, flavorings, and other cannabinoids to make various edible and medicated products.
THC oil can be used in various ways. These include sublingually (under the tongue), as vape cartridges, in baking, in tea, and as capsules. Although people ingest THC oil for various reasons, it is potentially unsafe, especially if the THC content is exceptionally high.
THC distillate is derived from marijuana via distillation. It is a highly purified form of THC. Typically, all THC distillates are oil, but not all THC oils are distillates. THC distillate is derived from cannabis, while CBD distillate is derived from hemp with only a trace amount of THC. While THC distillate is often used recreationally to get high, CBD distillate is mainly used in Indiana to help the body relax and control pain.
THC distillate is a highly potent concentrate; the reason consumers get intensely high, even with much less intake. Consumers can smoke THC distillate by vaporizing it and inhaling the vapors. They can also ingest it. THC distillate is a common ingredient in many cannabis edibles sold commercially.
Hemp-based delta-9 and delta-8 THC products are available in local retail shops in Indiana, including gas stations, vape stores, hemp shops, and wellness centers around the state. Residents can also buy them online but must do their due diligence to avoid ordering poor-quality products when shopping for THC products online. Available hemp-derived THC products in Indiana include capsules, tinctures, solutions, ointments, salves, creams, and edibles.