The Hemp-Derived Delta-9 THC Loophole Explained

By | Updated on November 7, 2023

Evidence Based 3

What most people know as THC is a compound called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC for short). Responsible for making you high, it’s the most abundant form of THC found in cannabis plants.

What you probably didn’t know is that it’s possible to buy gummies and other edibles containing delta-9 THC even in states where cannabis is illegal. It’s all thanks to a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and hemp-derived products.

Here’s how the loophole works and how it created a new trend in intoxicating hemp cannabinoid products.

The Hemp-Derived Delta-9 THC Loophole

Small amounts of delta-9 THC are naturally present in hemp. 

In fact, the 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp as any cannabis with no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC to ensure that hemp products won’t cause the same euphoric effects as regular cannabis, which contain anywhere from several to 30 percent delta-9-THC. 

But there is a trick to this rule. The language of the 2018 Farm Bill limits hemp products to 0.3% delta-9-THC “on a dry weight basis.” That means as long as the THC content is no more than 0.3% of the weight of the whole product, it’s legal.

This loophole allows manufacturers to make edible products like gummies, cookies, and brownies containing significant amounts of delta-9 THC.

For example, let’s say you have a gummy that weighs 5 grams (5,000 milligrams). That means the gummy can legally contain up to 15 mg of hemp-derived delta-9 THC since 5000 x 0.003 = 15. That’s certainly enough to cause psychoactive effects in most people.

Similarly, your typical 15-gram (15,000 mg) chocolate chip cookie can legally contain up to 45 mg of delta-9 THC, an even larger amount.

As a result of this loophole, we’ve seen dozens of CBD brands add delta-9 THC gummies and other D9 edibles to their lineups in 2022. 

How Hemp Delta-9 Products Are Made

You should be aware that there are two ways to make delta-9 THC products from hemp. One is to simply use the small amount of THC extracted from the plant.

But this process isn’t the most efficient, especially when you want to make products containing significant amounts of THC (like 10 mg THC gummies or 30 mg cookies).

That’s why many companies convert pure CBD into delta-9 THC through an isomerization process— the same method used to make delta-8 THC, a different, less potent form of THC.

hemp-deriveddelta-9 THC gummies
Hemp-derived delta-9 THC gummies.

Is Delta-9 THC From Hemp Legal?

Hemp-derived delta-9 THC is legal in most states as long it’s within the 0.3% limit. But there are a few exceptions, like Idaho, which doesn’t allow hemp-derived products to contain any amount of delta-9 THC.

Will The Loophole Ever Close?

It’s hard to say if the loophole will close in the future. The federal and state governments and DEA/law enforcement are mostly concerned with delta-8 THC right now.

That’s because delta-8 manufacturers are exploiting a different loophole, which allows them to include ANY amount of delta-8 THC in hemp-derived products. As a result, the authorities haven’t paid much attention to these new legal delta-9 THC products that are now growing popular.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but we expect that the loophole will remain open until most states (and perhaps the federal government) decide to legalize cannabis.

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