Is THC Legal in Texas?


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What Is THC?

THC, also called tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant and it produces an euphoric sensation. According to the United States' NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), THC acts like cannabinoid chemicals produced naturally by the human body. In the human body, cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in some parts of the brain associated with memory, pleasure, coordination, thinking, and time perception. THC attaches to those receptors, activates them by releasing dopamine and then impacts the user's movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, pleasure, memory, and sensory and time perception. THC is often administered through smoking cannabis, although it is also available in other forms such as capsules, edibles, and oils.

Both hemp and marijuana contain THC. However, while marijuana contains high amounts of THC, hemp only contains trace amounts of the compound. Marijuana contains varying levels of THC depending on the strain cultivated and the processing method used. THC levels in marijuana can be as high as 30% or more. Per the federal Farm Bill in 2018 and Texas' HB 1325, hemp cultivated in Texas may not contain more than 0.3% THC by dry weight.

Note that although THC, when mentioned, commonly refers to the Delta-9 THC isomer, THC may be present as other isomers, such as:

  • Delta-8: Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, like the more popular Delta-9 THC, is a psychoactive isomer of THC with a slightly different chemical structure, which makes it less potent than Delta-9 THC. Hence, it produces a milder "high", which may be sedating and cause an increase in appetite
  • Delta-10: This form of THC occurs in trace amounts in cannabis and is synthesized from CBD oil. It is less potent than Delta-9 THC and even less popular than the Delta-8 variant but commonly found in edibles
  • Delta-7: Delta-7 THC is a synthetic isomer of THC and is less potent than Delta-9 THC. Delta-7 is not naturally occurring
  • Exo-THC: Exo-THC is also called Delta-9,11 THC and is a known byproduct formed during the synthesis of THC

Is THC Legal in Texas?

All cannabis products containing no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC are legal in Texas. However, patients registered under the state's medical marijuana program are permitted to possess and use medical marijuana products with THC levels of up to 0.5%.

How Much THC is in Weed?

THC potency in cannabis may range from 0% in some hemp-derived products to more than 90% in marijuana concentrates. THC potency levels in cannabis products are not fixed. These levels may be affected by various factors from seed type to the form of weed consumed.

The quantity of THC in cannabis also varies significantly across strains and products. THC potency was first tested in the 1960s, with several strains containing approximately 4 - 5%. However, the storage and testing methods used in that period were less sophisticated, often degrading cannabis samples which may have led to lower THC levels detected in the samples tested.

Nonetheless, there is little debate that the THC level of most cannabis strains cultivated today is substantially greater than in previous decades. According to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), the average THC content of marijuana seized in 2019 was roughly 14%. Also, cannabis flower with more than 20% THC is becoming prevalent in cannabis dispensaries in states where recreational cannabis has been legalized. Godfather OG, a popular strain, contains as much as 34% THC. Most states that have legalized marijuana mandate that cannabis products be tested for THC (along with other cannabinoids) and that the results be stated on product labels. In general, a weed product label will show the amounts of THC, THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), and Total THC under the title "Potency Analysis" (as well as CBD, CBDA, and Total CBD quantities).

Weed contains several forms of THC in varying amounts. These forms are listed below in descending order of abundance in cannabis:

  • Delta-9 THC: Delta-9 THC is a naturally occurring compound in cannabis and the primary constituent responsible for "high" felt by users. Besides its recreational use, Delta-9 THC has therapeutic benefits for various illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, seizures, chronic pain, and nausea
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV): THCV is the second most abundant form of THC in cannabis, although it is one of the least known. Because THCV does not bind as strongly to the body's CB1 receptors, its effects are not as pronounced as Delta-9 THC. This, however, is only true at low dosages. THCV's psychotropic effects are equivalent to Delta 9 THC at high dosages. THCV is widely recognized as an appetite suppressor and is suggested to offer some promise in treating Type-2 diabetes
  • Tetrahydrocannabiorcol (THCC): THCC is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis pollen that may offer a more effective pain relief than CBD in some instances. While THCC is a form of THC, its effect profile is more similar to CBD's
  • Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP): THCP, or tetrahydrocannabiphorol, was discovered in 2019 and varies from Delta-9 THC because it has two additional carbon atoms on its alkyl side chain. In general, a longer side chain indicates more CB receptor activation. As a result, the psychoactive effects of THCP are higher than those of Delta-9 THC. Given its recent discovery, not much is known of THCP's potential therapeutic advantages
  • Delta-7 THC
  • Delta-8 THC
  • Delta-10 THC

Texas THC Laws 2024

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Texas, but residents suffering from certain qualifying medical conditions registered in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) may obtain and use cannabis products containing 0.5% THC. In June 2015, the state legislature passed the Texas Compassionate Use Act, authorizing licensed medical marijuana businesses to cultivate, process, and dispense low-THC marijuana products to qualifying patients. Approved low-THC products can only be purchased from Texas Department of Safety-licensed medical dispensaries. These products are available in lozenge, tincture, and topical forms. The home cultivation of low-THC marijuana is not permitted in Texas.

Possession limits for low-THC products under the Texas medical marijuana program are set by the qualified patients' physicians and are specified in their prescriptions. For non-patients, possession of up to 56.7 grams or 2 ounces of low-THC products is considered a Class B misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine for a first offense. Upon conviction, the offender's driver's license will also be suspended.

In April 2018, the United States introduced a Farm Bill that legalized the cultivation and sale of hemp and removed hemp from the DEA Schedule I list for controlled substances. However, the Bill defined hemp as cannabis containing no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.

Texas followed up on the 2018 Farm Bill when Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 1325 into law in June 2019. HB 1325 legalized industrial hemp cultivation, production, manufacture, and sale in Texas. Hence, persons who have obtained Texas Department of Agriculture-approved licenses may cultivate hemp in the state. Pursuant to HB 1325, cannabis products containing no more than 0.3% THC may be purchased by residents.

HB 1325 allows Texans to smoke hemp-derived products as long as such products are manufactured outside the state's borders. Per the federal Farm Bill and HB 1325, low-THC products may be transported interstate.

What is the Legal Limit for THC While Driving in Texas?

Unlike typical DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol), there is no legal limit for driving under the influence of THC in Texas. While there is no official limit for THC found in your urine or blood sample, if you display signs of intoxication, whether associated with THC (although unlikely) or alcohol, you may be arrested in Texas. If a law enforcement officer or a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) suspects that your physical and mental faculties are impaired while driving, you may be charged to have violated Texas DUI laws. Offenders face penalties, such as fines reaching up to $10,000 and a jail term of up to 10 years. Note that Texas considers products containing more than 0.3% THC as high-THC products, except for registered medical marijuana patients who may consume products with up to 0.5% THC.

Will THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

THC may show up in a drug test depending on several factors such as how much THC you ingested or smoked, how often THC products were used, when the last THC dose was taken, and the kind of drug test used. Commonly used drug tests for detecting THC measure the levels of THC and its metabolites.

Although urine tests are the most common drug testing method, blood tests may also be used to detect the presence of THC in an individual. THC metabolites may remain in your body long after the effects of the products have worn off. If you have taken a large dose of THC or consume it regularly, it may take a while before it clears off your system. Therefore, a drug test can easily pick up traces of THC in your system.

How Long Does THC Stay in the Body?

Upon consumption of a THC product, the THC compound is absorbed and stored by fatty tissues and organs in the body. The byproducts of the breakdown of the THC drug are then cleared via urine and stool. Still, THC stored in the body tissue is continuously released into the bloodstream gradually, where it is regularly broken down by the liver and cleared by urine until it is completely depleted from the body.

Factors that may affect how long THC stays in the body include the body mass index (BMI), the potency of the THC drug administered, and the metabolic rate of the consumer's body. Per a 2017 study, THC is detectable in urine for the following periods after last use:

  • Single-use: 3 days
  • Moderate use (about four times per week): 5 - 7 days
  • Daily use: 10 - 15 days
  • Chronic heavy use (multiple times per day): More than 30 days

Note that THC metabolites are fat-soluble; hence, they easily bind to fat molecules in the body. Therefore, it can take some time for the metabolites to completely leave their bodies, especially for users with relatively high body fat compositions.

Blood tests are typically used to detect recent cannabis use or use that occurred within the last 12 hours. In a chronic heavy use case, a blood test may even detect THC in the body even after more than 30 days after last use.

Other drug test methods and their detection windows include:

  • Saliva testing: The detection window for saliva tests is small, and in certain situations, it may be able to detect same-day THC use. A 2020 study discovered that THC was detectable 72 hours after use in the oral fluid of habitual smokers. For chronic THC consumers, THC may be detectable in oral fluid longer than in blood. Smoking THC products and exposure to smoke may introduce marijuana into the saliva. Similarly, marijuana's metabolites are detectable in saliva after smoking or ingesting the drug
  • Hair follicle test: Drug tests on hair follicles may detect THC use for up to 90 days. Cannabinoids such as THC enter hair follicles after use through blood vessels, sebum, and sweat around the hair shaft. Since hair grows roughly 0.5 inches each month, a 1.5-inch hair section obtained close to the scalp may provide a three-month detection window of THC use

What Is THC Oil?

THC or hash oil is cannabis oil extracted from the cannabis plant and containing high amounts of Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. In Texas, cannabis oil containing no more than 0.3% THC is called CBD oil, while an oil obtained from cannabis containing THC amounts greater than 0.3% is considered THC oil. THC oil can be smoked, vaped, used for food, or rubbed into the skin. Hash oil can contain up to 90% THC.

THC oil can be made with extraction methods that use butane or carbon dioxide. Upon extraction, extracts from the cannabis plant are then put into a carrier substance (oil). THC oil can be used in making candies, chocolates, baked products, pills, beverages, tinctures, and topicals. Although consumers can ingest THC oil, many users take THC oil sublingually by putting the oil under their tongues. Taking THC oil sublingually allows the oil to be absorbed by the mucous membrane under the tongue, thereby making its way into the bloodstream faster. While ingesting THC oil may take 30 - 90 minutes for the effects to kick in, users begin to feel the effects in a few minutes if taken sublingually. As THC is a psychoactive compound, THC oil has the potential to get consumers high.

What Is THC Distillate?

THC distillate is a highly refined form of cannabis-derived THC. The distillate resembles a thick oil that may range from clear to amber in color. As each cannabinoid vaporizes at a different temperature, distillation removes everything from plant lipids to terpenes, and THC distillate producers may easily adjust the process to isolate only one cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are extracted using heat and a solvent to create distillates. It is then purified using a technique called "Winterization".

While distillates are all oils, a THC oil may not be a distillate. THC oil is only a distillate if all other elements and compounds, including terpenes, have been stripped and removed methodically.

Distillates are available in CBD and THC forms. THC distillates are very potent and can get you high, while CBD distillates produce medicinal effects without intoxicating consumers. CBD distillates are highly processed and refined forms of CBD obtained from hemp, containing only trace amounts of THC, typically less than 0.3%. The CBD concentrations in CBD distillates are generally higher than 80%.

THC distillates may be ingested alone using a dab rig or portable vaporizer. You may also use a distillate cartridge and a vape pen to vape them. Dabbing or vaping a THC distillate produces a largely odorless vapor, depending on whether it has been flavored or not. Its effects are often felt instantaneously. Adding THC distillate drops to cannabis flower on a rolling paper or bowl heightens the euphoric feeling without changing the smell or aroma. You may also take THC distillates as edibles or topicals as an alternative to vaping or smoking. Distillates may be eaten alone or consumed sublingually under the tongue.

Where to Buy THC in Texas?

Although the Texas Department of Health and Human Services added Delta-8 THC to the list of banned substances in October 2021, marijuana retailers in Texas obtained a temporary injunction from a Texas court which meant that consumers can still purchase Delta-8 THC for now. Hence, consumers can purchase Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC products containing no more than 0.3% THC from approved marijuana dispensaries in the state. Some of these dispensaries also run online stores, allowing Texans to purchase required THC products online. THC products are available in the form of gummies, pre-rolls, tinctures, vapes, and edibles.

THC Edibles Dosing Guide

THC Amount Expected Effects Who Should Use It?
Up to 2.5 mg Improves mental focus and mildly relieves pain and stress First-time users and microdosers
2.5 - 5 mg Provides stronger pain relief and euphoria. May impair judgment, perception, and coordination Medical marijuana patients, recreational marijuana users, and those looking to calm sleeps
5 - 10 mg Produces stronger euphoria. May also alter perception and impair coordination Users with high tolerance to THC
10 - 20 mg Very strong euphoria likely leading to higher likelihood of impaired judgment, slower reaction times, anxiety, and altered perception Users with particularly high tolerance to THC and medical marijuana patients with malabsorption syndrome (reduced gastrointestinal absorption)
50 - 100 mg Guaranteed mood and perception alteration along with impaired coordination. Likely to cause significant side effects such as pain, increased heart rate, and nausea Medical marijuana patients living with severe chronic pain, cancer or other intractable conditions such as inflammatory disorders

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