Cannabis plants contain many cannabinoids, including Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, THC is more abundant in cannabis plants than other cannabinoids. It is the primary psychoactive compound that gets cannabis consumers “high” as it binds to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and stimulates certain areas, causing psychological and physical effects on consumers.
Hemp and marijuana contain different levels of THC. Per the 2018 Farm Bill, the THC concentration in hemp must not exceed 0.3% on a dry-weight basis. Marijuana typically has more than 0.3% THC, and some marijuana strains contain up to 30% THC concentration or more, depending on the strain. The low level of THC in hemp makes it incapable of making consumers high, unlike marijuana. THC exists in different variants referred to as isomers. Notable THC isomers include:
THC derived from hemp and marijuana is legal in Vermont. Hemp-derived THC initially became legal in Vermont after the passage of S.157 in 2013. However, the state currently complies with the requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill, which allows 0.3% THC concentration in hemp. Patients enrolled in the Vermont Medical Cannabis Program can legally access marijuana-derived THC in the state. In 2018, Vermont legalized the possession, use, and cultivation of marijuana-derived THC for recreational purposes.
Generally, marijuana has higher levels of THC than hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill limits THC concentration in hemp to 0.3%. Some weed strains have up to 30% THC concentration. However, THC potency in marijuana was as low as 4% to 5% in the 1960s. Potency tests conducted on sample weed seizures by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) over the years show a gradual increase in THC concentration in weed. Tests conducted on cannabis seized by the DEA in 2021 revealed that marijuana had a 15% THC concentration on average.
Nowadays, marijuana consumers have access to weed strains with varying THC concentrations. Some popular weed strains with THC concentrations available at dispensaries include:
Apart from THC, weed also contains some levels of THCA and CBD. Most states, including Vermont, require dispensaries to indicate the contents of weed flowers on the label of marijuana containers. Consumers can check the label to see the potency level of THCA and other contents in weed. THC compounds found in marijuana, in order of THC abundance, include:
In 2004, Vermont legislators approved Senate Bill 76 to allow the use of marijuana-derived THC for patients with debilitating medical conditions. The bill established the state’s Medical Cannabis Program for eligible patients. Registered patients can possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana and are allowed to cultivate up to nine marijuana plants for personal use. Patients can legally purchase marijuana-derived THC products from any of the five medical dispensaries in the state.
The recreational use and possession of marijuana-derived THC products in Vermont became legal after the passage of H.511 (2018). Recreational marijuana laws in the state allow adults aged 21 years old or older to possess up to an ounce of usable marijuana. Cultivation of up to six marijuana plants (maximum of two mature and four immature) on private property also ceased to be a punishable offense for recreational users. Retail sales of recreational marijuana began in 2022 after S.54 went into effect. Cannabis-derived THC product delivery in Vermont is illegal.
Hemp-derived THC is legal in Vermont if the THC content does not exceed 0.3%. Before the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Vermont allowed hemp containing up to 1% THC since 2013. The state also conducted a hemp pilot program in 2021 but ended it before its due date. Currently, Vermont uses the guidelines of the 2018 Farm Bill to regulate hemp activities in the state. Residents can purchase hemp-derived THC products from online stores or physical retail stores.
Vermont does not enforce a specific legal limit for THC while driving. However, driving under the influence of any drug that can cause impairment, including THC-infused products, is illegal in the state. THC can affect individuals differently, but its presence in the body may cause impairment. In Vermont, law enforcement officers can conduct sobriety or blood tests to detect drugs in motorists suspected of impairment. Vermont laws prohibit the operation of vehicles while under the influence of any drug, including marijuana-derived THC or other THC substances that can affect a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely.
According to the Vermont State Highway Safety Office, drugs like THC can impair drivers’ judgment, concentration, or motor skills. It can also affect their perception of time and distance or reaction time of drivers. Impaired driving under the influence of THC or other drugs in Vermont can result in DUI charges with legal consequences. Offenders may face incarceration, fines, and license suspension. First-time DUI offenders face a maximum jail term of two years, fines up to $750, and a 3-month license suspension.
THC can show up in a drug test. Drug tests, such as urine, blood, saliva, or hair tests, can detect the presence of THC in the body. However, some factors determine the effectiveness of such drug tests or the duration that THC remains detectable in the body. These factors include:
THC can be detected in the body long after consumption. The body breaks down THC consumed into metabolites before getting rid of it over time. However, traces of THC can remain in the body for some days to several weeks after the last use of THC products. Such residue can show up on drug tests. Several factors contribute to how long drug tests can detect THC metabolites in the body. For instance, THC stays longer in the body of frequent users of THC products than other consumers. These factors determine the detection window of each drug test.
A sample of an individual’s blood can be tested to detect THC. In chronic users, THC can show up in blood tests for up to 30 days after the most recent use. Blood tests can also indicate THC used within 2-12 hours. THC detection through urine tests differs by how often consumers use THC products. The average detection windows by a urine test for different THC use are listed below:
A saliva test can also detect THC in the body. Saliva tests are more efficient if the consumer uses THC products orally. THC will show up in saliva drug tests conducted on chronic consumers for up to 72 hours after the last use. A hair drug test can detect THC for up to three months after the last consumption.
THC oil is derived from marijuana plants through an extraction process. While THC oil has moderate to high levels of THC content, CBD oil cannot contain more than 0.3% THC. The little THC content in CBD oil prevents it from producing the psychoactive effects experienced by THC oil consumers. THC oil is extracted by adding carrier oil to decarboxylated marijuana under heat. It is safe for consumption, but consuming products with large amounts of THC oil can get consumers high. THC oil can be infused in edible products like gummies or added to vape cartridges.
THC distillate is a highly purified form of THC obtained through a distillation process. This process produces a pure form of THC without other contaminants or compounds. Compared to THC oil, THC distillate has higher THC potency and has no other compounds added to the THC cannabinoid extracted from cannabis plants.
CBD distillate differs from THC distillate. CBD distillate has a minimal amount of THC and high levels of CBD. Unlike THC distillates, CBD distillates do not produce intense psychoactive effects but have therapeutic benefits. While THC distillate is safe for consumption, new users should exercise caution and avoid ingesting large quantities. THC distillate comes in various forms, such as vape cartridges, tinctures, or edibles.
In Vermont, residents can legally purchase hemp-derived THC products. However, it is important to note that Delta-8 THC products are illegal in the state. Residents interested in purchasing hemp-derived Delta-9 THC products can do so at physical stores or online. Hemp stores in Vermont are allowed to deliver products to local addresses. There are no restrictions on the quantity of hemp-derived THC products that residents can purchase.
Vermont residents can access marijuana-derived THC products from any licensed cannabis dispensary in the state. Consumers who order marijuana products online must pick them up at the dispensary, as the delivery of marijuana is illegal in Vermont. Various THC products, such as edibles, concentrates, cartridges, and cannabis flowers, are available in Vermont.