THCO Classified as Controlled Substance by DEA
THCO legal status short lived, as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has determined that two synthetic cannabinoids, delta-9-THCO (delta-9-THC acetate ester) and delta-8-THCO, are controlled substances and do not qualify as hemp under the Farm Bill. The DEA recently sent a letter to attorney Rod Kight explaining that these synthetic cannabinoids fail to occur naturally in the hemp plant and can only be obtained synthetically.
Synthetic Cannabinoids vs. Natural Cannabinoids
According to a research letter published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, consuming THCO can have serious medical consequences. However, cannabis lawyer Rod Kight explains that the DEA’s recent determination does not impact the legal status of cannabinoids that the hemp plant naturally produces, such as delta-8 THC and HHC. These cannabinoids can be found naturally in hemp in small quantities, although they are often manufactured from CBD through a synthesis process.
DEA Addresses Delta-8 Legality
In September 2021, the DEA issued a letter addressing the legality of delta-8 THC under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in response to a request from the Alabama Board of Pharmacy. The DEA noted that delta-8 THC could be found in the cannabis plant and produced synthetically from non-cannabis material. However, synthetic delta-8 THC is controlled under the CSA. At the same time, cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant with a [delta-9 THC] concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis are considered hemp and are not controlled under the CSA. The 2018 Farm Bill, up for revision in 2023, paved the way for hemp products such as Delta 8 THC.
FDA Warns of Health Risks
The FDA has warned that delta-8 THC poses serious health risks and has received 104 reports of adverse events in patients who consumed delta-8 THC products between December 1, 2020, and February 28, 2022. Adverse events reported include anxiety, confusion, dizziness, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, tremors, and vomiting. The FDA has not approved or evaluated delta-8 THC products for safe use, and they frequently involve dangerous chemicals in manufacturing.
HIA Agrees with DEA on THCO
The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) executive director, Jody McGinness, agrees with the DEA that THCO is an acetylated substance that cannot be found in the plant and therefore does not qualify as hemp. The HIA favors the regulation of hemp-derived cannabinoids rather than the prohibition of these substances. Furthermore, early research has shown that vaping THCO might pose significant health risks to consumers.
Future of THCO Legalty
The DEA has determined that two synthetic cannabinoids, delta-9-THCO, and delta-8-THCO, do not qualify as hemp and are controlled substances. This decision does not impact the legal status of naturally occurring cannabinoids in hemp, such as delta-8 THC and HHC. The FDA has warned of the potential health risks associated with delta-8 THC products, while the HIA has called for the regulation rather than the prohibition of hemp-derived cannabinoids.