THC, also called tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the numerous cannabinoids in cannabis plants. It stands out as the most prominent cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis. When consumed, THC attaches to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and activates certain areas. As a result, some psychological responses may occur, including altered senses, changes in mood, or increased appetite.
THC is present in both hemp and marijuana plants. However, hemp contains small amounts of THC, unlike marijuana. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the limit of THC in hemp must not exceed 0.3% concentration. Some marijuana strains contain up to 30% THC. There are different THC isomers, and some have less psychoactive effects. Notable THC isomers include Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC, and Delta-10 THC.
Hemp-derived THC products containing less than 0.3% THC are legal in Maine under Title 7 of Maine Revised Statutes. High-THC cannabis is also legal in the state and regulated by the Office of Cannabis Policy. Adults aged 21 and over can legally use marijuana-derived THC for recreational purposes. The state also has a medical marijuana program for patients who qualify for marijuana-derived THC medications.
Generally, hemp-derived products may be THC-free or have up to 0.3% THC. Unlike hemp, weed has higher THC potency, as high as 90% in some strains. THC potency in cannabis has gradually increased over the years. In 1960, the average THC potency level was around 4% to 5%. In 2021, an analysis report on weed seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) showed that the THC level in cannabis was as high as 15%.
Many states, including Maine, now allow the legal sale and use of cannabis with higher THC potency levels. However, some cannabis strains have higher THC concentrations than others. Popular weed strains and their THC level in Maine include:
Kush Mints - 27%
Ice Cream Cake - 23%
MAC - 22%
Bruce Banner - 21%
Original Glue - 20%
Silver Haze - 23%
Consumers can check the THC level in weed products on their container labels. They may also see the level of other cannabinoids found in weed strains, such as THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). THCA is different from THC because it is a non-psychoactive component. However, subjecting THCA to heat produces THC. Other THC compounds found in weed in descending order of abundance in cannabis plants include:
The use of marijuana-derived THC for medical purposes has been legal in Maine since 1999. The Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act allows residents enrolled in the state’s Medical Use of Cannabis Program (MMCP) to purchase THC products from licensed dispensaries in the state. Such patients can legally possess 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana. In 2016, Maine voters approved Question 1 to allow adults aged 21 and over legally use and possess marijuana. Recreational consumers can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis at licensed dispensaries in the state.
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp containing no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis in the United States. Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry regulates hemp cultivation to ensure it meets the standard set by the Farm Bill. There are no restrictions on the amount of low-THC hemp products consumers can possess in Maine.
There is no defined legal limit for THC while driving. However, Maine has trained drug recognition experts who can detect motorists under the influence of THC. Driving under the influence of THC is illegal in Maine. The Department of Safety reports that driving under the influence of marijuana makes it difficult to make quick decisions due to an altered sense of space and time. The department also discourages drivers from operating vehicles hours after the effect of THC subsides. Law enforcement officers can legally conduct blood tests on persons arrested for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) of THC.
First-time OUI offenders may face up to a year in jail and a fine between $500 and $2,000. The state also suspends the driving licenses of such offenders for 150 days. A second OUI conviction within ten years is punishable by a year of incarceration or less, a fine between $700 to $2,000, and license suspension for three years. Repeat offenders face more severe consequences, including up to a five-year jail sentence.
Several factors determine if THC will show up in a drug test. Such factors include:
The amount of THC consumed
The frequency of THC consumption
Type of THC drug test
The metabolism rate of the consumer
Body fat of the consumer
After consumption, THC enters the bloodstreams of consumers and is stored in body fats before the liver breaks it down into metabolites. While the body eliminates most THC metabolites, some can remain for a period.
Different types of drug tests may detect THC in the body for a specific period. For instance, a blood test will show THC in the body of chronic consumers for up to 30 days. For urine drug tests, the detection window varies by the period since the last use of THC, depending on the frequency of use as listed below:
Single-use: 3 days
Moderate use (four times per week): 5 - 7 days
Frequent use (daily): 10 - 15 days
Daily use: 30 days or more
The detection window for saliva drug tests is short. It can detect THC used within 24 hours. Chronic use of THC can also be detected through saliva tests within a 72-hour window. Hair follicle tests can detect THC use up to 90 days after the last use.
THC oil is an extract of the cannabis plant. Unlike CBD oil, THC oil has a high concentration of THC and produces a psychoactive effect when used. THC oil is made by using extraction methods to obtain THC from the marijuana plant. THC oil is safe for consumption and available in different forms in Maine, including vape cartridges, topicals, edibles, and tinctures. The level of psychoactive effects caused by THC oil is relative to the amount of THC oil consumed.
THC distillate is a highly potent form of THC extracted from cannabis plants through a distillation process. The process of making THC distillate involves the elimination of other compounds in the cannabis plants by vaporization. This process is different from the one that produces THC oil. Unlike distillates, THC oil still contains some compounds of cannabis plants.
Unlike THC distillate, CBD distillate has very low amounts of THC concentration, usually less than 0.3%. The THC level in THC distillates can be as high as 90-99% and responsible for the intense psychoactive effects on users. THC distillate is safe for consumption but should be used by experienced consumers. It is used for vape cartridges, edibles, topicals, and tinctures.
Marijuana-derived THC products can be legally purchased from licensed cannabis dispensaries in Maine. Consumers can also legally buy hemp-derived THC from online stores. However, marijuana is regulated in the state and only available to qualified cannabis patients and adults aged 21 and over.