US: DEA says ‘THCA does not meet the definition’ of legal hemp

To meet the federal definition of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill, a cannabis product must contain less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC. Now, in a new letter clarifying that limit, a top Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official says the threshold includes not only delta-9 THC itself but also the related cannabinoid THCA, which is converted into delta-9 THC when heated—a process known as decarboxylation.

“In regards to THCA, Congress has directed that, when determining whether a substance constitutes hemp, the delta-9 THC concentration is to be tested ‘using post-decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods,'” says the letter, sent earlier this month by Terrence Boos, chief of DEA’s drug and chemical evaluation section.

“The ‘decarboxylation’ process converts delta-9-THCA to delta-9-THC,” Boos continued. “Thus, for the purposes of enforcing the hemp definition, the delta-9 THC level must account for any delta-9 THCA.”

“Accordingly, cannabis-derived THCA does not meet the definition of hemp under the CSA,” he concluded, “because upon conversion for identification purposes as required by Congress, it is equivalent to delta-9-THC”

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Publication date: Tue 28 May 2024

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