The Difference Between THC and THC Total Explained

Cannabis products are packaged in child-proof and tamper-proof containers, and any product with 10 micrograms (µg) or more of THC must be labeled with the standardized cannabis symbol. This symbol warns people that the product contains THC, one of the two most common cannabinoids in cannabis, the other being CBD (cannabidiol). The THC and CBD content must be included in all cannabis products. To activate cannabinoids, cannabis must be heated to at least 150 degrees Celsius.

This is done either during processing or when you heat the product. The problem with this standard is that total THC is always higher than delta-9 THC, leaving producers in states with total THC with less room for error in THC levels when performing compliance tests. When you smoke a joint, heat removes the acid group in a process called decarboxylation and converts the molecule into the desired THC. This mathematical error has caused companies to undervalue their products, meaning they have lost potential revenues. Laboratories must now include the theoretical total delta 9-THC that could form as a result of the conversion of THCA into the delta-9-THC that is actually found in the sample. The new CO MED regulation requires reporting the maximum amount of active THC, which represents a more accurate medicinal dosage value.

The resulting number is then added to the pre-existing THC weight percentage to obtain the total amount of THC in the product. The weight percentage of THCA is multiplied by 0.877 to account for the weight lost during decarboxylation. When discussing hemp, people often say that it must have less than 0.3% THC to be considered compliant with federal standards. However, “THC” can refer to two different compounds: THCa, the parent molecule, and THC delta-9, which is responsible for the psychoactive, intoxicating and euphoric effects of traditional cannabis.

Tasha Falsetti
Tasha Falsetti

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