Rhode Island THC Overview

What Is THC?

THC is an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa plants. It is found in abundance in marijuana but less in hemp. Legally, hemp cannot have more than 0.3% THC and a cannabis plant with more than 0.3% THC is considered marijuana.

THC is responsible for the euphoric feeling (high) experienced by marijuana users. It readily binds with endocannabinoid receptors in the brain to produce psychoactive effects in users. THC is used for medical purposes in several states in the U.S., including Rhode Island. THC can be used as therapy for such medical conditions as cancer, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, and glaucoma. THC has different isomers with similar molecular formulae, the same amount of carbon atoms but different molecular structures, which makes them produce different effects in the body. Common THC isomers include:

  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-3-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-7-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Delta-10-tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Exo-tetrahydrocannabinol

Is THC Legal in Rhode Island?

Yes, THC is legal in Rhodes Island. The state enacted Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act in 2006 to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in the state. The Act allows persons diagnosed with specific medical conditions to use marijuana, provided they are registered with the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program. Under this Act, medical marijuana cardholders can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana flower in public and up to 10 ounces in their residences. They may also possess up to 1 gram of marijuana concentrate and cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants and 12 seedlings.

Furthermore, the Rhode Island Cannabis Act (H7593) was enacted in 2022 to allow adults aged 21 years and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. The law also permitted the home cultivation of marijuana by adults aged 21 years and older. They may cultivate up to six marijuana plants, including not more than three mature plants. The law specifically limited the use of delta-9 THC to a maximum of 5 milligrams per serving.

Moreover, Rhode Island enacted the Hemp Growth Act in 2016 to allow the industrial production of hemp in the state. The Act was amended in 2019 in line with the federal 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill) to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances in the state. Hence, all forms of hemp-derived THC products are legal and available to Rhode Island residents aged 21 years and over. However, the smoking of THC products is prohibited where tobacco smoking is not permitted.

How Much THC is in Weed?

The THC concentrations of some Cannabis sativa strains are significantly higher than others. Some highly potent strains of marijuana have up to 90% THC levels, while some hemp plants have 0% THC. The measurement of THC levels in cannabis began in the 1960s. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) released a report showing that THC levels in cannabis strains measured in the 1960s were at an average of 2%. As the testing techniques and tools improved and cannabis cultivation practices advanced, THC concentration also increased. It increased to an average of 4% in the 1990s. Another report on cannabis potency from 1995 to 2021 on cannabis samples seized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed that cannabis potency had increased from 3.96% in 1995 to 15.34% in 2021. Several marijuana strains available in Rhode Island have higher THC levels, sometimes as much as 40%. Some popular cannabis strains and their THC potency are listed below:

  • Pineapple Express: 17 to 24% THC
  • Thai: 22% THC
  • Dale OG: 20 to 27% THC
  • Silver haze: 23% THC
  • Light of Jah: 23 to 26% THC
  • Primus OG: 20 to 28% THC
  • Girl Scout Cookie: 17 to 28% THC
  • Bubba Fett: 27% THC
  • The godfather: 35% THC

Rhode Island requires THC levels in cannabis products to be printed on the products' labels. The labels should also include concentration levels for cannabidiol (CBD), cannabidiol acid (CBDA), and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). THCA often has higher concentration levels than THC in marijuana. THC compounds found in marijuana in decreasing amounts of abundance are as follows:

  • Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC) - Delta-9 THC is the most abundant naturally occurring THC compound in the cannabis plant. It is commonly referred to as THC and is the major cause of the intoxication experienced by marijuana users. It is used for recreational and medical purposes
  • Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) - THCV is the product of THCA breakdown in a chemical reaction. It can be used to reduce appetite, and it induces mild psychoactive effects when taken in low doses
  • Tetrahydrocannabiorcol (THCC) - THCC is found in male cannabis plants. It can be used to counteract nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is non-intoxicating
  • Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) - THCP is regarded as the most potent cannabinoid and is considered to be 10 times more potent than delta-9 THC. It readily bonds with the brain's endocannabinoid (CB1) receptors, causing a more intense high. It is found in minute amounts in cannabis
  • Delta-7 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-7 THC) - Delta-7 THC is found in trace quantities in cannabis plants. It is often synthetically manufactured in laboratories from marijuana
  • Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8 THC) - Delta-8 THC is found in trace quantities in the cannabis plant. It is also synthesized in laboratories from delta-9 THC and CBD. Its potential benefits include improving appetite, improving sleep quality, and reducing inflammation
  • Delta-10 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-10 THC) - Delta-10 THC is also developed in laboratories as it is found naturally in minute quantities in cannabis. Its psychoactive effects are less intense than those of delta-9 THC

Rhode Island THC Laws 2024

Adult-use cannabis was legalized in Rhode Island in May 2022 with the passage of the Rhode Island Cannabis Act. The sales of recreational marijuana, including marijuana-derived THC products, began on December 1, 2022, with five approved recreational dispensaries. The law limits delta-9 THC to 5 mg per serving. However, other marijuana-derived THC isomers, such as delta-8 THC, delta-10 THC, and delta-7 THC, do not have a serving amount cap. Marijuana and THC may only be purchased and used for recreational purposes by adults aged 21 and older in Rhode Island.

In 2006, Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana in the state. Registered medical marijuana patients may possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana-derived THC products. The passage of the Hemp Growth Act in 2016 permitted the cultivation, manufacture, sale, and use of hemp and its derivatives in Rhode Island. The Act allows dispensaries and retail stores to sell hemp, including hemp-derived THC products, to residents aged 21 years and older. There is no limit to the amount of hemp-derived THC products residents can purchase and use in the state. THC products derived from hemp or marijuana can be consumed orally, sublingually, topically, vaped, or inhaled in Rhode Island. However, the smoking or vaporizing of THC products is prohibited in specific places, including school grounds, school buses, public transportation, correctional facilities, drug treatment facilities, and areas where exposure to marijuana smoke adversely affects the safety, welfare, or health of children.

What is the Legal Limit for THC While Driving in Rhode Island?

There is no specific legal limit for THC in Rhode Island. Law enforcement officers are at liberty to decide whether to press charges if the driver does not look intoxicated, but THC metabolites were found in a drug test. A person driving under the influence of THC and visibly intoxicated will be charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUI). Furthermore, a drug test revealing the presence of THC metabolites in the body may also lead to a DUI charge. However, registered medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island cannot be charged with DUI solely for the presence of THC metabolites in their systems. Drivers in the state are obligated to submit to drug tests if requested by law enforcement officers.

A person convicted of driving under the influence of THC may be punished by up to 12 months of incarceration, a $500 fine, and up to 18 months of driver's license suspension for a first-time offense. Offenders may be required to attend courses on driving under the influence of controlled substances or complete drug treatment programs. Subsequent offenses attract more severe punishment. Punishment can be up to a $5,000 fine, up to 5 years imprisonment, suspension of driver's license for 3 years, and sale of the vehicle.

Will THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

Yes. Depending on several factors, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) would show up on a drug test if a person consumes a THC product. The time frame for detecting THC depends on the sensitivity of the drug test. Blood, urine, hair, and saliva drug tests have varying THC detection windows. THC metabolites can be detected in hair follicles 3 months after the last use. Other tests are less sensitive and may only be able to detect it within a few weeks after the last use. Other factors that determine the possibility of THC detection in a drug test include:

  • Time of the last usage: THC's psychoactive effects last for about 6 hours but can be detected in the body several weeks after the last use. However, the more time elapses, the harder it is to detect it
  • Frequency of THC consumption
  • The quantity of THC consumed
  • The consumer’s body fat level
  • The means of consumption - Inhaled THC leaves the body faster than consuming THC via other means

How Long Does THC Stay in the Body?

While the effects of THC last for a few hours, its metabolites remain in the body for weeks. It can be detected in blood, urine, hair, and saliva samples. When consumed, THC is absorbed into the body’s circulatory system via the small intestine and metabolized in the liver. Some of the metabolites travel to the brain, where they bind with endocannabinoid (CB1) receptors to induce psychoactive effects in users. Most THC metabolites in the liver are eliminated from the body through feces and urine, while the remnants are stored in the body’s fatty tissues.

THC can be detected in urine samples within 3 days for single use. It can be detected within 7 days for a moderate user and 14 days for a daily user. It can be detected in urine samples of a heavy user up to 30 days after the last use.

THC metabolites can be detected in blood samples within 48 hours after the last use and up to 25 days after the last use for heavy users. Saliva tests can detect THC within 72 hours of last use. Furthermore, the oral fluid of a non-THC user exposed to marijuana smoke may also test positive for THC. The hair follicle test is the most sensitive THC drug test as it can detect THC for up to 90 days after the last use.

What Is THC Oil?

THC oil is a concentrated marijuana oil extracted from the cannabis plant. It is made by maceration, percolation, or infusion of cannabis or hashish. It can be made locally by heating cannabis plants in coconut or olive oil at about 230°F for 60 minutes and separating the oil from the plant material with a strainer (filter). THC oil is safe to consume and is sold in vape pens and cartridges in Rhode Island. It can be taken sublingually or with a dab ring. THC oil is different from CBD oil. CBD oil is obtained from hemp with no more than 0.3% THC, and it is non-intoxicating, while THC oil is derived from marijuana and gets its users high.

What Is THC Distillate?

THC distillate is a pure form of THC devoid of lipids, terpenes, and other compounds found in marijuana. It contains only THC molecules and can only be obtained from marijuana. It is made by vaporizing THC oil to form a pure distillate of oil. THC distillate is obtained from marijuana plants and is different from CBD distillate which is obtained from hemp plants. CBD distillate does not intoxicate users, unlike THC distillate which induces psychoactive effects in its users.

Moreover, THC distillate has more potency than other THC forms because of its pure form. It should be consumed with caution due to its high potency and only by experienced cannabis users. THC distillate is safe to consume orally. It can also be applied topically or vaped.

Where to Buy THC in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, THC products can be purchased from registered cannabis retail stores (recreational dispensaries), medical marijuana dispensaries (compassion centers), hemp stores, gas stations, and online stores, depending on the amount of product’s THC content and the source. However, only adults aged 21 years and older may purchase THC products. Also, marijuana-derived THC products can only be purchased from registered recreational dispensaries from December 1, 2022.

Conversely, hemp-derived THC products can be purchased in most retail and online stores. A person must be 21 years or older before they can purchase hemp-derived THC products in Rhode Island.

Furthermore, medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island can purchase marijuana-derived THC products for medical purposes with their medical marijuana card from medical compassion centers. They may purchase no more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana per time.

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