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Is THCA Legal? State by State Guide

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is a cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis plants that has recently grown in popularity due to its therapeutic potential and psychoactive effects when heated. However, with rapidly evolving cannabis regulations, many are left wondering — is THCA legal?

This guide provides information on the legality of THCA at both the federal and state levels. It also includes important information for consumers. Additionally, it discusses the future of THCA regulations.

congressman cannabis laboratory
Chris Dorcey
Inheal Editor
Post updated
January 26, 2024
Time to read
8 mins 12 secs

Key Takeaways

  • THCA legality exists in a complex landscape, relying heavily on interpreting federal versus state cannabis policies.
  • Federal laws permit THCA derived from hemp containing less than 0.3% delta9-THC. But a few states ban THCA based on its potential to convert to controlled THC when heated. Other states remain in a legal gray area.
  • Ongoing legal disputes and conflicting interpretations continue clouding THCA laws for both consumers and the cannabis industry.
  • Consumers should research updated state laws carefully before buying or traveling with THCA products.

With cannabis legalization expanding quickly, the outlook is bright for more states to allow regulated THCA markets as its therapeutic potential and low-THC content gain mainstream recognition.

State-By-State Legality Breakdown

actual thca legality map state by state
  • Alabama: Legal
  • Alaska: Legal
  • Arizona: Legal
  • Arkansas: Legal
  • California: Legal
  • Colorado: Legal
  • Connecticut: Legal
  • Delaware: Legal
  • Florida: Legal
  • Georgia: Legal
  • Hawaii: Gray area
  • Idaho: Illegal
  • Illinois: Legal
  • Indiana: Legal
  • Iowa: Legal
  • Kansas: Gray area
  • Kentucky: Legal
  • Louisiana: Gray area
  • Maine: Legal
  • Maryland: Legal
  • Massachusetts: Legal
  • Michigan: Legal
  • Minnesota: Legal
  • Mississippi: Gray area
  • Missouri: Legal
  • Montana: Legal
  • Nebraska: Legal
  • Nevada: Legal
  • New Hampshire: Legal
  • New Jersey: Legal
  • New Mexico: Legal
  • New York: Legal
  • North Carolina: Legal
  • North Dakota: Legal
  • Ohio: Legal
  • Oklahoma: Gray area
  • Oregon: Illegal
  • Pennsylvania: Legal
  • Rhode Island: Illegal
  • South Carolina: Legal
  • South Dakota: Legal
  • Tennessee: Legal
  • Texas: Legal
  • Utah: Gray area
  • Vermont: Gray area
  • Virginia: Legal
  • Washington: Legal
  • West Virginia: Legal
  • Wisconsin: Legal
  • Wyoming: Legal

What is THCA?

THCA is the acidic, non-psychoactive precursor to the more widely known THC (view our comparison guide). It differs slightly in chemical structure and does not yet bind to cannabinoid receptors.

However, when dried, cured, or heated, THCA loses a carbon dioxide group through decarboxylation and becomes the intoxicating delta9-THC. THCA concentrations in cannabis can reach over 20%.

So while raw THCA itself does not cause a “high,” products that contain THCA can still result in potent psychoactive effects when smoked, vaped, cooked, or otherwise heated.

The Complex Legal Landscape of THCA

The 2018 Farm Bill federally legalized hemp, opening the doors for hemp-derived products—but what about THCA?

  • At a federal level, THCA is legal if derived from hemp containing less than 0.3% delta9-THC on a dry weight, post-decarboxylation basis. However, few states enforce these more stringent “total THC” laws.
  • Most states still only measure delta 9 THC content in finished goods. Since THCA itself is non-psychoactive, it is federally permissible.
  • A handful of states like Oregon have banned THCA entirely due to its potential to convert into controlled THC. Others exist in a legal gray area.
  • Ongoing legal disputes and conflicting interpretations between federal and state laws have created loops for THCA products that produce THC-like effects post-heating. Still, consumers must research state laws carefully before purchasing THCA.

So in summary: THCA legality depends highly on specific state laws and remains in flux across the country.

THCA and the 2018 Farm Bill

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp containing less than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC, the key intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis. Legal hemp opened up a massive market for CBD, HHC and other hemp-derived products.

But the Farm Bill also mandated that total THC levels must stay within that 0.3% threshold as well, factoring in the conversion of THCA into THC post-decarboxylation by heat in products like smokables.

This “total THC” concept accounts for the fact that THCA can chemically convert to controlled THC. However, federal agencies have provided little guidance on testing or enforcing these rules around total THC versus only delta9-THC.

So while the Farm Bill (controlled substances act) does set limits on total THC, most states still only test for delta 9-THC levels in final products. This gap has allowed high-THCA hemp products that produce potent effects to remain federally legal if they contain less than 0.3 delta-9 thc.

Ongoing Legal and Regulatory Challenges

The rise of THCA brings regulatory growing pains. Conflicting laws between states permitting cannabis versus banning all forms of THC have caused legal headaches.

In 2022, a lawsuit between Oregon hemp companies and the state exemplified the confusion around THCA’s status. Oregon bans THCA based on its potential to become controlled THC. Still, companies argued federal laws permitting THCA overrule state policy. Cases like this contribute to the complex legal status of THCA.

For consumers, THCA’s legality also varies greatly depending on where they live. Transporting THCA across state lines risks violating other state laws prohibiting THCA or cannabis altogether. And drug testing for THCA/THC metabolites poses problems for those using THCA products.

For the growing THCA industry, navigating new regulations also proves difficult. Most states do not yet test for total THC with decarboxylation, instead only testing levels of delta-9 thc concentration. But more stringent rules could threaten business operations relying on these testing loopholes.

Overall, conflicting interpretations between federal and state laws have created regulatory headaches across the supply chain. Consumers must research their state laws carefully regarding THCA, as its still-evolving legal status causes confusion.

Read more about THCA and Delta-8 Comparison >

Frequently Asked Questions

No, THCA legality depends on each state’s specific laws. A handful of states like Oregon and Idaho prohibit THCA entirely. However, most states currently allow THCA derived from hemp plants if levels of delta9-THC fall below 0.3%.

The main legal difference is that delta9-THC is a controlled substance, while THCA is not psychoactive and not scheduled. However, THCA can chemically convert to controlled THC when dried, heated, or smoked, muddying legal waters.

Likely not. Transporting THCA products across state lines risks violating other states’ laws prohibiting all cannabis. Even if purchased legally, THCA could be considered illicit by another state’s policies.


The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. FDA has not evaluated statements contained within the blog. Information on this website or in any materials or communications from Inheal is for educational/informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions, correct dosage or for guidance about a specific medical condition.

by Chris Dorcey

A connoisseur of cannabis creativity and true contemplation with more than 20 years of experience, Chris extracts deep thoughts from getting lightly baked and shares his wandering mind. He blends cuisine and cannabis culture into nutritious, delicious recipes and insights for other hemp lovers.

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