The 2018 Farm Bill had a lot of unintended consequences. While it successfully legalized low-THC hemp at the federal level, the broad wording of the definition of hemp let a lot of other products in under the radar. The most notable consequence recently was delta-8 THC: since the Farm Bill specified a maximum delta-9 concentration, but that’s all, you could sell delta-8 THC at any concentration provided you kept the delta-9 under control. States have started to close this loophole, but another has already opened up: you can sell delta-9 provided it’s less than 0.3% by dry weight, so what’s stopping companies from making a product that weighs enough to allow a substantial dose of THC despite this limit?
Well, unless states step in, the answer is nothing. However, as delta-8 has showed, states aren’t exactly hesitant to clarify or change the law when it’s needed. So has that happened with hemp delta-9? Where is it still legal?
The good news is that the answer is “most places,” but the bad news is that it’s not everywhere, and the number of states allowing it is certain to take a nosedive over the next year.
42 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. allow hemp delta-9
California imposed substantial restrictions with AB 45
Colorado, North Dakota and Washington ban the conversions many companies depend on to get high enough delta-9 in hemp
Idaho bans hemp delta-9
Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Vermont have legal situations that are either unclear or poised to change
Live Map: Where is Hemp Delta-9 Legal?
Last Updated: November 2022
For a quick, at-a-glance look at the legality of hemp-derived delta-9 THC around the US, we’ve produced this state-by-state map. This will be updated regularly, so keep checking back if you want to find out more about your state.
Legal Status of Hemp Delta-9 By State
Although the baseline law is the 2018 Farm Bill, which most states simply transcribe into their state laws, some states have taken different approaches. Generally, we can classify states’ hemp delta-9 laws as either keeping it legal, restricting it through regulation or outright banning it. However, some laws that are technically “restrictions” effectively ban a large proportion of products, and we’ll put these in a separate section. There are also some states actively in the process of making laws.
States Where Hemp Delta-9 is Legal
Hemp-derived delta-9 THC products are legal in 42 states, plus Puerto Rico and D.C., with these states essentially following the Farm Bill when it comes to delta-9 and having no substantial legal challenges in progress. This means that it’s limited to being 0.3% delta-9 by dry weight, but that’s it. However, some of them do have laws specifically addressing delta-8 THC, and these in particular may bring in legislation addressing hemp delta-9 soon.
States Where Hemp Delta-9 is Restricted
California is the only state with general “restrictions” on hemp delta-9, with several others incorporating other THCs into the 0.3% limit of the Farm Bill, but at present these laws don’t restrict hemp delta-9. The restrictions in California involve testing requirements, include all THCs in the limit and place restrictions on things like packaging.
States That Ban Conversions of Cannabinoids (Most Hemp Delta-9 Would Be Illegal)
While not many states have laws explicitly addressing hemp delta-9 in their laws (apart from re-stating the limit imposed by the Farm Bill), the push to get control over delta-8 has some additional consequences in many states. Delta-8 products are generally made by converting CBD into delta-8 chemically, and some states have opted to ban this process rather than delta-8 specifically. However, our analysis of the hemp delta-9 market showed that almost two-thirds of hemp delta-9 products use extremely similar conversions that are also outlawed by regulations like this. These states are:
States Where Hemp Delta-9 is Banned
Idaho is the only state where hemp delta-9 is explicitly banned. This is because the Uniform Controlled Substances Act for the state makes it clear that hemp products can’t contain any percentage of THC or its isomers. This puts delta-8, delta-9 and any other THC completely out of the picture, and kills much of the CBD industry too.
States Where Delta-9 is in Dispute but Still Legal
Some states have given particular signs that the legal status of hemp delta-9 is in dispute, usually through introducing bills designed to limit it or ones intended for delta-8 that would also affect delta-9. In the case of Vermont, it depends on specific interpretations of the definition of “synthetic” cannabinoid.
Hemp delta-9 is legal in Alabama. The state adopted the Farm Bill definition of hemp, and so in the absence of other laws, SB 225 makes hemp delta-9 legal in the state.
Alaska’s SB 6 legalized industrial hemp in the state, using the Farm Bill’s definition and also clarifying that adding industrial hemp to food doesn’t make an “adulterated” food product. However, it’s worth noting that other THCs like delta-8, delta-10 and THC-O are considered controlled substances in the state.
Arizona legalized industrial hemp based on the Farm Bill language with SB 1098, as well as limiting its sale to people aged 21 or over. However, delta-8 and other THCs (except for the explicit exemption for delta-9 in the hemp definition) are considered Schedule I controlled substances.
Arkansas made industrial hemp legal in 2017, but the most up-to-date bill in the state is HB 1640, which defines hemp as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THCs by dry weight. This doesn’t specify delta-9, so this means that most delta-8 products would be illegal anyway, but they have been explicitly outlawed too.
Hemp delta-9 is legal in California, but AB 45 clarifies a lot of state law surrounding hemp products. Some important points established by the legislation include: making it so that adding industrial hemp to foods, beverages, dietary supplements and more doesn’t constitute “adulteration,” requiring a COA for any product sold, banning inhalable products until a tax structure can be implemented and applying the 0.3% THC by dry weight limit to any THC, effectively banning at least most delta-8 products on the market.
Colorado legalized hemp alongside other states with the passage of SB 19-220 in 2019, and this technically included any cannabinoid in hemp provided the delta-9 was within the Farm Bill limit. However, in May 2021, the Department of Public Health and Environment and the Marijuana Enforcement Division clarified that “chemically modifying or converting any naturally-occurring cannabinoids from industrial hemp is non-compliant with the statutory definition of ‘industrial hemp product.’”
In other words, any hemp delta-8 product and the majority of hemp delta-9 ones will be technically illegal because of this.
SB 893 legalized industrial hemp in Connecticut, with the same key definitions and requirements as the Farm Bill. However, SB 1201 was signed into law in 2021, and this updates the definition of THC to include all THCs, including delta-7, delta-8 and delta-10 in addition to the usual delta-9. This means that while hemp delta-9 is still legal, other THC products are outlawed until they can be incorporated into the state’s recreational marijuana law.
Delaware’s Title 3, Chapter 28 defines hemp in line with the Farm Bill and therefore legalizes hemp delta-9 products in the state. However, delta-8 is not legal in the state because all THCs are included in the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
In 2019, Florida passed HB 333 into law, which defines industrial hemp in line with the Farm Bill and therefore legalizes hemp delta-9.
Georgia passed HB 213 in 2019, which legalized industrial hemp in line with the Farm Bill. With no further clarification, hemp delta-9 as well as things like delta-8 are totally legal in the state.
In 2020, Hawaii passed HB 2689, legalizing hemp and hemp-derived compounds in line with the Farm Bill.
Idaho has some of the strictest hemp laws in the country, with the Idaho Uniform Controlled Substances Act, basically making it illegal for products to have any quantity of THC or its isomers. This makes it very difficult to sell hemp products in the state, and kills hemp delta-9 along with delta-8 and even most CBD products. Although outdated now, the opinion of the state Attorney General from 2015 really sums up the state’s attitude.
Illinois signed the Industrial Hemp Act into law in 2018, which legalized industrial hemp with the same delta-9 THC limit suggested by the Farm Bill. Since delta-9 is specified but there’s no upper limit in law, hemp delta-9 is legal in Illinois.
Hemp is defined in Indiana law in line with the Farm Bill, so provided the delta-9 THC concentration is less than 0.3% by dry weight, the product is legal.
Iowa law defines hemp as the Farm Bill does, so hemp delta-9 is legal in Iowa. However, it’s worth noting that delta-8 is not considered legal because of the broad definition of tetrahydrocannabinols used in the state’s Controlled Substances Act.
SB 263 defines industrial hemp in Kansas as specified in the Farm Bill. This means that hemp delta-9 is legal, and at time of writing, delta-8 and other THCs are also legal.
HB 491 legalized industrial hemp in Louisiana, in line with the limitations imposed by the Farm Bill. This means that hemp derived delta-9 is totally legal in the state, provided it stays within the 0.3% by dry weight limit.
LD 630 defines industrial hemp in line with the Farm Bill, and so hemp-derived delta-9 is legal in Maine.
HB 698 legalizes hemp and hemp-derived compounds in line with the Farm Bill, and so hemp delta-9 is legal in Maryland.
H4001 legalized industrial hemp as done in the Farm Bill, and so hemp delta-9 is legal.
HB 4744 officially legalized industrial hemp in Michigan, with the same definitions as used in the Farm Bill. However, another bill essentially made delta-8 illegal (by defining THC to include all THCs), so it’s worth keeping an eye on the laws here.
Minnesota law (the Industrial Hemp Development Act) defines industrial hemp in the same way as the Farm Bill, so hemp delta-9 is legal in the state.
SB 2725 legalized hemp in Mississippi based on the Farm Bill, so hemp delta-9 is legal in the state. However, they didn’t remove the THCs in hemp from the controlled substances list, so delta-8 and others are considered illegal.
In 2018, Missouri’s HB 2034 legalized industrial hemp using the definitions in the Farm Bill, and so hemp delta-9 is legal in the state.
Montana legalized industrial hemp back in 2001 with SB 261, which came well before the Farm Bill but used the same definitions and limits. However, as a result of amendments made to the Controlled Substances Act in the state, delta-8, delta-10 and other isomers are banned.
LB 657 legalized industrial hemp in Nebraska, and was signed into law in 2019 so follows all of the same definitions and limits as the 2018 Farm Bill. Because of this, hemp delta-9 is legal in Nebraska.
HB 459 in New Hampshire was signed into law in 2019, and defines hemp in line with the Farm Bill. So hemp delta-9 is legal alongside things like delta-8 and delta-10.
Hemp is legal in New Jersey following the Hemp Farming Act and is defined in the same way as in the Farm Bill. So hemp delta-9 is legal, as well as any alternatives, providing they meet the 0.3% delta-9 by dry weight limit.
New Mexico legalized hemp in line with the Farm Bill with the Hemp Manufacturing Act, and so hemp delta-9 is legal in the state within the usual limit.
New York’s industrial hemp legislation came in March 2020, using the same definitions as the Farm Bill and so allowing hemp delta-9 by default. However, in November 2021, they clarified with regulations that made it clear that delta-8 is not legal in the state.
The cannabinoids in hemp were made legal in North Carolina with the passage of SB 352, which removed these from the state’s Controlled Substances Act based on the definition from the Farm Bill.
While it’s possible to have legal hemp delta-9 in North Dakota, amendments to the original law both explicitly include all THCs in the Farm Bill limit, but also ban the conversions used to make delta-8 and most delta-9 products from CBD. It’s possible, even with this, to have legal hemp delta-9 in North Dakota, but it makes it much more difficult.
Ohio’s SB 57 legalized hemp in Ohio, and used the Farm Bill’s definition, so hemp delta-9 is legal. Other THCs in hemp are also legal in Ohio.
HB 2913 legalized industrial hemp in Oklahoma, and followed the language of the Farm Bill. Because of this, hemp delta-9, delta-8 and others are all legal in Oklahoma.
Oregon’s HB 3000 brought in more complex rules surrounding hemp, basically intended to rectify situations around intoxicating hemp products. This redefined “adult use cannabis item” to include hemp-derived cannabinoids if they exceed a threshold. Under an emergency rule, this was set to be more than 0.5 mg of THCs. In short, hemp delta-9 is allowed, but is regulated by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC).
SB 335 legalized industrial hemp in Pennsylvania in line with the limits suggested by the Farm Bill. For now, hemp delta-9 is legal in the state. However, lawmakers intend to introduce rules to tackle delta-8, and if these contain limitations on conversions (as current information suggests is likely), this would probably impact hemp delta-9 too.
Puerto Rico’s hemp program uses the Farm Bill’s definitions and limits, so hemp delta-9 is totally legal there.
South Carolinian law uses the federally-defined limit for THC in hemp and the Farm Bill’s language, so hemp delta-9 is totally legal in the state. However, Attorney General Alan Wilson is opposed to delta-8 and clearly sees the issues with the Farm Bill’s wording.
HB 1191 was signed into law in 2019 in South Dakota and follows the Farm Bill’s language. So hemp delta-9 is legal, alongside delta-8 and others at present, despite the state’s generally firm stance on pot.
SB 357 legalized hemp in Tennessee using the definitions as in the Farm Bill. This also means that hemp delta-9, delta-8 and other cannabinoids are legal in the state, provided they meet these definitions.
Texas’ HB 1325 defines hemp in the same way as the Farm Bill, and so hemp delta-9 is legal in the state provided the products meet the 0.3% delta-9 limit. There was a high-profile attempt to ban delta-8 in Texas, though, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for changes.
In Utah, HB 58 legalized hemp, primarily using definitions from the Farm Bill. This means that hemp delta-9 is legal in Utah. However, there were some small differences – firstly, the rule for extracts requires at least 5% by dry weight CBD and no other psychoactive substances. Secondly, and in line with that, delta-8 is banned under the state’s Controlled Substances Act.
Vermont uses Farm Bill limits in its state hemp law, so hemp delta-9 is legal in the state. However, delta-8 is considered illegal in the state because the conversions necessary to produce high levels mean it is considered “synthetic.” It’s unlikely this could be applied to hemp delta-9 in this case but the argument could be made so there is some lack of clarity here.
HB 532 sets out the rules for industrial hemp in Virginia, using the Farm Bill (or other federal) limits for delta-9 THC. This means that hemp delta-9 is legal in the state, along with other THCs like delta-8.
Washington’s hemp law, SB 5276, legalizes hemp using the definitions of the Farm Bill. However, the state bans conversions from CBD or hemp, and explicitly mentions conversions to delta-9 alongside those to delta-8. This means that the majority of hemp delta-9 products are illegal in Washington.
HB 2694 legalized industrial hemp in West Virginia based on the language of the Farm Bill. Because of this, hemp delta-9, delta-8 and others are totally legal.
Wyoming’s HB 171 legalized industrial hemp using the language of the Farm Bill, so hemp delta-9, delta-8 and other cannabinoids in hemp products are legal provided they meet the 0.3% delta-9 limit.
Without state law, Washington D.C. falls back on federal rules, so it is assumed that the Farm Bill applies and that hemp delta-9, delta-8 and other cannabinoids are legal.
What is Hemp Delta-9?
Hemp delta-9 is simply delta-9 THC that comes from hemp rather than cannabis. To be more specific, this means it’s delta-9 THC that comes from a plant containing less than 0.3% delta-9 by dry weight. Likewise, products containing hemp delta-9 also have to have a concentration of less than 0.3% by dry weight to class as “hemp.”
Hemp Delta-9 vs. Cannabis Delta-9: Is There Any Difference?
In purely chemical terms, hemp delta-9 THC is exactly the same as the THC in cannabis that gets you high. That means, if you have enough of it, it will get you high in exactly the same way and would cause you to fail a drug test for THC.
However, in practice, the limit on concentration means that the specific cannabinoid mix is generally different in hemp delta-9 and cannabis delta-9 products. In particular, hemp delta-9 products are likely to contain much higher levels of CBD than cannabis derived delta-9 products.
“The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
While there are many discussions surrounding the intent of this law, generally concluding that legalizing intoxicating products was never the intent (lawmakers were told it was about “rope, not dope”), the plain text of the law is unavoidably clear. The law basically removes delta-9 THC from the controlled substances act provided it is within the stated concentration. This interpretation has been explicitly confirmed by the DEA.
One important point that is often missed is the “dry weight basis.” This means that for any extract or product, the water weight must be subtracted before calculating the percentage. So for a delta-9 gummy, for instance, the water from the oils and other ingredients of the gummy don’t count towards the total weight – it has to be removed from the calculation.
The FD&C Act and Further Problems for Hemp Delta-9
While hemp delta-9 is legal under the Farm Bill, the Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act creates some additional problems for hemp delta-9 and other hemp cannabinoids like CBD. According to the FDA’s interpretation of the law, adding either THC or CBD to food products violates the FD&C act, because both are active ingredients in approved drugs, Marinol and Epidiolex, respectively. They have also sent out warning letters to CBD companies with this as one of the complaints.
Thus far, there have been no warning letters for hemp delta-9 companies, but there will undoubtedly be some soon. The “no approved drugs in food” issue would apply to delta-9 but not delta-8 (because this form is not used in an approved drug), but there is still an FD&C argument against delta-8, as shown by other warning letters. They consider delta-8 an “unsafe food additive” because it has not been approved for the purpose by the FDA. So even if delta-9 could escape the drug argument, it would likely still be considered illegal when sold in food.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Purchase Hemp Delta-9 Products?
The Farm Bill doesn’t institute age restrictions on buying hemp products, but states generally do. However, the specific laws vary by state, with most instituting a minimum age of 18, but others opting for a minimum of 21. It’s very likely, as states catch up with intoxicating hemp products and actually institute laws, that hemp delta-9 will only be available to those aged 21 or older.
Could You Get Arrested if Caught in Possession of Hemp Delta-9?
You couldn’t be justifiably arrested for having hemp delta-9 in your possession, unless it has been explicitly outlawed by the state. This is because the Farm Bill legalized it, and any FD&C Act considerations are relevant to sellers, not consumers. However, for states with bans on hemp delta-9, you could of course be arrested for having it in your possession.
Note that I said “justifiably” above. While it seems pretty unlikely this would actually occur, it’s possible that some police officers might not fully understand the law (especially the unintuitive consequences of it) and believe that you’re in possession of a controlled substance. They would be wrong, though, so it’s important to know your rights just in case.
In short, you couldn’t get arrested unless you’re subject to a state-specific law or unless you’re dealing with a clueless cop.
The Future of Hemp Delta-9
Hemp delta-9’s days are numbered. The reality of the situation is that legislators never intended for this type of product to come from the Farm Bill, and while they may struggle to get the lid back on this Pandora’s Box, they will get it back on. All it would take to kill the industry would be a small change to the Farm Bill, such as “with any final product containing less than 2 mg of total THC per serving.” Just half a sentence would kill the industry.
This is already happening in several states. For example, Colorado has SB22-205, which will likely lead to a maximum THC limit on intoxicating hemp products, probably at 2 mg per serving. At the moment, most states and lawmakers are primarily concerned with delta-8 and closing that loophole (such as AB-45 in California, which applies the 0.3% limit to all tetrahydrocannabinols), but things will progress very shortly.
Perhaps surprisingly, it’s legal states like Colorado and California which will come down most quickly – and harshly – on hemp delta-9. In legal states, companies can sell high-THC products provided they meet the requirements of the adult use law, which are generally much stricter than the (very basic) requirements of the Farm Bill. This creates a double-standard, which drastically increases pressure on lawmakers to rectify the situation.
However, it’s very likely that most states will address this issue in the coming years, and it’s very unlikely that this will protect the current availability of intoxicating hemp products. Hemp delta-9 is borne of a loophole, and it will die as the loophole closes.
Conclusion – Delta-9 is Legal, But Its Days Are Numbered
In a sane world, the proliferation of intoxicating hemp products amid a backdrop of rising support for complete marijuana legalization would be a sign that prohibition is on the chopping block. Who would buy hemp delta-9 if you could just as easily buy normal delta-9? What would be the point? But we do not live in a sane world. Instead, we can expect states to close this little loophole soon, undoubtedly followed by another technically-legal-but-obviously-not-intended hemp product or two, and then the cycle will continue. Someday soon, politicians will legalize cannabis and remove one target from the costly, counter-productive and ineffective war on drugs, but that day isn’t today. So get ready for another round of whack-a-mole.