Is THC Legal in Wisconsin?


Wisconsin THC-O Overview >

What is THC?

THC is an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, the major psychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa plants like marijuana and hemp. The main difference between hemp and marijuana varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant is their THC content. Hemp has lower levels of THC than marijuana, which makes it less psychoactive. THC has strong psychotropic effects, as it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human endocannabinoid system.

There are other compounds that share a similar chemical structure with Delta-9 THC, although they interact differently with the endocannabinoid system. These are called THC isomers, and they include the following:

  • Delta-7 THC
  • Delta-8 THC
  • Delta-10 THC
  • THC-O
  • HHC
  • THCV
  • THC-P

Is THC Legal in Wisconsin?

THC is legal in Wisconsin but only for limited medical use. Recreational use of marijuana and marijuana-derived THC products is illegal. Possession of any amount of marijuana is treated as a misdemeanor under Wisconsin law.

Hemp-derived THC products are legal in Wisconsin, provided they do not have more than 0.3% THC. Some municipalities in Wisconsin, such as the City of Madison, have enacted ordinances decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana within their jurisdictions.

How Much THC is in Weed?

Weed is reputed for its high THC potency. The difference between hemp and marijuana lies in their levels of THC. Hemp often contains no more than 0.3% THC, while marijuana's THC potency can be as high as 30% or more.

THC potency in weed consumed in the U.S. has not always been at such a high level. In the 1960s and 1970s, THC potency in weed hovered between 1% and 5%. Starting from the 1980s, the rise of specialized weed cultivation techniques helped farmers grow strains of the plant with an increasingly high THC potency. Growing only feminized weed plants ensured that the harvest would yield a high-THC strain. Also, there has been high a demand for strong weed products like concentrates over the years.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued guidelines regarding the labeling of THC products. Information panels on THC products usually include the "total THCa" and the "total THC." "Total THCa" refers to the amount of the non-psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. This compound is converted into THC when the product is either smoked, vaped, or heated.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) regularly seizes weed across the country. In 2021, the National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) found that THC potency in samples of confiscated weed was 15.37%.

There are several high-potency strains of weed on sale in licensed dispensaries in the U.S. They include the following:

  • Vegas Nights: 18-24% THC
  • Mandarin Cookies: 26% THC
  • Trainwreck: 25% THC
  • Tropicana: 24% THC
  • Bruce Banner: 30% THC
  • A-Dub: 28% THC
  • Chocolate OG: 30% THC
  • Bubble Bath: 20-27% THC
  • L'Orange: 25-30% THC

Not all THC isomers induce the same kind of psychoactive effects in consumers. Other types of THC compounds found in weed include the following:

  • Delta-9 THC
  • THCV
  • THCC
  • THCP
  • Delta-7 THC
  • Delta-8 THC
  • Delta-10 THC

Wisconsin THC Laws 2024

In 2014, Wisconsin passed Lydia's Law, Wisconsin Act 267. This law legalized low-THC CBD oil for children with intractable seizures. Qualifying patients can access low-THC oil with a doctor's recommendation. Per Wisconsin Act 267, all low-THC products sold in Wisconsin must be non-psychoactive.

In 2017, another low-THC law, Wisconsin Act 4, was passed in Wisconsin. It permits residents of the state who are qualifying patients to access hemp-derived THC products with a THC content of 0.3%. Wisconsin Act 4 was passed in the wake of the enactment of the 2014 Farm Bill, which authorized states and higher institutions to engage in non-commercial hemp production. Licensed dispensaries in Wisconsin can sell hemp products and derivatives with a THC level that conforms with federal and state laws. In 2021, the Wisconsin Legislative Council issued a brief noting that the legality of hemp-derived THC products like Delta-8 depended on whether the products occurred naturally or were chemically synthesized.

What is the Legal Limit for THC While Driving in Wisconsin?

It is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle in Wisconsin while under the influence of marijuana or a THC product. Law enforcement officers who suspect a motorist is operating a vehicle while under the influence (OWI) can order a blood test to determine the presence of THC metabolites. Wisconsin does not have a legal threshold for THC while driving.

The offender does not need to be impaired to be charged with OWI. First-time offenders charged with OWI in Wisconsin will be fined between $150 and $300. A second offense will attract a jail term of between five days and six months and/or a fine of between $350 and $1,100. A third conviction for OWI will attract a jail term of between 30 days and 1 year and a fine of between $600 to $2,000. Under SB 455 of 2016, a fourth OWI conviction will be treated as a Class H felony.

Will THC Show Up on a Drug Test?

Drug tests in Wisconsin are capable of detecting the presence of THC metabolites in the body. However, several factors influence the ability of a drug test to identify THC metabolites in tissue samples. They include the following :

  • The number of times that a person consumes THC products: The frequency of marijuana use leads to more THC metabolites being stored in the body. An infrequent marijuana user will have fewer THC metabolites in their body tissues or fluids
  • The type of test used: Blood tests carried out to detect the presence of THC metabolites are only effective when done within 12 hours of consumption of marijuana. A hair follicle test will show a positive result for THC even months after marijuana was last consumed
  • The potency of the THC product consumed: This can increase the amount of metabolites in the body. THC distillates, for example, are particularly high in THC
  • A person's genetic and physical makeup: A marijuana consumer’s genetics can predispose them to retain more THC metabolites than other consumers of the cannabinoid

How Long Does THC Stay in the Body?

THC can be retained in the body for indeterminate periods. Retention of THC can be determined by factors such as the parts of the body in which the metabolites are stored or the physical makeup of the consumer.

When THC is consumed in edible products or taken orally, it is metabolized in the liver by CYP2C and CYP3A enzymes. Most of the THC metabolites leave the body in feces and urine. Around 15% of THC metabolites are retained in body tissues.

The following are the retention periods for THC metabolites in the body after the last consumption of THC products:

  • Hair: THC metabolites can stay as long as 90 days in hair follicles
  • Saliva: In saliva, THC metabolites are retained for up to 24 hours after a THC product has been consumed
  • Blood: THC metabolites can stay for up to 12 hours in the bloodstream
  • Urine: Traces of THC can stay in urine for up to 30 days

What is THC Oil?

While THC oil is made from marijuana, CBD oil is made from hemp. THC oil is naturally psychoactive when consumed orally or infused into edibles. CBD oil is a non-psychoactive product, although it may contain small elements of THC. THC oil is sold in a variety of formulas, including gummies, butter, and sublingual tinctures. It is also added to edible products like cookies.

What is THC Distillate?

THC distillate is a highly concentrated product formulated using resins from the trichomes attached to the flowers of the marijuana plant. The resinous plant matter is drawn from the trichomes using solvents or supercritical CO2 extraction. It is then subjected to intense heat and pressure to enhance decarboxylation, a process that turns non-psychoactive THCa into THC. After this, the decarboxylated extract is winterized at freezing temperatures to filter out compounds like chlorophyll, lipids, and waxes. The final stage involves distilling the resulting matter into a refined product high in THC, known as THC distillate.

THC distillates and THC oils are both made using marijuana plant matter. The difference is that THC distillates are highly refined into oily compounds that do not contain many of the lipids, waxes, chlorophyll, and cannabinoids naturally occurring in the plant. THC oils are rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. THC distillates also differ from CBD distillates. While THC distillates are made from marijuana, CBD distillates are processed from hemp.

THC distillates are capable of causing a “high” because of their intense potency. THC distillates are sold in the form of oils, gummies, vapes, and edibles. It is safe to consume THC products, although experts advise anyone taking THC distillates for the first time to start with small doses.

Where to Buy THC in Wisconsin

Wisconsin residents can purchase hemp-derived Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC products with a THC content of 0.3% from licensed hemp dispensaries and online stores. Customers must be at least 21 years old to make in-person or online purchases. Hemp-based THC products available for sale in Wisconsin include gummies, edibles, pre-rolled smokable joints, and cartridges

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