What is Hemp Derived Delta-9-THC? Is it Legal?

by Kat Austin February 08, 2023 6 min read

What is Hemp Derived Delta-9-THC? Is it Legal? - Vida Optima™

Maybe you’ve heard the news–Delta-9, the infamous high-inducing compound found in cannabis, is being made from legal hemp, rendering it legal to buy and sell in all 50 states thanks to a 2018 Farm Bill loophole.

But what’s the catch? Is it really legal? And is hemp-derived delta-9-THC the same as classic delta-9 derived from marijuana?

The truth is that hemp-derived Delta-9 is derived from hemp similarly to the way that Delta-8, Delta-10, THC-O, and other psychoactive hemp cannabinoids are made. As long as manufacturers abide by the dry weight rule (meaning the product contains less than 0.3% Delta-9), then it’s legal.

Now, we know what you’re thinking–that’s not enough Delta-9 to do much at all–but you’d be wrong, because many hemp delta-9 edibles contain at least 10 milligrams of Delta-9 per dose, sometimes more.

So, how does it work? We’ll uncover the mystery behind these legal Delta-9 products and tell you where to buy. Just keep reading.

Table of Contents
Hemp-Derived Delta-9 is Made from Mother Liquor
Hemp Delta-9 Exploits the Dry Weight Loophole
Benefits of Delta-9-THC Made From Hemp
Is Hemp Derived Delta-9 the Same as Traditional Delta-9?
Does Hemp-Derived Delta-9-THC Really Get You High?
Is Hemp Delta-9 Dosage the Same?
Will Hemp Derived Delta-9 Show Up on a Drug Test?
Will Hemp Delta-9 Stay Legal?
Where to Buy Hemp-Derived Delta-9

Key Takeaways

  • Hemp-derived Delta-9 products are federally legal because they abide by federal laws.
  • Just like traditional Delta-9 products, hemp delta-9 is intoxicating.
  • Hemp-derived THC may be a better option because it is more affordable and accessible.

Hemp Derived Delta-9 is Made from “Mother Liquor”

We mentioned that hemp Delta-9 is made similarly to other psychoactive hemp products, but that’s only a vague description of the process. The truth is that delta-9 is a by-product of the process used to make CBD and other hemp-derived products, coming from something called “mother liquor.”

When hemp is used to produce CBD (which may then be isomerized to create Delta-8 or any other psychoactive hemp cannabinoid), the extract is crystallized and purified, leaving behind a liquid byproduct–the mother liquor.

This liquid contains all of the unused cannabinoids that naturally occur in hemp, like CBG, CBN, and yes–Delta-9-THC. Of course, by federal law, the original hemp material can only contain 0.3% Delta-9-THC by dry weight. So, the mother liquor then needs to be refined to isolate the Delta-9 molecules before they can be used to make hemp-derived delta-9 products.

So, that explains how Delta-9 is legal to manufacture from hemp material, but what about the market? Is it legal to buy and sell? The answer is yes–as long as it meets federal regulations–meaning:

Hemp Delta-9 Exploits the Dry Weight Loophole

Lollipops made from hemp-derived dleta-9 and the natural hemp material they are sourced from

After the Delta-9 is concentrated, it can be added back to products to create edibles and other products that can be legally sold, as long as they contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 by dry weight. That’s the catch, though–not all products have a “dry weight,” hence why hemp-derived delta-9 can’t be put into beverages or tinctures.

But for dry goods, like gummies, the math adds up just fine. A 1 gram gummy can legally contain right up to 3 milligrams of hemp-derived delta-9. A 100 gram brownie can contain 100 times more–up to 300 milligrams of Delta-9.

In other words, it's totally possible to find hemp Delta-9 products that meet your dosing needs, you just might not find options that are as potent as what you can find in state dispensaries.

But still, there are benefits to buying Delta-9 from hemp versus marijuana-derived Delta-9 from a dispensary. Let’s discuss:

Benefits of Delta-9-THC Made From Hemp

Hemp is legal, products containing up to 0.3% Delta-9-THC derived from hemp are also legal–but so is cannabis in many states. If you happen to be in one of the handful of states that has already legalized recreational cannabis, you’re probably thinking why would I buy hemp-derived Delta-9.

Here are a few reasons it may still be the better choice:

  • Delta-9 derived from hemp is subject to federal hemp regulations and state hemp regulations. In some cases, this means that it is more heavily regulated than marijuana products.
  • Hemp Delta-9 products are not subject to the same cannabis tax as products bought in state-licensed dispensaries (which is sometimes as high as 35%), so they are often much more affordable.
  • Unlike marijuana products, you can order hemp products online. No need to go to a dispensary and wait in line.

And if you don’t live in a state where cannabis is legal, the reasons are clear–hemp-derived Delta-9-THC is federally legal and is legal in most states. You just need to check the hemp laws in your state. In most cases, hemp-derived Delta-9 falls under the same laws as Delta-8, so you can read “Where is Delta-8-THC Legal? to learn more about hemp laws near you.

Is Hemp-Derived Delta-9 the Same as Traditional Delta-9?

Now to the obvious question–what’s the difference between traditional Delta-9 and hemp-derived Delta-9? The answer is not so clear. Many experts propose that the two are identical. After all, the delta-9 molecule is static–meaning delta-9 is delta-9. However, the process used to create delta-9 products from hemp varies by manufacturer, which may alter the potency or effects of the final product.

For instance, the mother liquor may not always be refined, meaning that hemp delta-9 products may contain a mixture of all of the hemp cannabinoids produced when CBD extract is crystallized. The addition of different cannabinoids or terpenes will absolutely change the effects of hemp-derived delta-9 products, so it pays off to know how your Delta-9 products are made and what ingredients are included.

Does Hemp-Derived Delta-9 Really Get You High?

Yes–delta-9 derived from hemp has the same molecular composition as delta-9 derived from marijuana. It’s the same cannabinoid with the same effects. As we stated above, the only difference comes from the additional terpenes and cannabinoids included in the formula, which is also true for marijuana products, and is the reason that different cannabis strains have unique effects.

Is Hemp Delta-9 Dosage the Same?

With that in mind, you may be wondering–is the dosage for hemp-derived delta-9 the same as traditional delta-9? Typically, the answer is yes, as long as you’re talking about the delta-9 content and not the entire cannabinoid content.

But that’s where things can get tricky–hemp products are sometimes labeled to show the entire cannabinoid content. That means that 10 milligrams may mean 10 milligrams of total cannabinoids, a portion of which is hemp-derived Delta-9. To make sure that you understand how to dose your hemp THC products, read the label closely to determine the potency, and then follow up by double checking the third-party lab test results to ensure label accuracy.

Will Hemp-Derived Delta-9 Show Up on a Drug Test?

Because delta-9 derived from hemp is the same molecule as delta-9 derived from cannabis, it interacts with the body the same way. That means that it will produce 11-hydroxy-THC, the THC metabolite that’s picked up by a standard drug test. So, yes, hemp delta-9 will show up on a drug test the same way that hemp-THC does.

Will Hemp Delta-9 Stay Legal?

The most obvious concern of most consumers who enjoy Delta-9 hemp products is whether or not it will remain legal. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know. It’s unlikely that federal laws will change anytime soon, but states may move to alter hemp regulations within their borders in order to protect their interests–either to keep THC illegal or to protect revenue from cannabis taxes in states where THC is already legal.

However, Delta-9 from hemp is legal for now, and there’s no federal legislation on the table that will change it. Be sure to check your local hemp laws to determine whether Delta-9 from hemp is legal near you.

Where to Buy Hemp-Derived Delta-9-THC?

If you're sold on this legal psychoactive cannabinoid or just want to try it out before you make up your mind, you can check out our hemp THC collection to order online today.

We offer a variety of Delta-8 vaporizers and edibles. All of our products are third-party tested and 100% Farm Bill compliant, meaning they are legal in the U.S.


  1. “Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program” https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/10/31/2019-23749/establishment-of-a-domestic-hemp-production-program

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