It might seem like a new cannabis product is being released every week, and you might be right. We’re excited to introduce the latest cannabinoid — THC-O-Acetate. Similar to Delta-8, THC-O is another compound that can be extracted from cannabis or hemp. THC-O occurs when THC undergoes acetylation.
For those looking to try THCO acetate, this comprehensive guide answers the question of what is THC O, including how it’s made, its effects, safety information, and legality.
What Is THC O?
Like other THC compounds (tetrahydrocannabinols), THC-O acetate (tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, THCOa or THC O) is almost identical to Delta 9, the compound that dominates marijuana plants.
However, unlike THC isomers such as Delta-8 and Delta-10, THC-O acetate does not occur naturally in hemp or cannabis plants in even smaller quantities. Considered a THC analog, THCOa is an acetylated version of THC that manufacturers produce through a semi-synthetic process.
Acetylation is a standard method that modifies drugs to increase bioavailability by adding acetic anhydride to their molecular structure. A common example of this is aspirin. Salicyclic Acid is acetylated to make aspirin more effective as a pain-reliever and decrease stomach irritation.
THCO’s altered structure makes crossing lipid-sensitive layers in the digestive tract and brain easier.
As a result, THCO acetate can feel much stronger than Delta-9 or Delta-8.
History of THC O: How Is THC O Made?
Scientists began utilizing THC-O sometime between the 1940s and 1970s during the Edgewood military experiments. But the compound didn’t arrive in the hemp market till decades later.
In 2018, the USDA’s Farm Bill opened the door for legal hemp products, including the plant and its derivative compounds.
Soon after, manufacturers began using hemp’s plentiful CBD content to create THC isomers like Delta-8 and Delta-10. Processors found they could convert CBD into various THC isomers using a chemical process called “isomerization.” This chemical process became the jumping-off point for THC-O.
To make THCO acetate, manufacturers first extract CBD from hemp plants and convert it into Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC. Then they combine the Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC molecules with acetic anhydride, a highly flammable and colorless liquid. This process “synthesizes” or converts Delta-8 into THC-O acetate.
Can I Get High from THC O?
Yes. Users say THC-O is more effective than other THC forms, including Delta 8, Delta 10, HHC, and even traditional Delta 9.
How THC O Works
THC-O has two distinct differences from regular Delta-9 THC regarding how it works in the body:
- Stronger effects: When Delta-8 THC undergoes acetylation to create THC-O, the process boosts its bioavailability, meaning more THC-O makes it to the bloodstream. This effect increases THCO’s potency, causing more intense psychedelic effects. Anecdotally, THC-O can feel three times as strong as Delta 9 THC.
- Slower effects: THC-O is a “pro-drug,” meaning it turns into its active form after entering the body as opposed to Delta-9 and Delta-8 THC, which are pre-activated by heat. THC-O’s effects take longer to kick in because the body must process it first. Consensus says it takes 20 to 60 minutes to feel THC-O’s effects.
THC O Effects
THC-O is stronger than other forms of THC due to its improved bioavailability. Additionally, its psychoactive effects may result in different mental and physical experiences.
1. Cognitive Effects of THC O
Like any substance, THC O’s effects can vary from person to person. Many users say THC-O can produce an almost psychedelic high after moderate doses, with borderline hallucinogenic effects such as intense visuals and altered headspace. Some users even describe their THC-O experience as a “spiritual high.”
2. Physical Effects of THC O
THC-O can be borderline psychedelic in larger doses and has potent sedative body effects. Users say THC-O can produce intense mental and physical euphoria, dramatically improving mood. Some people also say THC-O makes them feel very relaxed and tired. Many consider THC-O more of an evening substance due to its intense physical sedation.
Is THC-O Safe?
THC-O interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, similar to other THC forms, helping to increase relaxation and euphoria, which can combat pain, insomnia, and depression.
Still, THC-O may not be safe in all forms. A study released in early 2023 revealed that applying sufficient heat to THC-O vapes can cause ketene to form, a lung toxicant.
THC O Side Effects
Because THCOa interacts with receptors in the brain like Delta-9, it also shares many of regular THC’s possible side effects. These adverse effects often result from consuming a dose that is too high and can include:
- Increased anxiety
Is THC O Legal?
Like Delta-8 THC and other minor cannabinoids processed from hemp-derived CBD, THC-O existed in a gray legal area for several years. Manufacturers considered THC-O a legal hemp derivative based on the Farm Bill language, which states that hemp products are federally legal as long they contain no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by dry weight.
However, as of February 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it considers THC-O a Schedule 1 drug, similar to regular Delta-9 THC from marijuana. Because THC-O is a synthetic cannabinoid not found naturally in hemp plants, the DEA says it doesn’t qualify as a hemp product, even when made from extracted CBD converted into Delta-8 or Delta-9.
The DEA’s ruling doesn’t mean THC O products will immediately leave shelves or that consumers face a substantial risk of criminal penalties. However, users should be aware of the federal government’s recent statement and proceed with caution.
How to Choose THC O Products
THC-O acetate is most commonly available in vape cartridges, tinctures, and edibles.
Vaping THC O
Since a vape cart hardly could produce enough ketene to create an immediate danger, users can try vaping THC-O, but they should be careful.
THC O Edibles
Unlike smoking or vaping, THC-O in gummies and tinctures is not a known health risk, making edibles the best form to enjoy THC-O. Edible options include:
THC O Dosage
THC-O takes time to metabolize in the body before its effects kick in, no matter its product form. So THCO experts and sellers advise new users to go slow and start with a low dosage when trying this potent cannabinoid to account for its intensity.
THC-O can feel three times as strong as Delta 9 THC, so users should always start with about one-third of the equivalent THC amount. For instance, an inexperienced user who usually takes 5 mg of Delta 9 would want a 1.5 mg dose of THC O. An experienced cannabis user who typically chooses a higher dosage, such as 25 mg of Delta 9, might start with 7.5 mg of THC-O.
How to Enjoy Your Trip
THC O acetate offers potentially potent effects that can border on psychedelic and cause intense sedation. Typically, however, users report feeling uplifted, creative, and relaxed.
To make the most of a THC O experience, people may want to gather with friends for a small party or game night or spend an intimate evening Netflixing on the couch. Users should stick to edible THC O products like gummies, candies, and tinctures.
Starting slow and taking about a third of the equivalent dose of Delta-9 THC is always a good idea to make the most of THC O experience.