THC-O acetate is among a new line of cannabinoids with a similar molecular structure to THC, the most common cannabis compound. These new cannabinoids are available now after Congress passed the Farm Bill in 2018 with language included in it that legalized hemp at the federal level.
THC-O acetate (or ATHC) is a synthetic cannabinoid that is made from the hemp plant. It is not found naturally in the hemp plant like other cannabinoids that are more widely known, including CBG and CBD. THC-O is an organic compound derived from THC, synthesized using a chemical process that includes acetic anhydride. The synthesization method requires unique manufacturing equipment and supplies to handle the volatile and flammable chemical process.
That synthesization process for THC-O involves the conversion of CBD extracted from the hemp plant into delta-8 THC. The acetic anhydride is mixed in with the delta-8 THC molecules as the final step in making THC-O acetate. This synthesization removes any of the terpenes and flavonoids from the process, leaving behind the THC isolate.
What are the Effects of THC-O?
While the potency of THC-O has not been confirmed with verifiable data, those who have experienced the cannabinoid note that it is more potent than the more commonly known THC.
Many of the cannabinoids derived from hemp do not stimulate any psychedelic or psychoactive effects, there are reports from consumers that THC-O offers a greater psychoactive effect than THC. In fact, some reports suggest that THC O is as much as three times more potent than its cousin, THC.
The physical effects of THC O are very similar to the experience of consuming edibles made from cannabis. THC-O requires about an hour, perhaps an hour and a half, for its effects to become activated, with some users characterizing their experience as a sort of spiritual or psychedelic feeling.
Difference Between THC And THC-O
The primary difference between THC and THC O is that they are created differently. THC is found naturally in cannabis as one of the more commonly known cannabinoids. THC O is a man-made cannabinoid that requires a synthesization process to produce it.
Another difference between the two is their potency. THC-O is generally considered more potent than THC, with a noticeably greater psychedelic effect as reported by users. In some cases, the potency of THC-O has been compared to the effects of psilocybin, or the compound found in particular mushrooms that produce a psychoactive effect when consumed.
Why is THC-O a Big Deal?
The reason that THC-O is considered such a big deal is because it offers an alternative cannabinoid to consumers that may be a powerful therapeutic substance derived from hemp. This is particularly relevant as an option for those who may want access to cannabinoid for medicinal purposes in areas where more commonly known naturally derived cannabinoids are not yet legal, such as THC.
The legalization at the federal level of a man-made THC-O cannabinoid derived from hemp, with properties that give it a powerful, psychoactive effect, offers more options for those seeking the benefits of psychedelic therapies. With some claims that THC-O is as much as 300% more potent than THC, the therapeutic possibilities are potentially significant for consumers seeking legitimate medical benefits.
THC-O vs Delta 8
Delta-8, also known as Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol, is found in the cannabis plant known as sativa. This psychoactive substance comes from the same plant from which marijuana and hemp are derived. Delta-8 THC is one of more than 100 cannabinoids that is made from the cannabis plant, but it is not found naturally in large amounts in cannabis. Instead, Delta-8 comes from the hemp-derived cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD.
To make Delta-8, CBD is extracted from hemp so that it can be converted into Delta-8. From there, Delta-8 can then be turned into THC-O through the mixing in of acetic anhydride.
While THC-O is made from Delta-8 THC that comes from hemp, the two are quite different. For example, Delta-8 generally is not as potent as THC-O and therefore requires very different dosing when consumed. Delta-8 also has been known to have different effects than THC O and other more common THC substances.
While THC-O users genearlly report a significantly greater psychoactive effect when consuming it, Delta-8 users report a different experience. Delta-8 is known for milder, more euphoric psychoactive effects, generally characterized as more relaxing and calming. This contrasts with the greater psychedelic effect that THC-O users report.
THC-O vs Delta 9
Delta-9, like THC-O, is extracted from hemp, which is to say it is not derived from marijuana even though it is naturally occurring in marijuana. As a result, both of the cannabinoids are considered federally legal under the Farm Bill signed into law in 2018. While THC-O is legal at any milligram dose, Delta 9 is required to have less than .3% THC.
Delta 9 is different from THC-O also because it is easier to extract from hemp. Delta 9 is naturally found in both marijuana and hemp THC-O requires a much more complicated extraction process that relies on Delta-8 extraction from CBD and sophisticated chemical synthesization. It is man-made and not naturally occurring.
The two also differ when it comes to potency and effects. Delta 9 users report feeling calm and euphoric after consuming. It can produce a buzz that is primarily experienced in the head, although users also report a sensation in their bodies of tingling and other effects, including in some cases a sense of paranoia. THC-O generally produces a more significant psychoactive effect that is both body calming and psychedelic.
Benefits of THC-O
There are many things yet to be learned about THC-O as a cannabinoid, both in terms of its benefits and its safety. There is anecdotal evidence, however, from those who have used the cannabinoid who have referred to its therapeutic properties because of its particular potency. The general conditions that THC O has been used to treat therapeutically in some cases are:
- Pain relief
- Appetite enhancement
- Anxiety reduction
These benefits have been reported by users who ingest THC-O, which is referred to as a prodrug because its chemical properties must be metabolized if they are to take effect for the user. In this regard, THC-O is considered a potentially promising therapeutic if it is used in the same way that a consumable tincture is ingested.
There also is significant potential that THC-O will serve certain pain patients in a unique way. There are many patients who rely on cannabis for its pain relieving qualities, but the more they use the traditional THC products, the greater their tolerance becomes. This leaves many patients with no other choice but to continually increase their THC dosage. But because of THC-O's greater potency, in some cases characterized as 300% more potent than THC products, it may serve these chronic pain patients more efficiently and effectively as a therapeutic. For patients with conditions that can be debilitating and paralyzing, THC-O offers promise as a cannabis therapy, particularly for those who rely on high dosages of THC for medicinal purposes.
Is THC-O Legal?
With the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018 and signing into law by President Donald Trump, the general interpretation of the federal law is that all products derived from hemp, including THC-O, are considered legal at the federal level. However, a number of states have passed laws specifically targeting hemp-derived products, either restricting their use, limiting their manufacturing or prohibiting them outright. THC-O is legal in 34 states, but you should always check your state's laws regarding hemp products, which is different from medical or recreational marijuana.
There also is speculation about the legality of THC-O at the federal level. For now, it is generally considered legal because it is made from federally legal hemp and it does not include Delta 9 THC. As long as producers of THC-O acetate products can show the chain of custody for the molecule used to create the cannabinoid came from federally legal hemp plants, they argue they are protected under the Farm Bill of 2018.
There are some critics who argue the hemp-derived compound is, in fact, not legal. They argue the 1986 Federal Analogue Act covers THC-O because it is a substance that is related to the Schedule 1 drug of traditional THC. The Federal Analogue Act states any substance that is analogous to a Schedule 1 drug itself qualifies as a Schedule 1 drug.
Will THC-O show on a drug test?
The short answer is yes. It is likely that THC-O will produce a positive result on a drug test. It's also believed that THC-O may be easier than most cannabinoids to detect with a drug test because of its significantly higher potency.
It is believed that THC-O leads to a failed drug test because of its composition, which is very similar to Delta 9, which leads the body to produce THC-COOH that will show up easily on a drug test. Because THC-O is so much more potent than Delta-9, it is believed that is has even more of the THC-COOH compounds in it, which would lead to greater chances that the cannabinoid THC-O will show up in a drug test. This is believed to be true even if only a small amount of the cannabinoid is consumed because of its greater potency. While there are no actual studies that yet confirm that people who consume THC-O produce THC-COOH in large amounts, it is assumed that this is true because of the similarities in composition to other cannabinoids that lead to a failed urine test for drugs.
Is THC-O Safe?
One of the biggest unknowns when it comes to THC-O is just how consistently safe it is for consumers to use. That is because there is not a good deal of research on the substance. There also is very little regulation on how it is made, which means the greatest question of safety may be where the THC-O is made and by whom. Because there is such a broad spectrum of quality when it comes to the manufacturing of THC-O, many researchers argue that consumers must be cautious about where they obtain the substance.
The development of synthetic cannabinoids has been underway for decades, marked initially in the early 2000s by headlines about early pioneers of the synthetic versions of THC. Those products, Spike and K2, became known because of their adverse effects on users and quickly came under fire by local law enforcement. However, today's THC-O is not really like those early synthetics. The only similarity is that they all came from cannabis plants.
If digested properly, advocates generally argue that THC-O can be metabolized in a safe and natural manner.
Correct THC-O dosage
Because THC-O is a man-made cannabinoid, it is important to understand that its potency is greater than those found naturally in cannabis. As a result, consumers must consider the dosage of the product based on the recommendations provided by the manufacturer.
Generally speaking, someone who is new to cannabinoids would start at a low dose, based on their limited tolerance. In that case, a small dose of 3 milligrams is recommended, with gradual increasing in dosage as the tolerance builds. The beginner use of THC-O would gradually increase the dosage to 10 milligrams as they become accustomed to its effects.
Someone with more experience using cannabinoids who may already have developed a tolerance might consider a larger dosage of THC-O. But it is important to remember that this cannabinoid is generally regarded as significantly more potent than traditional THC, and therefore requires cautious dosing. An intermediate cannabinoid user might consider starting at about a 10 milligram dose, and gradually increase dosing up to 25 milligrams per use as tolerance increases.
For those requiring higher dosing when using cannabinoids, perhaps with much higher tolerances, a higher dose of THC-O is possible. This can begin at a 25 milligram dose and build up to 50 milligrams. But these dosages are generally reserved for people consuming high dosages of cannabinoids already for chronic conditions, such as pain relief.
These dosages generally cover the use of THC-O in different forms, including tincture. It also should be considered that the higher dose consumed, the more difficult it will be to clear the THC-O from your system before a drug test.
Are there Side Effects of THC-O?
It is still too early to rush to conclusion about the side effects of THC-O, although some users have reported side effects from its use, including psychedelic hallucinations, increased anxiety, vomiting, dizziness, seizures, paranoia and sedation. Some of these effects have come from using it in unregulated vape cartridges.
As with all substances used for therapeutic or recreational purposes, it is important to closely monitor the dosage and the effects of THC-O.
Should You Try THC-O Yourself?
THC-O should be considered as any other substance that produces psychoactive effects. You must weigh the benefits and risks, and consider how those will impact you. Because THC-O is more potent than other cannabinoids, it is important to begin usage with small doses to determine its impact. Many cannabinoid users will want to try THC-O for its psychedelic properties and its euphoric effect. However, it is important to consider your tolerance for such substances and whether its potential benefits outweigh any concern.