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What Is THC-O? All You Need To Know About the Synthetic Cannabinoid



October 26, 2022

Following the passage of 2018's Farm Bill, which legalized hemp farming, a slew of hemp-derived items has hit the market.

As we know, the cannabis plant is very complex, with some compounds occurring naturally, some in very small quantities, and some being "manufactured" with chemical interaction.

Aside from non-intoxicating CBD (cannabidiol), which is found organically in hemp plants and can be readily extracted, several cannabinoids have been manufactured through various chemical procedures–one of which is THC-O(Click to tweet)

THC-O’s psychoactive properties are said to be more potent than those of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), but unlike THC, it’s a synthetic compound.

And while we believe in the healing and natural capabilities of CBD and don't stock products designed to get you high, we strive to educate you on all things cannabis related.

In this article, we will break down all you need to know about THC-O.

1. What is THC-O?
2. How are THC-O and THC Different?
3. What’s the Difference between CBD and THC-O?
4. Why Do People Use THC-O?
5. Will THC-O Show Up in A Drug Test?
6. Is THC-O Legal?
7. In Conclusion

1. What is THC-O?

 

THC-O (pronounced “THC oh”), the acetate ester form of THC, is a manufactured compound and is not found naturally in the cannabis plant.

THC-O, a manufactured compound, is the acetate ester form of THC.

RELATED: The Healing Ability of Cannabinoids

Interestingly, this is not a new compound at all...

Between 1949 and 1972 as part of the Edgewood Arsenal experiments, the US Army was looking for a non-lethal way to incapacitate soldiers on the battlefield. They found that THC-O acetate had twice the potency of regular THC to produce ataxia (lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements). [1]

The process to synthesize THC-O consists of first extracting CBD from raw hemp. Then delta-8 THC is extracted from the CBD. Finally, acetic anhydride is added to the delta-8 THC molecules to make THC-O acetate. [2]

It is very important to say: Don’t attempt to make THC-O at home!

“...the process of making THC-O acetate is inherently dangerous and something that’s got to be done in a technical lab with a vacuum hood [and] no exposure to humans.” - Dr. Ethan Russo [3]

2. How are THC-O and THC Different?

 

How are THC-O and THC Different?

1. Bioavailability

THC-O has an underlying structure similar to THC, but it includes a unique functional group, an acetate group, that gives it a distinct chemical profile. This extra portion of the molecule makes it considerably more powerful than most other types of THC. 

It is believed that THC-O is more powerful because the "acetate group" allows THC-O to cross lipid-sensitive layers in the digestive tract and brain, making THC-O more bioavailable.

2. Prodrug

THC-O is a “prodrug,” which means it is not pre-activated, it needs to work through your system and could take 20-60 minutes to kick in. So it is advised to start slow - as it is very strong. [4]

3. Potency

The "high" from THC-O is not for everyone. It is said to produce a very heavy feeling that can, in extreme cases, incapacitate you for up to a few hours. Also, the visual experience is much stronger than any other form of THC. 

4. Manufactured or Natural?

Unlike THC, THC-O is made with some very toxic substances, and there’s a lot that can go wrong during the process.

5. Well Regulated?

THC-O testing is not as regulated as that of THC.

6. Well Researched?

THC has been mainstream for a long time, but THC-O's safety and side effects have not been fully researched yet.

3. What’s the Difference between CBD and THC-O?

 

Differences Between CBD and THC-O

RELATED: Hemp-derived CBD vs. Marijuana-derived CBD

Hemp-derived CBD and THC-O are both cannabinoids, but they have different effects on the body.

  • CBD is non-intoxicating and does not produce a “high,” while THC-O is psychoactive and can cause euphoria.
  • CBD is found naturally in hemp plants, while THC-O is a synthetic compound made in a lab. (Click to tweet)
  • CBD has a variety of therapeutic benefits, while THC-O is mainly used for its psychoactive effects. (Click to tweet)

4. Why Do People Use THC-O?

 

People use THC-O for a variety of reasons:

  • Powerful psychoactive effects that are said to be more potent than THC
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Analgesic properties that could help relieve pain
  • Potential as a treatment for various medical conditions

Also, its uncertain legal status currently opens it up to be marketed as the “legal” alternative to THC.

5. Will THC-O Show Up in A Drug Test?

 

The short answer is yes. THC-O will most certainly produce a positive drug test result like other THC and CBD products. 

THC-O will most certainly produce a positive drug test result.

RELATED: Can You Fail a Drug Test Due to CBD?

The explanation for this is straightforward: drug tests search for 11-hydroxy-THC, a THC byproduct generated in the body after intake of THC.

6. Is THC-O Legal?

 

THC-O is in a rather ambiguous legal situation.

While the 2018 farm bill made hemp byproducts, such as CBD and Delta 8 THC, legal, so long as they contain under 0.3% delta-9 THC–it only did so on a temporary basis.

THC-O is a byproduct of hemp-derived CBD and delta-8 THC, so for now it is legal on a federal level.

THC-O is in a rather ambiguous legal situation.

RELATED: Is CBD Oil Legal in Your State?

However, some states have created legislation banning delta-8 THC, and they are more than likely going to lock down on THC-O as well, so it is best to check your state's laws before purchasing THC-O.

7. In Conclusion

 

The synthetic cannabinoid THC-O has been gaining popularity, however, it is not highly regulated and should be used with extreme caution! (Click to tweet)

Also, we're not sure how long THC-O will remain popular as it might be targeted by legal legislation due to the fact that it is primarily used for its intense psychedelic effect. Unlike CBD which is used mainly for its therapeutic properties.

THC-O is primarily used for its intense psychedelic effect. Unlike CBD which is used mainly for its therapeutic properties.

RELATED: CBD Oil Benefits: The Most Important Ones

We're advocates for health and wellness, so our main focus will always be to offer products that are naturally designed to work along with your body's main functions. However, we will always try and keep you informed on subjects like THC-O, so if you have any questions, please reach out and we will do our best to guide you.

Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgewood_Arsenal_experiments
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/THC-O-acetate
  3. https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/thc-o-acetate-q-and-a-dr-ethan-russo-credo-science/
  4. https://www.myqwin.com/pages/delta-9-vs-thc-o

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