THC-O is a synthetic cannabinoid derived from Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC. It is an extremely potent form of THC known to cause an intense high with borderline hallucinogenic effects. Unlike the better-known cannabinoid Delta-9 THC, THC-O is widely considered to be federally legal and is available to purchase in most states as well. Between the high potency and wide availability, THC-O has found a prominent place on the radars of many cannabis aficionados – and it definitely deserves your attention as well.
THC-O is a shorthand term for what is more properly called O-acytyl-delta-9-THC, O-acytyl-delta-8-THC or just THC acetate. It’s the acetate ester form of THC, and it’s created in a fairly complicated conversion process that we’ll explain in greater detail shortly. There are many different ways of using THC-O, but vaping has emerged as the most popular way due to the high bioavailability of inhaled compounds along with the fact that inhalation allows the compound to become active in your bloodstream as quickly as possible. Pre-filled THC-O vape cartridges are readily available online and in vape shops and dispensaries. Combine a cartridge with a good 510 thread battery, and you can begin enjoying THC-O immediately.
So, what is THC-O? How is it made, and how do you use it? What effects does it have on the body? Reading this overview, you’re going to learn everything you ever wanted to know about what’s certain to be one of the hottest cannabinoids of 2023.
How Is THC-O Made?
THC-O can be made from either Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC. Because of the legal differences between Delta-8 and Delta-9, though, it’s more common for THC-O products to be made from Delta-8. Creating this synthetic cannabinoid from hemp is a lengthy and complicated process, and it involves the use of several potentially dangerous solvents and catalysts. Creating THC-O is something that can only safely be done in a carefully controlled laboratory setting.
- High-CBD hemp buds are ground into a fine powder and placed into an extraction machine that floods the plant material with heated pressurized carbon dioxide. The CO2 causes the plant biomass to release its essential oils.
- The hemp distillate is collected from the extraction machine and further refined to isolate the CBD. The distillate is filtered and winterized to remove unwanted plant material. It’s then put through a fractional distillation process to separate the CBD from the other cannabinoids. The remaining distillate is combined with a solvent that causes the CBD to form crystals. The crystals are CBD isolate, and they are over 99-percent pure.
- The CBD isolate is dissolved into a solvent, and the resulting solution is mixed with an acid and heated. The acidic environment triggers isomerization, rearranging the molecular structure of the CBD and converting it to Delta-8 THC.
- The Delta-8 is combined with acetic anhydride to produce THC-O.
Acetic anhydride is an extremely dangerous compound that is both corrosive to the skin and highly flammable. In addition, the vapor of acetic anhydride is also unsafe to inhale. Because of the dangers of using acetic anhydride, you should never attempt to make THC-O on your own and should only buy THC-O products made by a reliable laboratory.
What Is the THC-O High Like?
There are two very important things to know about the effects of THC-O before using it for the first time.
- The effects of THC-O don’t kick in immediately – even if you inhale it.
- THC-O is significantly more potent than Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC.
THC-O is a prodrug, so it isn’t made available to the body by heating like other forms of THC. Instead, it’s activated when the body metabolizes it. That takes a bit of time, so you won’t feel the effects of THC-O until around 30-60 minutes after consuming it. For that reason, you need to be a bit more careful with THC-O than with other types of THC. It’s completely normal to not feel the effects right away, so don’t use more until you’re certain the effects have peaked.
Some have estimated that THC-O is two to three times more potent in its effects than Delta-9 THC. Military experiments conducted in the 1940s showed that, compared to Delta-9, THC-O was twice as effective in eroding dogs’ ability to coordinate their muscle movements.
People who have used THC-O have mentioned experiencing the following effects.
- Powerful feelings of euphoria
- Potent full-body high
- Relaxation, sedation and sleepiness
- Improved mood and boosted sociability
- Heightened creativity and openness to new ideas
You may have seen THC-O referred to as the “psychedelic cannabinoid,” but that’s really a bit of a misnomer. Some people do report experiencing mild visual effects when using THC-O, but it’s not comparable to the effects of a true psychedelic drug.
Side Effects of THC-O
Some people have reported negative side effects with THC-O, usually stemming from using too much of it. The most commonly reported negative side effects include nausea or vomiting, agitation, paranoia, dizziness and tiredness. To avoid unwanted side effects, it’s important to go slowly with THC-O until you’re used to the effects. Remember that the effects are always delayed, and you can always add more if you haven’t reached your desired state. If you use too much THC-O, all that you can do is wait for the effects to subside.
How to Buy THC-O Safely
As we described above, there are many potentially dangerous solvents and reagents used in the production of THC-O. It’s important for the laboratories producing THC-O to ensure that no harmful compounds remain in the final product, so you should always buy from a reliable and trusted brand. The brand should provide test results proving the purity and potency of its products.
It’s also important to know whether a given THC-O product is produced from Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC. Delta-9 is about twice as potent as Delta-8, and the difference in potency is still present when it’s converted to THC-O.
In this section of our THC-O guide, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about THC-O. If you have a question that we haven’t answered yet, you’ll find the information you need here.
How Long Does the THC-O High Last?
The THC-O high lasts about as long as it would with other forms of THC. The peak effects will last about 3-8 hours before fading. The effects of oral and edible THC-O products usually last longer than those of vaped THC-O products, which tend to kick in more quickly and trail off more quickly.
What Is the Right THC-O Dosage?
If you’re using THC-O for the first time, start with a low dosage of around 0.5-1 mg for an oral product or 1-3 puffs for a vaped product. Some experienced THC users take THC-O in much higher doses, but it’s wise to start lower until you become familiar with the cannabinoid’s effects.
How Long Does THC-O Take to Kick In?
Depending your body’s rate of metabolism and the method of consumption, THC-O takes around 30-60 minutes to kick in. Oral THC-O products such as edibles and tinctures will take a bit longer to kick in compared to vaped products such as e-liquids and vape cartridges.
Is THC-O Safe to Consume?
The long-term safety of THC-O has not been studied. Because of the dangerous chemicals used in the production of THC-O, however, it is important to buy from a manufacturer that provides test results proving the purity and potency of the product.
Is THC-O Legal?
A federal appeals court ruled in 2022 that all products derived from industrial hemp with a Delta-9 THC content of less than 0.3 percent are federally legal according to the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill. Some states, however, have enacted laws restricting or banning THC-O.
Is THC-O Detectable in a Drug Test?
THC-O is detectable in a drug test. Drug tests look for metabolites left over in the body from the processing of THC, and those metabolites are the same for all forms of THC. Do not use THC-O if you are subject to drug testing.
Final Thoughts on THC-O
THC-O is certainly one of the most exciting new cannabis products to hit the market over the last several years, and the reason why it has received so much attention is because it has much to offer.
Serious cannabis aficionados will appreciate the fact that it’s even more potent than Delta-9 THC, leading to borderline psychedelic effects when it’s consumed in large amounts. If you’re not a heavy THC user, that’s not a problem – you can simply use less THC-O. Given the high potency, you can expect your vape oils and cartridges to last a very long time.
THC-O is also a hot product because it’s not a federally controlled substance. Therefore, it’s possible to buy THC-O legally in many states that don’t have cannabis dispensaries.
When you buy THC-O, it’s important to buy only from a company that you trust and that provides detailed test results for its products. Dangerous chemicals are used in the production of THC-O, and you want to be certain that none of those chemicals are present in the final product.
If you want it to become active in your system as quickly as possible, the best way to use THC-O is by vaping it – and if you want to have the best possible experience, you need to use the best vaping equipment. Browse our selection of vape pens now.