What Is THC-O?
Since releasing the 2018 Farmers Bill legalizing hemp on a federal level, the cannabis industry has exploded with a litany of new products containing cannabinoids of all kinds.
Though most people associate hemp and cannabis with the feeling of getting "high," also known as the psychotropic effects, not all cannabinoids on the market have this crucial component. However, recently, a new series of cannabinoids containing a similar molecular structure to THC have entered the market.
To clarify, hemp and cannabis are the same; their only differences are the legal classification of the 0.03% scale set in place by the 2018 Farmers Bill. If, once in dry weight form, the plant has more than 0.03% THC in it, then it's considered illegal. Under that 0.03% standard, it is considered legal for production and sale. Because of the law's simplicity, a legal gray area for the industry has been created for selling cannabis products containing cannabinoids with those sought-after psychotropic effects.
Today there are various products infused with cannabinoids such as CBD, Delta-8, Delta-9, and now THC-O acetate (or ATHC). The newest of these is THC-O, a non-natural cannabinoid that is getting several consumers' attention while raising questions about its legal status and health safety.
Soo...What is THC-O?
THC-O-acetate is a synthetic form of THC that is twice as potent as Delta-9 THC and quadruples the potency of Delta-8 regarding its psychotropic effects. However, since it's still so new, there is no official confirmed data associated with these claims of THC-O's effects since it's still so fresh.
THC-O-acetate is often referred to as ATHC and is a semi-synthetic analog to Delta-9 THC. A moderate intake of THC-O can create a high euphoria similar to the Delta-9, with noticeable hallucinogenic and psychedelic effects.
While it is not technically listed as a "controlled substance," THC-O still lands in the legal grey area, which brings up questions about its sale and safety. However, THC-O products can be purchased from established brands such as Serene Tree. But with the niche base of this cannabinoid, consumers will have to pay an elevated price as opposed to other popular cannabinoids like CBD or Delta products.
There is also a lot of chatter about whether THC-O is natural or synthetic. Unlike other cannabinoids like CBD, THC-O is not a naturally occurring cannabinoid that organically presents itself in the plant. It is a substance created from a Delta-9 conversion process using formulated chemicals in a lab setting. THC-O can be used in a variety of ways that traditional cannabinoids can be consumed such as vape juice, vape carts, gummies, wax and more.
How is THC-O made?
As stated above, quality THC-O is made in a regulated lab setting using specialized chemicals and a technical process. Since this synthetic does not appear organically in hemp or cannabis flowers, technicians must convert THC-O from Delta-9 THC.
This act is done through a formulated isomerization process using a balance of acetic anhydride and sulfuric acid. Producers use a structured isomerization process that alters the molecular layout of Delta-9 by adding an acetate group, resulting in increased potency and the substance that is THC-O.
Creating quality THC-O has a very technical process that should only be done by licensed and accredited laboratories.
What are THC-O's effects?
THC-O is described as giving a euphoric high comparable to Delta-9, with added hallucinogenic effects. The consumption outcomes include visual distortions, auditory hallucinations, and heightened physical and emotional sensitivities.
A similarity that THC-O shares with the other cannabinoids on the market is dosage. The more someone partakes, the heavier the effects are, so the experience solely depends on how much an individual consumes.
An easy way to compare the effects is by keeping in mind that a lower dose of THC-O will create a heightened experience similar to quality Delta-8. Moderate amounts induce a more psychedelic and trippy experience closer to a potent dose of Delta-9. Whereas consuming a high quantity of THC-O can leave someone physically and cognitively incapacitated for extended periods while tripping.
Additionally, the delayed effects of THC-O after consumption are something to remember when using these infused products. It is not like consuming naturally grown hemp and cannabis in flower form. That has a pretty immediate result once smoked.
THC-O is a prodrug to THC, so it requires the liver enzymes to process it before letting it interact with someone's system. A more straightforward way to look at it is if you ate a cannabis edible, which takes time to metabolize in the system before you feel the full-body effects. THC-O has the same physical route and requires the same amount of patience when dosing.
Is THC-O safe, and are there benefits?
The benefits and safety behind THC-O are still unknown due to it being so new to the industry's market. But there is still research in process centered around the physical effectiveness THC-O may have in aiding and relieving specific uncomfortability like other popular cannabinoids.
However, users have claimed that THC-O enhances and uplifts individuals' moods while creating a sense of euphoria. Consumers have even gone as far as saying that it has positively affected their depression, stress, anxiety, and all-around elevated their mood.
Similar to other cannabinoids, there are no reports of overdose or death resulting from THC-O consumption, making it safer than other unassociated synthetic compounds in different markets. However, just remember when introducing anything new to your system, individuals should always consult with a medical professional first.
Since THC-O is relatively new among consumers, despite it having been around since the mid 1900's, there are still only select brands that have THC-O infused products. Quality and availability are the biggest contenders when seeking THC-O, so always choose a trusted brand backed by public lab results.
Remember that THC-O is a semi-synthetic compound not present in cannabis and made in a laboratory setting. So start slow, wait out the results to see how your systems react to the new compound, and go from there when determining what works for you as an individual.