Over the past few years, we have seen a wave of new THC compounds hit the scene, such as Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC. For those who don’t have access to legal cannabis or are just looking to change up their smoking experience, these unique cannabinoids have been a great way to shake things up! Now a new and exciting THC product has hit the market: THC-O.
Short for THC-O-acetate, it’s a highly unique cannabinoid that stands apart from everything else on the market. Offering a more potent high than you get with Delta-9 THC, research shows that THC-O is roughly three times stronger than conventional THC. It also produces borderline hallucinatory effects, leading some to refer to it as the “psychedelic cannabinoid.” But how does it really stack up with other cannabinoids, and more importantly, is it safe?
What Is THC-O?
THC-O (sometimes called THCo or ATHC) is a powerful synthetic analog of THC. It shares the same base structure and produces many similar effects when smoked, vaped, or consumed. Much like Delta-8 THC, people have known about THC-O for decades, but it has only recently received much attention. The cannabinoid only appeared on the DEA’s radar back in 1978, and it didn’t follow up on its research due to THC-O not having much of a presence on the drug market. It is only in the past few years that people have started to seriously take notice of it.
How Does It Compare to Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC?
One of the biggest differences between THC-O and most other cannabinoids is that it is a fully synthetic cannabinoid, meaning it is not found in the cannabis plant itself. This makes it different from Delta-8 THC, which does naturally occur in cannabis, even if it’s usually only at very low levels. Granted, most products that contain Delta-8 THC are synthetically derived from hemp, but it is still a naturally occurring substance. Not only is THC-O a lab-based creation, but it is also far more complex and potentially dangerous to make compared to many other cannabinoids, meaning it isn’t a viable DIY option.
As the name suggests, THC-O is psychoactive, just like all other THC compounds. However, it is far more potent than other cannabinoids: while Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC are known for being milder than the standard Delta-9 THC found in cannabis, THC-O is much stronger. Research suggests that it’s about 3 times as psychoactive as Delta-9 and around 5 times more psychoactive than Delta-8. In addition, THC-O has noticeable psychedelic effects, altering user’s senses and perception of time, making it that much more intense compared to cannabis. These psychedelic vibes have the potential to create an immersive and relaxing with a strong buzz.
Is THC-O Legal?
THC-O is not listed as a prohibited substance in most parts of the world, with New Zealand and the United Kingdom being the exception. However, its legal status is still very unclear: for one thing, while there are currently laws in place banning synthesized forms of THC, many other cannabis-based products made using synthetic means have remained on the market without any issues. Additionally, THC-O can be derived from both hemp and cannabis, which muddies the waters as well. For the most part, all hemp derivatives besides Delta-9 THC are currently legal across federal laws, meaning that hemp-derived THC-O might be fine. In many ways, THC-O falls into a similar legal gray area as Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC, but it’s hard to say whether this will last.
Is THC-O Safe?
It’s difficult to say just how safe THC-O truly is: not a lot of research has been done on the substance, even compared to other relatively new cannabinoids like Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC, so there is still a lot that we don’t know about it. That said, it obviously produces a far stronger high than standard THC, and along with its psychedelic effects, it is not well-suited to those with a low tolerance for cannabis. Even if you have a high tolerance for Delta-9 or Delta-8 THC though, some experts say that this will have little impact on one’s experience with THC-O.
There are also a few notable health concerns to be aware of with THC-O. Early vape pens used Vitamin E acetate, which was later found to be harmful to ones’ lungs when heated. Some experts believe that the acetate group in THC-O could have similar effects, and while this has yet to be proven, it does show the need for additional research on the topic. There’s also the matter of finding reputable sellers: only a few mainstream brands currently sell THC-O products at all. Considering that several toxic substances are used during the process of creating THC-O, there are serious health concerns to buying them from anyone but a more reputable seller.
The Future of THC-O
It is hard to say exactly what the future holds for THC-O: given its more intense high and psychedelic effects, it is unlikely to have as much mainstream success as Delta-8 or Delta-10. There will also need to be some serious research to better understand just how the cannabinoid affects people. Yet while there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding it, THC-O offers a unique experience among THC-derivatives and shows just how much the market has changed in the last few years.
All we know for sure is that we’ll be eagerly watching to see how the THC-O market evolves and to see what new cannabinoids will hit the scene in the future!