What is THC-O?

A relative newcomer on the scene, THC-O Acetate has recently started gaining popularity. You may have heard about this semi-synthetic compound, which is derived from the hemp plant or marijuana plant, but what do you really know about it? It typically is referred to by the name THC-O for short. For those who don’t have legal access to cannabis or live in a state that has banned Delta 8 THC, THC-O products have been a good option...


That has been the case up until recently at least. With some new guidance from the federal government, specifically guidance that the DEA has issued, the landscape of THC-O products has changed.


This new guidance has led many online retailers and physical storefronts to stop carrying THC-O products because the DEA now officially views them as controlled substances. There is some good news though. There are still plenty of other outstanding and potent THC product options such as THC-P, THC-A, and Delta 11 THC

What is THC-O?

What is THC-O?

THC-O is a semi-synthetic psychoactive cannabinoid that is created by combining Delta 8 THC with a chemical compound called acetic anhydride. Even though THC-O is not a naturally occurring cannabinoid, it is appealing to many due to its potency and its current legal status.


Users often report its potency to be roughly three times stronger than that of common regular THC (Delta 9 THC). It is often referred to as the “psychedelic cannabinoid” or the “spiritual cannabinoid” based on users experiencing almost hallucinatory effects” at higher doses.


As for its legality, since THC-O Acetate is derived from the hemp plant, which is federally legal, it maintains its legal classification. This paired with the fact that many states have already banned Delta 8 THC make it an attractive option for those who live in either a Delta 8 banned state or that do not have access to legal cannabis.


The History of THC-O Acetate

Much like other cannabinoids that had been discovered quite some time ago before becoming readily available or even popular, THC-O’s history is similar. The effects of this cannabinoid started way back in the 1940’s when the US military began studying it any other cannabinoids from the marijuana plant.


They observed that muscle coordination greatly diminished when tested in dogs, in fact with almost at twice the rate when compared to the effects of regular THC (Delta 9 THC).


How is THC-O made?

How is THC-O Made?

There are a series of steps required to make THC-O Acetate. The chemical processes used to make this compound starts off with hemp containing no more than 0.3% Delta 9 THC on a dry weight basis (industrial hemp).


The THC analog, CBD is first extracted from this hemp and from there Delta 8 THC is extracted. The final step to create THC-O is combining acetic anhydride to the Delta 8 THC molecules to form THC-O Acetate. Due to the nature of explosive chemicals need to create THC-O it is by far one of the riskiest compounds to create.


The extremely flammable chemical Acetic anhydride, along with the processes used, make creating THC-O far more dangerous than the processes involved with extracting and manufacturing other hemp derived products.


Is THC-O Stronger Than Delta 8 and Delta 9?

THC-O Acetate's psychoactive effects are roughly 3 times more potent than regular THC from Delta 9 THC. Researchers have also concluded that it is a “pro-drug”, which means that the compound is not actually activated until it has been consumed and then metabolized after being absorbed by the cannabinoid receptors in your body.


Usually this happens within 20 to 30 minutes after taking it, whereas sometimes talking up to an hour. Something to point out is that many users have noted that, when using a THC-O vape the effects seem to kick in much slower than you could expect compared to Delta 8 or Delta 9 products.


It is important to remember that due to its higher bioavailability, this potency difference is very evident when first trying THC O products. In moderate to high doses users can expect the experience effects of euphoria and a heighted level of sensory perception even more than when using regular THC. 


THC-O Acetate Effects and Benefits

As like most cannabinoids, THC-O does produce psychoactive effects. THC-O’s effects are dose dependent. Effects can range from a mild high when taken in smaller doses to a more psychedelic experience when taken in larger amounts. Users report a much more potent experience when compared to other cannabinoids. Users can expect the following effects:


  • Heightened mood
  • Boost in creativity
  • Feelings of spirituality
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Potential anti-anxiety


Delta 8 vs Delta 9 vs THC-O 



Is THC-O Legal?

That’s a tough question, it really depends on who you ask. There are multiple viewpoints on the topic. The same could also be said about cannabis in general along with Delta 8 THC and even CBD. To explain further, according to the 2018 Farm Bill, THC-O Acetate is a federally legal product as long as it is derived from hemp and not marijuana plants. This key difference is what makes cannabinoids from hemp plants not considered controlled substances. 


It gets complicated from there, since the Farm Bill legalized any hemp derived cannabinoids containing less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC. Many manufacturers view is that that since the molecule was derived from federally legal hemp plants to begin with and therefore began production from those plants, they are protected under the Farm Bill passed by congress.


The opposite side of the argument is that fact that some could consider THC-O products illegal due to the nature of its production. Because of this synthetic production some argue that, because it is man-made, it is not derived from hemp plants. When looked at from this point of view, THC O is considered a synthetic cannabinoid just like any other synthetic cannabinoids. This is where the confusion on THC-O’s legal status had come from. 


The argument really comes down to where the line between “analogous and “non-analogous” is drawn. While Delta 8 products are legal at the federal level, many states have begun passing laws at the state level explicitly banning certain cannabinoids like Delta 8 THC regardless of the 2018 Farm Bill. 


The latest news on THC-O specifically is that the DEA recently issued a statement in 2023 stating that they do in fact consider THC-O to be a fully synthetic cannabinoid and therefore it does not fall under the 2018 Farm Bill, meaning that they consider it a controlled substance. Because of this many online retailers are no longer selling THC-O and we suggest against buying or using THC-O for that reason. 


Is THC-O Safe?

There is a lack of research and no published clinical trials with this compound at this time. Until more research has been done and actual data is available, there are some mysteries surrounding THC-O Acetate for the time being. It is well known that overconsumption or traditional cannabis and cannabinoids derived from hemp plants have never been documented to directly cause a death in humans.


With something like THC-O, which is three times stronger than recreational marijuana, there is a risk of consumers taking too much and having to suffer through an unpleasant experience. THC-O does target the same cannabinoid receptors in humans but yes still produces a much stronger high. This is of course more of an issue simply due to the higher potency.


As with any compound, the extraction and conversion processes of the raw hemp are major factors in the quality of the final product. Those that use low-quality extract material or lower quality reagents would result in a less pure product, which may cause issues in the long run.


Some negative side effects that have been reported are:

  • Feeling anxious
  • Dizzy
  • Nauseousness
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting


Alternatively, many users report multiple positive benefits to taking THC-O. All of these issues are even more reason to only purchase THC-O, or any product for that matter, from a reputable company whose focus is on manufacturing quality products that are free of harmful substances. Top brands will go the extra steps to ensure products safety over profits. They will also provide full third-party lab test results of all of their products.


Will THC-O Make Me Fail a Drug Test?

Yes, THC-O will most likely show up on a drug test, just like regular THC or recreational marijuana. We suggest you avoid THC-O or any other cannabis products if you are subject to drug testing or need to pass a drug test.


Popular forms of THC-O

Popular Forms of THC-O

THC-O, when produced correctly is a thick brown liquid which is why you will find it in all the typical forms you will any other cannabinoids, such as THC-O edibles, THC O vape, vape cartridges, and tinctures.


Bear in mind that with a higher bioavailability and a slightly slower onset speed we suggest that you take things slow at first if it’s your first-time trying THC-O. Your experience may not line up with your expectation if you go into it expecting the same effects as you would Delta 8 THC or Delta 9 THC.


How Much THC-O Should You Take?

The general rule of thumb is, play it safe and start off by taking it slow. That rule of thumb not only applies to THC-O but even more so than other compounds.


Since the potency is so much higher and the bioavailability greater, it is in your best interest to start off with a very small dosage and then only increase that dosage after you have assessed the effects.


Be careful not to increase dosage until your next session since some have reported a slower onset of affects you won’t want to take more until you have fully experienced the effects from the lower dosage.


Is THC-O a Good Choice for You?

Only you can answer that. Hopefully now having a better understanding of what THC-O is and its background you can make a more informed decision. Either way you decide to go, be sure to purchase your THC-O from a reputable source and from a leading brand in the industry.


Be sure to check out all of the THC-O alternative products Everyday Delta has to offer. All products have a full panel lab test to ensure you are getting a premium product that is federally compliant and free of any harmful substances.