What exactly is THC-O? A Comprehensive Guide

What exactly is THC-O? A Comprehensive Guide


Scientists have procured many different cannabis products from the cannabis plant. People consume these cannabis products all around the world. While some of its products are much more popular than others, scientists continue to come up with more and more compounds of cannabis to expand its usage and applicability. In a similar bid, scientists had come up with THC-O, another cannabis compound produced synthetically as it is not available naturally in the plant. Scientists discovered THC-O in the 1940s, but it is only recently that its popularity has risen. Despite THC-O existing for quite some time now, much research is not available to answer our question: is THC-O safe? It is three times stronger than THC, but much is still to be known about it. Under these circumstances, and considering its rising popularity, we decided to bring in a piece discussing different aspects of THC-O and to put out some essential information on it through this article.


After former U.S. President Donald Trump passed the Farm Bill 2018, legalizing hemp at the federal level, there has been exponential growth in the hemp industry. Production and selling of existing products have increased, and new products have come up in big numbers. While most new products have no psychoactive effects, many contain the molecular structure of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the popular cannabis product known for its psychoactive effects. Among these new entrants is THC-O acetate (or ATHC).

THC-O is a synthetic, non-natural cannabinoid compound derived from hemp that has, ever since its entry, garnered the attention of many cannabis users. It has seen a steep rise in its popularity. Since its introduction, many companies and brands have made several specialized and commercialized products containing THC-O. While compounds like CBD, THC, CBG, etc., can be found to exist naturally in the hemp plant, THC-O is not present naturally. It is prepared synthetically. Nevertheless, it is popular because of its psychoactive effects. It is a top priority for users who prefer cannabis for recreational purposes.

THC-O is like an ester of THC. It gets synthesized through a chemical process using a high-inflammable and colorless liquid called acetic anhydride, which we use to make fibers, plastics, and dyes. Specialized equipment gets required for making THC-O since it uses highly-inflammable compounds and chemicals. For making THC-O, CBD extracts from the hemp plant are converted into delta-8 THC, then acetic anhydride is mixed with this resulting delta-8 THC to produce THC-O acetate.

Although research on THC-O has been carried on illegally since the 1970s, its popularity and interest have gained momentum only in recent years, specifically in mid-2021. While more research is needed, reports claim the resulting THC-O is much more potent than THC, and its potency could be three times that of THC. On the other hand, consumers report that THC-O has more of a psychedelic effect as it offers more spiritual psychoactivity than any other cannabinoid.

THC-O takes time to metabolize in the body, and it takes a while before its effects are activated. Hence, considering its nature, it is primarily available in vape cartridges, tinctures, and gummies. Known side effects of THC-O on the body, according to its users, include “hallucinations, anxiety, dizziness, paranoia, sedation, vomiting, and seizures.”

 Is THC-O Safe?

Since it is synthetically prepared and is not present naturally in the cannabis plant, its legality is still in the gray area as it is still considered a minor cannabinoid. Also, more research is needed to confirm its effects on the human body because most information on its side effects and impact on the human body is derived from the users only. Hence, scientific merit on its side effects is still under work. Further, since it is said to be about three times more potent than THC, it will likely have more substantial side effects.

THC-O, like many other cannabinoids, is not regulated and is made without applying the standards under the FDA. Hence, using it without proper care and caution might prove dangerous. The situation surrounding the safety of using THC-O might have been different had it been a naturally occurring substance. Still, it is synthetically prepared, and under the Farm Bill of 2018, synthetically derived tetrahydrocannabinol is termed a schedule 1 substance and is considered illegal. More research on THC-O will determine whether it will be called illegal or legal over time.

Another word of caution is that THC-O is a prodrug, i.e., it takes time to show its effects in the body. According to available evidence, it takes about 30 minutes for THC-O to dissolve into the body and release its impact. Under such circumstances, people not well-versed with THC-O may take more than one dosage under the impression that they have not taken enough; this could pose a severe health threat. What is more dangerous is that the more dosage you take of THC-O, the longer it may take for its effects to take effect. Hence, a person taking more than one dosage of THC-O may not feel effects for a few hours, and if such a person continues to consume more THC-O, there could be severe repercussions.

Considering that THC-O is three times stronger than THC, and although THC is one of the strongest “hitting” cannabinoids, in front of THC-O, THC looks like its ‘small’ brother. For the body, it is easier to consume THC-O; hence, its effects are strong. THC-O is produced synthetically through dangerous chemicals. Therefore, scientists strongly suggest that users consume THC-O cautiously and in small doses. Start with a small dosage and ingest it slowly to get decent results so that you do not get knocked up way more than you intend to.


We have seen that THC-O is a much stronger cannabis compound and is roughly three times more potent than THC itself. It is produced synthetically by the use of inflammable chemicals like acetic anhydride. It is a powerful compound that takes time to release its effects after consumption. It is available in products like gummies, e-liquid for vaping, etc.

There is much research to be done on this compound; hence, considering the anomaly surrounding its legality, it is advised that you consume it with caution. It takes about 30 minutes to show its effects, so you must wait after ingesting it. It is also strongly advised always to purchase it and not make your own THC-O at home since scientists make it using inflammable chemicals in protected environments, and manufacturing it without proper care and caution could be hazardous.

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