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What is THC-O?

What is THC-O?

THC-O-Acetate is a synthetic cannabinoid that was first used in the1950s by scientists in Maryland at Edgewood Arsenal who were trying to weaponize THC for the military. It is essentially produced by distilling and processing cannabinoids along with caustic acids such as acetic anhydride. Most THC-O on the market is synthesized from legal hemp oil. The result is a thick brown oil that is ideal for use in many methods of consumption, such as vape cartridges, gummies, concentrates, and more.


The effects of THC-O when consumed are similar to those of Delta 9, but more psychedelic. Some people liken the high to a mild psilocybin mushroom trip, and high doses, it can even be incapacitating. This can be attributed to the fact that it is approximately three times more potent than Delta 9 and five times more potent than Delta 8.

Unlike Delta 9, THC-O is a prodrug and must be metabolized by the liver for the effects to be felt, which means that the high is delayed about 20 minutes after initial consumption. Once in the liver, the THC-O is thought to be converted to Delta 9 THC.

Health Risks

The effects of THC-O on the body have not yet been extensively studied. Despite the idea that it is converted to Delta 9 once in the liver, one still has to consider the rest of its chemical makeup when assessing risks to health. Like with other THC products, consumers should be wary of brands producing cheap THC-O products of questionable quality, as they may contain impure reagents and other chemicals that are potentially hazardous to consume.

Legal Status

Hemp production was legalized in the U.S. in 2018, so manufacturers of THC-O claim that their products are legal because they are derived from a hemp extract. However, an older law passed in 1986 states that any analog of a Schedule I drug is itself a Schedule I drug, which would make the THC acetate illegal. Thus, THC-O resides in a legal gray area at the moment: it is widely available for purchase online, but the DEA may soon put a stop to that as they have with other THC analogs in the past.


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