Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
March 8, 2023

Over the years, most of us have developed at least a decent understanding of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the primary compounds found in cannabis and known for its psychoactive features.

But, over the years, scientists have developed or found various types of THC that affect us in different ways, with delta-8 THC being one of the most successful and widely available on the market. Nowadays, there is THC-O-acetate (THC-O), which has actually been around since the 1950s but has recently become more widely known. And even more known after some fatal incidents occurred.

In this article, we will dig up more about THC-O and compare it to delta9. While the latter can be derived naturally from hemp or marijuana plant, THC-O is a very potent, semi-synthetic psychoactive cannabinoid. So, let’s uncover everything about THC O acetate vs delta-9 THC for you to get a complete understanding of these substances.

This post is intended as information and for general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is recommended that you talk to a healthcare professional about this before introducing cannabinoids into your daily routine (especially if you have been diagnosed with any medical conditions or are under any medication). It is not recommended to drive or operate any machinery when using cannabis- or hemp-derived products. Use responsibly!

How is THC-O Made?

As more people become aware of THC-O’s potency and psychoactive effect (especially compared to delta-9 ), they are likely to want to test it out. Spoiler alert: don’t rush. The demand for THC O acetate goods was also increasing because of their relative novelty.

Compared to delta 9 or delta 8 THC, THC-O is different as, technically, it is one of the emerging synthetic cannabinoids. It is made from traditional THC or THCA – tetrahydrocannabinolic acid – the naturally occurring precursor to THC, which has not yet been activated by heat. THCA, or its substitutes, is combined with sulfuric acid and acetic anhydride before being heated to convert into THC-O.

Unfortunately, there are no legally established standards for creating THC acetate. Hence, the quality of ready-made THC O products can vary significantly. As a synthetic cannabinoid and a young substance, there was pretty much little research around it before it should have gone public.

How is THC Made?

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is not “made” because it exists in nature. Delta-9 THC is naturally the dominant compound in marijuana, which means that consuming the marijuana plant through any delivery method will give us the effects for which the compound is known. Also, isolated THC extracts allow us to incorporate this cannabinoid into various formulas, including gummies, vape oils, cookies, and more.

What are the Effects of THC and THC-O?

Perhaps the most notable difference when speaking about THC O vs. THC is their potency. THC-O has been reported as being 300% as psychoactive as delta 9 THC , i.e., three times more potent. Most of the alternative forms of THC we have on the market are noted to be milder than delta 9.

What is interesting about THC-O’s high is that when people compare the effects of THC vs. THC-O, they often claim the latter to be psychedelic, unlike other forms of THC that have been on the market. People have reported experiencing visuals and have compared the effects to psilocybin, the key compound in magic mushrooms. Hence, the effects you get from THC-O may be vastly different from anything else you have ever experienced when using cannabis.


Cannabis has been widely used for thousands of years, so it is not surprising that now, we have access to a massive array of studies about the effects of not only delta-9 THC but delta-8 THC as well. We have a deep understanding of how these cannabinoids work in the body through the endocannabinoid system, what they are capable of, and how to consume them responsibly.

Speaking of THC-O,as we mentioned previously THC-O is produced by chemically converting either delta 9 THC or delta 8 THC into CBD, which is subsequently converted into the cannabinoids’ acetate ester form, also known as THC-O. According to some studies, the thermal breakdown of THC-O can result in the creation of ketene, a harmful lung toxin, when sufficient heat is applied. The same thermal degradation process causes vitamin E acetate to generate ketene as well.

Side Effects

D9 THC can cause several side effects, including short-term memory loss, impaired cognitive function, increased heart rate, dry mouth, red eyes, impaired coordination and balance, and anxiety and paranoia in some individuals. Long-term use of THC may lead to addiction and other negative effects on mental health, such as depression and psychosis. It is important to use THC under medical supervision and follow dosage guidelines to minimize the risk of side effects.

The combination of heat with the acetate form of numerous compounds, including THC, is what poses a threat rather than cannabis or vaping itself. In fact, ketene might be created by heating any acetate ester. It is now known that the ketene created by a THCcart will be enough to put the user in danger. Moreover, repeated minor exposures may result in lung damage and worse. THC-O gummies, tinctures, or other edibles are not a health risk.


People use delta 9 THC to help alleviate a wide range of symptoms of different medical conditions, like pain, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, insomnia, and many others. Yet each person may react differently and experience something new to them.

THC acetate offers a number of benefits but more of a transactional way. Of course, while being highly potent, it tends to have all those perks of traditional THC. Nonetheless, it is easier to produce in large quantities than delta-9 . This means that it could be cheaper to produce if it is standardized properly.

Is THC-O Safe?

Safety profiles of THC-O and delta-9 THC are very much similar. While delta-9 THC is relatively safe in low amounts, it has been associated with a number of adverse side effects. Additionally, it is known to cause tiredness, disorientation, and an increased heart rate. THC-O is understudied, but overall can be claimed safe if consumed in the forms of edibles or topicals. As research and some medical cases have shown, vaping or smoking (delivery methods that involve product heating) may cause severe harm.

In any case, it is highly recommended to consult your doctor or healthcare provider before introducing any type of cannabinoids into your daily routine, especially if you have any ongoing medical conditions or are under any medication.

Regarding the legality of cannabinoids, there is always some confusion because the US has had a complicated relationship with cannabis for decades. Delta-9 THC and its plant-source marijuana are not federally legal. However, since the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, hemp and hemp-derived products have become federally legal. Hemp is referred to cannabis plant with a delta-9 THC level not exceeding 0.3%.

Nevertheless, some states have applied additional regulations and restrictions concerning hemp, hemp-derived goods, or synthetically made substances. Thus, hemp-derived delta 9 is legal in most jurisdictions. We would like to claim the same about hemp-derived THC-O, but recent uncovers may result in making it completely illegal under Controlled Substance Act. In any case, it is better to check beforehand what your state’s marijuana laws are.

THC O vs THC: Conclusion

It has become abundantly clear that THC-O is a completely unique cannabinoid that may share some things in common with THC and its cousins but ultimately allows for a totally different experience. It must be treated with caution and must not be vaped, smoked, or exposed to heat. On the other hand, naturally derived cannabinoids, like THC itself, will for sure continue thriving on the market delivering its users the most of it.