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What are the Main Differences Between THC and THC-O?

Over the years, most of us have developed at least a decent understanding of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the primary cannabinoids found in cannabis which is known for its psychoactive effects.  But, over the years, scientists have developed various versions of THC that affect us in different ways, with delta 8 THC being one of the most successful and widely available on the market.  Currently, there is THC-O-acetate (THC-O), which has actually been around since the 1950s, but is only now starting to become more widely known.

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How are THC and THC-O Made?

Tetrahydrocannabinol isn’t “made” because it exists in nature.  Delta 9 THC, the most abundant THC compound in cannabis, is naturally the dominant compound in marijuana which means that consuming the whole marijuana plant through any delivery method will give us the noticeable effects for which the compound is known.  Also, there are isolated THC extracts that allow us to incorporate the cannabinoid into various formulas including gummies, vape oils and more.


THC-O is different because it’s technically a synthetically derived cannabinoid.  It’s made with tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the naturally occurring precursor to THC found in cannabis, which has not yet been activated by heat.  THCA is combined with sulfuric acid and acetic anhydride before being heated to convert into THC-O.


What is THC and THC-O’s Availability?

Delta 9 THC is not a federally legal cannabinoid, but many states throughout the country have legalized it along with the marijuana plant.  Meanwhile, delta 8 and delta 10 are both legal in most states, as these cannabinoids come from the hemp plant. 


THC-O is vastly less accessible than all three of the other known THC cannabinoids, simply because it’s new to the market.  While THC-O was actually developed in the 1950s, it wasn’t until the new hemp laws were passed in 2018 that its legality changed.  And, naturally, it has taken a while for companies to develop THC-O due to the complicated process of making it. 


THC-O, being so new to the market, is scarce in terms of the variety of products available, while you can find THC in everything from body lotions to cookies.  But, as time goes on, we highly anticipate a wider selection of THC-O products to choose from, as more and more companies aim to develop their own product lines that center around this compound.


What is the Legality of THC and THC-O’s?

When it comes to the legality of cannabinoids, there is always some confusion, because our country has had a complicated relationship with cannabis for decades.  Delta 9 THC and its plant source marijuana are not federally legal, although a growing number of states have legalized them.  Delta 8 THC, like we said, is federally legal but banned in some states, along with delta 10.

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With THC-O, things are even more complicated.  As of now, it appears that THC-O is federally legal, because it’s made from the hemp plant rather than the marijuana plant, and contains less than 0.3% delta 9 THC as is required by law.  Never in our country’s history has there been any legislation that directly relates to THC-O.  Now, if delta 8 THC is banned where you live, you likely won’t be able to acquire THC-O, because some state laws have gotten quite specific about how cannabinoids must be derived in order to be legal.


How Potent are THC and THC-O?

Perhaps the most notable difference between standard THC and THC-O is the potency.  THC-O has been reported as being 300% as psychoactive as delta 9 THC, meaning that THC-O is 3 times more potent.  This is very important to keep in mind, because most of the alternative forms of THC we have on the market are noted for being milder than delta 9.  THC-O has the potential to get you very high, which is why it is not recommended for complete THC beginners at all.


What are the Effects of THC and THC-O?

What is equally interesting about THC-O’s high is that it’s considered to be psychedelic, unlike that of delta 9 THC or 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 psychoactive mushrooms.  This means that the high you get from THC-O may be vastly different from anything else you’ve ever experienced when using cannabis.


Cannabis has been widely used for thousands of years, so it isn’t surprising that in 2021, we have access to a massive array of studies pertaining to 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.  Still, THC-O is a bit like the wild west of the cannabis world, as no studies have yet been done that provide us with insight into the compound’s relationship to individual cannabinoid receptors, or what the compound can be useful for. 

Their Chemical Stability

Another thing that’s important to remember is that THC-O is known for being unstable, while THC is generally stable in its various forms.  THC-O can degrade quickly if oxidized, which is why the process of producing it is exceedingly difficult, and why you must be careful when storing it to avoid heat, light, humidity, and exposure to oxygen.

THC-O: A Cannabinoid Unlike Any Other

It has become abundantly clear that THC-O is a completely unique cannabinoid that may share some things in common with THC, but ultimately allows for a totally different experience while being derived using completely distinctive means.  Now that THC-O can be purchased, you can see for yourself how it differs from other forms of THC that you’ve tried in the past.

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