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What is THC-O?

Hemp-derived THC-based cannabinoids are in high demand these days, with delta 8 THC being the most sought-after and available on the market.  But, there is another form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) destined to be a success: THC-O.  Short for THC-O-acetate, it’s a compound that one should be careful about when comparing to delta 8 THC, because while the two may come from the hemp plant in the most general sense, THC-O is distinctive in a way that makes it behave unlike any other form of THC that we’ve ever experienced.

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What Exactly is THC-O Anyway?

THC-O-acetate is a cannabinoid that is ultimately derived from the hemp plant, but it’s processed synthetically to change its molecular structure, which in turn changes the effects that it has on the body.  This means you cannot simply extract THC-O from hemp like you can other cannabinoids like delta 8 or even cannabidiol (CBD)


Unsurprisingly, THC-O-acetate is a psychoactive cannabinoid, as we have come to expect from all forms of THC.  Delta 8 THC is known for being a milder form of delta 9 THC, as is delta 10 THC, the newer minor cannabinoid on the market.  The biggest difference between THC-O and these other alternative THC compounds is that it’s actually more potent than delta 9 – at least 3x, to be exact, making it powerfully psychoactive.


THC-O has never been on the market before, mainly due to the extremely complex process of producing it.  What this means is that there is not yet any concrete research pertaining to its desirable effects like we do when it comes to CBD and other popular hemp cannabinoids.  Nor do we yet have any clear idea as to its role in the endocannabinoid system, including the specific cannabinoid receptors that it works with in the body.


Another thing worth knowing about THC-O-acetate is that in its isolated form, it exists as a thick, dark brown oil that’s ethanol-soluble.  This oil, like distillates and isolates, can be used easily in formulas for tinctures, vape oils, edibles and other common delivery methods, while being flavorless and odorless.


What are the Psychoactive Properties of THC-O?

The small number of individuals who have used THC-O-acetate in the past have given it its nickname, the “spiritual cannabinoid”, because its unique psychoactive properties are far more intense than those associated with delta 8, delta 10, and even delta 9.  THC-O is not only psychoactive, but it’s a psychedelic cannabinoid that is more commonly compared to psilocybin than marijuana.  It can cause a hallucinogenic trip that users of the cannabinoid have described as spiritually cathartic and awakening.  That being said, many people find it extremely worthwhile due to the positive experience that can result from taking it.



Most of us reading this article have either never heard of THC-O-acetate, or have only recently heard of it, despite the fact that it’s actually been around for decades.  It was first developed at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland in the 1950s, specifically for military purposes, to see if this compound could incapacitate opponents.  The only study on THC-O was one in which it was administered to dogs, and was found to impair their mobility due to decreasing their muscular function, and this was when it was determined that its effects are far more potent than those of delta 9 THC in marijuana.

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THC-O has remained a relatively unknown cannabinoid ever since, and creating it requires far too much skill for it to have developed a large underground presence.  An exception took place in 1978, when a Jacksonville, Florida resident was creating it before getting shut down by the local government.


As for the legal history of THC-O-acetate, it’s surprisingly minimal.  Ultimately, THC-O is not a banned substance in the United States, and as companies that are currently producing it are deriving it from the hemp plant, it likely falls under the Farm Bill of 2018, which determines that all hemp derivatives are legal to sell and purchase as long as they contain no more than 0.3% delta 9 THC.  The lack of legislature pertaining to THC-O specifically has a lot to do with the fact that the compound has been so scarce over the years that it’s not even on the radar of those in charge.


How is It Produced?

Making THC-O is not recommended at home, for a few reasons.  One is that the process of making it is incredibly involved, and requires a background in chemistry.  The cannabinoid has a reputation for being extremely unstable, and so there’s a good chance that an amateur trying to produce it would accidentally destabilize it and thus end up with a useless product.


Also, the process involves the use of very caustic materials which therefore makes it dangerous.  Because it is slowly emerging on the open market, you should simply wait for it to be available for purchase, leaving it to the experts.


So, how is it made?  It starts with tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA), which is the raw precursor to the THC that we’re all familiar with.  THCA is simply THC that has yet to be decarboxylated, or “activated” through application of heat.  THCA is combined with sulfuric acid and acetic anhydride to be converted into THC-O, before it’s heated in a controlled manner to radically change the cannabinoid’s molecular makeup, thus converting it into THC-O.  It is crucial that oxidization is avoided as the instability of the cannabinoid can quickly degrade when exposed to oxygen/


Check Out What the World of THC-O Has to Offer Today!

THC-O-acetate is, without a doubt, a fascinating cannabinoid to say the least, and one that’s very different from delta 8 THC which is currently enjoying huge popularity.  Still, THC-O is extremely potent, and should best be reserved for those who already have a good tolerance to the psychoactive effects of other forms of THC.  As THC-O does become available on the market, you can expect to find it in familiar forms like gummies and vape oils that come in a rich array of popular strains. 

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