THC-O vs THC: What are the Main Differences Between Them?

July 12, 2021

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 is only now starting to become more widely known. 

Speaking of THC-O vs. delta 9, while the latter can be derived naturally from hemp or marijuana plant, THC-O is a very potent, semi-synthetic hemp derivative. In this article, we will cover everything about THC-O vs THC for you to get a complete understanding of these substances.

Why is THC-O becoming more popular?

As more people become aware of THC-O’s potency (especially compared to delta-9), they are likely to test it out. It is also possible that the demand for THC-O goods is increasing because of their relative novelty. Since THC-O products have been introduced only recently onto the market, they are likely to have a higher price point than other hemp-derived products. As such, they might be preferred by consumers looking to spend a bit more on higher-quality cannabis products. 

Additionally, being synthetic, THC-O is likely to be more appealing to people who are unwilling to consume whole-plant cannabis due to allergies or intolerance.

How is THC-O made?

THC-O is different as, technically, it is a synthetically made cannabinoid. Many might wonder, “Does THC O have THC?” Let’s clear that up. 

THC-O is made from THC or THCA – tetrahydrocannabinolic acid – the naturally occurring precursor to THC, 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.

Unfortunately, there are no legally established standards for creating THC-O. Hence the quality of the ready-made products can vary significantly. It is better to choose only well-known, high-quality manufacturers to avoid having low-quality products.

How is THC made?

Comparing THC vs THC-O, 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, and more.

Is THC-O Stronger than THC?

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. THC-O can get you pretty high, which is why it is not recommended for beginners at all.

What are the Effects of THC and THC-O?

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.


THC-O offers a number of benefits if comparing THC O vs. delta 9. Firstly, THC-O is easier to produce in large quantities than delta-9. This means that it could be cheaper to produce, which could lead to more affordable products for consumers in the future. In addition, THC-O can be standardized more easily than delta-9. This means that the effects of products made with THC-O might be more consistent, making them more suitable for medical applications.

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.


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. 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 robust research about the compound’s relationship to individual cannabinoid receptors or what the compound can be useful for. 

Side Effects

THC-O’s adverse effects are largely unknown since it is a relatively new compound. However, its synthetic nature may result in it having a similar side effect profile to delta-9 THC. Since the body metabolizes delta-9 THC into 11-OH-THC, it is logical to assume that THC-O would produce the same metabolic products.

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. The most common side effect of delta-9 THC is anxiety. Additionally, it is known to cause tiredness, disorientation, and an increased heart rate. While it is not fully clear yet if THC-O is totally safe, it is likely that it is no more or less safe than delta-9 THC. 

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

Is THC-O legal?

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. In any case, it is better to check beforehand what your state’s marijuana laws are.


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. Now that THC-O can be purchased, you can try and see for yourself how it differs from other THC forms that you’ve tried in the past.