What is THC-O?

Cannabinoids derived from hemp are becoming pretty damn popular, and rightfully so.  Cannabinoids are amazing, since hemp is legal, we can now have access to all cannabinoids except small amounts of Delta-9 THC. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that all kinds of THC are banned. Delta-8 THC has become very popular in 2021 and now other forms of THC are making a splash on the scene. One of the most interesting of these legal forms of THC is THC-O. Probably because of how crazy potent it is. THC-O can be three times stronger than regular pot! It has been called “the psychedelic cannabinoid” for its borderline hallucinatory effects. Because it’s derived from federally legal hemp, THC-O products are becoming increasingly popular in the states where consumers don’t have access to legal, state-licensed delta-9 THC products.

But what exactly is THC-O?

Comparison of Delta-9 THC vs. THC-o
Here we can see a side by side comparison of the molecular structure of Delta-9 THC and THC-O. We can see that these molecules are very similar is structure. However, THC-O is almost 3 times stronger!

What is THC-O?

THC-O is the result of adding acetic anhydride to THC. Truth is, to obtain the result of THC-O, you need to alter the THC molecule slightly. When you add acetic anhydride to THC, it becomes what is called an acetate.

The first attempt to find out what THC-O was an experiment conducted by the United States military as early as the 1940s. They were testing non-lethal incapacitating agents and, in this experiment, both THC-O and regular Delta-9 THC were both given to dogs. In the end they concluded that the dogs lost their motor functions at a significant rate.

Is THC-O Safe?

Okay! Changing the THC molecule can sound scary. One of the many things people enjoy about THC is that is a natural compound. So, it can be understood that changing the natural compound of THC might scare a few people to not consume it, and that is fine!

However, acetates are common in over-the-counter medications and foods. Aspirin is an acetate and acetates are also used to help preserve can foods. Essentially THC-O is a salt form of THC. In many ways the THC in THC-O is still THC, what is different is how your body absorbs it. There is a lack of research of whether or not THC-O is safe. So, THC-O certainly remains a bit of a mystery to us.

What Do We Know and THC-O?

Obviously, we don’t know much about THC-O.  There is a lack of research done on the compound and, because of the popularity of regular cannabis, there is a lack of anecdotal evidence on it too.

We know 2 main things about THC-O:

  • It is way stronger that Delta-9 THC (probably 3 times stronger)
  • It is a “prodrug”, meaning it is only activated when it has been metabolized.

So yeah, if you are going to consume THC-O you need to be careful, because you are going to get very high, and it is going to creep up on you. The high is super intense and it takes about an extra 20-30 minutes to kick in than regular weed.

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