THC-O is a cannabinoid that’s taking the market by storm, and THC-O products like vapes and gummies are the latest trend.
THC-O is closely related to delta-9 THC, the primary intoxicating chemical in cannabis. However, there are a few key differences to be aware of. Here are some of the most interesting facts about THC-O.
THC-O Is Even More Potent Than THC
THC-O and delta-9 THC have similar chemical structures. However, THC-O has an additional group of atoms known as an acetate group. For this reason, it is sometimes known as THC-O acetate.
The acetate group means that THC-O crosses the blood-brain barrier easily, and the body can use it more efficiently than delta-9 THC. Therefore, it causes an even stronger high. There are few scientific studies on the effects of THC-O products. However, anecdotal reports suggest that THC-O is 2–3 times stronger than delta-9.
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THC-O Is Known as the “Spiritual Cannabinoid”
Because of their potency, THC-O products can induce psychedelic effects. They include visual and auditory hallucinations, euphoria, and increased spirituality.
However, there is a significant risk of side effects if someone overconsumes this powerful cannabinoid. They include confusion, drowsiness, and fainting. Therefore, it is essential to go low and slow when using THC-O for the first time. Some sources suggest that it can take 30 minutes for THC-O to kick in, so be patient if it seems like nothing is happening at first.
THC-O Has Been Around Longer Than You Think
Although THC-O products have only hit the market in the last couple of years, scientists have known about this compound for decades.
It was first isolated from a Brazilian cannabis strain in 1973. Some people have even speculated that it may have been one of the chemicals tested by the US government during the Edgewood Arsenal human experiments that ran from 1950-1975. These experiments investigated the effects of non-lethal but incapacitating substances like hallucinogens for military use.
Making THC-O Products Is a Complex Process
THC-O products are usually sourced from industrial hemp, which is legal as per the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill ensures that hemp with a delta-9 THC content of 0.3% or less is federally legal in the United States.
Unfortunately, THC-O does not occur naturally in hemp and must be created by a process known as cannabinoid conversion. It involves taking naturally-occurring CBD from hemp, converting it to delta-9 THC, and then to THC-O. The result is an oily liquid that lends itself perfectly to making THC-O products like vapes and gummies.
However, making THC-O from CBD involves using toxic and highly flammable chemicals like acetic anhydride. Therefore, it should only be attempted by fully trained professionals in approved facilities.
Are THC-O Products Legal? Are They Safe?
Many THC-O manufacturers claim that their products are legal, but, in reality, they exist in somewhat of a gray area.
On the one hand, the 2018 Farm Bill ensured that hemp-derived cannabinoids are legal, provided they contain under 0.3% delta-9 THC. On this basis, many companies are creating THC-O products and shipping them throughout the United States.
However, the 1986 Federal Analog Act states that any THC analog is a schedule 1 controlled substance and, therefore, prohibited. There are not yet any clear guidelines regarding the legality of THC-O products, although several states have already banned them. There are concerns regarding the risks of the cannabinoid conversion process and the lack of research in general.
Regarding the safety of THC-O products, the jury is still out. Until we have more evidence from scientific studies, we cannot fully understand the short and long-term effects of THC-O on the body.
Common sense dictates that products like vapes may be more harmful than those consumed orally, like gummies. However, without further research, the overall safety of THC-O products remains unknown.
Another issue is the lack of market regulation. Companies are free to manufacture THC-O products with very little oversight from the FDA. Therefore, the quality of some items is questionable. When purchasing THC-O, be sure to conduct adequate research first and only consider brands that are transparent about their ingredients and provide third-party lab reports.