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You probably hear a lot about cannabis and marijuana products as they become legal in more and more states.

First, there was THC and CBD, and you may have even heard of Delta-8 and CBN.

With so many THC compounds floating around, it can be hard to believe that there is already another one that’s getting a lot of attention, seemingly out of nowhere: THC-O.  

Short for THC-O-acetate, it is a psychoactive THC derivative that delivers uniquely powerful potency. 

But what exactly is this mysterious new cannabinoid, and what makes it so different from the rest?

What is THC-O?

THC-O acetate is a synthetic analog of delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.

THC-O may be new to our burgeoning cannabis market, but it has been around for decades. In the 50s, it was tested by the military to determine whether or not it could be used as a weapon to incapacitate soldiers of the opposing side.

It was also tested on dogs and was shown to impair their muscle function significantly, far more potently than standard delta 9 THC derived from marijuana.

Although THC-O is a synthetic cannabinoid, that does not necessarily mean it is overly processed or dangerous; it just puts this cannabinoid in its own class of drug.

THC-O is only lightly synthesized. Acetylation does not involve common dangerous substances often in formulating other synthetic drugs.

THC-O is also unique because its effects are not immediate since it is only activated after the liver has processed it. But once the cannabinoid is activated, you can expect to feel effects up to three times as potent as THC! 

Is THC-O Legal?

As an analog of THC, a still federally illegal substance, you may have valid concerns about just how legal THC-O is. 

Well, that’s hard to say. 

The only form of THC specifically named under the Controlled Substances Act is delta 9 THC.

However, technically protected under the 2018 Farm Bill’s definition of industrial hemp, alternative THC forms are usually not considered illegal drugs in their natural forms.

Since products contain only THC-O made from 100% Hemp extract, companies can fully legally manufacture, distribute and sell to consumers in the United States.

Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, products containing less than 0.3% THC is legally classified as hemp and thus is legal for all intents and purposes under federal law.

Let’s also not forget that THC itself isn’t federally illegal; only specifically Delta 9-THC is.

The problem with THC-O arises in the fact that it is synthesized. Unfortunately, the DEA views natural and synthesized substances differently and modified forms of cannabinoids are not covered under the 2018 Farm Bill.

If there ever were to be a federal purge of non-delta 9 cannabinoids, THC-O might find itself first on the list due to its synthetic status. 

Still, at the present moment, this information is not helpful. It’s not like the cannabinoid can be found in a local dispensary, even where marijuana is recreationally legal.

It used to be challenging to get, but with new THCO products and vape cartridges released daily, you could find out what it potentially offers in terms of its “one-of-a-kind high.” All due to the 2018 Farm Bill. 

Where can I buy THC-O?

Being flavorless and odorless, like all isolated cannabinoids, and like cannabinoid extracts that we are familiar with, it can be used as a base active ingredient to formulate everything from vape oils to edibles.

THC-O products include THC-O vape cartridges, THC-O disposables, and even THC-O gummies. 

A quick Google search reveals a handful of companies that sell THC-O products, but be sure to do your homework and use them with caution. There is no verified lab in the US with qualified reference standards or a method for testing THC-O.

Due to loose regulation, harmful chemicals can remain from the synthesis of the compound. This product is promising but still requires more research and testing.

Bottom Line

THC-O is a man-made chemical that is said to be more potent than delta 9 THC.

However, that has not been officially confirmed. Because THC o acetate is relatively new to the cannabis market, there is not a lot of research that points to its specific properties as we do for CBD and delta 9 THC.

In other words, you would be pressed to find relevant research articles showing that THC-O has specific uses such as headache relief or digestive regulation.

There is also not much information demonstrating the specific cannabinoid receptors that THC-O works with.

As legalization continues to move forward and more prominent pharmaceutical companies come on board, acetate versions of cannabinoids could be the prescription version of cannabis.

The future of THC-O is something that we will all be paying attention to, as with cannabis legalization evolving more rapidly than ever before and more and more enthusiasts seeking out specialty cannabinoid products, its demand could increase in the coming years. 


‘THC-O-acetate’ by Wikipedia. Published December 14, 2021. 

‘Meet THC-O, a hemp-derived compound three times stronger than THC’ by Max Savage Levenson. Published on August 19, 2021.

‘THC-O Is A New Cannabinoid That May Lead to Powerful Psychedelic Highs’ by Brianna Wheeler. Published September 22, 2021. 

‘Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill’ by FDA. Published July 25, 2019

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