What is THC-o? Effects & benefits of the hemp-derived cannabinoid

THC- O is a cannabinoid like CBD, CBC, and many others and is also a THC analog. Unlike many natural THC variants, it is synthetic and prepared by introducing acetate anhydride to delta- 8-free CBD extract. It is more potent than delta- 8 and -9 and may have the same effects as these THC variants in low amounts but becomes more psychoactive in high dosages.

THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid, has many variants, with THC-O being one of them. THC-O is a psychedelic chemical compound in cannabis that’s synthesized from CBD. It occurs naturally, but to make it THC-O that people can take advantage of, it has to be synthesized from delta- 8- free CBD using acetate anhydride. Since it is more potent than delta- 9 and- 8, it is taken in small amounts to realize the same effects. Higher dosages of this cannabinoid lead to high psychoactive effects and might even be immobilized. Here is all you need to know about THC-O.

Understanding THC- O

THC-O bears THC as part of its name, showing that it is related to the psychoactive THC, responsible for weed’s ‘high’ effects (Schlienz et al., 2018). THC- O is an artificial cannabinoid resembling THC in chemical structure. Being a cannabinoid from hemp plants, you expect it to be more natural. However, since it cannot be extracted directly and requires manufacturing, it is more synthetic.

Producing THC- O

THC- O is synthetic, but how is it produced? Its production process is dangerous and may also make the cannabinoid toxic. Unlike other THC homologs produced by chromatography techniques, THC- O is produced with the intervention of acetate anhydride. It starts with the extraction of CBD through high pressure and appropriate solvents. The next step involves removing delta- 8 THC from CBD, making a delta- 8-free, non-psychoactive CBD (Massi et al. 2006). The next step involves introducing acetate anhydride to the CBD extract, after which you make THC- O.

Should You Make THC- O at Home?

Although it is possible to make THC- O at home, it is a dangerous process. Acetate anhydride, the compound used in making THC- O from the delta- 8-free CBD, is highly flammable. Consequently, the process may result in a fire; hence you should not attempt it at home. Instead, you can consider trusted sources when shopping for THC-O products.

How Does THC-O Make You Feel?

It is worth noting that THC- O is a stronger variant of THC and happens to be as 3 times as strong as delta- 9 and 5 times as potent as delta- 8. Being a THC analog, you expect it to be psychoactive since studies found THC psychoactive, including Schlienz et al. (2018). Still, the psychoactive effects of THC are more pronounced in THC- O because the latter is more potent. Therefore, when consumed in similar amounts as delta- 9 THC, it leads to intensified ‘high’ effects, leaving a person feeling more stoned.

Use Smaller Dosages with THC- O

Since THC- O is more potent than delta- 9 THC, you only need smaller dosages to attain the high effects. If you want to have everything in control and not let the ‘high’ effect overwhelm you, you should consider smaller THC- O dosages. There is insufficient research on THC- O as a compound, but anecdotal evidence shows that smaller dosages are enough to produce the same effects of THC. Besides, you also want to keep it low to avoid the side effects of THC.

Limited Studies on THC-O

Unfortunately, there are limited studies on THC- O. Most research papers referred to in the case of THC- O offer insufficient scientific evidence for the claims linked to the cannabinoid, and they mostly refer to anecdotal cases. So far, we know that it is synthetic and cannot make it a compound without human intervention. It is also clear that it is stronger than other THC variants, and its high dosages do not go well with people.

Is THC- O Safe?

The cannabis space has many cannabinoids, and one common question across all of them is the safety concern. Generally, studies related to THC-O are limited, and not so much is available on the safety profile of the synthetic cannabinoid. However, because THC- O is only made by adding acetate anhydride to CBD, you need to take it slow. The solvent may leave traces in the final product, compromising the safety of THC- O. Sadly, the cannabis space is largely unregulated, leaving a leeway for cannabis brands to deal in substandard products. Therefore, request a CoA for any cannabis product to know the safety profile of what you are buying.

Benefits of Hemp-Derived THC- O

Because of the limited studies on THC-O, the benefits of this cannabinoid remain unknown. However, you may attribute the health benefits of THC- O to THC. For instance, Uberall (2020) reported that THC might help with pain, and other THC variants, including THC- O, may have the same properties. Besides, Childs et al. (2017) reported that THC might relieve stress and anxiety, and THC- O might have similar anxiolytic properties. Still, we don’t recommend THC- O for treating or curing any health conditions until sufficient studies with enough scientific evidence prove this.

Is THC- O Legal?

The legality of many cannabis products is complex, and THC- O is no exception. When the Farm Bill was passed in 2018, hemp and its extracts with less than 0.3% THC were declared federally legal. Yet, most hemp-derived extracts, including THC- O, have their legality in the gray zone. The same law that declared hemp with less than 0.3% THC allowed states to formulate cannabis laws that may declare the federally legal products illegal at state levels. Besides, the same laws state that all synthetic cannabinoids are illegal, even when derived from hemp. As such, THC- O is technically illegal.


THC- O is a synthetic cannabinoid prepared by extracting CBD, removing delta- 8 from it, and adding acetate anhydride. The acetate solvent is highly flammable, making it unsafe to prepare THC-O at home. THC- O is more potent than delta- 8 and -9, so you only need it in small dosages to feel the same effects. THC- O is psychoactive and may be highly psychedelic in high amounts like other THC variants. Its health benefits are yet to be revealed since its studies are limited.


Childs, E., Lutz, J. A., & de Wit, H. (2017). Dose-related effects of delta-9-THC on emotional responses to acute psychosocial stress. Drug and alcohol dependence177, 136-144.

Massi, P., Vaccani, A., Bianchessi, S., Costa, B., Macchi, P., & Parolaro, D. (2006). The non-psychoactive cannabidiol triggers caspase activation and oxidative stress in human glioma cells. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS63(17), 2057-2066.

Überall, M. A. (2020). A review of scientific evidence for THC: CBD oromucosal spray (nabiximols) in the management of chronic pain. Journal of Pain Research, 13, 399.

Schlienz, N. J., Lee, D. C., Stitzer, M. L., & Vandrey, R. (2018). The effect of high-dose dronabinol (oral THC) maintenance on cannabis self-administration. Drug and alcohol dependence187, 254-260.


Marie Salbuvik

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