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What Is THC-O and Why Is It Dangerous?

When a new cannabinoid appears on the market, it's essential to be careful and do your research before consuming it. On the other hand, it's also hard to get information about new products due to the lack of data, research, and unbiased information. 

THC-O is a relatively new cannabinoid on the market, but don't worry; we are here to tell you everything you need to know about it, including the dangers when you consume it. 

What Is THC-O? Is THC-O Natural?

THC-O is a combination of Delta 8 and acetic anhydride. THC-O is not natural.

Compared to other cannabis products such as CBG, CBD, and CBN, THC-O is synthetic and not derived naturally from the hemp plant. Instead, it has to be made in the lab with the proper equipment and by using dangerous chemicals such as acetic anhydride, which is highly corrosive. While it is a derivative of delta 8 (which is a safe, usually synthetic, cannabinoid), THC-O requires the presence of acetic anhydride, which is highly flammable and should be used only with proper equipment in a lab. 

Don't get confused! THC-O also goes by tetrahydrocannabinol-O-acetate or THC-O acetate, but it's all the same product

Sidenote: Please be aware that this is not to say that all synthetic compounds are dangerous! Read on to find out why this tidbit is important.

THC-O Effects

Most people who have tried THC-O have reported that it has mildly psychedelic effects, but these effects also take a little bit longer to kick in. It can be anything from 20 minutes to a whole hour before you begin to feel it. 

While some say that THC-O can have positive effects such as pain relief, boosting appetite, and reducing anxiety, others report effects such as paranoia, hallucinations, increased anxiety, vomiting, dizziness, and even seizures. 

Is THC-O Legal?

THC-O is legal in some states and decriminalized in others, while in some states, it's illegal. However, it's important for you to know that the DEA could start considering it a synthetic drug in the near future; hence making it illegal. Let's take a look at the states that allow and don't allow THC-O. 

THC-O is legal in the following states:

  1. Alabama 
  2. California 
  3. Connecticut 
  4. Florida 
  5. Georgia 
  6. Hawaii 
  7. Illinois 
  8. Indiana 
  9. Kansas
  10. Kentucky
  11. Louisiana 
  12. Maine 
  13. Maryland 
  14. Massachusetts 
  15. Michigan 
  16. Minnesota 
  17. Missouri
  18. Nebraska 
  19. Nevada 
  20. New Hampshire
  21. New Jersey
  22. New Mexico 
  23. North Carolina 
  24. North Dakota
  25. Ohio
  26. Oklahoma 
  27. Oregon
  28. Pennsylvania
  29. South Carolina
  30. South Dakota 
  31. Tennessee 
  32. Texas 
  33. Virginia 
  34. Washington 
  35. West Virginia 
  36. Wisconsin 
  37. Wyoming

THC-O is illegal in the following states:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. Colorado
  5. Delaware
  6. Idaho
  7. Iowa 
  8. Mississippi
  9. Montana 
  10. New York 
  11. Rhode Island 
  12. Utah 
  13. Vermont 

Please be aware that laws are always changing, and this list may not be 100% accurate as time goes on.

Currently, THC-O is legal in most states as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill. Every state that didn't ban Delta 8 also allows the consumption of THC-O. However, since THC-O is not natural and consists of synthetic elements, it's still unclear whether it's completely legal. 

New regulations may eventually prohibit it. Even though THC-O is not yet declared a Schedule I substance because it has a legal concentration of THC, its synthetic elements could soon put it on that list. 

The danger of THC-O really lies in regulation. Currently, it is completely unregulated, and businesses who produce it take advantage of this grey area. 

How Is THC-O Made?

Before we dive into details, it's important to know that compared to other cannabinoids, such as CBD and CBG, THC-O cannot be made in a lab without proper equipment. You can't make THC-O at home since it consists of highly flammable and dangerous chemicals.

There are three crucial steps in the production of THC-O:

  1. Extract CBD from the raw hemp plant.
  2. Extract Delta 8 from CBD.
  3. Add acetic anhydride to delta 8 and get THC-O. 

The last step is the same that is used to convert vitamin E to vitamin E acetate (the component responsible for the EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Use-Associated Lung Injury) epidemic in 2019 & 2020.
Acetic anhydride increases the absorption rate and potency, making it a crucial element of THC-O. This means there is no natural or safe way to produce it.  

Is THC-O Safe?

Since THC-O is new on the market, it's early to speak about its safety. There is very little research about how it influences our bodies long-term. Does that make THC-O unsafe? We'd say yes because it's a synthetic drug, and we still don't know the long-term effects of consuming it.

Since THC-O takes a little bit of time to kick in and feel the effects, this can prompt some people to take another dose. Because THC-O does produce psychedelic effects–consuming another dose can be extremely dangerous and lead to negative side effects.

Another danger lies in vaping. Like Vitamin E Acetate, when heated above its decomposition temperature, ketene is generated. Ketene is a respiratory poison that can exhibit delayed toxicity to alveolar structures (mainly capillaries) to produce death by pulmonary edema. Ketene is lethal at high concentrations, but even at lower concentrations, irritation and impairment have been observed. However, it may take up to 24 hours for severe damage to the lungs to manifest. In December 2022, a research letter on THC-O was published. The conclusion was that there is a "risk of pulmonary toxicity from vaping THC-O. Depending on the dose and duration of use, the toxicity might be acute or chronic."

While it may not have immediate consequences at low concentrations, when you use it consistently, you are putting yourself at risk. This goes for any cannabis product that contains acetate, which is why we don't advise smoking or vaping these types of products (and we will never sell products with this ingredient). 

Not only can consuming it be dangerous, the process of making THC-O is definitely dangerous. Corrosive and flammable chemicals that are crucial to making THC-O pose a risk of fire and explosion. Only well-equipped labs can make THC-O safely; even then, there is a risk that those chemicals could still end up in the final product. Because of that, it's crucial to have a third-party lab test the product! This is why South Tip provides 3rd party lab testing for all of our COAs and takes product safety very seriously.

We don’t sell THC-O products for this very reason. Proceed with caution! 

TLDR; Final Thoughts on THC-O

While it may be tempting to try cannabis products with such a high potency and a chance to get you high like THC-O, we don’t think it’s worth the risk of the consequences you & your body could suffer. 

There are a plethora of cannabis products in different forms that are completely safe to use 

and have multiple advantages, so why not go for them instead of risking your well-being? Natural, good-quality CBD products that are tested in 3rd party labs are the way to go if you want to experience the benefits of cannabis products without having to worry about the dangers that synthetic drugs could expose you to. 

Put yourself first, and always consume products with enough data to back up the claims that they are safe!

The Food and Drug Administration does not evaluate the products sold on this Website. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any medical conditions. Individual results may vary. Always consult with a medical health professional before using any product on this Website.