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What Is THC-O Acetate? | Legality, Side Effects, & Risks

Marijuana is among the most popular drugs in the world. It’s a mix of dried parts from the marijuana plant, which is a type of cannabis plant. It remains illegal in many states.

However, in 2018, the U.S. government passed the Farm Bill, which legalized another type of cannabis plant called hemp.

Since then, numerous American smoke shops have started selling hemp-derived cannabis products. Many of these products contain a substance called THC-O acetate, or THC-O.

What Is THC-O?

THC-O is a THC analog. That means it’s chemically similar to delta-9 THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Delta-9 THC is classified as a natural cannabinoid. Natural cannabinoids are compounds found in the cannabis plant. In contrast, THC-O is a synthetic cannabinoid. That means it’s produced artificially in laboratories.

Producing & Selling THC-O

To produce THC-O, a laboratory technician first extracts a cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD) from the hemp plant.

They then extract a form of THC called delta-8 THC from the CBD. Finally, they add an organic solvent called acetic anhydride to the delta-8 THC, which turns it into THC-O.

THC-O is typically sold in tinctures, vape cartridges (also called “vape carts”), and edibles (such as THC-O gummies).

Effects Of THC-O

Like delta-9 THC, THC-O has psychoactive effects. However, because the substance is so new, researchers have not yet studied its effects. That’s why most of the information surrounding THC-O comes directly from people who have used it.

Many individuals report that the substance’s effects kick in more slowly compared to other cannabinoids. This is probably because it’s a prodrug, which means it does not activate until your body metabolizes it.

Most people start feeling the effects within 15 to 20 minutes. The most common effects are altered senses (such as seeing brighter colors or hearing louder sounds), altered sense of time, euphoria (intense joy), and increased appetite.

THC-O can also cause unpleasant side effects such as:

  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • dizziness
  • trouble thinking, remembering, or solving problems

Also, some people claim that THC-O is more likely to cause psychedelic or hallucinogenic effects than other cannabinoids. These effects may include:

  • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there)
  • spiritual experiences
  • intense mood changes

Risks Of THC-O

Since researchers are just now starting to examine THC-O, little is known about its potential health risks. In addition, the substance’s production is not regulated. That’s why you should think carefully before trying it.

Also, some reports claim that THC-O is three times as powerful as delta-9 THC. That means it may be more likely to cause the health problems commonly associated with delta-9 THC products and other cannabinoids. These problems include:

Mental Health Problems

Some studies have linked cannabis to mental health concerns such as:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • suicidal thoughts
  • psychosis (a temporary loss of connection with reality characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia)

Cognitive Problems

If you start using cannabis as a teenager, the drug may hinder your brain development. You may then struggle with cognitive functions such as thinking, learning, and remembering.

Poor Birth Outcomes

If you use cannabis while pregnant, you may face a higher risk of premature birth and stillbirth. The drug may also negatively affect the fetus’s brain development.

Poor Quality Of Life

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), people who regularly use large amounts of cannabis are more likely to experience:

  • relationship issues
  • poor academic and career performance
  • poor mental and physical health
  • lower overall life satisfaction


Contrary to popular belief, cannabis can be addictive, especially if you start using it before age 18. The most common sign of cannabis addiction is physical dependence. That means your body starts relying on the drug to function normally.

If you stop using it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • trouble sleeping
  • intense cravings for cannabis

Other signs of cannabis addiction may include:

  • mood swings
  • loss of motivation
  • loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • decline in personal hygiene

If you think you or someone you love is addicted to cannabis, seek help at a substance abuse treatment center.

Is THC-O Legal?

Because it’s derived from legal hemp, THC-O is technically legal. However, some people question its legal status because it’s so similar to delta-9 THC, which has yet to achieve legalization on a federal level.

Will THC-O Show Up On A Drug Test?

While not yet confirmed by studies, THC-O products can most likely be detected on drug tests, including urine, blood, and hair tests. In fact, if the substance is indeed more potent than delta-9 THC, it may be more easily detectable.

If you or someone you love struggles with cannabis use, please contact a Recovering Champions specialist. Our compassionate treatment providers offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you recover from drug abuse and addiction.

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