THC-O Explained - And How To Infuse it with Terpenes!
Posted by Jack O'Leary on
With more and more attention being dedicated to the cannabis plant, we are seeing new types of cannabinoids appearing every few weeks now. As delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC hold the spotlight, another hemp-derived cannabinoid has entered the arena, and this one is no lightweight.
THC-O is said to be about 2-3x stronger than standard THC.
While it's said to be 3x stronger than typical delta-9 THC, this variant of the cannabinoid is legal because it is hemp derived. All hemp-derived cannabinoids became protected under the 2018 Farm Bill, so experimentation and research has kicked up considerably. However, THC-O is not a newly discovered cannabinoid. In fact, it's been around since the 1970's. Since then, the compound has primarily gone unresearched–that is until the Farm Bill passed. The Farm Bill made it much more accessible to uncover its chemical properties and effects.
RELATED: Delta-8 and Terpenes!
WHAT IS THC-O ACETATE?
THC-O-acetate is a synthesized cannabinoid, meaning that you can't extract the compound from the cannabis plant like you can in order to obtain concentrated levels of pure delta 8 or delta 9. THC-O, as you’ve probably guessed, is psychoactive, like all THC compounds. But, while delta 8 and delta 10 are known for being milder than delta 9, THC-O is anything but. This cannabinoid is striking in terms of its potency, which is about 3 times as psychoactive as standard delta-9 THC.
THE PSYCHEDELIC CANNABINOID
As THC-O is about 3x as potent as delta 9 THC, you can expect this cannabinoid to get you, well, pretty high. But, its psychoactive effects go beyond those associated with a typical THC high, such as feeling giggly, sleepy, and introspective. THC-O is nicknamed “the spiritual cannabinoid” for a reason. Unlike any other cannabinoid in cannabis, including both marijuana and hemp, THC-O-acetate produces a psychedelic experience, almost more similar to the intoxication associated with psilocybin.
It can take you on a “trip” in which you find yourself introspective on an entirely new level, and the few people who have actually taken THC-O over the years have said that this trip can be quite cathartic as they are able to confront their personal demons. People even describe its effects as highly spiritual, and this could make it useful in controlled therapeutic environments in the future, should it become an accessible cannabinoid.
THC-O vs THC
The two are very similar in chemical structure. The acetylated version of THC is significantly more bioavailable than the non-acetylated version. Once THC-O is absorbed, the unique functional group (-O) is removed — allowing the THC to exert its effects as usual — only at a much higher dose.
Another cannabinoid, called THCP, is even stronger than THC-O — with more than 30 times the potency of delta 9 THC.
HOW IS THC-O ACETATE MADE?
You can produce THC-O Acetate from Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC. I recently read a Chemical Society write-up that described the process succinctly. Essentially, first, you need to create Delta-8, which is a THC isomer. You do this by “refluxing [hemp-derived] CBD in an organic solvent, such as toluene or heptane, with p-toluene sulfonic acid or another acid that serves as a catalyst.” Once you have Delta-8, you’re ready to convert it to THCO
According to the article, THC-O Acetate is an acetylated form of THC, meaning it does not naturally occur in cannabis plants. Acetylated compounds like THCOA are prevalent in pharmaceuticals. Chemical Society uses the example of acetylating morphine into heroin, but I think that’s an unnecessarily scary illustration. Another less frightening example is Aspirin, which scientists created by acetylating Salicylic Acid.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO CONSUME THC-O?
We are still determining THC-O Acetate’s precise metabolic processes. It is believed that THC-O can't be exposed to over 400 degrees Fahrenheit or the acetate in its composition burns off. Some evidence suggests THC-O Acetate may behave as a prodrug orally, which means it could potentially convert to Delta-9 in the liver. But no one knows for sure yet.
Through vaping, you can keep the temperature below 400. Plus, it’s rapidly combusted, delivering effects that are vastly different than Delta-9, so vaping the cannabinoid is most likely the best move.
- Full Body and Mental Experience
- Strong Buzz
- Psychedelic Experience
- Spiritual Compound
THC-O ACETATE SIDE EFFECTS
- May Experience Intense High
- Dry Mouth
- Strong Body High
- Psychedelic Experience (for those not interested in that)
THC-O AND TERPENES
Because THC-O is a cannabinoid like THC, delta-8, or CBD, it can be flavored to taste your preferred cannabis strain.
THC-O blends terpenes and can be used to enhance THC-O's qualities, or counteract some of its flaws. To give you a clear example, Leafly, the industry’s go-to source for all things related to cannabis and cannabis strains, shares that the Grape God strain uses myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and beta-pinene, which may help exhibit better sleep (thanks to myrcene), while also reducing pain and inflammation (due to both the THC and beta-caryophyllene). If there are certain characteristics of the synthetic cannabinoid that you don't care for, consider infusing it with terpenes that will counteract this effect!
To go further in-depth with these terpenes and how THC-O works better with them, one example included in a review by Dr. Ethan Russo (neurologist and pharmacologist who studies cannabis compounds) titled “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects” shared that Pinene helps counteract compromised memory caused by THC. And, there are many more terpenes that can be combined with Delta-8 THC to enhance its effects and boost its powerful benefits.
MIXING THC-O & TERPENES
There are not many instructional blogs and videos about preparing to mix your THC-O with terpenes, so you may have to expiriment a bit to determine the best formula. It is said that THC-O is commonly thinner and runnier than most cannabinoids, so it may need to be mixed with another thicker phytocannaboid, if you are looking for a more viscous consistency. A standard bit of mixing information needed is the ratio - which we have found commonly is:
However, 10% my be too generous. If possible, try less like 6-8% and test your products flavor and aroma, and go from there. You can always add delicious terpenes more as you see fit. This formula may not work for THC-O as it has not had nearly enough experimentation done as other cannabinoids.
Have you tried THC-O?
If so, what did you think of it?
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If you have a few dry buds and want to enhance their effect using terpenes, remember to not go overboard. Terpenes are highly concentrated so a little can go a long way.
I’ve tried a few vapes with THC-O and found that THC-O can work synergistically with delta 8 and HHC. Delta 8 seems to “kick it in” and depending on the terpene profile, the effect will lean Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid. HHC makes it a very good sleep aid, onset is immediate. THC-O by itself with just a terpene, I found to most like D9 and whatever terpene profile one chose was the effect, delay was about 20 minutes until main effects present. In all cases, the effects last about 4-6 hours if you resist hitting the vape, although within 2 hours one might want a boost. The biggest difference is D8 is easy to get used to and I tend to vape more often, or it stops working for me. THC-O hasn’t given me that issue. I tried a cart with HHC, D8, THC-O, and THC-P in it and while strong, THC-O was the clear leader of the group, washing out the effects of THC-P. I also found THC-O to feel more natural and offer a better high than THC-P, no matter how it’s combined. Vaping some THC-O flower is my next experiment. I’ll skip smoking any flower since temps over 400 burn off the acetate.