THC-O vs Delta-8: Which Cannabinoid is Best?

Intoxicating cannabinoids have taken the hemp industry by storm lately, with none more sought-after than delta-8. But there’s a new kid on the block in the super-strength THC-O. I know what you are thinking: THC-O vs delta-8 – which is best?

That’s what we are going to explore in this article! We will judge the two cannabinoids on effects, product options, legality, safety, price, and more. And we will touch upon how both hold up against traditional THC.

See this table for a quick answer to the THC-O or delta-8 question. For a more in-depth analysis, keep scrolling!

THC-O vs Delta-8: A Quick Comparison

Potency (relative to THC)200% stronger than THC50 to 66% as strong as THC
Average serving10-20mg30-40mg
OriginLab-processedNatural and lab-processed
Possible side effectsAnxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, nausea, vomiting, sedation, dry eyes, dry mouth, low blood pressureAnxiety, dry mouth, hallucinations, impaired coordination, low blood pressure, nausea
Drug testsDetectableDetectable
LegalityFederally legalFederally legal

What is THC-O?

THC-O-acetate (aka THC acetate ester and THC-O) is an incredibly potent and unusual psychoactive substance. It’s 200% stronger than THC and renowned for its psychedelic-like nature, an unheard-of quality for a cannabinoid.

Every THC isomer has an acetate ester, although delta-9-THC-O is by far the most researched. However, the acetate esters of delta-8 and delta-10 have also been reported in the scientific literature – these versions are weaker than regular THC-O.

THC-O has clandestine origins, having first appeared during the Edgewood Arsenal experiments conducted between 1948 and 1975 by the U.S. Chemical Army Corps. At some point, THC-O was trialed as a non-lethal incapacitating agent!

THC-O is not found in the natural world, but the extra-potent cannabinoid has emerged from the shadows since federal lawmakers approved the 2018 Farm Bill. Chemists make THC-O from delta-8, which is synthesized from hemp-derived CBD.

What is Delta-8?

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8) is a naturally occurring psychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis, albeit only in trace levels. Delta-8 is a THC isomer, and in vivo studies show the compound is 50 to 66% as potent as delta-9-THC.

Both form of THC have an identical chemical formula, but a slightly different molecular structure. Delta-8’s double bond is in the 8th carbon chain, whereas delta-9-THC’s double bond is predictably in the 9th!

Crucially, both tetrahydrocannabinols are partial CB1 receptor agonists and induce comparable psychoactive effects. The vital difference between them is that delta-8 is federally legal while THC is not.

The 2018 Farm Bill unwittingly gave rise to the hemp-derived delta-8 market. The cannabinoid is milder and more energizing than THC, but otherwise similar. Hence, delta-8 is an ideal THC substitute in states without legal recreational pot.

THC-O vs Delta-8: A Detailed Comparison

THC-O vs Delta-8: A Detailed Comparison

We opened the debate with an easy-to-digest comparison table. But that chart only gave a glimpse of the battlegrounds that the Delta-8 vs THC-O contest is fought on! Let’s take a deep dive into these 10 battlegrounds.


Standard THC-O is three times stronger than THC, and therefore between five and six times more potent than delta-8. From this, we can make an educated guess that delta-8-THC-O is roughly triple the strength of delta-8.

Frustratingly, it’s not always obvious which type of THC-O brands use, so it is hard to accurately assess product potency. However, all THC-O products are more intense than THC, and I don’t recommend them if you are inexperienced with weed.

In contrast, delta-8 is weaker than THC, and perfect if you prefer mild psychoactive effects. Maybe you hark back to the days of how marijuana used to be – and with delta-8 products, you can recapture that chilled and comfortable high.

If you cannot decide between delta-8 and THC-O, stick with the former. It’s better to be underwhelmed and wish you had taken something more powerful than to get excessively stoned on THC-O and be put off from trying either of them again.

General effects

Users describe the delta-8 high as euphoric, relaxing, mellow, and clear-headed. THC-O is a different beast, with mind-blowing intoxicating effects that feel closer to a psychedelic than pot! Some even define the THC-O trip as a spiritual experience.

Both cannabinoids increase your appetite, temporarily heighten your senses, and alter your perception of time – these are all classic psychotropic effects. And expect bouts of uncontrollable giggles when under the influence of THC-O or delta-8.

Strangely, THC-O doesn’t have an immediate effect, even if taken via a typically fast-acting product (i.e., a vape cart, disposable pen, or tincture oil). Vaped THC-O may take 30 minutes to kick in, whereas vaporized delta-8 works instantly.

The weirdly slow onset of effects is a mark against THC-O. It’s harder to get the dosage right, which is concerning for such a potent and mind-bending cannabinoid. With delta-8, any dosing issue is usually about taking too little than too much.

Side effects

Delta-8 and THC-O have comparable side effects, but they occur more easily and frequently with THC-O due to its astonishing strength. Possible side effects of both include:

  • Anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations
  • Dry mouth
  • Impaired coordination
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Short-term memory impairment

Your likelihood of suffering side effects with THC-O or delta-8 depends on your dosage, experience level, tolerance, and the environment you are in.

The cannabinoids are partial CB1 receptor agonists like THC, so likely have some addictive potential. Cannabis dependence affects 9% of users – we can predict a lower percentage for delta-8 and a higher percentage for THC-O.

Do not use THC-O or delta-8 if you have – or are predisposed to – severe mental illness. Psychoactive substances can worsen or trigger mental health conditions.

Therapeutic value

Scientists know relatively little about the effects of delta-8 and THC-O and even less about any prospective therapeutic value. But since both are chemically comparable to THC, we can make informed suggestions about possible health benefits.

THC is thought to relieve pain, alleviate nausea and vomiting, boost appetite, reduce stress, and more. In theory, delta-8 may do the same, but to a lesser extent. That mildness could help if you are prone to side effects from classic THC.

THC-O’s outrageous strength and peculiar characteristics make it a less appropriate THC substitute. Even if THC-O does have health benefits, the extended dosage response time and psychedelic effects do not bode well for therapeutic use.



Please note that we are discussing the legality of hemp-derived delta-8 and THC-O and not the marijuana-derived versions. 

There are stark legal differences at the federal and state level for both substances. Let’s start with the federal government’s position.

Federal level

The 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill) has all the juicy details! Firstly, “hemp-derived” refers to cannabinoids extracted from cannabis plants with less than 0.3% THC. 

Natural hemp-derived cannabinoids are federally legal, whereas marijuana-derived cannabinoids remain Schedule 1 drugs. But the recent legal relaxation of hemp-derived cannabinoids has spawned these exciting delta-8 and THC-O industries.

Delta-8 is federally legal as a naturally occurring hemp cannabinoid. And although the delta-8 found in products is lab-synthesized, chemists need natural CBD to make it. Per the DEA, only hemp cannabinoids from non-cannabis materials are illegal.

THC-O’s legal situation is more confusing, as the acetylated form of THC is not found in the natural world. 

We mentioned that different types of THC-O exist, with each THC isomer having an acetate ester. The DEA has not clarified its position on THC-O. However, there is an argument that the delta-9 version of THC-O is a marijuana-derived substance. 

In contrast, delta-8-THC-O comes from delta-8 distillate, which itself comes from hemp-derived CBD.

State level

As the first intoxicating hemp cannabinoid to go mainstream, delta-8 has drawn the ire of many cannabis-hating state legislators. As of August 2022, delta-8 is banned or restricted in 21 states, and some of this legislation may impact THC-O, too.

You can no longer purchase delta-8 in:

THC-O exists in a legal gray area – an even grayer one than delta-8! Delta-9-THC-O is a THC analog and illegal according to the Federal Analog Act of 1986. But since hemp-derived delta-8 is legal, its acetate ester arguably is, too.

Oregon recently took a novel approach in restricting THC-O, with a blanket ban on all artificially derived cannabinoids. Any substance made by changing the molecular structure of a hemp-derived cannabinoid is now illegal, including THC-O.

Whether more states implement such a crackdown on intoxicating hemp cannabinoids remains to be seen. But at present, delta-8 is still the primary focus of lawmakers, and THC-O is less restricted at the state level.

Product variety

The delta-8 market is more established than the THC-O market, which means more brands and product types. Many companies that started by selling CBD now stock delta-8 as well, but this hasn’t happened as much yet with THC-O.

Subsequently, the THC-O selection is limited, with vape cartridges, disposable pens, and edibles the most commonly available products. Hardly any brands make THC-O concentrates, capsules, and flower.

In contrast, the delta-8 industry is nearly as wide-ranging as the CBD market, consisting of all the product types mentioned above and more! As far as product variety goes, delta-8 beats THC-O hands down. 

Shelf life and storage

THC-O and delta-8 are durable cannabinoids that can last more than a year with proper storage. However, like other cannabinoids, they are also vulnerable to light degradation and oxidation.

Delta-8 and THC-O products have identical storage requirements. Keep both in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and, if possible, store edibles in the fridge.

Delta-8 vs THC-O for drug tests

Delta-8 vs THC-O for drug tests

Neither delta-8 nor THC-O gives you a free pass on drug tests. Don’t trust brands or uninformed Redditors that claim these cannabinoids avoid detection. There is no evidence of this, and the opposite is likely true considering their likeness to THC.

We might not have high-quality studies confirming that drug tests can detect delta-8 or THC-O, but that doesn’t prove otherwise. There wasn’t an incentive to study these cannabinoids before the 2018 Farm Bill made them widely accessible.

The respective potencies of THC-O and delta-8 affect their probability of triggering a positive drug test. You need a lot of delta-8 to get high, but only a little THC-O. On average, delta-8 users consume more than THC-O users, making a failed drug test more likely.


Both delta-8 and THC-O products contain lab-synthesized distillate and therefore come with safety considerations. Moreover, there isn’t much research on their effects in humans, so we cannot declare either cannabinoid 100% safe.

But the risks are higher if consuming products made with low-quality and untested delta-8 or THC-O distillate. Unfortunately, there are plenty of sketchy brands in the hemp industry selling products riddled with harmful byproducts.

Buying from third-party tested brands is even more critical with delta-8 and THC-O than with CBD. Synthesizing distillate requires nasty acids and solvents, and you need independent verification that these aren’t still lurking in the finished product.

Interactions with prescription drugs

Since THC interferes with numerous prescription medications, delta-8 and THC-O probably do too. Cannabinoids have a blocking effect on enzymes in the cytochrome P450 system. These enzymes metabolize the following drugs:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Hypnotics
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Opioids
  • Steroids

If you take any of these medications, avoid mixing them with delta-8 and THC-O. Both will slow the rate at which your body removes the medication from your system, which could have dangerous consequences, including overdose.

THC-O vs Delta-8: The Final Analysis

That’s it! The THC-O vs Delta-8 battle is over, and it is time to determine a winner. For thrill-seeking recreational cannabis users, the super-intense THC-O is the obvious pick. But for those desiring a calmer high, it can only be delta-8.

The delta-8 market is bigger, but it’s also facing a stricter legal crackdown at the state level. Fewer brands are making THC-O products, but the industry’s niche status means it hasn’t caught the eye of anti-cannabis forces as delta-8 has.

On safety, storage, drug tests, and interference with medications, there is little to choose between THC-O and delta-8.

I cannot objectively say that one cannabinoid is better than the other – both have pros and cons and deciding on a favorite is an entirely personal decision. 

Buy THC-O and Delta-8 Products at CBD Genesis!

Buy THC-O and Delta-8 Products at CBD Genesis!

Has this THC-O vs Delta-8 debate made piqued your interest? Awesome! CBD Genesis stocks a huge collection of delta-8 products and a smaller range of THC-O products. Everything we sell is third-party tested and made with top-shelf hemp.

I will conclude by showcasing two of our best-selling delta-8 and THC-O products! 

ELYXR LA – THC-O Cartridges (1 Gram)

Blast off into an explosive psychedelic high with one of ELYXR LA’s world-class THC-O Cartridges! These high-strength 1000mg vapes boast a combined 84% THC-O and delta-8, a blend that makes for intense yet mellow effects.

ELYXR LA’s carts attach to 510-threaded batteries, as is standard for vape carts in the modern hemp industry. The purified THC-O and delta-8 distillates provide a smooth and pleasant throat hit and deliver tasty and viscous vapor with every puff.

Choose from regular and limited-edition sativa, hybrid, and indica THC-O cartridges, all independently checked for potency and purity by KCA Labs.

Regular strains: Maui Wowie (Sativa), Sensei Star (Indica), Wedding Cake (Hybrid)

Limited edition strains: Berry Blaze (Sativa), Lava Flow (Indica), Unicorn Milk (Hybrid)

CBD Genesis – Delta 8 THC Gummies

Satiate your sweet tooth with delightful delta-8 gummies from CBD Genesis. Made with vegan ingredients and infused with 25mg delta-8 per serving, these treats are accessible to everyone and expertly recreate the typical THC edible experience.

Variety is the spice of life, and we like to keep you on your toes by changing the gummy shapes and flavors every now and then. But rest assured, all CBD Genesis edibles contain the same concentration of premium-grade delta-8 distillate.

Solo trippers might prefer the 25-count bag, while folks who enjoy taking edibles with friends could go for the 50 or 100-count bags. Our Delta-8 Gummies are third-party tested and shipped in a resealable food-grade pouch. Sizes: 25-count (625mg), 50-count (1250mg), 100-count (2500mg)

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