THC-O bucks the trend set by other hemp-derived cannabinoids in that it is even more potent. But can you really trust this substance, which hardly anybody had even heard of a few years ago? In this post, we will answer: is THC-O safe?
THC-O bought from genuine, transparent brands is safe. Sadly, not all companies work to high standards. And some product types pose more risks than others. Today, I want to unpack both issues and show you how to find safe THC-O.
But maybe you are wondering, “What the heck is THC-O?” So, before we get into the safety specifics, let’s discuss what THC-O is and how this intriguing cannabinoid is made.
What is THC-O?
THC-O (aka THC-O-acetate and THC acetate ester) is a lab-synthesized cannabinoid and the acetate ester of THC. You won’t find THC-O in natural cannabis, but the compound is three times more intense than THC.
Each THC isomer has an acetate ester, meaning there are delta-8 and delta-10 versions of THC-O. Indeed, these hemp-derived forms are the only forms of THC-O permitted by the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (Farm Bill).
THC-O has substantially different effects from THC – and not just potency-wise. Some describe THC-O as spiritual and psychedelic-like and note that it has slow-acting, but long-lasting effects relative to THC. And that’s all part of its appeal.
Nobody knows who synthesized THC-O first, but it happened between 1948 and 1975 during the Edgewood Arsenal human experiments. The U.S. Army Chemical Corps thought THC-O could work as a non-lethal incapacitating agent!
Safe to say, it was ineffective for that! But the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) criminalized THC-O in 1978 as a designer drug under the Controlled Substances Act. And that is where it stayed until the Farm Bill passed in 2018.
Since then, hemp brands have been selling federally legal products made with delta-8-THC-O and delta-10-THC-O. But how do chemists synthesize these THC-O cannabinoids?
How is THC-O made?
Let me allay any fears you have about THC-O being synthetic. Even though it is a chemically processed substance, THC-O distillate can be traced back to 100% natural, Farm Bill-compliant CBD extract.
Unlike delta-8, delta-10, HHC, and the other hemp-derived cannabinoids making waves right now, concocting THC-O is a multi-step process. Chemists must first turn CBD into delta-8 before completing the transformation to THC-O.
Chemists create delta-8 from CBD by adding acetic acid to a CBD and solvent mixture and letting it isomerize for several hours. Acetic anhydride then gets added to the delta-8 distillate to make the finished product: THC-O acetate.
THC-O retains a carbon-hydrogen-oxygen molecular composition but has two more carbon and hydrogen atoms than THC and one extra oxygen atom.
It’s more complex and dangerous to synthesize THC-O than other cannabinoids. Indeed, acetic anhydride is highly flammable and should only be handled by professional chemists. Do not try synthesizing THC-O at home.
How Safe is THC-O?
When discussing THC-O safety, we must address two points. Is the THC-O cannabinoid itself safe? And is the THC-O distillate found in vape cartridges, disposable vape pens, tincture oils, edibles, and other products safe?
The THC-O cannabinoid
Despite the lack of extensive research, purified THC-O appears no more dangerous than other chemically processed, hemp-derived cannabinoids. But the compound’s psychedelic characteristics do make side effects more likely.
Potential side effects from taking THC-O products include:
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sedation and lethargy
With its sky-high potency, it’s no shock that THC-O is liable to cause side effects. Some even report feeling so detached from reality during use that regular communication becomes challenging.
Of course, you might not consider this a side effect if seeking an experience comparable to mescaline. But if you are more familiar with classic cannabinoid effects, you may find THC-O’s reality-twisting traits somewhat overwhelming!
Like other cannabinoids, THC-O is unsafe if you have a personal or family history of severe mental illness. THC-O could also be more addictive than THC, which causes dependence in roughly 9% of users, with rates higher among younger users.
Unfortunately, not all THC-O distillate sold in the U.S. market is safe. With no hemp regulation, there is no official body to enforce purity standards in THC-O products. Thankfully, several brands self-regulate through third-party testing.
Highly-purified THC-O distillate (90%+ THC-O) should be safe for consumption. I have not yet seen a THC-O distillate product exceeding 95% purity. But laboratories have found cannabinoid-based distillate products with alarmingly low purity levels.
Since it takes two chemical processes to create THC-O distillate, purity issues may be worse with THC-O than with delta-8 or delta-10 products. Much depends on how skilled the chemist is and how thorough they are with distillation.
Not all impurities in THC-O distillate are necessarily dangerous. For instance, distillate could contain leftover delta-8 not successfully converted during processing – this would make THC-O distillate less potent but not more harmful.
However, residual chemicals, reactants, and solvents in THC-O products could pose safety concerns. I haven’t seen any research detailing the specific impurities in THC-O distillate (after all, the products are new), but we could expect to see the following:
- Dimethyl benzenes
- Trimethyl benzenes
These nasty chemicals should put you on alert but not warn you off THC-O products. They are a problem isolated to low-grade THC-O distillate made by corner-cutting cowboy companies and scammers. Genuine THC-O extract is safe.
Is THC-O Safe to Smoke?
Recently, brands have started stocking THC-O flower, which consists of CBD-rich hemp buds and THC-O distillate. Provided the distillate is clean and pure, smoking THC-O in a joint, bong, or pipe is about as risky as smoking standard hemp.
Companies produce THC-O flower by soaking hemp nugs in distillate or spraying them. I prefer flower submerged in distillate – it’s stronger and has a more balanced distribution of THC-O throughout the product, making it safer to dose with.
Smoking is harmful and not the safest way of enjoying THC-O, but smoking risks, to some extent, depend on the substance. For instance, a smokable product with a highly-addictive component is more dangerous than a product without one.
Few studies have explored THC-O’s effect on humans, but we know it is super-potent and more so than THC. Hence, smoking amped-up THC-O flower could be less safe than smoking traditional marijuana. But we cannot say for sure.
Is THC-O Safe to Vape?
As an intake method, vaping is less harmful than smoking. U.S. researchers remain skeptical about the risk reduction, whereas U.K. scientists claim that vaping is at least 95% safer. Either way, that’s good news for vaping THC-O.
Vaping a premium-grade, lab-tested THC-O disposable or cartridge is likely safe and no more consequential than any other type of vaping. However, distillate purity can increase the risks, as can the quality of the vape juice and device.
The 2019-20 EVALI outbreak reaffirmed the importance of using legal and lab-tested vaping products. The crisis did not implicate THC-O but highlighted the severe risks associated with unknown vape carts comprised of unsafe vaping ingredients.
Protect yourself by avoiding THC-O carts and disposables containing cutting agents, dilutants, and thinners. Such ingredients only add risk and have no purpose – except to make your e-liquid less potent and effective!
Not every vape cartridge and disposable pen manufacturer uses the same materials. Experts consider vape tanks made of borosilicate glass safer than polycarbonate (i.e., plastic) tanks. Plastic can leach and affect vapor purity and flavor.
Avoid vaping devices made with arsenic, chromium, nickel, and lead. Exposure to these toxic metals can cause poisoning and increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and respiratory diseases.
Is THC-O safe for vaping? The bottom line is yes, but you must have a legit product. And more things could go wrong with disposable pens and vape cartridges than with other THC-O products.
Vaping THC-O flower
The cannabis savvy among you may have noted that you can vape THC-O buds in dry herb vaporizers. This is a clever way of limiting your THC-O risk by removing vape juice and low-quality single-use vaping devices from the equation.
Vaping THC-O flower is safe with a proven product and the correct equipment.
Is THC-O Safe to Consume?
THC-O edibles, capsules, tincture oils, and syrups deliver longer-lasting THC-O effects, free from smoking and vaping-related harms. There are no intrinsic risks to sublingual absorption of THC-O oil or oral consumption of edibles and capsules.
Therefore, THC-O is safe to consume if your product contains pure THC-O distillate. Be aware that hemp-derived THC-O products made with MCT oil have intensified effects – MCTs increase THC-O’s bioavailability and absorption rate.
How Much THC-O is Safe?
It’s impossible to say how much THC-O you should take without knowledge of your situation. Long-term recreational cannabis users could likely handle large amounts, whereas first-timers may even struggle with tiny dosages.
At three times the strength of THC, taking THC-O inevitably comes with more risk. But even a crazily high dosage is extremely unlikely to cause any long-term damage – at worst, you will be left dealing with side effects for several hours.
Stay safe when taking THC-O
With sensible use, you can stay perfectly safe with any THC-O product, whatever your experience. Minimize THC-O side effects by adopting the following approach to taking products.
Smaller serving size: Account for THC-O’s mega-strength by starting with one-third of your typical THC dosage. This will help you understand THC-O’s unique properties without hammering you with overwhelmingly intense effects.
Once you have a reference point, increase your decrease your THC-O serving accordingly. Is THC-O safe in high dosages? Yes, but it’s safer if you become acquainted with its effects first and acquire some tolerance.
Wait between servings: THC-O is notorious for its delayed onset of effects, regardless of the consumption method. You won’t experience an instant high after smoking or vaping THC-O, and edibles take longer to kick in than usual.
Counteract this by waiting longer than you generally would between servings or topping up your dosage. A cautious approach will prevent nasty shocks and an excessively potent trip from late-acting THC-O!
Find a comfortable place: The psychedelic THC-O high is no joke and can mess you up if unprepared. That’s why you need a relaxing and familiar environment to take it in, where you won’t get any surprises that could screw up your trip.
How to Stay Safe When Buying THC-O Products
Get informed so you can shop for THC-O equipped with knowledge! Hopefully, you will have obtained valuable nuggets of info from reading this post, but what should you look out for when purchasing products?
Check for third-party certificates of analysis (COAs)
Don’t trust any brand selling THC-O products that cannot show you a relevant and recent third-party COA. Nothing forces retailers to produce COAs for customers but refusing to do so usually means a company has something to hide.
Third-party testing matters even more with hemp-derived THC-O products because of the chemical processing that occurs during manufacturing. COAs are the only current mechanism that shoppers have to verify product purity.
Purchase from reputable brands
Well-known, long-standing hemp industry brands tend to be more trustworthy than unknown start-ups. I advise first-time THC-O buyers in particular to stick with an established name.
Experienced vendors aren’t about to put their reputation on the line by stocking THC-O products from sketchy brands. It takes years to build credibility and potentially just one poor product to ruin it – hence why the top guys are careful with what they sell.
Read customer reviews
Product reviews from verified customers can flag issues missed by a third-party report. For instance, harsh throat hits off a THC-O vape could signal impurities. Or worse, users may have had gremlins with a malfunctioning device.
But you would only find out about such problems by reading customer reviews. Ensure they are verified, as a spate of unverified negative reviews could be the dirty work of a rival brand.
Buy THC-O Products at CBD Genesis!
If you clicked on this post asking, “Is THC-O safe?”, I hope I have fully answered your question! In one sentence: THC-O is safe, but you must choose a genuine product manufactured with safe materials and made with high-grade ingredients.
We have a stellar selection of federally legal, hemp-derived THC-O products at CBD Genesis! Check out our range of third-party tested THC-O edibles, disposable vape pens, cartridges, and tincture oils now!