Despite cannabis legalization in various states across the country, the unregulated marijuana market is still up and thriving.
Recently, we’ve seen the emergence of a brand-new “cannabinoid” called THCO, and it’s making quite a lot of noise within the industry. However, this compound isn’t like the rest.
So, what is THCO? Should you try it? Let’s find out.
What is THCO?
THCO is the short form of THCO-Acetate or THC Acetate — often referred to as the synthetic or chemical version of THC. With the word “chemical,” you can already tell that THCO doesn’t occur naturally. So, how is it made?
To generate THCO, extractors take federally legal hemp and extract CBD. Then, they extract delta-8 THC from the CBD and add acetic anhydride to the THC molecules. This final process removes all flavonoids and terpenes in the molecules and leaves only THC isolates, making the THC molecule stronger — much stronger than traditional THC.
According to researchers, THCO is a “prodrug” or a compound. The liver has to metabolize it before it activates. When this happens, what remains is just delta-9-THC isolate which ordinarily shouldn’t be as strong as delta-9-THC.
So, why is it so strong? It draws mainly from the fact that THCO has a higher bioavailability than the non-acetylated version, which increases its potency.
Lab tests show that THCO can be three times stronger than regular THC. Consequently, overconsumption may result in some seriously uncomfortable effects and potentially even harmful medical consequences.
When it comes to cannabis consumption, moderation is essential. The body reacts negatively to overconsumption of just about anything, even food, and water.
What are the Effects of THCO?
Now that we have the answer to the question, “What is THCO?” let’s consider the effects of THCO.
As we already mentioned, researchers found that THCO is roughly thrice as potent as regular THC. In addition, THCO has psychedelic effects, meaning it could alter the perception of time and sensory information.
Currently, no verified evidence proves THCO is dangerous, and there’s a lot we don’t know about it. However, some reports suggest that it has similar general benefits to other forms of THC, such as pain relief, sleep support, and appetite stimulation with a more substantial effect.
Nonetheless, due to its potency, THCO also has some commonly reported side effects, including nausea and vomiting, dizziness, seizures, sedation, and lethargy. However, this is no cause for alarm.
Our bodies react differently to cannabis, and some consumers may experience certain side effects after consuming weed with high potency; it all depends on our individual endocannabinoid systems.
Should I Try THCO?
There are various synthetic cannabis products on the market, and the main concern is that they contain chemicals that are not naturally found in cannabis. But, at the end of the day, the choice is yours.
While the presence of chemicals is a legitimate concern, some producers have a reputation for top quality and stringent safety procedures in their production process. So, if you decide to try THCO, stick to trusted producers.
Also, it is best to begin with a low dose and see how your body reacts before you increase the dose.
Should you try to make THCO yourself? The answer here is a resounding no. The process of making THCO should only take place in a technical lab with no direct exposure to humans.
According to researchers, making THCO Acetate is inherently dangerous as the acetic anhydride is highly flammable and potentially explosive. It means you shouldn’t even think about making this compound yourself. Leave it up to the pros.
While it’s true that there is no reported case of an overdose of THCO, it is essential to know that THCO also doesn’t have an established market — which is a cause for concern.
Brands such as Binoid and Bearly Legal are the first to start publicly selling THCO. However, even these brands do not have tests to prove their products are pure and unadulterated.
The problem here is not THCO but how it is made, brands have to be more transparent about how they make their products so that consumers know what they are buying.
According to a cannabis researcher, James Stephen, who regularly contacts THCO producers, their testing results always show a lack of specificity as some of the content of their product remains unknown.
Making THCO requires some highly toxic substances, and if there are no appropriate safety procedures during the manufacturing process, these substances may contaminate the product.
As such, even if there is no test to determine the potency (there have been discussions that it’s not easy to test THCO), we need to have some tests that can determine the presence of contaminants or unknown chemicals.
Another potential risk is that THCO may have similar effects as vaping vitamin E Acetate.
When vitamin E Acetate is heated while vaping, it creates a highly toxic compound that causes lung damage in small amounts and possible death if in large quantities. There are speculations that this toxic compound could also be released when you vape THCO Acetate.
Is THCO legal?
In the past, the answer to this question wasn’t very straightforward. However, in February of 2023, the DEA came out to say that THC-O is an illegal controlled substance.
The DEA stated that since THC-O is not naturally found in cannabis, and has to be curated, it is not considered “hemp.” Therefore, it doesn’t comply with the 2018 Farm Bill and is not federally legal in the US.
We are unsure of how this is going to affect the market, especially at state levels.
Right now, you can still buy THC-O products online; but, states may begin preventing you from actually getting these products to your door.
In general, with this clear criminalization, we highly urge you to stay away from THC-O and THC-O products, specifically vape products.
Get the Facts Right With Elevate Holistics
With all of the information above in mind, it becomes clear that THCO is not a straight shot. There are concerns over its purity and legality, but now you know enough to make an informed decision.
Remember, moderation is key.
If you’d rather stick to other options, there are so many safe (and potent) alternatives. Elevate Holistics has all you need to know about safely consuming cannabis, especially for medical purposes.
Scroll through our blog to learn all you need to know about consuming cannabis safely, and we’ll keep you updated on all things THCO.
At Elevate Holistics, we can help you get your medical card online and at the most affordable prices around. All you have to do is click the button below to get started.