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What is THCO & Should I Try It?

Oct, 2021
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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 — and Elevate Holistics isn’t sure you want to try it. So, what is THCO? Let’s find out. 

What is THC-o

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 the THCO, extractors take federally legal hemp and extract CBD. Then, they extract delta-8 THC from the CBD, finishing up by adding acetic anhydride to the THC molecules. This final process removes all flavonoids and terpenes in the molecules and leaves only THC isolates. This makes the THC molecule stronger — much stronger than traditional THC.

According to researchers, THCO is a “prodrug” or a compound. It has to be metabolized by the liver to get activated. 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. 

According to lab tests, THCO can be three times stronger than regular THC. With a strength like this, overconsumption may result in some seriously uncomfortable effects, and potentially even harmful medical consequences. We’re just not sure. 

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. THCO has psychedelic effects, meaning it could alter the perception of time and sensory information. There is no evidence showing how dangerous THCO is, but we don’t have proof that it’s safe for consumption, either. However, some reports suggest that it has similar general benefits with other forms of THC, such as pain relief, sleep support, and appetite stimulation with a more substantial effect. 

Nonetheless, due to its potency, there are some commonly reported side effects of THCO, including nausea and vomiting, dizziness, seizures, sedation, and lethargy.

Should I Try THCO?

What is THC-o; cannabis vape pen

Right now, Elevate Holistics strongly urges you to avoid consuming THCO. We simply do not have the information surrounding the synthetic compound to confidently consume it, and the idea of a chemical additive is honestly unsettling. However, the choice is yours. If you do choose to consume THCO, make sure you start with a very low dose to see how your body reacts.

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. 

The Risks

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 — and that’s a serious issue. Brands such as Binoid and Bearly Legal are the first ones to start publicly selling THCO. However, even these brands do not have tests to prove that their products are pure and unadulterated. 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 there is no telling what can go wrong with this process. 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. 

We’d also advise avoiding THCO because its potential consequences might be similar to that of 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. So, we advise that you avoid it totally and go for safe options such as the regular THC if you’re in states where it’s legal.

The answer to this question is not straightforward. As usual.

The producers of THCO, such as Binoid, HHC, and Bearly Legal Hemp Company, say they have the protection of the Farm Bill 2018 since THCO comes from processes that have federally legal hemp plants as the base product. However, even at this, they are still somehow unsure of its legality. 

Some experts believe this compound is not legal because the 1986 Federal Analogous Act states that any substance analogous to a Schedule 1 drug would itself qualify as a Schedule 1 drug. Regular THC, which is the base compound for THCO, is a Schedule-1 drug. 

You should note that this argument isn’t without fault, as going by could also mean that delta-8 THC is illegal. However, it’s important to recognize that THCO has not been declared illegal on a federal level and technically complies with the 2018 Farm Bill. 

In legal-adult use states, most cannabis regulators are turning a blind eye to hemp-derived compounds such as THCO as they do not come under strict regulatory purview.  Nevertheless, there is still so much confusion about its future legality.

LEARN MORE: Is Delta 8 Legal in Your State? | Michigan Regulates Delta 8

Get the Facts With Elevate Holistics

With all of this in mind, it becomes clear that THCO is not the best compound to try right now. The muddied safety and legality are just too risky, and we don’t want to go backward with cannabis progression. 

Don’t worry: there are still so many safe (and potent) alternatives that wouldn’t put you on the blurred side of the law. 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.


Patient Resources: Cannabinoids