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Oklahoma Finds THC Acetate in Cannabis Products

Oct, 2021
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THC acetate has quite a history, most of which people choose to forget about. Despite the “THC” tag, THC acetate does not occur naturally in cannabis plants. Consequently, researchers didn't put a lot of effort into studying it in the past decades. However, the common consensus was that it is highly psychoactive and could be dangerous. 

Most recently, the substance started gathering some buzz in the industry, and expectedly, it comes with a lot of mixed feelings. Now, Oklahoma state’s authorities have found traces of THC O acetate in some medical cannabis products after testing.  

Cannabis testing; THC acetate

What Does This Mean?

For the medical marijuana community, this is a cause for concern because medical marijuana products should not be overly psychoactive while providing relief from ailments. And products especially shouldn’t reach the point of being about 300% more psychoactive than regular THC. Yes, you read right: THC-0-acetate is three times more psychoactive than conventional delta-9 THC. 

For the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), finding this compound in cannabis flower was a huge red flag. Aside from the legal debates surrounding the compound, there are the issues of the potential side effects it could have on patients that consume it unknowingly. Some of the side effects include vomiting, seizures, and difficulty speaking.

What is THC Acetate? 

THC Acetate is a semi-synthetic derivative of delta-9 THC (the compound most commonly referred to as THC) that doesn’t occur naturally in cannabis. A lot of chemistry is involved in its extraction and production. Hence, only knowledgeable laboratory scientists can produce it. 

It is not like CBD oil or THC oil that you can DIY and produce in your kitchen using a few things. Out in the corridors of the cannabis industry, consumers and dispensaries refer to THC-O-Acetate as THC-O, O acetate, THC Acetate, and ATHC (different from THCA). The defining term about this compound is ‘acetate,’ which clarifies that it is a derivative.

LEARN MORE: What is THC-o & Should I Try It?

How is THC o Acetate Produced?

The science behind the production of THC O is a bit tricky. To put it plainly, THC Acetate is derived from THC using the same chemical process used in deriving heroin from morphine. The chemical process involves using a strong chemical called acetic anhydride – also used in heroin production. 

Essentially, manufacturers take legal hemp plants and isolate CBD from them. Then, they take that CBD and extract delta-8 THC. It's at this point where they add the acetic anhydride.

This chemical replaces some THC molecules with acetic molecules, leading to an end product over three times stronger than the regular THC.

The Potency and Effects of THC O Acetate 

Being over 300% stronger, THC O is undoubtedly more potent than THC. Its potency is remarkable and well-defined in how it interacts with the body. 

THC and CBD’s effects don’t always set in immediately for patients using cannabis products because the compounds are fat-soluble. If they were water-soluble, then it would be easy for the bloodstream to assimilate them. 

Consequently, they take time to reach the endocannabinoid system, which receives chemicals like THC and converts them into psychedelic, pain-relieving, or anti-inflammatory substances. But the time it takes for this conversion to happen often means that most THC gets lost along the way. Hence, the effects may not be as strong as they ought to if all the THC got into the system. 

THC O acetate is also fat-soluble and doesn’t integrate easily with the bloodstream – as with THC. However, there is a catch: THC O's extreme potency. Despite parts of what’s been consumed getting lost along the way, one gram of the compound would act in the capacity of 3+ grams of THC. As a result, the potency of THC Acetate means the consumer’s body gets x3 more psychedelic, anti-inflammatory, or pain-relieving effects. 

It is also important to note that THC acetate’s effects take longer to kick in. You can expect about a 30-minute delay. 

Is THC-O-Acetate Harmful?

Most substances with chemical additives are harmful, depending on how much of it you consume. The same principle applies to THC acetate. 

THC acetate is potentially harmful for a few reasons. One is that we just don't have the scientific information we need to confidently — and safely — consume the derivative. With this, many people don't even realize the potency behind THC-o, and they consume it as they would regular THC. This, in and of itself, poses huge risks.

Naturally, the endocannabinoid system only needs a nudge from chemicals such as THC to act. Consuming products with THC acetate the same way as products with CBD or THC burdens the endocannabinoid system with excess molecules. In response, the system tries to deal or do away with them, which sometimes translates to adverse side effects, such as extreme nausea, vomiting, seizures, or anxiety.

For patients using medical marijuana to relieve ailments, using products with traces or unregulated amounts of THC O acetate could be harmful. They may get more than they bargained for and put an already stressed body under more stress. 

With less potent products, you can increase intake over time to match what the body needs. But with THC acetate products that are overly potent, a small amount may provide a lot more than the body needs. 

Additionally, experts fear that the risks of THC acetate might be similar to that of Vitamin E acetate, which is researchers believe may cause lung injuries

THC Acetate in Oklahoma: What Happened?

THC acetate; cannabis flower in test tube

So, if THC-O acetate is harmful, how did it end up in medical marijuana products?

Following a patient’s complaint after using a medical marijuana product, OMMA investigated what prompted the bad experience. An extensive investigation led the agency to find some O acetate in a few medical marijuana products. Before now, the governing body has not had to test for THC O acetate in MMJ. Until recent events, it's not one of the compounds required by standard industry procedures to be tested for in medical cannabis products. 

At the moment, the OMMA is not sure how a company gets THC-o in its products. However, following investigations, an OMMA affiliate lab has confirmed the presence of THC O acetate in Platinum OG Sugar, a cannabis concentrate. 

Although the results of this investigation have been made public, there is still no concrete pointer on how this chemical compound got into medical marijuana products. More investigations are still underway to get more facts on the origin — and ensure this doesn't happen again.

In the interim, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has issued a patient advisory informing consumers to report any bad experience with any medical marijuana product. Also, always request to see and examine the Certificates of Analysis (COAs) of any MMJ product you are purchasing from a licensed dispensary.

Regarding legality, you are likely to get different answers from different people. Dispensaries that carry THC acetate products often hinge their legality on the implications of the 2018 Farm Bill. Noting that since they extract their O acetate products from hemp, then it is legal. While this argument seems to hold strong, there are lots of gray areas to explore. 

However, not all THC acetate products are derived from industrial hemp, which is federally legal. Some are from marijuana, which is still classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. However, no state has taken any definite step towards exempting THC acetate.

Getting it Right With Elevate Holistics 

The world of cannabis is an exciting one, but there could be slips that could make the experience uncomfortable. While recreational users may not mind the fun of the intense potency and high of THC acetate, it could cause concern for patients and the future of the cannabis industry. 

Elevate Holistics sees and understands the need for patients to have the correct information and the right products that fit their conditions. That's why Elevate Holistics offers virtual appointments with certified medical marijuana doctors. Our experts are highly knowledgeable on various qualifying conditions and the right MMJ that could alleviate them.

Don’t have a medical marijuana card? No worries! With us, you can get one within the next 24 to 48 hours at the cheapest rate while at the comfort of your home. Stay out of harm’s way, book an appointment today and get tailored MMJ recommendations that can help you manage your conditions.