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The Difference Between THC and THC-O: A Cannabis Composite

Higher Mentality



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The increase in the legal use of hemp and different cannabis products has resulted in consumers wanting to better understand their available options, including THC and THC-O. As most of us know, THC is the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis. On the other hand, THC-O is a potent new synthetic cannabinoid extracted from hemp, which contains the euphoric feelings and the psychoactive effects of cannabis.


THC, also known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is a natural compound found in cannabis that causes psychoactive effects. It is primarily consumed by smoking but also exists in other different types of products, such as oils, gels, supplements, gummies, and extracts, among others. Cannabinoid receptors — which THC binds to — are mainly found in a particular area of the brain that is related to memory, coordination, thinking, pleasure, and time perception.


THCO, also called ATHC or THC acetate, is a chemical composite extracted from legal hemp plants. Contrary to various cannabinoids, it does not exist naturally in the cannabis plant but is produced through a process called acetylation. This chemical reaction substitutes the hydrogen group with the acetyl group, leading to a more robust form of THC derived from it. Therefore, it acts like Delta-8 THC since both composites are artificially synthesized. THC has various uses, specifically for individuals that enjoy the psychoactive impact of Delta-9 THC. However, those people may reside in states that have not legalized it for medical or recreational uses. THC-O also produces psychoactive effects that are more powerful compared to THC.

Their Differences

The primary difference between THC and THCO is their legality at the state and national levels. THC-O is entirely nationally legalized and acceptable in 38 states, while THC is nationally illegal and in most states. Both cannabinoid compounds cause psychoactive and euphoric effects on consumers and are used for various medical and recreational benefits. THC-O is extracted from hemp, for which commodity production has been legal nationwide in the US since 2018, and it does not contain Delta-9 THC. However, despite being made from hemp, THC-O is practically similar to conventional cannabis products and could be classified as a drug by itself. Thanks to the 1986 Analogue Act, this is the source of debate when it comes to its future legality.

Nevertheless, other distinctions between THC and THC-O involve differences in availability and potency.


Various hemp brands are already selling their products online. Even with the national legalization of THC-O in most states, it is not accessible to most consumers because it is still a relatively new product in the market. Despite being produced for decades, hemp was only legalized in 2018 after the passing of the current commodity hemp laws. It is also relatively complex to synthesize, causing potential producers to hesitate. Therefore, THC-O is less available in the market than THC, which has products that range from cookies to lotions and topicals. However, THC-O products are expected to become more widely available soon as a growing number of companies begin to manufacture them and sell them to the public.


Potency is one of the main aspects that differentiate THC-O and THC. THC-O is more powerful than THC because it contains all the effects and benefits of Delta-9 THC. It is 300% more psychoactive (3x) than THC. THC-O, therefore, is not recommended if you are new to the use of marijuana products. Consequently, the substance is also claimed to be psychedelic, contrary to the different types of THC available in the market. Individuals are said to experience distorted visuals and minor hallucinations after consuming THC-O, meaning its potency is much higher than THC.

The Bottom Line on THC-O

THC-O is a different and unique cannabinoid containing certain aspects of THC. However, it causes different psychoactive effects since it is produced using other means. Its therapeutic benefits are also still debatable. However, various individuals depend on THC-O as a way to alleviate and treat anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms. Some people may even use THC-O to help with insomnia. The information on this form of cannabinoid is still scarce, but it is expected to increase with time because companies are focused on processing it, intensifying the research studies that focus on it.