THCO molecule in front of red bubbles

What is THC-O & How Is It Different From THC?

There are a lot of products on the market today, and there are new ones coming out every year. One of the products we’ve seen get a popularity boost is THC-O. In this guide, we’re going to give you all the details you need to know about this synthetic cannabinoid, including:

  • What is THC-O?
  • Where Does THC-O Come From?
  • THC-O vs Delta-8 THC: What’s the Difference?
  • THC-O vs Delta-9 THC: What’s the Difference?
  • What are the Possible Effects of THC-O?
  • Is THC-O Legal?
  • Where Can You Buy THC-O?
  • What THC-O Products Are Available?
  • Answering FAQs About THC-O

What is THC-O?

THC-O has a bunch of names: THC-O-acetate, THCO, or if you want to sound fancy, tetrahydrocannabinol acetate. Each of those names refer to a synthetic, or manmade, cannabinoid that has stormed the hemp and cannabis markets because of its potency. Because of the way it’s made, THC-O can be up to three-times stronger than THC. However, because THC-O has to be metabolized by the liver, it can take significantly longer for it to affect your endocannabinoid system than its THC counterpart.

Where Does THC-O Come From?

Most of the THC-O you find in the market outside of a dispensary is made from the hemp plant. THC-O you find within a dispensary will come from a marijuana plant. But how is it made?

The process sounds simple, but it’s actually quite complicated. First, THC has to be extracted from the plant and mixed with acetic anhydride, a compound that creates a reaction. This reaction is what creates THC-O-acetate, or THC-O. THC-O is entirely manmade.

THC-O vs Delta-8 THC: What’s the Difference?

Both THC-O and Delta-8 are products created from the hemp plant. While Delta-8 does occur naturally, it’s usually not at a high enough dose, so manufacturers will create Delta-8 from other compounds in hemp. THC-O, on the other hand, does not occur naturally in any form within the hemp plant, so it must be created in a lab. 

The other difference between THC-O and Delta-8 THC is potency. Delta-8 can create a psychoactive effect that you would expect from cannabis, but it’s typically more mild than its cousin cannabinoid. THC-O, however, is much more potent than Delta-8, and because it has to be metabolized by the liver before you can feel its effects, it has a longer ramp up time.

THC-O vs Delta-9 THC: What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between THC-O and Delta-9 THC is that THC-O is synthetic, or manmade, and Delta-9 occurs naturally in the marijuana plant. (THC occurs when THCA is decarboxylated.) Once your body processes THC-O in the liver, it turns it into a potent dose of Delta-9. This means you’ll want to give THC-O time to work compared to your normal Delta-9 products.

What are the Possible Effects of THC-O?

THC-O is a manmade, acetylated form of THC. When it’s broken down by your liver and metabolized, what’s left of THC-O is a strong dose of Delta-9 THC. So what does this mean? It means that you will feel a much stronger high with THC-O than you may with a Delta-9 THC product. It also means that that process takes longer than your Delta-9 products that do not require a stop in the liver before you start feeling their effects. Because of this, you should give yourself as long as you would an edible to start feeling THC-O effects and resist any urge you might have to double up on your dose because you don’t feel anything right away.

You may also hear that THC-O has a psychedelic effect to it, similar to psilocybin. This has been proven false through a study done at the University of Buffalo. Researchers noted that 79% of the study’s participants reported no or very little effects that could be described as psychedelic.

Is THC-O Legal?

THC-O’s legality status is complicated. Technically speaking, the compound used to make THC-O can be harvested from hemp, and hemp, in most states, is legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. That said, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), has been keeping a close eye on this synthetic form of THC, and they aren’t happy. In fact, they’ve warned that the fact that THC-O is manmade means that it is not covered under that bill and, therefore, illegal.

Where Can You Buy THC-O?

The amount of THC-O products on the market today has drastically increased from a few years ago. This popularity may lead you to think that you can pick up THC-O products from just about anywhere, thanks to its questionable legality. We don’t recommend this. 

The truth is that you can only get safe, legal THC-O products from a state-licensed dispensary. These products are regulated, monitored, and tested to ensure that what you purchase is safe for use. The products you purchase from your local smoke shop or gas station do not have to abide by the strict rules that are enforced within the cannabis industry.

What THC-O Products Are Available?

Because of its increase in popularity, you can find all different types of THC-O products available. That said, you’re going to find more THC-O products at a dispensary. While our most popular THC-O products tend to be gummies and tinctures, you can purchase THC-O in just about any form, including capsules, concentrates, vape cartridges, and more. 

Answering FAQs about THC-O

Anytime you put “THC” in the name of a product, people get curious and ask a lot of questions. Here are a few answers you might be looking for:


Can I make THC-O at home?
Because the process to make THC-O at home is so dangerous and requires professional equipment, you should never try to make THC-O at home.

Is THC-O the same as Delta-8?
No. Delta-8 is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in marijuana. THC-O is a much stronger man-made form of THC.

Is THC-O strong?
Yes. THC-O is roughly three times stronger than the THC we know and love, Delta-9 THC.

Finding THC-O Products

If you’re interested in experiencing THC-O, we recommend you only purchase it from a licensed dispensary. That way, you know you’re getting a high-quality, and most importantly, safe product. Talk to your budtender the next time you visit to see the THC-O products in stock..


Recreational cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Ohio and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and certified patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.