What is THCO? The Ultimate Guide

THCO products are brand new legal compounds that provide users with one of the most potent highs allowed on the market. But what is THCO? The high is quite strong, so users may wish to cancel their plans for the day if they decide to try any. With THC-O, a person chills out and finds themselves locked on the couch, unlike with Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC, which offer a more relaxing high. 

That's part of the fun, though.

Hemp-derived THC-O acetate starts as a delta 8 extract. But this potent cannabinoid needs a little help in the laboratory to come to life. But once that happens, watch out because its potency increases dramatically. Some users even describe its effects as psychedelic. Whether you use it as an oil, an edible, or a vape product, THCO will knock you off your feet.

So, let's learn all about this fantastic new cannabinoid, THCO.

What Is THCO?

Unlike most hemp-derived compounds today, we don't know much about THC-O. THCO is a potent compound that differs from most cannabinoids — Delta 8, Delta 10, HHC — and is, therefore, quite exciting. As a result, it is not without risks. There is no evidence that THCO is unsafe — quite the opposite. However, new and experienced users alike must respect this cannabinoid. When using THCO, you should use it in moderation.

To make THCO acetate, you must add Acetic Anhydride to synthesized Delta 8. This is a somewhat explosive compound, so it's best not to do this at home. But by doing it with professionals, you get a compound with great potential.

It's good to know that THC-O offers users a super potent high. It is as powerful as cannabis and so powerful that if you try it, you might be knocked out for a whole day. You might be knocked out all day long if you decide to take some. It's not a compound for getting things done like Delta 8 or Delta 10. We'll all watch TV or play video games all day. That's fine.

The daily doses of THC that cannabis patients consume could be pretty challenging to get easy access to if they are taking a cannabinoid of such potency. This would be the ideal target audience for a cannabis cannabinoid of such strength. After interacting with these users, who live with debilitating, 

That's how powerful it is.

Is it legal? We'll put it in that famous gray area where many cannabinoids exist these days. While it is likely that the 2018 Farm Bill has legalized THCO, your local politician may want to ban it for political gain in the next election. Its legality is questionable.

Despite its potency and chemical composition, THCO's future is uncertain. Although THC-O is derived from hemp, it is technically analogous to a Schedule I drug (cannabis). Based on the 1986 Federal Analogue Act, it could be viewed as a Schedule I drug. We can trace the supply chain of THC-O back to federally legal hemp, so it falls under the regulatory radar for as long as it is in a gray area.

The History of THCO

There isn’t much new about hemp-derived cannabinoids made from CBD or delta 8, such as THCO, as most have been synthesized over the past few years. However, THCO is unique in that it has a more extended history than most. For example, THCO dates back to at least the 1940s.

American military researchers then discovered that THC-O could be used to treat dogs. The military experimented with the compound in canines in various ways. However, these scientists found dogs to have lost significant motor control at the end of the experiment.

During this period, THC and THC-O were experimented with by the United States Army as part of the Edgewood Arsenal Experiments. Both THC and THCO were tested at this time. Researchers separated the compound from conventional cannabis because of the sometimes grotesque way it destroyed dogs' muscular coordination — almost twice as much as delta 9 THC.

Researchers from other organizations continued to study the cannabinoid. Scientists later observed THC-O once again when focusing on its synthesis process. But during further study, everything then became less clear and more confusing. Interestingly, THC-O and THC were compared to heroin and morphine.

THC-O is extracted from THC like heroin is taken from morphine, researchers found when comparing only the extraction processes of the molecules. But THCO seems to have been forgotten, at least until recently.

THCO Benefits & Risks

THCO Benefits & Risks

Initially, I wanted to know how THC-O makes you feel. Does it give you the same all-natural buzz you receive from Delta-8 THC? Does it give you the same energy and motivation that Delta-10 gives you? Or does it give you a more CBD-like feeling and calm you down? 

Perhaps THC-O is different from any of those cannabinoids?

If you’re unfamiliar with compounds with a psychotropic high, you should take things very slowly before using THC-O. It's probably the boldest, most potent cannabinoid ever released. The same is true for those who have climbed the ladder with Delta-8 and Delta-10, since THC-O may knock you down, even if you have risen steadily. In addition to being one of the best cannabinoids, it also has many pleasures, but it is very potent and must be treated with respect.

Similarly, THC-O is quite potent. Those who have never used cannabinoids before may want to start slowly and work their way up. Find the dose that works for you, and don't jump in headfirst.

It’s like a 10% beer. You know those guys who go to the bar and puff their chests, telling the bartender they’re up for it. They nap in a corner booth after half a pint, crying about how they were stood up at prom in high school, while everyone chips in to drive them home by Uber. Yeah, that’s THC-O.

Likewise, some advocates are concerned that adverse reactions to THC-O acetate would adversely impact the legalization movement.

There has been a legal sale of high-potency cannabis concentrates, such as dabbing oil, wax, and shatter, for many years—so the risk of a bad trip with THC-O is relative. There has never been a direct death caused by overconsuming traditional cannabis. However, since THC-O is three times more potent than delta-9 THC, there is the risk that consumers may consume too much and experience some unpleasant side effects. 

As with all hemp products, THC-O is very safe, but you still need to respect it. Moderation is the key. Take too much and you'll feel locked into the couch, like one of those old anti-marijuana ads...

THCO Benefits

What does THCO feel like, and what are this compound's benefits? Like most cannabinoids, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. And like THC, it binds to receptors that regulate mood, pain, and other emotions. Hence the reason why THCO creates such a euphoric high! But THCO acetate is a prodrug, which means it is not biologically active in scientific terms.

Everyone feels things differently, and it's no different with THCO. Even the highest high may feel mild to some individuals. Still, according to the available research, there are some common effects and benefits that THCO has:

THCO Properties & Benefits

THCO Produces (Feelings):

And Results In (Benefits):

Feelings of Contentment

Relaxed body tension

Feelings of happiness

Stress relief

The urge to laugh more

Emotional highs

Brighter looking colors

Increased creativity

Feeling of euphoria

Appetite stimulation

Feelings of relaxation

Anxiolytic properties

The urge to talk more

Enhanced sleep quality

Sharper sounding music

Pain relief

Is THCO Safe - Discover the Side Effects

THCO isn’t without risks. While this novel cannabinoid comes from hemp — one of the safest plants on the planet and with a history of no known injuries or deaths — it is stronger than most. Such a potent compound, especially one so new to the scene, must be treated carefully and with respect.

As noted earlier, THCO is best used in moderation, but it should be relatively safe even when taken in large amounts. That being said, it has some risks, including:

  • Causing feelings of anxiety
  • Causing feelings of paranoia
  • Causing feelings of panic
  • Causing feelings of being fearful
  • Creating the inability to focus
  • Causing confusion
  • Causing racing thoughts
  • Causing a heartbeat
  • Making users feel nauseous
  • Making users feel over-tired
  • Giving users a dry mouth
  • Giving users red eyes

Should any of these symptoms appear or persist, it is recommended that users stop taking THCO immediately.

Can THCO Get You High?

We know THCO is potent, so asking, "can THCO get you high," is a bit beside the point. After all, the compound is often referred to as psychedelic by many people. It is also a great way to get high since it is legal and available online across the country and beyond. Many people who use THCO will experience a higher high than they would with marijuana.

Anecdotally, THCO is considered to be a spiritual cannabinoid by many. It produces a powerful high. Some users report that THC-O triggers deep thought and introspection. Thinking becomes a new realm and puts you on a different plane of existence. The potential that THCO has to bring out a person's sophisticated side makes it a potent compound. Some call this a cerebral high.

Introspection becomes a new level with THCO, with some comparing it to psilocybin.

Again, everyone is unique. The effects of cannabinoids like THCO may vary depending on genetic makeup, age, weight, and more. You may experience THC-O differently than others, especially if you experience cannabis and other compounds differently. Whether or not it is memorable is a different question.

Of course, while THCO is relatively safe — it comes from hemp, after all — there are not enough studies to conclusively declare it so, at least from a research standpoint.

Still, there are no documented overdoses. Sure, THC-O is unstudied, uncontrolled, and semi-synthetic, but at its foundation is an all-natural hemp base. In the past, some synthetic substances, including synthetic cannabinoids, have caused psychosis, renal damage, lung injury, seizures, and other health problems. But THCO is not on the same level as a synthetic cannabinoid like spice or K2.

Like anything, THCO can contain impurities if not produced correctly. A Certification of analysis (COA) proving the product has been tested at a third-party lab is a must. Lab tests for THC-O are currently difficult to come by.

THC-O does not appear dangerous, but more research is needed (and is currently ongoing). Therefore, if you intend to consume THCO acetate products, you should ensure they have a COA.

THCO High vs. THC High

With THCO, you get a high that's around three to four times as strong as Delta 9, though both are great for people who want a euphoric buzz. An introspective high follows when taking THCO, much more than THC. 

Of course, Delta 9 THC produces an enjoyable high too. However, Delta 9 is also used for wellness and health. Delta 9 is helpful for people with various issues, such as poor appetite, nausea, and more.

So how does THCO compare to THC? Let’s take a look.








Legal in some states; not federally legal

Strong, potent

Buzz, wellness benefits

Delta 9 is the most popular cannabinoid


Federally legal; banned in several states

Three to four times stronger than delta 9

Strong buzz

New on the scene; growing in popularity

Does THCO Show Up On a Drug Test? 

Will THCO show up on a drug test? Consuming THC-O acetate before taking a drug test has been known to cause a positive result in many people anecdotally. This compound will likely make you test positive on a drug test. But why?

The answer is straightforward. Most drug tests look for the metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC, which the body produces after consuming THC. Any new hemp-derived THC analogs, including delta 8, delta 10, HHC, THCP, and others, mimic this metabolite. They are so popular because they create similar highs while still being legal.

So, no matter which type of high-inducing cannabinoid you take, including THCO, 11-hydroxy-THC will appear in your body. 

However, there may be some good news. Some researchers believe THCO may create these metabolites at a slower rate than THC, though it's all still a new question and up for debate. Because THCO is so much more potent, the opposite might be true as well. 

The critical thing to note is if you are thinking about taking THCO and need to pass a drug test, wait. It's better to be safe.

Is THCO Legal? 

Is THCO Legal? 

Like most new cannabinoids recently hit the market, THCO falls into a gray area regarding its legal status.

Producers and manufacturers of THCO acetate products claim that under the Farm Bill passed by Congress in 2018, the law is on their side, allowing them to sell and distribute the cannabinoid. Why? According to just about anyone, THCO comes from hemp-derived CBD or delta 8 — and that hemp is federally legal. 

Of course, that's a simplified answer to a highly complex question. Many companies will say as much and hope that the other shoe doesn't drop (that other shoe being the DEA).

Those that argue THCO is illegal believe they have decades of federal law on their side. According to the Federal Analogue Act of 1986, any substance with the same pharmacological properties as a Schedule I drug — in this case of THCO, that would be cannabis or THC — is seen as a Schedule I drug by law enforcement and the government. Congress initially passed the law to push back against synthetic party drugs like Ecstacy, but now the federal government uses it in many ways.

But then again, under the Analogue Act, some could argue that delta 8 or even CBD is illegal. It's your so-called slippery slope. 

There are lots of fun things when you're high on THCO — as long as you are safe. Your best bet is to grab some THCO now while you still can. Dive right in because these things have a way of disappearing from the market because of nosy politicians. Go outside with some gummies or vapes, and listen to some chill music. 

But do it today because who knows how long this stuff will stay legal-ish.

THCO Manufacturing Explained

So, where does THCO come from, and how do you get so much of it? Is THCO synthetic? Much like THCO's legality, the truth is that it is in a gray area. As a naturally occurring minor cannabinoid, THCO is found in hemp plants. However, it isn't easy to produce large quantities for the mass consumer market, much like delta 8. It's not found in abundance in nature.

So what do manufacturers do?

As you might recall, delta 8 THC is a minor cannabinoid found in the smallest quantities in the hemp plant. Producing it in enough mass for the consumer market is nearly impossible without some help from the lab. It's similar to how delta 8 is made. Like delta 8, THCO comes from synthesizing CBD into a new cannabinoid. As the process goes on, CBD becomes delta 8, which is then refined into THCO.

Are you looking for a bit more detail? It's a complicated process, but in its most basic form, it all begins when cannabinoid manufacturers and distributors cultivate their hemp. Everyone starts by growing hemp from somewhere in the world. Next, using a process that consists of both heat and pressure, CBD — a very abundant compound — is extracted from the plant.

Manufacturers convert the CBD to delta 8 THC and refine it into THCO through a chemical process. 

THCO is an all-natural cannabinoid found in hemp. But producing it in mass quantities is impossible. So companies use this lab process to convert all-natural CBD into THCO, creating a compound with the same molecular structure. THCO distillate is flammable and highly volatile. Of course, you don't want to try this at home. 

THCO vs. Other Cannabinoids

THCO vs. Other Cannabinoids

How does THCO compare to the other popular cannabinoids on the market today? Is it stronger than delta 8? Is the high better than delta 9? Is it less energizing than delta 10? For the most part, THC-O is pretty similar to many other compounds. Sure, several different types of buzz-inducing cannabinoids available today and a few more that don't get you high — but at the end of the day, we’re dealing with a hemp-derived cannabinoid that gives users the most potent buzz on the market.

But the big difference between THCO and everything else is high. The strength of this compound is off the charts. THCO is strong and potent, which keeps you feeling very buzzed. We can't say this enough — THC-O is powerful and potent, and if it’s not respected, it can knock you over. With THCO, users need to go slow and take things easy. You should expect a day of sitting on the couch and doing nothing.

How does THCO compare vs. other cannabinoids? Let’s take a look:

THCO vs. Other Cannabinoids






Side Effects


Three times stronger than delta 9

Relaxing, open your mind, introspection

Federally legal; see state law

Calming, relaxing, psychedelic

Anxiety, paranoia, panic


No High

Wellness, sleep, relaxation


Wellness, sleep, pain relief, stress relief


Delta 8


Buzz, relaxation, stress relief

Federally legal; see state law

Calmness, stress relief, appetite stimulation

Mild anxiety, dry mouth

Delta 9


Buzz, wellness, relaxation

Federally legal from hemp (0.3%); Federally banned from cannabis; see state law

Calmness, stress relief, appetite stimulation, relaxing, psychedelic

Anxiety, paranoia, panic

Delta 10

Strong & Energizing

Energy, focus

Federally legal; see state law

Energizing, focusing, gives creative boost

Anxiety, paranoia, panic, restlessness


Stronger than delta 8; less than delta 9

Buzz, relaxation, balance

Federally legal; see state law

Calmness, stress relief, relaxing

Anxiety, paranoia, panic


30 times stronger than cannabis

Strong high, open your mind, introspection

Federally legal; see state law

Calming, relaxing, psychedelic

Anxiety, paranoia, panic, restlessness

Frequently Asked Questions About THCO

We know you have some burning questions about THCO acetate you’re just dying to ask. The good news is — we have the answers. Below are your most frequently asked questions, along with our top responses:

Can THCO only be manufactured in bulk, or can I make some in my home?

THCO is highly flammable and very volatile. For this reason, it should not be made by anyone at home. Creating THCO involves the use of explosive chemicals and is inherently dangerous to everyone participating in it. Those who make THCO must do so in a technically controlled laboratory. You need advanced technical skills. This is not a compound you can create in a soda bottle or with a few bowls and mixers. Under no circumstances should anyone try to make THCO on their own at home.

Purchase a THCO product from a reputable seller if you wish to consume THCO acetate. Do not do it yourself. You have been warned.

Compare and contrast THCO and regular THC. How are they different?

These two compounds differ in one significant way - Bioavailability. 

Researchers believe that THCO is more potent than delta 9 THC may be explained by the fact that, once metabolized, THCO is more bioavailable. However, it's all just an educated guess right now. Other than that, these two cannabinoids are pretty similar — they have similar high, equal benefits, and side effects. 

I just took some THCO. How long will it take for me to begin to feel something?

If you are used to taking delta 9 THC, then you may be in for a shock. THCO begins to work faster than cannabis because it is a prodrug. So what does that mean for you? First off, it should only take between 15 to 30 minutes for you to feel the effects of THCO after taking it orally. If you have been smoking or vaping THCO, you will begin to feel the effects immediately and no later than 20 minutes after your session.

How much THCO should I take? What is the optimal dose of this cannabinoid?

Experts recommend that new users take one-third of their usual delta 9 THC dosage when using THCO. Why? Well, since it is three times as strong as delta 9 THC, a dose that size will ease you into the compound.

Is THCO safe? Is it okay for me to try?

Yes, THCO is perfectly safe when used with the right amount of caution. It is secure as a hemp-derived product (though made in the lab). While the research is currently lacking, there are no reported injuries, illnesses, or deaths regarding THCO.

THCO Final Thoughts

THCO is one of the most exciting cannabinoids to come on the scene in a long time. It’s bold, potent, and strong. Though it sits in a legal gray area, it’s available almost anywhere. Give it a try, but make sure to go slow. We know you’ll enjoy it. 

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