We have seen a wave of legalization bills since 1996, which have allowed states to legalize medical cannabis. Many states, such as Washington and Colorado, are also the first few to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes.
However, new cannabis products and derivatives are being introduced. You may have heard of the latest cannabinoid, TCH-O. What is THCO, what are the effects, and is it safe and legal in the US? Read on to find out!
What Is THCO?
THCO or THC acetate ester is a type of hemp-derived cannabinoid that is similar in chemical composition to delta 9 THC. For those who don’t know, delta-9 THC is one of the strongest intoxicating compounds found in marijuana.
Quite similarly, THCO is a new derivative that can cause intense psychoactive effects and offer feelings of euphoria to its consumers. To give you a rough idea of how potent this drug is, it can be up to three times as strong as conventional THC in marijuana.
How Is THCO Made?
THC-O, also known as THC-O Acetate, is a naturally found minor cannabinoid in cannabis plants. Although it is a minor cannabinoid, it takes a little more skill to produce it in large enough quantities so that consumers can benefit from it medically.
The following are the main steps of the entire manufacturing process:
- To begin with, hemp is cultivated on farms.
- After that, CBD is removed from the hemp stalks using a process involving pressure and heat.
- The CBD is transformed into Delta-8 THC.
- To create THC-O, acetic anhydride is added to delta-8 THC. This extraction discards the solvent that contains THC that has been dissolved in it.
What Are The Benefits of THCO?
Though there is not much research done to determine the long-term advantages of the substance, preliminary research and public use has introduced some of the following benefits:
- Some studies have found that THCO can reduce inflammation in the body, which can help relieve pain and improve overall health.
- Research has also revealed that THCO can enhance cognitive functions like memory and concentration.
- It has also been found that THCO can help reduce cholesterol levels and improve overall heart health.
- Many people report feeling relief from chronic pain and inflammation when using THCO-based products, such as creams and tinctures.
- Finally, research has revealed that THCO can also help reduce stress and improve mood. It has been linked to lower levels of cortisol, the hormone responsible for our fight-or-flight response.
What Are The Effects of THCO?
With such potency, THCO also carries its fair share of effects. It has been associated with borderline hallucinatory effects; many even call it the “psychedelic cannabinoid.” After consumption, it can alter your perception of time and your surroundings. However, it takes around 20-30 minutes for its effects to show since the compound needs to be metabolized in order to be activated.
No long-term studies have been conducted on the continuous consumption of THCO, so we still don’t know much about this drug. However, there have been reports of nausea, lightheadedness, dry eyes and mouth, and disorientation. This makes you question whether THCO is safe for consumption or not.
Is THCO Safe to Use? Is THCO Dangerous?
This is a gray area for now. Many advocates claim that users who experience adverse effects are consuming low-quality extracts or low-grade derivatives. If you source your THCO from a qualified professional, you won’t experience negative effects.
Moreover, users who don’t smoke marijuana frequently may have little to no tolerance for the substance. Therefore, they may have a higher chance of experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, paranoia, and other negative side effects after consuming THC-O. The drug’s extreme potency might even make it more addictive than marijuana in general.
In the end, if you do decide to try THC-O, only try products from trusted producers. Beginners and inexperienced users of cannabinoids should start slowly and build up their dosage over time. Users need to regulate their consumption levels. Over-consumption may lead to unpleasant effects; THCO is three times as strong as regular THC, after all!
Is THCO Legal?
THCO is currently marginally legal since it is derived from federally legal state plants or hemp. The Farm Bill 2018 declared that hemp (cannabis and its derivatives with low concentration of delta 9 THC) be removed from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act and instead be categorized as a regular agricultural commodity.
However, others argue that the compound is not legal under the 1986 Federal Analogue Act, which states that any substance analogous to a Schedule 1 drug (here, it means conventional THC) would qualify as a Schedule 1 drug. These are drugs that currently have no accepted medical use or have a potential for drug abuse.
Cannabis containing THC is currently illegal at the federal level but varies across the state level. On the other hand, THCO is still not declared illegal at the federal level. There is still debate over the legality of THCO, which may very well change over time as new research probes into what this drug can do.
Current Issues with Production of THCO Products
Like anything, consuming cannabinoids can bring in some risk. The issue here is not THCO, but rather the manufacturing process; brands must be more open about this so that customers know what they are purchasing.
THC-O poses a public safety risk due to the way the compound is manufactured. Although the extraction of hemp can be challenging, the real risk arises when the highly flammable acetic anhydride is combined with the molecules of delta 8-THC. A minor error could result in a fire, severe burns, or even a potentially fatal explosion.
James Stephen, a cannabis researcher, claims that THCO producers’ testing outcomes consistently lack specificity because some of the product’s ingredients are still unknown.
There are also rumors that THCO can produce a highly toxic compound that harms the lungs in small doses and may even be fatal in large doses. Therefore, if you are considering using THC-O to treat a medical condition, consult your doctor first and think about going with a more cautious, well-researched course of action.
Should I Use THOC?
Now that you have learned a little more about this new and potent cannabinoid, you are probably wondering whether you should get some for yourself or not. Well, the answer really depends on your preferences.
The main issue with synthetic cannabis products is that they often contain chemicals that are not naturally present in cannabis. Data regarding this may be scarce right now, but many companies are investing in R & D excessively.
They are working to improve its effectiveness, safety, and best use for consumers. Though the presence of chemicals might be concerning for some, many producers are providing high-quality THOC products by following stringent safety procedures.
So, if you do decide to have THC-O experience, purchase it from an authentic place that is backed by reputable manufacturers. Find the dosage that is right for you and avoid jumping in the face first because once you commit, there is no turning back.