Since former U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill in 2018 legalizing hemp at the federal level, the cannabis industry has released a panoply of new products containing new cannabinoids.  Commentators agree that the Farm Bill has indirectly and inadvertently allowed the industry to produce and sell cannabis products containing cannabinoids with psychoactive effects.

While most of these products have no psychoactive effects, a new series of cannabinoids contain a similar molecular structure to THC, the most popular cannabis compound with psychoactive effects, which remains illegal at the federal level.

One of these products is THC-O.  THC-O, short for THC-O-Acetate, is a semi-synthetic analog of delta-9 THC.  THC-O does NOT naturally appear in hemp and must be created synthetically.  Producers convert it from natural delta-9 THC through a structural isomerization process.  This process begins by extracting Delta-8 THC from hemp. The acetic anhydride is then combined with Delta-8 molecules to create THC-O.

News reports indicate that THC-O is more potent than the more popular THC.  Consumers report that THC-O creates a more psychedelic experience than other cannabinoids.  Others further report that THC -O offers an experience with a more spiritual tone.   

Is THC – O safe?  To date, there are NO reports of overdose or death as result of consuming THC-O.  However, THC-O effects are limited to anecdotal evidence.   There are no clinical research trials to establish the safety of this product.  The negative side effects are the usual THC suspects including red eyes, dry mouth, grogginess, anxiety and a mild drop in blood pressure.      

The biggest safety concern with THC-O is buying from an unreputable source.  This market is largely unregulated and “bad players” tend to populate unregulated markets.  The educated consumer of THC-O ought to verify they are buying from a company that is transparent and accountable to its customers.   Your source ought to provide third party lab reports that verify the products’ quality, content and potency.

Until the Administration and Congress come together to legalize THC, and create accompanying standards and regulations, the consumer ought to carefully consider the source of the THC-O product they purchase.  The ‘ol adage from 17th century English common law, “caveat emptor,” or buyer beware ought to be top of mind for all consumers.