What is THCO? THCO Benefits, Side Effects, and Legality
In many ways, cannabinoids can be thought of in the same way as music. Cannabinoids share the common thread of being derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, in much the same way that all music arises from similar instruments, but the end effects of both can vary dramatically. CBD and THC are different in much the same way that jazz differs from hard rock; neither is better per se, but the effects, experience, and headspace that both induce can be different from person to person.
With so many cannabinoids available today, there are so many different genres to choose from. While CBD and THCA are good cannabinoids for those looking for the benefits of marijuana without the headrush, other cannabis enthusiasts are looking for a more visceral experience. That is where THCO enters the picture. As a hemp-derived synthetic cannabinoid, THCO is said to be the most potent cannabinoid on the market. If THCO was a music genre, it would be heavy metal.
While regular delta-9 THC and THCO share many of the same properties and effects, they differ in multiple important ways as well. In this article, we’ll cover THCO and the multiple benefits associated with it, the side effects of THCO, and the legality of THCO as well.
Table of contents
- What is THCO?
- Does THCO Get You Stoned?
- What Are the Benefits Of THCO?
- THCO Side Effects?
- What Forms Does THCO Come In?
- Is THCO Legal?
- Will THCO Cause You To Fail A Drug Test?
- THCO Takeaways and Summary
What is THCO?
In the most basic terms, THCO is a cannabinoid. Just like many other cannabinoids that you have likely heard of – THC, CBD, and Delta-8 all included – tetrahydrocannabinol acetate is a compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Compared to many other popular cannabinoids that you might know, the “acetate” addition at the end of the THCO acronym is added due to its chemical composition.
In comparison to delta-9 THC and THCA, which are naturally occurring cannabinoids, THCO is a synthetic cannabinoid that requires a chemical conversion process to create. THCO is created through a process called acetylation. During the acetylation process, hemp CBD is converted to delta-8 THC, at which point acetic anhydride is added to chemically transform it into THCO on a molecular level. While THCO is technically a synthetic compound, it is infinitely safer than other dangerous synthetic cannabis products like spice or K2. While those compounds are entirely different chemical compounds, THCO is a direct analog of THC which is one of the safest compounds around.
The additional chemical refinement of delta-8 THC to THCO increases the potency of the compound by a significant degree. In fact, it has been reported that THCO is around three times more potent than regular delta-9 THC. Some THCO users report that the compound produces effects similar to small doses of psychedelics.
Does THCO Get You Stoned?
One of the first questions that most people ask in regard to a new cannabinoid is whether or not it will get you stoned. As we have briefly covered, THCO’s chemical composition makes it one of the most potent cannabinoids available today. While additional lab testing is needed to confirm THCO’s suspected potency, the consensus in the cannabis community is that THCO is around three times more potent than delta-9 THC.
THCO produces a more extreme high than regular THC due to the fact that the acetylation process stips the flavonoids and terpenes from the delta-8 THC compound, leaving behind only THC isolates. This increases potency dramatically. While the high from THCO is unquestionably more extreme than the high from delta-9 THC, it is a different kind of high as well.
Most THCO users claim that the high from the compound is much more psychedelic than the high from most other cannabinoids. While all cannabinoids are processed through the liver eventually, THCO only produces effects once it has been processed by the liver. Similar to the way that liver-processed THC edibles have been known to produce psychedelic effects in high doses, the same is true for THCO which is a prodrug. Overall, it is important to understand dosing before intaking THCO, as it is significantly more potent than delta-9 THC.
What Are the Benefits Of THCO?
While THCO was discovered in the 1940s, the benefits of THCO as an individual cannabinoid haven’t been studied to great lengths, With that being said, we do know a fair amount about THCO’s benefits, as they fall in line with other similar cannabinoids like delta-9 THC and CBD. Like THC, THCO has pronounced pain-alleviating effects, particularly if the pain is caused by inflammation. THCO is a prostaglandin inhibitor, meaning that it blocks the central chemical compound that causes inflammation in the body. As such, THCO is a good option for those that experience inflammation-related joint discomfort and similar ailments.
Once again, due to the fact that THCO hasn’t received anywhere near the level of scientific research as regular THC, there are quite a few anecdotal benefits of THCO that aren’t explicitly backed by scientific research. With that being said, the structural similarities between THC and THCO support many of the claims. For instance, THCO is reportedly an appetite stimulator, beneficial for those that struggle to maintain a consistent appetite. THCO also produces similar effects to THC when it comes to sleep. Many cannabis users that use marijuana as a sleep aid have reported that THCO is just as, if not more, effective as a sleep aid compared to standard THC.
To add another exceedingly positive THCO benefit to the list, there has also been some evidence that THCA can aid in inhibiting certain types of cancer from growing or spreading. In an article published by the Journal of Pancreatic Cancer, scientists found that THCA effectively reduced tumor volume and tumor weight through oral ingestion.
THCO Side Effects?
Many of the gripes associated with cannabis use boil down to undesirable psychoactive responses. Due to the fact that THCO is even more potent than THC when it comes to psychoactive effects, the negative aspects of an unpleasant high can be heightened with THCO. Some of the most common THCO side effects include a dry mouth, dizziness, tiredness, and increased heart rate. Since there isn’t very much conclusive research on the compound, many of THCO’s side effects are anecdotal. However, if you are susceptible to any of the negative side effects common with marijuana, it is a good idea to steer clear of THCO.
Like many other cannabinoids, THCO affects people differently based on a number of individual factors. These include metabolic rate, body mass, and an array of other individual characteristics. As such, it is hard to pinpoint umbrella side effects that are experienced universally. When taking THCO products, it is important to pay special attention to doses and the time between them. It is always a better idea to start with a low dose and work up to a larger one over time.
What Forms Does THCO Come In?
Due to the fact that THCO hasn’t received the mainstream attention that some of its other less potent brethren receive, THC and CBD for example, many people are unfamiliar with the variety of forms that THCO is available in. Due to the fact that THCO is created in a lab environment and is derived from other THC products, it is a bit harder to isolate and refine THCO products. As a result, many cannabis retailers refrain from producing THCO products. Not Silver Owl, though!
Like many of our other cannabis-derived cannabinoid products, Silver Owl carries THCO products in various forms. One of the most common ways of ingesting THCO is through a THCO tincture or in pure THCO acetate form. Silver Owl THCO acetate can be ingested either sublingually or added to a food of your choice. While it does take some time for your body to process THCO, the effects of Silver Owl’s THCO acetate come on strong around an hour after ingesting it. This is the best method of taking THCO if you are looking for an intense, extended high.
In addition to THCO acetate, Silver Owl also carries THCO vapes which are better for the casual user. Not only will a puff of a THCO vape allow the substance to enter your bloodstream faster, but it also allows for a more nuanced control over dosage. Since THCO is so potent, it is easy to go overboard with THCO tinctures or gummies. With a Silver Owl THCO vape, you can simply puff on it until the desired effect is reached.
Is THCO Legal?
The legality of THCO is an interesting topic to tackle, as there are technically a few right answers to that question. In the end, for federal legality purposes at least, it boils down to what plant the THCA was derived from. THCO can be derived from either marijuana or hemp plants, which can make the difference between federally legal THCO and illegal THCO. Due to the 2018 Farm Bill which made hemp-derived cannabinoid products federally legal to manufacture and purchase, THCO derived from hemp plants, rather than marijuana, is technically federally legal.
If THCO is derived from marijuana, it may be considered a Schedule 1 drug in the future on the grounds that it is a structural analog to tetrahydrocannabinol. There is legal framework in place which might make THCO and other similar cannabinoids the target of federal intervention in the future. The Federal Analog Act could have implications for THCO unless a strong case can be made that it is chemically diverse enough from delta-9 THC to fall outside of the Act’s parameters.
THCO is a very interesting cannabinoid when it comes to its legality due to the fact that it is even more intoxicating than delta-9 THC while remaining federally legal. While THCO abides by federal legal framework, its potent effects seemingly contradict its legality.
At this point in time, however, THCO is unregulated and is not explicitly prohibited in the eyes of the U.S. federal government.
Will THCO Cause You To Fail A Drug Test?
As a general rule, it is not a good idea to consume any THCO tetrahydrocannabinol acetate products if you have a routine drug test coming up. Due to the fact that THCO has a nearly identical molecular structure to delta-9 THC, THCO can absolutely cause you to fail a drug test. While there aren’t any tests that target THCO directly, its similarity to other intoxicating cannabinoids makes it likely to trigger a positive result.
Depending on how frequently you ingest THCO, the compound can stay in your system for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. While there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to say for sure how long the THCO cannabinoid stays in your system, it can be generally assumed that the half-life of THCO is similar to THC. Frequent THCO users can expect the compound to be detectable for up to 14 days depending on multiple factors including individual metabolic rates, the potency of the THCO product, and whether or not the product contains other cannabinoids. For light Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid users, that number could be significantly less.
THCO Takeaways and Summary
THCO has taken the cannabis world by storm in recent years and for good reason. For those looking for a more intense high than what delta-9 THC can provide, THCO is a good option as it is around three times stronger. Despite being a synthetic cannabinoid, THCO is still derived from naturally occurring hemp CBD which is then converted into delta-8 THC and then further refined into THCO through the acetylation process.
Many of the positive benefits of THCO are shared with delta-9 THC, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties. It also provides pain relief in a similar way to delta-9 THC. While THCO does provide benefits on its own, researchers aren’t yet certain about whether or not its effects are more significant when paired with other cannabinoids. While THCO shares benefits with delta-9, it can also present more severe side effects. Most of THCO’s side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, and increased heart rate.
THCO is currently available in multiple forms including edibles, tinctures, and vapes. Silver Owl provides THCO in multiple different products including disposable vapes in three different strains and in pure acetate form.
While THCO is, strictly speaking, federally legal, its proximity to delta-9 THC makes it at risk for criminalization in the future. The 2018 Farm Act currently protects hemp-derived THCO, but that might not always be the case. Due to the structural similarities between THCO and delta-9 THC, THCO can be detected on a routine drug test. For that reason, it is a good idea to abstain from THCO intake if you have a drug test on the horizon.