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Delta THC | Other Cannabinoids | Science

THC-O VS Delta-8-THC: Hemp Derived Cannabinoids Compared

Dr Abraham Benavides


Dr Abraham Benavides

Medical Doctor

With new cannabinoids hitting the market, people are looking for answers to many questions about the similarities and differences between one compound and another. 

While Delta-8-THC has been around for quite some time, and there is some research and anecdotal evidence to support its uses, the same cannot be said concerning THC-O or other new synthetic cannabinoids as of yet.

Below, we have dug into the anecdotal evidence and science behind the THC-O VS Delta-8-THC debate. 

Keep reading to learn which might be better for you.

What Is THC-O?

THC-O, also known as THC-O acetate, is one of the most recent additions to the cannabinoid market.

It is a semi-synthetic compound that is said to be three times more potent than your standard Delta-9-THC when ingested. However, this anecdotal estimate is yet to be confirmed or fully known.

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It begins with hemp instead of being extracted from cannabis. It’s quasi-legal at a federal level if the final product contains <0.3% Delta-9-THC and can be purchased online in vape cartridges, gummies, and tinctures. 

But, note that state laws may vary, so always do your own research. It may be considered a Delta-9-THC analogue, which could make the end product illegal even though it starts with a legal material.

The popularity of THC-O products is mainly on the rise in states where cannabinoid users do not have access to legal Delta-9 products or where Delta-8 is banned. 

Users frequently comment about how long the buzz lasts and that it’s more psychedelic than other cannabinoids. 

The compound is made from industrial hemp, legal under the Farm Bill of 2018. From this starting material, the extractor isolates CBD from the raw hemp and turns it into Delta-8-THC using a chemical process.

They add a highly flammable compound called acetic anhydride for the last stage, and the Delta-8-THC molecules then become THC-O acetate. It can also be made from Delta-9-THC.

The process of making THC-O acetate eliminates all terpenes and flavonoids. When created successfully, THC-O distillate will look like a clear runny liquid that is both flavorless and scentless.  

Making THC-O acetate can be dangerous and should be completed in a lab with special equipment and advanced training. 

It’s a volatile compound to make and requires the use of flammable and explosive chemicals. So don’t attempt to make it yourself and, instead, always buy from a reputable company.

It’s also theoretically possible to produce an acetate compound by adding acetic anhydride to any THC variant, creating combinations like Delta-8-THC-O or Delta 10 THC-O. So we can expect more THC variant products on the horizon.

It’s also essential to note that while this compound may seem new to the market, it has actually been around for quite some time. 

The US military allegedly began studying the compound in 1949 as part of the Edgewood/Aberdeen Experiments.

Scientists used it to determine if it created ataxia (the presence of abnormal, uncoordinated movements) in canines. They found that it affected the dogs’ muscle coordination double what conventional Delta-9-THC did. 

So, how do these effects translate in humans? So far, there isn’t any formal clinical research on THC-O. This means the exact effects and safety cannot be known.

According to anecdotal evidence [1, 2], by using THC-O acetate, you should expect the onset to last much longer, sometimes up to 30 minutes, to feel the effects and an overall duration similar to an edible.

All in all, a buzz that will have you floating in space with a psychedelic-like kick.

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What Is Delta-8?

Delta-8-THC is short for delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol, and it’s a cannabinoid found naturally in tiny quantities in hemp.

It’s very similar to Delta-9-THC, but according to science (I’ll add that I agree, given my personal experience with D8), it’s described as having a much milder buzz. 

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Delta-8 is the cannabinoid that ignited the focus on hemp-derived, semi-synthetic compounds that can get you feeling buzzed. 

With now the foray of other cannabinoids such as Delta-10-THC, THC-O, and HHC on the market.

It was first discovered in 1941 while scientists were studying the structure of CBD. However, unlike Delta-9 or CBD, it’s only found only in small concentrations in cannabis and hemp. 

Consequently, to produce enough for commercial use, it’s usually developed through cannabinoid chemical conversion (from CBD).

In short, it’s the same method used to create THC-O that we discussed earlier, but it’s only half of the process. It involves the use of synthetic agents in the manufacturing process.

As for the effects of Delta-8, in my experience, it’s euphoric, relaxing, can provide pain relief, and has a lower chance of creating anxiety and paranoia like I sometimes find Delta-9-THC produces. 

It takes a different length of time to feel the effects. This amount of time depends on the method of consumption, the dose, body weight, tolerance levels, metabolism, age, and gender. 

These also determine the length of time you will feel the effects of Delta-8-THC. However, on average, expect the high to last approximately two to three hours.

According to a study from 1973, Delta-8-THC is approximately two-thirds as potent as your average Delta-9-THC. And, to feel the same effect at Delta-9-THC, you would have to take substantially more. 

Overall, as Delta-8 produces a less intense high, users can expect similar psychoactive effects without (or with less) the anxiety and paranoia Delta-9-THC can often cause.

Nonetheless, you should also be aware of possible side effects similar to what traditional cannabis can elicit. There may also be other unknown health effects and effects of potential chemical residues left behind in the final product.

Some people describe Delta-8 as friendlier to new cannabis users and give it nicknames like diet weed or cannabis light. 

However, in my experience, the more Delta-8 you take, the more it acts as Delta-9-THC, so be sure to watch your dosage. 

Always start slow and low. I’ve found that 5 to 10 milligrams per dose is usually adequate to develop a baseline when I try a new THC product.  

Also, keep in mind that the full short-term and long-term effects of these cannabinoids are still not yet known. 

Synthetic cannabinoids have not been proven to be as safe as natural cannabinoids yet and could carry unknown leftover residues, these could be harmful to health. So use it at your own discretion.

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THC-O VS Delta-8 

When it comes to THC-O VS Delta-8-THC, which should you try? 

That depends mainly on the feeling you’re seeking. For example, if you want to feel a mellow buzz with unhindered cognitive function, you might consider Delta-8-THC a better choice.  

However, If you want a potent and long-lasting buzz with almost hallucinatory effects, you should probably choose THC-O acetate.

Your decision also might depend on whether you want a buzz from a more natural cannabinoid or not. 

For example, Delta-8-THC is found naturally in cannabis and hemp in tiny amounts.  And while what you consume is converted via a semi-synthetic process because the percentage found in hemp is so tiny, you know it’s based on a genuine phytocannabinoid in theory. 

Still, this doesn’t guarantee they’re the same thing. 

On the other hand, THC-O isn’t natural. As discussed above, it is produced by adding acetic anhydride to Delta-8 THC. 

Any synthetic or semi-synthetic product is at risk of carrying leftover residues and so these products can’t be fully known as safe yet without more research.

So, if you would rather consume a more natural product, then plain Delta-8-THC is the best option for you. 

Most importantly, whichever you choose between Delta-8-THC and THC-O, you will feel a buzz. 

But, as outlined earlier, THC-O is significantly more potent than Delta-8-THC, and THC-O is also said to create a more psychedelic set of effects.

While you can expect Delta-8-THC to hit you in a few minutes if you are vaping or smoking it, THC-O takes much longer to kick in (up to 30 mins) regardless of how it is consumed.

This is because it needs to be metabolized by your body. 

According to anecdotal reports, many people found THC-O to be less harsh, and many were surprised it took so long to hit after vaping. Whereas, if you vape Delta-8-THC, you can feel it in minutes.

You might also prefer to ingest THC-O through an edible form or a syrup. This is because THC-O is a prodrug to THC Delta-9, meaning it is metabolized into the same compound as D9: THC-COOH. 

Overall, when using these products, you should know that there is limited research and few peer-reviewed studies on THC-O and Delta-8-THC. 

We also do not know or understand the long-term and short-term health effects of these cannabinoid products. The effects aren’t yet known or proven to be fully safe or legal at this time. So use with caution. 

There has never been a death linked to the use of cannabis or hemp products, and if suddenly people started having adverse effects to THC-O, you can bet you’ll hear about it fast. 

On the legality side of things, states like Rhode Island have banned Delta-8-THC products explicitly, and the list of states where D9 is banned is becoming more significant month on month. 

When it comes to the legality of THC-O, it is in a gray area.

However, as it is so close in molecular structure to cannabis, according to the Federal Analogue Act of 1986, it could be considered analogous to Delta-9-THC. 

The fact is that it’s produced from federally legal hemp, and for now, it flies under the radar.

Wrapping Up: THC-O VS Delta-8-THC

If THC-O lives up to the hype, it could be a panacea for users who have to deal with issues due to high tolerance levels. 

Not to mention the craze it could cause with recreational users because most people want to achieve a stellar buzz.

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But as we enter this new phase of alternative cannabinoids, no one cannot guarantee that the product is legal and safe for consumption due to the lack of scientific evidence and research. 

However, anecdotal evidence has already created a stir in the industry, with people touting both Delta-8 and THC-O as miracle products that have helped them with ailments while providing you with a buzz. You should be wary of any health claims of either Delta-8 or THC-O at this time.

Remember to do your research on companies you purchase cannabinoid products from. Read the reviews and ensure the companies have Certificates of Analysis available.