The Science Behind THC-O Acetate: How is it Made?

Learn about the science behind synthesizing THC-O acetate - a minor cannabinoid found within hemp plants - and its potential risks.

The Science Behind THC-O Acetate: How is it Made?

The production of THC-O acetate requires specialized equipment, since it involves the use of volatile and flammable chemicals. The process for synthesizing this compound begins with the extraction of Delta-8 THC from hemp. The acetic anhydride is then combined with Delta-8 molecules to create THC-O. To synthesize THC-O, acetic anhydride is used.

This chemical compound is a highly flammable, colorless liquid that is generally used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, dyes, fibers, plastics and explosives. The THC acetate ester was investigated as a possible non-lethal incapacitating agent as part of Edgewood Arsenal experiments sometime between 1949 and 1975. In recent months, a synthetic compound derived from hemp called THC-O acetate, often simply referred to as THC-O (pronounced “THC oh”), has rapidly gained popularity among Americans who do not have access to legal cannabis. Since Δ9-THC and Δ8-THC are quite different in potential, the corresponding acetylated derivatives will also differ, which can pose risks to consumers who are unaware of which isomer is found in commercial products. While developing THC-O can be a seemingly dangerous experience, and the effects provide an intense psychoactive and almost psychedelic experience, taking THC-O is not that different from enjoying Delta-8 THC.

This applies to products with any form of THC, regardless of the type of compound, such as Delta-8, Delta-9, Delta-10, THC-O and THCP. Both the United Kingdom and New Zealand encountered incidents of THC acetates in 1995 when they banned them. THC-O, or THC-O acetate, is a minor, naturally occurring cannabinoid that exists within the hemp plant. The extract is carefully refined to concentrate the THC-O material and remove any unwanted chemicals, including excess acids or by-products.

Of course, high-potency cannabis concentrates such as oil, wax and shatter have been legally sold for many years, so the risk of a bad trip with THC-O is relative. THC-O-Acetate is not federally programmed in the United States, but could be considered an analog of THC, in which case the purchase, sale or possession could be prosecuted under the Federal Analogs Act. In addition, methods for extracting essential oils and cannabinoids from the plant have provided some of the purest THC products known to man. The legal question of whether purified THC-O-acetate is considered legal in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal is also complex and varies between jurisdictions. As Binoid, one of the best sellers of the compound, as well as other derivatives such as delta 10-THC and HHC, admits on the company's website: “Actually, it's hard to say.