cannabis buds in the laboratory
from the old u.s. President Donald Trump signed the farm bill in 2018 legalizing hemp at the federal level, the cannabis industry has launched many new products containing new minor cannabinoids.
Although most of them do not have psychoactive effects, a new series of cannabinoids contain a molecular structure similar to thc, the most popular cannabis compound with psychoactive effects, which remains illegal at the federal level.
however, the farm bill has indirectly and inadvertently allowed the industry to produce and sell cannabis products containing cannabinoids with psychoactive effects.
one of these new compounds is thc-o acetate (or athc), an unnatural cannabinoid that is attracting the interest of many cannabis users, but also several concerns regarding its legality and health safety.
In recent years, several brands have marketed products containing thc-o, a synthetic cannabis compound derived from hemp. Unlike other cannabinoids extracted from hemp such as CBD, CBG, or CBN, THC-O cannot be found naturally in the hemp plant, but it does have psychoactive effects and appears to be legal.
Although not yet a mainstream cannabinoid, thc-o is becoming increasingly popular with cannabis users. In particular, these types of cannabinoids are attracting the interest of consumers living in the United States. states where recreational cannabis is still illegal.
thc-o is an ester of thc. It can be synthesized through a chemical process using acetic anhydride, a highly flammable, colorless liquid used to make fibers, plastics, pharmaceuticals, dyes, and explosives.
The production of this compound requires specialized equipment, as it involves the use of volatile and flammable chemicals.
the process to synthesize thc-o involves converting cbd extracted from the hemp plant into delta-8 thc. finally, acetic anhydride is added to delta-8 thc molecules to produce thc-o acetate.
There is no confirmed data on the potency of thc-o. Several news publications report that thc-o is more potent than the more popular thc, as it is reported to be three times more potent than thc.
Users report that thc-o is more psychedelic, offering a more spiritual or psychedelic high than other cannabinoids.
Just like when consuming cannabis edibles, thc-o takes time to metabolize in the body before its effects kick in. thc-o-a is most commonly available in vape cartridges, tinctures, and gummies.
U.S. military scientists began studying this compound in 1949. In the 1970s, the DEA discovered an illegal laboratory in Florida that was combining cannabis extracts with acetic anhydride. however, thc-o gained consumer interest only in recent years. Looking at Google trends, interest in this topic peaked in mid-2021.
however, there is still little peer-reviewed scientific research on thc-o. More research is needed to understand the health effects of these compound products. The psychoactive effects of thc-o are only known through anecdotal reports from consumers, and companies that sell their products may increase their potency.
Like delta-8 thc and other minor cannabinoids, thc-o falls into a gray area of legality. however, under the analogous federal law, some experts say it should be illegal. This section of the Controlled Substances Act enacted in 1986 treats any chemical that is “substantially similar” (also known as designer drugs) to a controlled substance, but only if it is intended for human consumption.
in an interview about the hemp grower, neurologist dr. Ethan Russo, an expert in studying the medicinal aspects of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system, stressed that there is no data to support that it is not potentially toxic. “If it’s two to three times as potent as THC, it’s an immediate prescription for potentially serious side effects,” he said.
although the thc-o market appears to still be in its infancy, the lack of regulation on minor cannabinoids could lead to health and legal issues that could damage the entire cannabis industry in terms of reputation for quality products.
At the same time, the continuation of prohibition policies against cannabis creates an environment in which products developed under the provisions of the farm bill may not be legal due to differing interpretations of the laws.