Minor cannabinoids are all the rage right now, and THCO is the latest to have its moment in the sun. The acetate ester of THC, this semi-synthetic cannabinoid, could be up to three times as potent as the regular version, hence the excitement among recreational users.
THCO, or THC-O acetate, is still new and something of a mystery. But it’s already wildly popular, with several well-known hemp brands manufacturing THCO products. Let’s review the best five before taking a deeper dive into what THCO is.
1. ELYXR – THC-O Cartridges
From the company that brought you the premium delta-8, ELYXR has delivered once more with these mighty THCO carts. Potent, calming, and long-lasting, THCO is streets ahead of delta-8 in terms of psychoactive effects.
ELYXR’s 1ml carts utilize the 510-threaded system and should work with any vape battery. With a range of impressive and delicious hybrids, indicas, and sativas to pick from, ELYXR has something for everyone. Farm Bill compliant and third-party tested.
Flavors: Caramel Apple (Sativa), Frankenlime OG (Hybrid), Maui Wowie (Sativa), Scary Berry (Indica), Sensei Star (Indica), Wedding Cake (Hybrid)
2. Delta 8 Factory – Infinite X THC-O Cartridges
To infinity and beyond with THCO cartridges from Delta 8 Factory. When they say Infinite X, they mean it – these are among the most potent vape carts I have ever encountered!
Part of that effect comes from the full-spectrum nature of Delta 8 Factory’s THCO carts. In addition to the immensely strong THCO, there’s also CBC, CBD, CBG, CBT, and trusty delta-8. It’s a cocktail of cannabinoids and a winning formula.
Attach the cart to a 510-threaded vape battery, press the button, and inhale! All THCO carts from Delta 8 Factory are federally compliant and third-party tested.
Flavors: Blue Dream, Pineapple Express, Wedding Cake
3. ELYXR – THC-O Disposables
Enjoy ELYXR’s THCO carts more conveniently with these disposable vape carts. Priced a little higher than the regular carts, the extra cost pays for itself, thanks to the ease of use and stylish design. If you need discretion, ELYXR disposables are the way to go.
Effects-wise, these carts contain the same e-liquid as my top pick – lots of THCO packed into 1ml! Ready to vape straight from the packet, you’ll be feeling sky-high within a few draws. When the cart’s empty, just chuck it away. Third-party tested with less than 0.3% THC.
Flavors: Sensei Star (Indica), Blueberry Muffin (Indica), Super Sour Lemon (Sativa), Maui Wowie (Sativa), Caramel Apple (Sativa), Frankenlime OG (Hybrid), Forbidden Fruit (Hybrid)
4. 3Chi – THC-O Disposable Vape
The masters of the minor cannabinoids haven’t missed out on the THCO craze. These mighty disposable carts from 3Chi promise maximum potency and a seamless vaping experience. 3Chi uses high-performance CCELL cartridges for the best flavor possible.
With 95% THCO and 5% terpenes, 3Chi’s carts contain a hefty 950mg THCO and plenty of terpenes to ensure mouth-watering vapor. 3Chi does not cut its carts with any carrier oil – you won’t find any MCT, VG, or vitamin E acetate here. Third-party tested and federally compliant.
Flavors: Blue Dream (CDT), Melonatta (CDT)
5. Binoid CBD – Premium THC-O Vape Cartridges
Another brand with a penchant for hemp’s more obscure cannabinoids, Binoid CBD, has an exciting collection of THCO carts.
You’ll find a variety of sativas, hybrids, and indicas, all of which pack in a whopping 92% THCO distillate. With 8% terpenes, these 510-threaded carts are especially tasty with an all-natural flavor.
Binoid hints at strong mental and physical effects and an intense experience recommended for seasoned vapers only. Third-party tested by Gobi Hemp, this product has less than 0.3% THC.
Flavors: Blue Zkittlez (Indica – Tranquil), White Runtz (Hybrid – Inspire), Maui Wowie (Sativa – Adventure), Super Harlequin (Sativa – Rush), Skywalker OG (Hybrid – Enlighten)
What is THCO?
THCO (also known as THC acetate, THC-O, and THC-O-acetate) is a semi-synthetic cannabinoid and the acetate ester of THC. The compound can be made either through the synthesis of delta-9-THC (THC) or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA).
THCO was first identified sometime after 1949 and was described as a controlled substance analog of THC by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1978. THCO has been described as more psychedelic and spiritual than THC because of its apparent potency.
Essentially, THCO products have emerged because of their astonishing strength. Some researchers estimate that THCO is up to three times as strong as THC, which itself is more intense than delta-8.
But it’s impossible to extract THCO directly from cannabis as manufacturers do with CBD, CBG, and other familiar cannabinoids. Without getting into complex science, chemists transform THC into THCO using acetic anhydride, a flammable and toxic liquid.
Is THCO Legal?
THCO’s legal status remains unclear, although the 2018 Farm Bill has emboldened manufacturers. The bill de-scheduled all hemp-derived cannabinoids except for THC, a law change that has unwittingly led to the emergence of delta-8, delta-10, THCO, and more.
Many companies selling hemp-based CBD and delta-8 have now started offering THCO products, too. As well as vape carts, you can buy THCO-infused gummies, tincture oils, capsules, and concentrates.
Per the Farm Bill, the only requirement is that THCO products have less than 0.3% THC. However, as a semi-synthetic substance, THCO is technically not a naturally occurring cannabinoid and may be subject to different regulations.
In theory, THCO could be covered by the 1986 Federal Analogue Act, which banned all analogs of THC. However, the DEA has not weighed in on any controversial cannabinoids that have become commercial recreational substances thanks to the Farm Bill.
THCO has an uncertain future – but it’s legal for now and will be until it’s not!
Potential Benefits of THCO
From a recreational perspective, THCO’s advantage over other cannabinoids is its unrivaled potency. If you want to get sky-high and have an out-of-this-world experience, THCO is perfect. No other cannabis-derived products are described as spiritual or psychedelic.
Once the body metabolizes THCO, the compound turns into regular THC. Therefore, the cannabinoid arguably has the same therapeutic potential as THC. Researchers haven’t established why THCO is more potent, but it may be down to a higher bioavailability.
We don’t have much research on THCO, but it could have anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties. But THCO has no approved uses, and you should not start taking THCO instead of prescription medication.
Staying Safe with THCO Products
Anecdotal reports suggest THCO lasts a little longer than delta-8 and THC but that it doesn’t kick in as rapidly – even when vaporized. THCO typically takes 30 minutes to work, with the cannabinoids needing to be deacetylated by enzymes in the body before becoming active.
Be prepared for the delay, and do not rush into a second dose too fast. If vaping, I recommend waiting for at least 60 to 90 minutes before judging how intense your first dose was. Given the super-high potency of THCO, a cautious approach helps with avoiding side effects.
With lots of unknowns still about THCO, these products come with more risk than delta-8 and delta-10. Interestingly, American Cannabinoid Association founder Matthew Guenter prefers vaping THCO over other intake methods.
He argues that because vaporized THCO kicks in relatively speedily, he can get an idea of the effects quickly. If the experience is different from a typical THC-like product, it could signify a dodgy product. A high-quality THCO vape should be smooth and relaxing.
What to Look For When Buying THCO Products
Compared to delta-8 products, THCO is still uncommon. But that’s changing fast as more companies recognize the potential of this amped-up form of THC. With increased competition, hopefully, the quality of THCO products will improve. But we could also see more fraudsters trying to cash in.
Finding legit and effective products is difficult in such an obscure market. Unsurprisingly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate THCO, and there’s no chance of that changing in the foreseeable future.
But this shouldn’t put you off trying THCO products. A little research and some extra precautions go a long way to making your THCO experience safe and enjoyable.
Third-Party Lab Reports
There are some questionable THCO products available right now. The tricky manufacturing process means it’s harder to make safe THCO than CBD or delta-8. The importance of third-party testing is even greater than usual.
While there is no guarantee with THCO, third-party testing significantly increases the chances that a product is genuine. In general, legality and THCO concentration are not the issues, but purity. The risk of impurities is high due to how THCO is made.
Look for third-party lab reports that cover purity as well as potency. Ideally, you want to see tests for heavy metals and residual solvents. The more extensive a lab report is, the better.
Potency matters, too. Some brands neglect to say how much THCO is in their products, which should set alarm bells ringing – although expect intense effects regardless.
If you’re a recreational user interested in THCO, no doubt you want the highest of highs! In that case, look for vaping products with more than 90% THCO – those are the percentages capable of delivering the spiritual and psychedelic effects you’ve heard so much about.
Some brands mix THCO with full-spectrum hemp extract. These products likely provide a milder THCO experience with increased mind and body relaxation.
Like all hemp-derived vaping products, THCO carts come infused with various terpene profiles. THCO has sedative characteristics, so anticipate indica carts having even more soothing effects than usual.
Sativa cartridges are somewhat stimulating, but not to the levels of delta-8 products. Meanwhile, the typically balanced hybrid leans decidedly toward relaxation.
THCO cartridges and disposables should contain THCO, terpenes, and possibly hemp extract – but nothing else. Carrier oils are unnecessary in 1ml carts, and you should beware of products made with MCT.
Vape cartridges with vitamin E acetate are an absolute no-no. Products with this ingredient were linked to a spate of vaping-related illnesses and deaths in late 2019 and early 2020.
How to Store Your THCO Products
We don’t know much about how THCO degrades, but we can assume it does so in the same way as other cannabinoids. Therefore, store THCO products in cool, dry, and dark conditions to stop heat and light degradation.
Keep THCO products out of reach of children. THCO is highly psychoactive and potentially very dangerous for minors – THCO is for adult consumption only.
How Long do THCO Products Last?
Due to a lack of research, there’s no solid evidence on how long THCO products last. However, user reports suggest the onset and offset of effects are comparable to other cannabinoids.
Vaporized THCO should last for around three hours, while THCO taken in edible or capsule form could last for six to eight hours. The duration of effects from THCO tinctures should fall somewhere in the middle.
Purchasing THCO Online vs. Shops Near Me
We have already examined why you must be more careful when buying THCO than delta-8 and CBD. As such, my general advice to only purchase hemp-derived products online applies even more when purchasing THCO.
You’re more likely to find extensive, third-party lab results from a trustworthy online retailer than random physical stores (i.e., convenience stores and gas stations). Non-specialist shops don’t care much – if at all – about quality, so finding certificates of analysis could be a struggle.
Companies dedicated to selling genuine hemp products have more at stake and put a higher priority on product safety. Online stores face stiff competition, and proving legitimacy can put them at an advantage over their rivals, which is why lab results are usually easy to find.