Marijuana

THC-O, the Legal Psychedelic Cannabinoid, Hits Texas CBD Shops

You can now trip on your camping trip, legally, in Texas.
You can now trip on your camping trip, legally, in Texas. Krists Luhaers/ Unsplash
If you've ever smoked enough weed or eaten too much of a THC-infused edible and thought you were hallucinating, well, you probably were. The main psychoactive ingredient in medical marijuana, Delta-9 THC, can cause hallucinations, delusions or extreme momentary confusion.

Consumers don’t generally use cannabis for its potential psychedelic components, but that might change with the emergence of THC-O Acetate, the latest cannabinoid to hit Texas’ legal hemp market. Celebrated as the “psychedelic cannabinoid,” the effects of THC-O are about three times stronger than those of Delta-9 THC.

THC-O does not occur naturally in the cannabis plant. To produce THC-O, the plant has to undergo a chemical process called acetylation. In 1978, a Florida man was busted by police for making THC-O and had his operation shut down. Since that incident, THC-O hadn’t made much noise on either the black market or in legal cannabis markets. It's now making a return in states where Delta-9 THC cannabis is illegal.

Sometime between 1948 and 1975, the U.S. Army Chemical Corps conducted experiments on dogs using THC-O acetate to test its ability to incapacitate enemy forces during warfare. Their research found that THC-O had twice the capacity to produce ataxia in the body. Ataxia describes a lack of muscle control and coordination. In other words, the dogs were way more wobbly than when they gave them regular Delta-9 THC.


In 1974, author D.Gold published a book titled Cannabis Alchemy: The Art of Modern Hashmaking, in which he wrote about the chemistry and effects of THC-O. Gold said, "The effect of the acetate is more spiritual and psychedelic than that of the ordinary product. The most unique property of this material is that there is a delay of about 30 minutes before its effects are felt."

Depending on who you ask, THC-O is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. But again, that depends on who you ask. Either way, we took our chances and were able to walk out of a Texas hemp dispensary with the psychedelic cannabinoid in the form of a disposable vape pen.

Delta-8 THC and Delta-10 THC have gained popularity in recent months especially, but THC-O is for the heavy-weight hitters. A small dose of THC-O will feel almost identical to Delta-9 THC. It has been compared to a low dose of mescaline with fewer visuals but a much stronger couch lock effect.

Don't expect it to hit you right away. Regular Delta-9 THC can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes to kick in when ingested, but you’ll have to wait on the effects from the THC-O for about an hour. When smoked or vaped, Delta-9 will kick you in just a few minutes while THC-O has a longer wait time and will creep up on you about 20 minutes later.

There are some questions still about the safety of vaping THC-O and its acetate compounds. The risks of THC-O acetate have been compared to those caused by vitamin E acetate, a compound and cutting agent that is found in cheap vape carts from lazy manufactures who don’t care about the cannabis plant or their customers. Vitamin E acetate has been linked with a severe lung condition called lipoid pneumonia. You should always research the company from which you're purchasing your weed products.

Scott Jaggers, part-owner of the Club Cannabis, which is set to open this winter in Dallas, says he has been trying different THC-O products and plans to fully implement the cannabinoid into the store's business plan.

“At first I thought it was just another cannabinoid, but THC-O is no joke." - Scott Jaggers, owner of Club Cannabis.

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“At first I thought it was just another cannabinoid, but THC-O is no joke," Jaggers says. “It has the potential to keep Texas content until medical cannabis with regular Delta-9 THC becomes more available. Our goal here at Club Cannabis is to provide our customers with the most potent cannabis products that state law will allow and THC-O fits that description.”

THC-O products should have a scannable QR code that will show proof that the product is in full compliance with state and federal law. You can scan the QR code before you purchase to get the full analysis of what is inside the product.

The most commonly found forms of THC-O are in vape cartridges and disposable vape pens. Recently, however, the cannabinoid has been popping up in the form of other industry favorite products, infused into edibles, tinctures and even pain creams as an extra-strength alternative to CBD pain cream. I've even seen a prerolled joint that was caked up with a thick layer of THC-O wax and then rolled in kief. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to try it because I ran out of money paying for the disposable vape pen. On average, THC-O products cost more than CBD or Delta-8 THC products.

As new natural and synthetic cannabinoids continue to hit the Texas market, the different potency levels have generated a pretty balanced pricing tier for the products. CBD, one of the more medicinal and non-intoxicating cannabinoids, generally costs less than any of the THC products. But keep in mind that just because CBD costs less that doesn't mean it won’t work or will be less effective for consumers. People aren’t taking CBD to get intoxicated but to be medicated. Those consumers looking for more potent and intoxicating products purchase THC products.

It's always possible that state legislation will take action against the psychedelic cannabinoid, but for now, it's available for purchase pretty much anywhere else you can find hemp and THC products.
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Malen “Mars” Blackmon has been a contributor to the Observer since 2019. Entrenched in Southern California’s music and culture at an early age, he wrote and recorded music until he realized he wasn’t cut out for the music industry and turned to journalism. He enjoys driving slowly, going to cannabis conventions and thinking he can make sweatpants look good with any outfit.