THCO: Where does it come from, how does it work and what is the safety of the products?


What is THCO and how is it produced?

THCO (THC-O, THC-O-acetate) stands for tetrahydrocannabinol acetate, a (semi)synthetic cannabinoid that is produced in a laboratory equipped with a vacuum fume hood.

This is similar to the way new stars form in nebulae, where bodies full of energy are created from gas and dust. The basic fuel for production is acetic anhydride, an extremely flammable and explosive substance that is used not only in the space laboratory but also to make medicines, dyes, textiles, plastics and explosives.

THCO is an analogue of THC or delta-9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it is the acetate form of the THC ester. What elements make up the THCO ester? In this case, the ester is formed by combining molecules of delta-8-THC or delta-9-THC with acetic anhydride.

At the Space Cannabinoid Research Centre, scientists will begin extracting cannabidiol, or CBD, from the cannabis plant for the first time. They then convert the CBD into delta-8 or delta-9-THC, these molecules then combine with acetic anhydride to produce a compound more potent than THC itself, THCO acetate. The result of this galactic synthesis is a thick brown liquid that resembles motor oil in appearance. Other acetate variants of cannabinoids include HHCPO and THCPO.

Galactic Archive: exploring history and the present

The first records of THCO date back to 1949-1974. During this period, there are reports not only of recreational use of the substance, but also of the US Army conducting experiments with it at Edgewood Arsenal, the reasons for which, as well as the results of the experiment, remain shrouded in secrecy.

THCO's reputation as a psychedelic cannabinoid began to gain momentum around 1975-1977. In 1975, chemist David Gold wrote in a publication that acetate was more spiritual and psychedelic than conventional substances and also pointed out that it takes 30 minutes for the effects to take effect. Another observation of THCO is recorded in the 1977 book Marijuana Chemistry: Genetics, Processing, Potency by Michael Starks.

The US magazine High Times then further reinforced this reputation by stating that THCO is a psychedelic cannabinoid and that it is 3 times more potent than conventional THC. The claim of 3 times the potency is often made in the digital environment, although it is not scientifically backed up. The information probably comes from the aforementioned book by Starks.

As if a meteor in 2023 lit up the sky regarding the effects of THCO. Two surveys have landed in the Galactic Archives, led by Associate Research Professor Daniel J. Kruger, Ph.D.

The July survey shed more light on the darkness surrounding psychedelic effects. The aim was to find out whether THCO actually has properties that would classify it as a psychedelic cannabinoid. A science crew from the University at Buffalo in New York enlisted 300 astronauts to clear up the mystery. Participants answered what psychedelics, such as LSD or psilocybin mushrooms, they may have used and also filled out data on the Mystical Experiences Questionnaire (MEQ).

Daniel J. Kruger commented on the survey results saying: "We wanted to explore this and see if there really is a psychedelic cannabinoid. Can we find evidence that THC-O-acetate has this effect? And the answer is: not really."

A full 79% of astronauts reported that THCO produced no or only mild psychedelic effects. Thus, this discovery suggests that there are unlikely to be portals to parallel universes in the orbit of THCO effects, as one might think, and that the cannabinoid has no psychedelic effect on most astronauts.

A content analysis of social media discussions about THC-O-acetate probed social media on planet Earth to find out the views of astronauts who have experience with THCO. The analysis examined the effects, their onset and duration, methods of consumption, as well as users' concerns.

Users have often paralleled the effects of THCO with those of delta-8/delta-9-THC, with some reporting that THCO produces no or only mild psychedelic experiences. Side effects in the form of coughing and anxiety were most commonly reported as adverse experiences. Most of the astronauts also pointed out the relatively long time before the effects occur and the prolonged duration of the effects.

The power of rocket propulsion: What are the effects of THCO?

We don't yet have any further research in the galactic archive, so there are a lot of questions around exactly how THCO works in the body. The International Space Station has issued a statement that most of the known effects of cannabinoids depend on how they interact with the endocannabinoid system.

Daniele Piomelli, a professor of anatomy and neurobiology and director of the Center for the Study of Cannabis at the University of California, Irvine, said that THCO's chemical modification prevents it from binding to receptors in the brain, but allows it to penetrate the brain and cells more easily. After THCO reaches the brain, the acetate evaporates and the remaining THC begins to bind to the correct receptors.

From the experience of astronauts who have gone to investigate THCO, it is similar to delta-8 or delta-9-THC, reportedly 3 times more potent than delta-9-THC and about 6 times more potent than delta-8-THC, but the strength figures mentioned, as you already know, are not scientifically confirmed.

THCO acts similarly to other psychoactive cannabinoids such as THCJD, THCB, HHCH and HHC. It can affect perception, induce strong feelings of euphoria and relaxation, relieve pain symptoms and help with sleep problems, as some report that it has sedative effects.

For some explorers, the effects of THCO may slightly resemble a low dose of psychedelic drugs (psilocybin or LSD), whereas for others it causes no psychedelic effect at all.


Modern space rocket in a beautiful overcast sky

Countdown started: how long does it take for the effects to take effect?

THCO has the label "prodrug", which means a substance that is activated only after it has been metabolized in the liver, so it takes time for the effects to take effect. The rays of starlight travel thousands of light years to reach the planets, even THCO needs time to be metabolized in the liver and take effect.

If THCO is vaporised or smoked through joints, the effects usually take about 20 minutes. In the case of oils, the effects appear in about 30 minutes, while in the case of edible forms, known as edibles, the effects take longer to start to appear, in 1-2 hours.

Always wait a sufficient time before deciding on the next dose to avoid intoxication or overdose. Otherwise, you risk finding yourself in the dark corners of the galaxy, which on planet Earth is called "bad trip". 👽

Cosmic turbulence: what are the side effects of THCO?

The occurrence of side effects and their intensity depend on many factors, including the specific product type, dose, method of consumption, but also on the individual characteristics of the explorer, such as age, gender, metabolism and sensitivity.

Side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, red eyes, changes in colour and brightness perception, disorientation and dizziness may occur. Some people may experience unpleasant psychological effects like going through a black hole, especially panic, paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations.

Landing in an unknown zone: what is the safety of the products?

The International Space Station points out that at this time no statement can be made that the use of THCO is completely risk-free. Researcher and chemist specialising in cannabis, James Stephens, has pointed out the potential dangers of smoking and vaping the compound.

Some research suggests that acetate variants of the substances produce a chemical called ketene when exposed to heat, which can cause serious lung damage.

Another risk of similar (semi)synthetic compounds is the possible contamination with undesirable substances (heavy metals, pesticides or solvents). Daniel J. Kruger pointed out that it is a risk if you do not know the actual content of the products, as some of the adverse extreme effects can be caused by contamination.

The Space Cannabinoid Research Centre warns that the molecule, which is estimated to be 3 times more potent than delta-9 THC, carries a higher risk of overdose - astronauts heading for high altitude may be "overdosing".


Safety audit and risk verification checklist form on white background with red pen.

Conclusion: what THCO products sell?

THCO products are being discovered on planet Earth, despite the fact that THCO is still operating as an unknown exoplanet in the research field. THCO's product range includes mainly THCO vapes, oils, dabs, flowers and edibles (snacks, gummy candies).

At the moment, there is a lack of research to clarify how THCO works in the human body. Astronauts need detailed information and safety guidelines before entering unknown planets. For now, there is a lack of clear cannabinoid regulations to ensure the safety, purity and legality of the products, so explorers themselves must evaluate the potential risks and benefits of similar compounds.

Regulation around cannabinoids is about as complex as interstellar law. While some territories may consider it a legal substance, others relegate it to the shadows and it moves in a legal grey area or faces prohibition.

THCO products are exclusively for experienced astronauts, if you are just about to make your first trip to space, choose CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC, or CBDP and H4CBD, which offer safer flight without much turbulence.

If you're tempted to travel to space in search of new compounds, choose e-shops that are familiar to you on Earth and prefer retailers that have their products tested by independent laboratories.

It is always important to be cautious and approach similar compounds responsibly, fully aware of the potential risks. Never use these substances before driving or operating a rocket or other craft.


Author: Cannastra 🚀



Photo: Shutterstock

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