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THC-O vs. Delta-9: A Full Comparison [And How to Choose]

Psychoactive cannabinoids are a bit of a mixed bag. There are major upsides, but there can also be major downsides.

THC-O and delta-9 are two of the most popular psychoactive cannabinoids in the hemp space, but knowing which one to pick can be hard.

Since THC-O is a newer cannabinoid, there hasn’t been much research done on it. However, we have personal experience (and customer experiences) to go off of.

In this article, we’re comparing THC-O to delta-9 THC so you’ll know which to choose — or if it’s worth trying something new.

TAKEAWAYS:

  • THC-O and delta-9 both provide a potent high, however, most people find that THC-O is roughly three to four times stronger than delta-9.
  • Like delta-9, THC-O provides the signature euphoric high effects. Unlike delta-9, THC-O may induce psychedelic effects.
  • Delta-9 THC naturally occurs in the hemp plant, while THC-O has to be made by converting hemp-derived CBD.
  • Delta-9 and THC-O are federally legal in the US, as long as they’re hemp-derived.

Hemp-derived delta-9 THC gummies.

What is THC-O?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) acetate ester, or THC-O, is a psychoactive cannabinoid produced from delta-8 THC or delta-9 THC. Unlike delta-8 or delta-9, THC-O does not naturally occur in the hemp plant.

THC-O has recently become popular because people have noted that it’s stronger than delta-9, and in some cases, renders psychedelic-like effects.

What is Delta-9?

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or delta-9, is also a psychoactive cannabinoid. Unlike THC-O, it occurs naturally in the hemp plant in large amounts.

When people say “THC”, they’re generally referring to delta-9 — it’s the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, though companies like ours sell it in hemp-derived form, so it’s legal.

THC-O vs. Delta-9 Effects: How Does the High Feel?

How does the high you get from THC-O compare to what you feel after taking delta-9?

The most salient difference between THC-O and delta-9 is the potency of the high; THC-O is roughly 3-4x stronger than delta-9.

Dopamine is a “feel-good” hormone associated with happiness and pleasure. When you use psychoactive cannabinoids like THC-O and delta-9, large amounts of dopamine are released in your brain.

As a result, the main beneficial effects you’ll get from using THC-O and delta-9 include euphoria, relaxation, and increased focus. Of course, the mix of feelings varies person to person.

Though there is some similarity in the feelings THC-O and delta-9 provide, there are also some notable differences:

THC-O Effects

For many people, THC-O provides the standard head high experience, just stronger. However, in some cases, THC-O also renders psychedelic-like effects.

Opinions on the nature of these effects vary; some compare THC-O to the “spiritual experience” of psychedelics like psilocybin (magic mushrooms), while others say the effects are slightly similar but not really comparable.

Delta-9 Effects

The feelings you’ll get from using hemp-derived delta-9 THC are similar to those you get from smoking cannabis — it’s the same exact cannabinoid, after all.

Therefore, you can expect standard feelings of relaxation and euphoria from using delta-9. The effects aren’t quite as intense as those from THC-O but are roughly twice as strong as those from delta-8 THC.

24webp
Finally, Delta-9 THC that works.

No weak, ineffective, or potentially dangerous products here. Only high-strength, American-made delta-9 products that have been 3rd-party lab tested.

The Negative Side Effects of THC-O & Delta-9

Though THC-O and delta-9 provide immense therapeutic and recreational benefits, they can also cause negative side effects.

Different people have different tolerances for psychoactive substances. Because of this, some will mostly experience the positive sides of being high, while others will mainly feel the side effects and won’t enjoy the experience.

As such, there’s now way to know which side effects you’ll experience until you give either THC-O or delta-9 a try.

Here are the reported side effects of delta-9 use:

  • Difficulty thinking and speaking
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Memory loss
  • Red eyes
  • Slowed reaction time

Here are the reported side effects of THC-O use:

  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in perceived color and brightness

Hemp-derived THC-O gummies.

How to Take THC-O & Delta-9

How should you go about taking THC-O and delta-9? Here are the best methods:

Edibles

THC-O or delta-9 edibles allow you to experience the therapeutic benefits of these cannabinoids without risking lung damage from smoking or vaping. Additionally, edibles allow for consistent dosing.

Edibles are a great option if you’re strictly a therapeutic user or don’t want to deal with the downsides of vaping or smoking THC-O or delta-9.

Vapes

Vapes make using THC-O and delta-9 convenient, and they’re great if you need these cannabinoids throughout the day for therapeutic uses. This is a major reason many of our customers opt for vapes over other methods.

The downside, of course, is that vaping poses health risks to your lungs and heart.

Still, vapes are a good option if you need relaxation in micro-doses throughout the day, and are comfortable with the risks.

Flower

If you’re already a flower connoisseur (hemp or otherwise), THC-O and delta-9 strains allow you to experiment with a broad range of flavors, aromas, and blends. In terms of optionality, smoking hemp flower is a great way to use THC-O and delta-9.

The downside with flower is that you can’t just light up a preroll whenever you might need to. And there is the health risk component to be aware of, too.

Overall, if you’re already using other types of flower, a THC-O or delta-9 strain is a solid option.

Dabs

THC-O and delta-9 can also be taken in the form of dabs. Dabs are a type of cannabis concentrate made from trichome resin (trichomes are the little outgrowths on the cannabis plant).

Dabs are inhaled through a dab rig, a type of bong made for cannabis and hemp concentrates.

Dabbing THC-O and delta-9 will typically render stronger effects than other methods of using it, just because the dab itself is such a concentrated hemp product.

However, as with other methods that rely on you inhaling the hemp, dabbing does pose health risks.

Woman holding jar of hemp flower.

THC-O vs. Delta-9: What’s the Best Dosage?

So, how much THC-O or delta-9 should you take?

It depends. If you’re vaping, smoking, or dabbing, you won’t know exactly how much THC-O or delta-9 you’re getting. These methods require you to experiment until you land on the perfect dose.

However, if you’re using an edible or other product that allows you to measure the doses, you can be more exacting:

THC-O Dosage & Effect Onset

As THC-O is such a powerful cannabinoid, start out by taking just 2-5mg daily. You can slowly increase this amount depending on how you feel.

If you’re inhaling the THC-O, you’ll feel the effects in roughly 30 minutes. If you use an edible, the onset is more like an hour and a half to 2 hours.

Delta-9 Dosage & Effect Onset

Read our delta-9 dosage guide for more. 

On the other hand, it’s fine to take a larger dose of delta-9 to start out with. For most new users, effects can be felt at a 5-10mg dosage each day.

Delta-9’s onset time is considerably less than that of THC-O. Inhaled, you’ll feel delta-9’s effects in 10-15 minutes. Through an edible, effects are felt in roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Can You Mix THC-O and Delta-9?

Based on what we know, mixing THC-O and delta-9 is safe.

From a medical perspective, THC-O and delta-9 won’t produce adverse side effects beyond what both substances already produce on their own.

Hemp-derived Delta-9 THC gummies.

THC-O vs. Delta-9: Legality

Hemp-derived delta-9 is federally legal, per the 2018 Farm Bill.

According to the Farm Bill, all cannabinoids extracted from hemp are federally legal. Hemp is defined as cannabis containing 0.3% THC or less, while marijuana is cannabis containing over 0.3% THC.

THC-O May Not Be Legal

Like delta-9, THC-O is federally legal because of the Farm Bill.

In early 2023, there were discussions about how THC-O might not be legal, however, no actions have been taken by the government against companies selling THC-O. Therefore, THC-O still appears to be legal.

We’ll update this section as updates on THC-O’s legal status becomes available. 

States Where Delta-9 is Legal

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Washington D.C.

States Where Delta-9 is Illegal or Contested

  • California
  • Colorado
  • North Dakota
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky (in dispute, still legal)
  • Pennsylvania (in dispute, still legal)
  • Vermont (in dispute, still legal)

States Where THC-O is Legal

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States Where THC-O is Illegal

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont

THC-O and Delta-9 THC hemp flower prerolls.

How to Safely Buy THC-O & Delta-9 Online

The hemp space is largely unregulated by the government. Since the quality and safety of products aren’t guaranteed, you have to shop carefully to avoid buying defective or dangerous products.

Presuming THC-O or delta-9 is legal in your state and you want to get your hands on some, here are a few tips to help you find high-quality products:

  • Check 3rd-party lab reports — before you buy a product, check to ensure it’s been 3rd-party lab-tested. If it hasn’t been tested, don’t buy it. If it has, look at the report and verify that it doesn’t contain any contaminants and that it actually contains the amounts of THC-O or delta-9 that it claims to.
  • Read reviews — real people are the final arbiters of quality. Ensure reviews about the product you’re interested in are mostly positive.
  • Check return & refund policies — legitimate companies will have enough confidence in their products to offer returns and refunds.

Conclusion: Two Very Powerful Cannabinoids

Getting great results with THC-O and delta-9 requires a little bit of experimentation, so don’t be afraid to dive in and try different methods and dosages. Just be sure to know your limits and experiment responsibly!

Also, you might find that neither THC-O or delta-9 does it for you, and you instead need a milder option. In this case, consider opting for delta-8 THC or CBD. At Natural Ways CBD, we have a firm belief that there’s a cannabinoid out there that’s right for everyone!

THC-O vs. Delta-9: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions we’re frequently asked about THC-O and delta-9.

Do THC-O or delta-9 show up on drug tests?

Yes. As THC-O is a THC analog, and delta-9 THC is a targeted substance on standard 12-panel drug tests, both cannabinoids will show up on drug tests.

(If you need to undergo regular drug tests, consider opting for broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate.)

Does THC-O affect delta-9 tolerance?

There hasn’t been any research done on this, but anecdotal evidence indicates that regularly using THC-O may result in a higher tolerance to delta-9 THC.

Is THC-O stronger than delta-9?

Yes, THC-O is roughly 3-4x as strong as delta-9.

Psychoactive cannabinoids are a bit of a mixed bag. There are major upsides, but there can also be major downsides.

THC-O and delta-9 are two of the most popular psychoactive cannabinoids in the hemp space, but knowing which one to pick can be hard.

Since THC-O is a newer cannabinoid, there hasn’t been much research done on it. However, we have personal experience (and customer experiences) to go off of.

In this article, we’re comparing THC-O to delta-9 THC so you’ll know which to choose — or if it’s worth trying something new.

TAKEAWAYS:

  • THC-O and delta-9 both provide a potent high, however, most people find that THC-O is roughly three to four times stronger than delta-9.
  • Like delta-9, THC-O provides the signature euphoric high effects. Unlike delta-9, THC-O may induce psychedelic effects.
  • Delta-9 THC naturally occurs in the hemp plant, while THC-O has to be made by converting hemp-derived CBD.
  • Delta-9 and THC-O are federally legal in the US, as long as they’re hemp-derived.

Hemp-derived delta-9 THC gummies.

What is THC-O?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) acetate ester, or THC-O, is a psychoactive cannabinoid produced from delta-8 THC or delta-9 THC. Unlike delta-8 or delta-9, THC-O does not naturally occur in the hemp plant.

THC-O has recently become popular because people have noted that it’s stronger than delta-9, and in some cases, renders psychedelic-like effects.

What is Delta-9?

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or delta-9, is also a psychoactive cannabinoid. Unlike THC-O, it occurs naturally in the hemp plant in large amounts.

When people say “THC”, they’re generally referring to delta-9 — it’s the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, though companies like ours sell it in hemp-derived form, so it’s legal.

THC-O vs. Delta-9 Effects: How Does the High Feel?

How does the high you get from THC-O compare to what you feel after taking delta-9?

The most salient difference between THC-O and delta-9 is the potency of the high; THC-O is roughly 3-4x stronger than delta-9.

Dopamine is a “feel-good” hormone associated with happiness and pleasure. When you use psychoactive cannabinoids like THC-O and delta-9, large amounts of dopamine are released in your brain.

As a result, the main beneficial effects you’ll get from using THC-O and delta-9 include euphoria, relaxation, and increased focus. Of course, the mix of feelings varies person to person.

Though there is some similarity in the feelings THC-O and delta-9 provide, there are also some notable differences:

THC-O Effects

For many people, THC-O provides the standard head high experience, just stronger. However, in some cases, THC-O also renders psychedelic-like effects.

Opinions on the nature of these effects vary; some compare THC-O to the “spiritual experience” of psychedelics like psilocybin (magic mushrooms), while others say the effects are slightly similar but not really comparable.

Delta-9 Effects

The feelings you’ll get from using hemp-derived delta-9 THC are similar to those you get from smoking cannabis — it’s the same exact cannabinoid, after all.

Therefore, you can expect standard feelings of relaxation and euphoria from using delta-9. The effects aren’t quite as intense as those from THC-O but are roughly twice as strong as those from delta-8 THC.

24webp
Finally, Delta-9 THC that works.

No weak, ineffective, or potentially dangerous products here. Only high-strength, American-made delta-9 products that have been 3rd-party lab tested.

The Negative Side Effects of THC-O & Delta-9

Though THC-O and delta-9 provide immense therapeutic and recreational benefits, they can also cause negative side effects.

Different people have different tolerances for psychoactive substances. Because of this, some will mostly experience the positive sides of being high, while others will mainly feel the side effects and won’t enjoy the experience.

As such, there’s now way to know which side effects you’ll experience until you give either THC-O or delta-9 a try.

Here are the reported side effects of delta-9 use:

  • Difficulty thinking and speaking
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased appetite
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Memory loss
  • Red eyes
  • Slowed reaction time

Here are the reported side effects of THC-O use:

  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in perceived color and brightness

Hemp-derived THC-O gummies.

How to Take THC-O & Delta-9

How should you go about taking THC-O and delta-9? Here are the best methods:

Edibles

THC-O or delta-9 edibles allow you to experience the therapeutic benefits of these cannabinoids without risking lung damage from smoking or vaping. Additionally, edibles allow for consistent dosing.

Edibles are a great option if you’re strictly a therapeutic user or don’t want to deal with the downsides of vaping or smoking THC-O or delta-9.

Vapes

Vapes make using THC-O and delta-9 convenient, and they’re great if you need these cannabinoids throughout the day for therapeutic uses. This is a major reason many of our customers opt for vapes over other methods.

The downside, of course, is that vaping poses health risks to your lungs and heart.

Still, vapes are a good option if you need relaxation in micro-doses throughout the day, and are comfortable with the risks.

Flower

If you’re already a flower connoisseur (hemp or otherwise), THC-O and delta-9 strains allow you to experiment with a broad range of flavors, aromas, and blends. In terms of optionality, smoking hemp flower is a great way to use THC-O and delta-9.

The downside with flower is that you can’t just light up a preroll whenever you might need to. And there is the health risk component to be aware of, too.

Overall, if you’re already using other types of flower, a THC-O or delta-9 strain is a solid option.

Dabs

THC-O and delta-9 can also be taken in the form of dabs. Dabs are a type of cannabis concentrate made from trichome resin (trichomes are the little outgrowths on the cannabis plant).

Dabs are inhaled through a dab rig, a type of bong made for cannabis and hemp concentrates.

Dabbing THC-O and delta-9 will typically render stronger effects than other methods of using it, just because the dab itself is such a concentrated hemp product.

However, as with other methods that rely on you inhaling the hemp, dabbing does pose health risks.

Woman holding jar of hemp flower.

THC-O vs. Delta-9: What’s the Best Dosage?

So, how much THC-O or delta-9 should you take?

It depends. If you’re vaping, smoking, or dabbing, you won’t know exactly how much THC-O or delta-9 you’re getting. These methods require you to experiment until you land on the perfect dose.

However, if you’re using an edible or other product that allows you to measure the doses, you can be more exacting:

THC-O Dosage & Effect Onset

As THC-O is such a powerful cannabinoid, start out by taking just 2-5mg daily. You can slowly increase this amount depending on how you feel.

If you’re inhaling the THC-O, you’ll feel the effects in roughly 30 minutes. If you use an edible, the onset is more like an hour and a half to 2 hours.

Delta-9 Dosage & Effect Onset

Read our delta-9 dosage guide for more. 

On the other hand, it’s fine to take a larger dose of delta-9 to start out with. For most new users, effects can be felt at a 5-10mg dosage each day.

Delta-9’s onset time is considerably less than that of THC-O. Inhaled, you’ll feel delta-9’s effects in 10-15 minutes. Through an edible, effects are felt in roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Can You Mix THC-O and Delta-9?

Based on what we know, mixing THC-O and delta-9 is safe.

From a medical perspective, THC-O and delta-9 won’t produce adverse side effects beyond what both substances already produce on their own.

Hemp-derived Delta-9 THC gummies.

THC-O vs. Delta-9: Legality

Hemp-derived delta-9 is federally legal, per the 2018 Farm Bill.

According to the Farm Bill, all cannabinoids extracted from hemp are federally legal. Hemp is defined as cannabis containing 0.3% THC or less, while marijuana is cannabis containing over 0.3% THC.

THC-O May Not Be Legal

Like delta-9, THC-O is federally legal because of the Farm Bill.

In early 2023, there were discussions about how THC-O might not be legal, however, no actions have been taken by the government against companies selling THC-O. Therefore, THC-O still appears to be legal.

We’ll update this section as updates on THC-O’s legal status becomes available. 

States Where Delta-9 is Legal

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Washington D.C.

States Where Delta-9 is Illegal or Contested

  • California
  • Colorado
  • North Dakota
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky (in dispute, still legal)
  • Pennsylvania (in dispute, still legal)
  • Vermont (in dispute, still legal)

States Where THC-O is Legal

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States Where THC-O is Illegal

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont

THC-O and Delta-9 THC hemp flower prerolls.

How to Safely Buy THC-O & Delta-9 Online

The hemp space is largely unregulated by the government. Since the quality and safety of products aren’t guaranteed, you have to shop carefully to avoid buying defective or dangerous products.

Presuming THC-O or delta-9 is legal in your state and you want to get your hands on some, here are a few tips to help you find high-quality products:

  • Check 3rd-party lab reports — before you buy a product, check to ensure it’s been 3rd-party lab-tested. If it hasn’t been tested, don’t buy it. If it has, look at the report and verify that it doesn’t contain any contaminants and that it actually contains the amounts of THC-O or delta-9 that it claims to.
  • Read reviews — real people are the final arbiters of quality. Ensure reviews about the product you’re interested in are mostly positive.
  • Check return & refund policies — legitimate companies will have enough confidence in their products to offer returns and refunds.

Conclusion: Two Very Powerful Cannabinoids

Getting great results with THC-O and delta-9 requires a little bit of experimentation, so don’t be afraid to dive in and try different methods and dosages. Just be sure to know your limits and experiment responsibly!

Also, you might find that neither THC-O or delta-9 does it for you, and you instead need a milder option. In this case, consider opting for delta-8 THC or CBD. At Natural Ways CBD, we have a firm belief that there’s a cannabinoid out there that’s right for everyone!

THC-O vs. Delta-9: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions we’re frequently asked about THC-O and delta-9.

Do THC-O or delta-9 show up on drug tests?

Yes. As THC-O is a THC analog, and delta-9 THC is a targeted substance on standard 12-panel drug tests, both cannabinoids will show up on drug tests.

(If you need to undergo regular drug tests, consider opting for broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate.)

Does THC-O affect delta-9 tolerance?

There hasn’t been any research done on this, but anecdotal evidence indicates that regularly using THC-O may result in a higher tolerance to delta-9 THC.

Is THC-O stronger than delta-9?

Yes, THC-O is roughly 3-4x as strong as delta-9.

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