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For years, Delta-9 THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana (which can also be extracted from hemp), has been the go-to for both therapeutic and leisure purposes.

However, many cannabis enthusiasts have been recently turning to two new psychoactive cannabinoids: THC-O and Delta-8.

The main difference between THC-O and Delta-8 is their strength: THC-O is roughly six times as strong as Delta-8!

But there’s more to know. Are these cannabinoids legal? Are they safe? How do they make you feel?

In this article, we’re going to conduct an in-depth comparison of THC-O and Delta-8, with the end goal of helping you decide which cannabinoid is the best fit for your needs.

THC-O and Delta 8: What are They?

Before we discuss their differences, here’s a brief overview of what THCO and Delta-8 are.

What is THC-O?

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) acetate ester, or THC-O, is a psychoactive cannabinoid that is synthesized from Delta-8 THC. It’s known for its psychedelic effects and extremely powerful high.

What is Delta 8?

Delta 8 THC, known simply as Delta 8, is also a psychoactive cannabinoid that is naturally found in the cannabis plant, but in very small amounts. Like THC-O, it is typically synthesized from another cannabinoid (CBD in this case). It’s commonly used for both therapeutic and leisure purposes.

The Legality of THC-O vs. Delta 8

So, are THC-O and Delta 8 legal?

It’s complicated.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp – and therefore, THC-O and Delta 8, as long as they’re hemp-derived.

Therefore, THC-O and Delta 8 are federally legal. However, they’re illegal at the state level in some places.

At the time of writing (November 2022), here is the state-by-state legality for both cannabinoids.

THC-O

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 (our state!)
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States where THC-O is illegal (banned, restricted, or regulated):

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

Delta-8

States where Delta 8 is legal:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States where Delta 8 is illegal (banned, restricted, or regulated):

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • South Carolina
  • Utah
  • Vermont

THC-O vs. Delta 8: How They’re Extracted

Earlier, we briefly mentioned that THC-O and Delta 8 are typically synthesized from other cannabinoids, rather than extracted.

In this section, we’re going to cover the extraction and production processes for these two cannabinoids in more detail.

Why CO2-Extracted Delta 8 and THC-O are Better

There are two main extraction methods: CO2 extraction and solvent extraction. Each method can be used for pretty much every cannabinoid, so the extraction method for THC-O and Delta 8 can be the same.

We use CO2 extraction, which uses carbon dioxide (CO2) to break down parts of the hemp plant, in the process “pulling” out the naturally-occurring cannabinoids and terpenes.

The temperature and pressure at which the extraction occurs can be adjusted to change which cannabinoids get extracted.

Using CO2 instead of butane or hexane (the solvent method) provides cleaner products that are free of chemical residues from solvents.

The CO2 method also allows the extraction to be performed at lower temperatures and pressures than solvent extraction does, so components of the hemp plant that are normally destroyed at higher temperatures, such as terpenes, can be kept in the final product.

Overall, using CO2 extraction allows us to make safer, higher-quality Delta 8 and THC-O by cleanly isolating the cannabinoids from which they’re extracted.

That being said, here are the steps that have to be taken to create THC-O and Delta 8.

How is THC-O Made?

The basic process for creating THC-O actually starts with Delta-8.

After the Delta 8 is extracted from hemp, it’s then combined with the chemical compound acetic anhydride, which converts it into THC-O.

How is Delta 8 Made?

Delta 8 naturally occurs in the hemp plant, but in amounts so small that it’s not economical to extract.

Instead, it’s produced by chemically reacting already-extracted CBD with an acid (several different Lewis acids can be used for this).

Final Words: Extraction Methods

Of course, following the extraction processes, the solutions have to be washed, neutralized, and tested. However, we won’t go too in-depth into these steps.

The important things to take away from this are:

  • The cannabinoids that are converted into THC-O and Delta 8 can be extracted the same way
  • CO2-extracted THC-O and Delta 8 are preferable to their solvent-extracted counterparts

Are THC-O and Delta 8 Safe?

As you’ve learned, the THC-O and Delta 8 you’re going to find in products is synthetically — not naturally — produced. There also is not much scientific research around these two cannabinoids.

Because of this, you may be wondering whether taking these cannabinoids is even safe.

The answer is, absolutely. Both of these cannabinoids are completely safe to take, assuming you dose them properly – more on that in a minute.

However, be sure to buy your products from a reputable company to avoid low-quality extracts that may be impotent or contain heavy metals.

THC-O vs. Delta 8: Which is Stronger?

THC-O and Delta 8 are both psychoactive, meaning they give users a “high” experience after being taken.

However, we need to make it clear that the highs you’ll get from THC-O and Delta 8 will be very different.

This is because THC-O is roughly 6 times as powerful as Delta 8. To put this in perspective, THC-O is 3-4 times stronger than Delta 9 THC, which is 2 times as strong as Delta 8.

Both cannabinoids are psychoactive, but THC-O is the stronger of the pair by far.

The Effects of THC-O vs. Delta 8

Just covering the strengths of THC-O and Delta 8 isn’t enough. What are the effects (beneficial and otherwise) of both cannabinoids? We’re going to cover everything in this section.

Keep in mind that despite each cannabinoid having quite a few possible negative side effects, many people don’t feel a lot of the effects, and some feel none at all. Others will feel all the negative side effects, and won’t enjoy the experience.

To a degree, the same can be said for the effects of every cannabinoid. Even with a high-quality extract and consistent dosing, you’ll have a different experience than the next person because your body is unique.

THC-O: Benefits and Side Effects

THC-O is often described as “the psychedelic cannabinoid” because of its mushroom-like effects. In addition to the euphoria and relaxation it gives, THC-O does in fact have psychedelic qualities.

Some users report that the high is like a low-intensity LSD trip, though this is only felt at higher doses.

Unfortunately, some also experience negative side effects from THC-O, such as:

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

Because of its strength, THC-O is a cannabinoid that some find amazing, but others find unpleasant.

Delta 8: Benefits and Side Effects

Like THC-O, Delta 8’s main benefits are euphoria and relaxation. However, Delta 8 does not possess the psychedelic, mushroom-like effects.

Most people take Delta 8 fairly well – especially if they’re used to the Delta 9 in marijuana, which is twice as potent. Some won’t take it as well, and will experience side effects such as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

Even Delta 8 won’t be a good fit for people who have low tolerances for psychoactive cannabinoids. However, many can handle the high from Delta 8 because it isn’t extremely overpowering.

THC-O vs. Delta 8: Onset Time

Generally speaking, you’ll feel the effects of Delta 8 more quickly than THC-O, but there’s no exact onset time for either cannabinoid, How quickly you’ll metabolize each will depend on the type of product you’re taking.

Here’s a full rundown of how long it will take to feel the effects of THC-O and Delta 8 depending on the product.

THC-O onset times:

  • Digested products (edibles, capsules, water solubles)– 60-150 minutes
  • Sublingual products (tinctures) – 60-150 minutes
  • Smokable products (flower and vapes) – 20-30 minutes
  • Topical products (salves, creams, roll-ons) – 10-20 minutes

Delta 8 onset times:

  • Digested products (edibles, capsules, water solubles)– 30-120 minutes
  • Sublingual products (tinctures) – 30-150 minutes
  • Smokable products (flower and vapes) – 5-10 minutes
  • Topical products (salves, creams, roll-ons) – 5-10 minutes

THC-O vs. Delta 8: How are They Commonly Used?

Since THC-O and Delta 8 have very different effects, they have unique sets of users.

Uses of THC-O

THC-O, with its extreme strength and psychedelic effects, is often used for relaxation. Many who have used mushrooms or other drugs with psychedelic effects also often use it.

However, THC-O isn’t just for fun: many who have PTSD or other serious conditions that render day-to-day life difficult find relief with THC-O because it is so strong.

Uses of Delta 8

Delta 8 is also used for relaxation and therapeutic purposes alike. Since it’s a milder form of THC, many therapeutic users who need the high but are wary of psychoactive drugs use Delta 8 – it gives them the relief they need without the overpowering marijuana-like high.

Delta 8 has worked wonders for customers of ours with PTSD, pain, and more (though it’s not a treatment).

And of course, many also enjoy Delta 8 for relaxation, because it’s a legal alternative to marijuana in states like Texas where it’s illegal.

THC-O vs. Delta 8: How Much Should You Take?

The dose of THC-O or Delta 8 that you should take varies depending on why you’re taking it. The doses we’re listing here are starting doses; you can adjust them as you go until you’re feeling the desired effects.

For THCO, there are actually three doses:

  • Start by taking just 0.5mg to feel light effects
  • Start with 1-3mg for psychoactive effects
  • Start with 5mg for psychedelic effects

For Delta 8, start with 5mg a day for both relaxation and therapeutic uses, and then adjust up or down as needed.

Keep in mind that these smaller doses are hard to achieve unless you vape these cannabinoids.

You can also split gummies up to get a smaller dose. Then, once you’re used to taking more, you can begin taking whole edibles.

THC-O vs. Delta 8 on Drug Tests

When it comes to drug testing (either for work or other reasons), you’re unfortunately going to be out of luck with both THC-O and Delta 8.

Both cannabinoids are forms of THC, which is screened for on drug tests because of its presence in marijuana.

Therefore, if you use a THC-O or Delta 8 product, you will test positive for THC; it’s better to forego these cannabinoids for a Broad Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate product if drug testing is a concern for you.

Should You Use THC-O or Delta 8?

So, which cannabinoid is the better option for you? It really depends.

Since THC-O is much stronger than Delta 8 and has psychedelic effects, it’s a great cannabinoid if you’re looking for an intense, mushroom-like high.

And because of this, it’s a good option for therapeutic uses if you’re looking for extremely powerful relief.

Conversely, Delta 8 provides a much milder head experience, making it one of the best cannabinoids for therapeutic purposes because many feel comfortable using it.

Many users who are wary of getting high find that the effects from Delta 8 aren’t too overpowering, but are still strong enough to provide them the relief they need.

Delta 8 is also a great place to start if you’ve never tried anything psychoactive before and want to see what it’s like.

Unfortunately, neither cannabinoid is a good option if you need to undergo drug testing, as both will show up. In this case, a Broad Spectrum CBD product is our next best recommendation.

Conclusion: The Future of THC-O and Delta 8

Millions of hemp enthusiasts worldwide have found THC-O and Delta 8 hugely effective for both relaxation and therapeutic uses alike.

However, as with marijuana, it will take time for both cannabinoids to be universally legal, and this likely won’t happen until more research is done on their benefits. Still, what we do know presents a compelling reason to give them a try!

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