No, THC-O is illegal in Iowa. Any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) naturally found in the cannabis plant, or a synthetic equivalent of a THC contained in the plant, is considered a Schedule I substance per Section 124.204 of the Iowa Code. This definition includes derivatives and isomers with similar chemical structures to those substances contained in the cannabis plant.
THC-O is short for tetrahydrocannabinol-O-acetate, a cannabinoid that is chemically almost identical to Delta-9 THC. However, unlike CBD, which is naturally occurring in hemp, THC-O is a synthetically sourced cannabinoid made by changing the chemical makeup of CBD. The process involves extracting CBD from hemp and converting it to Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC. Afterward, Delta-8 THC or Delta-9 THC is combined with acetic anhydride, a flammable, potentially explosive chemical compound, to produce THC-O. THC-O is available in various forms, including flowers, oils, vapes, and edibles, like chocolates and gummies. Although acetic anhydride is in itself a dangerous substance, THC-O is safe to consume, except if it is vaped or smoked. When excessive heat is applied to THC-O, thermal degradation can produce a dangerous lung toxicant known as ketene. Generally, THC-O tinctures and gummies are safer to consume.
Although not much research has been done on THC-O, there are reports that it could be stronger than THC and could be more potent. It is believed to be three times stronger than Delta-9 THC and five times stronger than Delta-8 THC, with many users reporting that THC-O produces a more extreme high than Delta-9 THC. While it is safe to consume, only very experienced THC users are advised to use THC-O, and consumption should start with low to moderate doses. Generally, the effects of THC-O are similar to those produced by Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC, only that they are stronger. Users usually experience feelings of sedation, euphoria, a deep sense of relaxation, emotional release, and sometimes hallucinations or visual distortions.
THC-O is currently illegal at the federal level. While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and its derivatives, federal law prohibits THC-O because it is not a naturally occurring hemp cannabinoid. In February 2023, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited under federal law. Unlike Delta-9 THC and Delta-8 THC, which are naturally found in the hemp plant, THC-O is not present in hemp in its natural form. Hence, THC-O is currently considered a federally illegal controlled drug.
How long it takes the body to metabolize THC-O varies depending on the frequency of use and how it is used. Typically, when a person consumes a THC-O-infused product, the body processes the compound and converts it to a metabolite known as 11-Hydroxy-THC. This metabolite may be completely flushed out of the body within two weeks of last use for occasional users. On the other hand, THC-O may stay in the body system of heavy and regular consumers for between four and six weeks or even longer.
Yes, THC-O or its metabolites in the body can lead to a negative result on a drug test depending on the type of test and the time THC-O was last consumed before the test. It is detectable in blood for up to two days and about 7 days after the last consumption for occasional users and heavy consumers, respectively. Similarly, THC-O is detectable in saliva for about 6 to 48 hours after consumption, with peak concentrations occurring during the first few hours.
A urine test will show the presence of THC-O within the first few hours after use for up to 3 to 30 days, depending on the frequency of consumption. A hair follicle test has the longest detection window. THC-O or its metabolites can be detected in hair follicles for up to 90 days after consumption.
Delta-8 THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid in the hemp plant. Although it naturally occurs in hemp (in small amounts), Delta-8 THC can also be made synthetically, especially in large-scale productions. On the other hand, THC-O is a synthetically made psychoactive cannabinoid and not naturally found in the hemp plant. While both cannabinoids are psychoactive, THC-O is reported to be more potent than Delta-8 THC. Hence, the high consumers get from using THC-O is noticeably stronger than the high feeling produced by Delta-8 THC after consumption.
Delta-8 THC and THC-O have various benefits and effects for different users. Generally, both cannabinoids are believed to have therapeutic benefits and can help with relaxation and sleep. In addition, they can help in the management of pain and inflammation. However, unlike Delta-8 THC, THC-O produces psychedelic effects, and depending on a user's personal preference, this may be a benefit or a disadvantage. The side effects of consuming Delta-8 THC include anxiety, confusion, vomiting, dizziness, and hallucinations. On the other hand, using THC-O can cause side effects like sleepiness, dry eyes and mouth, disorientation, lightheadedness, and low blood pressure.
Delta-9 THC is arguably the most popular psychoactive cannabinoid in the hemp plant, but unlike THC-O, it occurs naturally in large quantities in hemp. While hemp-based Delta-9 THC is federally legal, THC-O is considered illegal under federal law because it is made synthetically by converting hemp-derived CBD. While the current research on THC-O is insignificantly little, first-hand users have reported that it produces an extremely stronger "high" than THC, making it more potent. Delta-9 THC and THC-O users typically experience similar effects/feelings after consumption, but those caused by THC-O may be stronger. Consumers generally feel euphoric and relaxed and become more focused after use. However, THC-O consumers may experience some psychedelic-like effects.
Despite their medical benefits, THC-O and Delta-9 THC have some downsides. Common side effects of using Delta-9 THC include dry mouth, anxiety, red eyes, memory loss, delayed reaction time, increased appetite, difficulty speaking and thinking, and fast heart rate. Similarly, THC-O users may experience side effects such as low blood pressure, changes in perceived brightness and color, dry mouth and eyes, and sleepiness