What Is THC-O-Acetate And Does It Matter?
4 min

What Is THC-O-Acetate And Does It Matter?

4 min

We all know that THC can be a powerful substance, especially in concentrated forms. But what about a molecule that is 300% more powerful? THC-O-acetate is reported to plunge users into a psychedelic state unlike any other cannabinoid.

Every cannabis smoker is familiar with tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. This cannabinoid is the main player behind the herbal high produced when the molecule latches onto CB1 receptors in the central nervous system. It produces a wide range of effects from euphoria and hunger to sleepiness and relaxation. It’s long been the quest of cannabis breeders and extractors to make higher levels of this psychotropic chemical available through selective breeding and advanced isolation techniques. THC crystals now exist that boast purity in excess of 99%, and specific cultivars have been bred to produce THC levels of over 30% within their flowers.

THC is indeed the primary psychotropic force behind cannabis, but it actually exists in numerous forms. THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid acid produced by trichomes that displays medicinal potential. The process of heating, or decarboxylation, transforms this molecule into THC. THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) is another cannabinoid that shares a similar molecular structure to THC, and has a biphasic psychotropic effect; low doses are capable of blocking the receptors that THC binds too, whereas high doses activate them.

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And then there’s THC-O-acetate, a chemical compound similar to THC that is rumoured to produce psychoactive effects 200–300% more potent. Unlike the other cannabinoids mentioned above, which are biosynthesised within cannabis flowers by way of enzymatic reactions, THC-O-acetate is a man-made chemical born out of laboratory equipment. Let’s find out more about this intriguing molecule.



THC-O-acetate is what’s known as the acetate ester of THC, and can be synthesised from both THC and THCA. This process involves the use of highly corrosive and dangerous chemicals sulphuric acid and acetic anhydride, meaning attempting to synthesise this molecule at home is both a fool’s errand and potentially fatal. Such feats are best left to qualified chemists with a Walter White level of skill.

Once synthesised, THC-O-acetate is actually biologically inactive. This places the molecule into the category of a prodrug, a substance that only becomes active when metabolic processes within the body break it down. A famous example of a prodrug is psilocybin, which is metabolically converted into psilocin.



THC-O-acetate has a very interesting and controversial past, especially considering how rare and relatively unknown this molecule is, even to the cannabis community. Very little is known about the chemical, with much remaining to be discovered. The limited scientific research conducted on THC-O-acetate was performed by the United States military between 1948 and 1975.

This research was led by the US Army Chemical Corps during classified human subject research at the Edgewood Arsenal facility in Maryland. Over 7,000 soldiers and 1,000 civilians were used as subjects and exposed to an array of chemical agents to explore the impacts of these low-dose warfare applications.

Part of the programme was dedicated to psychochemical warfare in which substances such as LSD, PCP, and cannabinoids including THC-O-acetate were administered to dogs. Through this research, one of the conclusions drawn around the effects of the mysterious molecule was that it exerted much stronger effects than THC.

Outside of these clandestine experiments, THC-O-acetate has seen very little of the limelight in mainstream society, not to mention drug and cannabis cultures. The discovery of extractions by the US Drug Enforcement Agency in Florida brought the molecule to the attention of authorities in the country. However, the sheer lack of offences revolving around the substance has left it unclassified. Although, it could technically be considered illegal as an analogue of THC.

The cannabinoid has made an appearance in other Western countries including the United Kingdom and New Zealand. In the United Kingdom, THC-O-acetate was ruled a Class A drug alongside the likes of heroin and crack cocaine, reportedly after the conviction of a manufacturer who used the book Cannabis Alchemy as a guide through this dangerous chemical process.



Imagine the high you received from some of the strongest weed you’ve ever ingested. Maybe it was a high-grade concentrate ignited on a dabbing rig. Maybe you chopped up a moon rock and loaded it into a blunt. In any case, imagine this high multiplied by 300%. This is reported to be the effect of THC-O-acetate.

The purified extract is said to take the form of a thick, brown oil. Once consumed, metabolic processes make it biologically active by way of de-acetylating the molecule. Within around half an hour, a psychedelic and apparently spiritual experience is catalysed.

Some cannabis users like to keep things mellow and will have zero interest in trying this substance. Others are true psychonauts and are constantly seeking new and inventive ways to ingest cannabinoids and ride a new high. If you’re one of these people, it truly isn’t advised to attempt to synthesise this chemical at home. And chances are, you’ll find it extremely difficult to come across. The next best option is to smoke cannabis chemovars that have been selectively bred to biosynthesise massive amounts of THC.

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The three strains mentioned below are capable of plunging users into a powerful and long-lasting high. The flowers of these varieties produce THC levels of 25% or higher.


Gorilla (Dinafem) Feminized

Gorilla is a monstrously powerful strain deriving from Chocolate Diesel, Chem Sister, and Sour Dubb. It becomes evident that she packs some serious heat when witnessing the powdery coating of THC-laden trichomes that litter her leaves and flowers. This slightly indica-dominant variety contains 25% THC and induces a fast-acting high that pulls the body into the couch whilst stimulating the mind with creative and philosophical thoughts. The pungent terpene profile of Gorilla offers tastes and smells of diesel, earth, and sourness.

Gorilla is a highly rewarding strain to cultivate and definitely favours outdoor conditions, where she’ll ascend to a height of 300cm and produce a mammoth yield of 1000g/plant.


Super Lemon Haze (BSF Seeds) Feminized

Super Lemon Haze is another absolute powerhouse of the cannabis world. This sativa-dominant lady was created during a breeding project involving Lemon Skunk and Super Silver Haze. The high catalysed by these dense and resinous flowers is truly cerebral and stimulating. She’s an ideal smoke during the daytime to lose yourself in creative projects and tasks that require prolonged concentration—that’s if you have the tolerance to handle a THC level of 25%. This intense high is augmented by scents and tastes of lemon, pepper, and spice.

Super Lemon Haze is a productive strain that does well indoors and outdoors. Indoor plants grow to a medium height, produce a yield of up to 700g/m², and have a flowering time of between 9–10 weeks. Outdoor plants also grow to a medium height, offer huge yields of between 1000–1200g/plant, and will be ready to harvest during October.


Wedding Cake (Original Sensible) Feminized

Wedding Cake was developed to appeal to recreational psychonauts chasing a potent high, and medicinal users who require enormous amounts of THC to tackle symptoms. Her THC level of 25% was mustered by crossing parent strains Girl Scout Cookies and Cherry Pie. This combination resulted in a cultivar capable of stoning users in an instant. It’s a superb strain to smoke in the evening for soothing relaxation and deep sleep.

Wedding Cake’s yields are much like her THC content: large. Indoor plants are able to pump out 600g/m² after a flowering period of 56–63 days, whereas outdoor plants offer 800g/plant.

Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter
With a BSc (Hons) degree in Clinical Health Sciences and a passion for growing plants, Luke Sumpter has worked as a professional journalist and writer at the intersection of cannabis and science for the past 7 years.
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