The Dangers of THC-O Vaping – Why It’s a Major Concern
In the wake of former U.S. President Donald Trump signing the Farm Bill in 2018 legalizing hemp cultivation at the Federal level, the cannabis industry has grown in leaps and bounds. It has ushered in new and effective cannabinoid alternative treatments in the healthcare sector.
Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD, is a non-intoxicating compound found organically in the hemp plant. It can be extracted easily and used to produce various forms of CBD health products that are growing in popularity among the masses.
The popularity of CBD products arises from claims that the compound helps in treating various medical issues, including helping with both falling asleep and staying asleep, alleviating chronic pains, lowering inflammations, relieving stress and anxiety, and more.
The hemp plant extract is being added to biscuits, cheeseburgers, and even breath sprays. More than 60% of CBD users have taken it for anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and insomnia, according to a survey by the Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm.
However, a growing list of synthetic cannabinoids manufactured by subjecting CBD to various chemical processes are drawing attention and raising major concerns. One such product is THC-O.
What is THC-O?
Of the more than 100 cannabinoids derived from the hemp plant, CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are two of the most popular naturally occurring cannabinoids. CBD may not be psychoactive, but THC is psychoactive and can lead to cravings and addiction.
THC-O is a synthetic cannabinoid that is made through artificial processes from THC. It contains a similar molecular structure to hemp-derived THC, the most popular cannabis compound with psychoactive effects, which is still illegal at the federal level.
THC-O is created by chemically converting CBD into either delta 9 THC or delta 8 THC, and then converting those cannabinoids into their acetate ester form called THC-O for short. THC-O, sometimes called THC acetate ester, is more potent than regular Delta-9 THC found in marijuana. The psychoactive effects are also much different than other forms of THC.
Although there are currently no legal clarifications on this compound, the legal status of THC-O is in a gray area. This compound is developed in the lab through an acetylating process and sold to people in the usual cannabis forms: vapes, edibles, oils, and flower.
Cannabis consumers, primarily young people, are taking an interest in THC-O, with THC O vape emerging as a popular way of consuming the synthetic cannabinoid. Vaping is popular because it makes users experience the effects of THC-O in a faster and more robust manner.
However, vaping (cannabis or even tobacco) is a major cause for concern in the medical and scientific community. The danger is not caused by cannabis or vaping itself, but by the interaction of heat with the acetate form of various chemicals, including THC.
Studies suggest that any acetate ester that is subjected to heat could produce a dangerous lung toxicant called ketene. When enough heat is applied to THC-O, thermal degradation can cause vitamin E acetate to generate ketene, which was a probable cause of the lung injury (EVALI) hospitalization cases and deaths reported nationally by the CDC.
While research on the health effects of THC-O is still ongoing and not yet conclusive, it is possible that certain amounts of ketene produced by a THC-O vape cart could cause lung damage. Repeated small exposures to THC-O vaping could also create a danger to the user.
As such, it’s advisable to avoid vaping or smoking THC-O or any acetate form of any cannabinoid. THC-O fans can instead seek other non-inhaled options available in the market.
Non-Inhaled THC-O Alternatives
The danger created by heating THC-O is not present in non-inhaled forms of THC-O. Some of those non-inhaled THC-O alternative options include:
Weed edibles, or simply edibles, refer to any food items that contain CBD or THC.
Edibles come in various forms including drinks, snacks, candy, and desserts, and also offer various flavors to suit different tastes and provide the most rich experience.
Edibles such as cookies and gummies have measured quantities of cannabis for optimal action. They can be an excellent replacement for vaping and provide a good experience.
You can also buy consumer packaged pre-rolls or blunts from the market just like you buy edibles. They are legal in many states, ready to go, and might just be enough for your needs.
Nowadays, pre-rolls are one of the most competitive and popular sects of the cannabis market. You will find many reputed companies making pre-rolls in the market.
3. Hemp flowers
Another possible substitute for THC O vaping is hemp or marijuana flowers. These flowers can be potent and provide long-lasting effects.
With hemp flowers, you will find plenty of vendors selling a variety of strains, such as Hybrids, Indica, and Sativa. You can choose any of the flowers, depending on your needs.
THC concentrates can also be a replacement for vaping THC-O. These are potent and might help one reap the benefits of CBD and enjoy relaxing effects that persist for longer.
The concentrates have the same contents as vape liquids. The difference is concentrates are not mixed with carrier oils like synthetic vitamin E oil to help them draw through vaporizers.
5. CBD products
A wide variety of non-intoxicating CBD-based products that are available in the market can also be viable alternatives to THC-O vaping.
Since the main aim of consuming cannabis is to get its medical benefits, users should carefully choose CBD products to ensure the correct delivery methods for optimum action.
For example, someone who needs relief from muscle pains might find topical CBD creams more helpful. Using different CBD products like oils and creams instead of vaping can be more beneficial.
Although the dangers of vaping have affected only a small percentage of the population, switching to other options is advisable.
As shown here, there are many other ways of enjoying the beneficial properties of cannabis. One doesn't have to consume it through vaping.