THCO vs THCP: Detailed Comparison Guide

by Kat Austin March 28, 2024 6 min read

THCO vs THCP: Detailed Comparison Guide - Vida Optima™

Cannabinoids like THC have been around for decades. But two new players have emerged on the scene—THCO and THCP. These compounds are gaining attention for their potent psychoactive effects. Let's dive into THCO vs THCP and break down what you need to know.

Table of Contents
What is THCO?
What is THCP?
THCO vs THCP: Key Differences
Extaction Process
Consumption Methods
Side Effects

Key Takeaways

  • THCO is a synthetic cannabinoid while THCP is a rare but naturally occurring cannabinoid found in hemp. 
  • THCO has intense effects, offering strong euphoria and relaxation, but THCP is even more potent than THCO.
  • THCO and THCP are both federally legal when made from hemp, but state by state legality is ambiguous due to their synthetic nature and complex manufacturing process.
  • Choose THCO for energetic highs and mental euphoria and THCP for deeper relaxation and body euphoria. Always start with a low dose to gauge your reaction.

What is THCO?

THCO, also known as THC acetate, is a synthetic cannabinoid. It's made in a lab by adding acetic anhydride to delta-8 THC. This makes THCO about three times more powerful than regular THC.

a model of THCO's molecular structure near natural hemp material.

How is THCO Made?

THC-O isn't naturally occurring, so it's usually made in a laboratory. Here's how:

  • Start with CBD extracted from hemp.
  • Convert CBD into Delta-8 THC through an isomerization process.
  • Add acetic anhydride to Delta-8 THC to create THC-O-acetate through a process called acetylation.
  • The final step is a purification process to ensure the THC-O is free from impurities and contaminants.

Making THC-O is a complex and hazardous process that should only be done in a professional lab. This approach ensures a consistent, potent, and safe product for commercial use.  Read “Is THC-O Synthetic?” to learn more. 

Effects of THCO

Research shows that THCO is nearly three times more potent than traditional Delta-9-THC, and about five times stronger than Delta-8 THC. It's known for its intense effects, which is why many consumers find it enticing. 

Here's what users typically experience with THC-O:

  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Altered perception of time and space

However, the heightened potency of THC-O can also bring side effects, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Impaired coordination

Reactions to THC-O can vary, so it's crucial to start with a low dose and see how your body responds.

What is THCP?

THCP stands for tetrahydrocannabiphorol. It's a naturally occurring cannabinoid, but it's super rare. THCP binds to CB1 receptors in the brain 33 times more effectively than THC. That makes it one of the most potent cannabinoids out there.

How is THCP Made?

THCP is usually made in a lab because it's so rare in hemp plants. Here's how it's done:

  • Start with CBGA a cannabinoid acid in cannabis
  • Through decarboxylation, CBGA loses carbon dioxide and converts into a precursor molecule
  • This precursor is then synthesized into THCP using precise biosynthesis techniques.
  • The final step involves a rigorous purification process to remove contaminants and ensure purity.

This lab-based method ensures consistent and safe production of THCP for commercial use.

Effects of THCP

THCP is generally recognized as more potent than THC, often producing more intense psychoactive effects. Users report experiencing:

  • Strong euphoria
  • Deep relaxation
  • Altered perception of time and space
  • Enhanced sensory experiences
  • Increased creativity
  • Pain relief

However, these potent effects can also lead to side effects like:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Impaired coordination

Keep in mind that reactions can vary from person to person, so it's essential to start with a low dose and monitor how you respond.


An example of THCP extract and natural hemp material used in manufacturing

THCO vs THCP: Key Differences

Now that we’ve covered some basics for both THCO and THCP, let’s tackle the question of the hour–how do these two cannabinoids compare? 

Let's look at THCO vs THCP across a few key areas:


THCP is much more potent than THCO. 

More specifically, THCP is thought to be at least twice as strong as THCO. For perspective, THCP is around ten times more powerful than traditional Delta-9-THC, while THCO is about three times more potent than delta-9 THC.


The effects of THCO vs THCP can vary. THCO is typically energetic, while THCP is more relaxing. Your experience will depend on your tolerance and dose.

In general, though, you should choose THCO for an uplifting cerebral high and THCP for an intense, mildly sedating body-high experience. 

Extraction Process

Both THCO and THCP are synthetically derived from natural hemp compounds, but for different reasons. THCO does not occur naturally in the plant and can only be made via acetylation. THCP does occur naturally in hemp plants, but only in miniscule amounts that are not viable for extraction. So, THCP is mainly synthesized from CBD.

The extraction process for each is unique. Here are some differences:

Starting Materials

  • THCP is derived from CBGA (cannabigerolic acid), which is a cannabinoid acid naturally found in cannabis. 
  • THC-O starts with CBD (cannabidiol) extracted from hemp, a different cannabinoid with no psychoactive properties.

Chemical Conversion

  • In the case of THCP, decarboxylation is used to convert CBGA into a precursor molecule, which is then synthesized into THCP. This step primarily involves the removal of carbon dioxide.
  • For THC-O, the process is more complex. First, CBD is converted into Delta-8 THC through isomerization. This conversion involves rearranging the molecular structure of CBD to create Delta-8 THC, which is then further transformed into THC-O by adding acetic anhydride through acetylation.


  • Both processes involve a purification step to ensure the final product is free from impurities and contaminants. However, given the different starting materials and chemical conversions, the exact methods and considerations for purification may differ.

Safety and Complexity

  • While both processes require a laboratory setting, making THC-O is noted to be more hazardous due to the use of acetic anhydride, a highly reactive chemical. The complexity and risk involved require stringent safety measures.
  • The process to create THCP is less explicitly described as hazardous, suggesting a potentially lower risk when compared to THC-O.

Overall, the key differences between the processes for THCP and THC-O production lie in the starting materials, chemical conversion methods, and associated safety considerations. While both rely on advanced lab techniques to ensure a consistent and safe final product, THC-O's production process involves more hazardous steps, emphasizing the need for a professional lab setting.


Both THCO and THCP are federally legal when derived from hemp plants containing less than 0.3% THC. However, state laws regarding the use and sale of cannabinoids may vary, necessitating compliance with local regulations.

You may want to read more about state hemp THC laws to understand the full scope of THCO and THCP legality:

Consumption Methods:

Both THCO and THCP are available in a variety of forms, including vapes, edibles, tinctures, and flower. The choice of consumption method depends on individual preferences, desired onset time, and convenience.

Side Effects

Most of what we know about side effects of THCO or THCP comes from what we know about THC’s side effects in general. In other words, you should be aware of the side effects associated with all THC products and understand that all THC products affect each individual differently. 

In general, the side effects most commonly associated with THC products include:

You should also consider that some cannabinoids have drug interactions and may disrupt regular medication routines. Read “THC-O Drug Interactions” to learn more. 

THCP vs THCO: Which is Right for You?

Selecting between THCO and THCP depends on personal preferences, potency preferences, desired effects, and potential therapeutic benefits. Experimentation and exploration may be necessary to determine which cannabinoid best suits your needs and experiences. Here are a few tips to help you decide:

  • THCO is best for those looking for a buzzy high and who can handle effects that are 3-4 times more potent than traditional Delta-9. 
  • THCP is best for those looking for a soothing, relaxing euphoria who are experienced with high THC doses. 
  • Regardless which cannabinoid formula you choose, consider starting with a lower dose than you’d normally use. Both THCP and THCO are significantly more potent than traditional THC products. 

Final Thoughts

THCO and THCP are powerful cannabinoids. They're gaining popularity for their intense effects. But they can also be risky, especially if you're new to them. Always start slow and be cautious.

Before you try either, make sure you're aware of the legal regulations in your area. And always buy from reputable sources that follow safety standards.

THCO vs THCP—both offer unique experiences. The key is to find what works best for you and enjoy responsibly.

Vida Optima THCA Hemp Flower

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