THC-O Phosphate is an analog form of THC, the psychoactive part of the effects of Cannabis. It is a rare form of THC that is not available naturally. That means it does not occur within the Cannabis plant. It is one of the few artificial cannabinoids created using various chemicals and purifying processes in a lab. Since it is lab-made, it does not contain any other cannabinoids or terpenes naturally occurring in the Cannabis plants. THC is only available in the isolate form.
In 1973, research was conducted on animal test subjects to study the effects of THC. It does not dissolve in water, as a lipid, It can only be dissolved in oils, or terpenes, which are what essential oils essentially are. The researchers were trying to find a way to dissolve THC in water and then inject it into their animal test subjects. Their search led them to discover this rare form, which can be obtained by reacting THC with another chemical to get a water-soluble version, which allowed the scientists to inject it freely.
However, converting THC to THC-O Phosphate changes the way THC interacts with the metabolizing process inside the animals and within human beings. So the resulting compound is not as effective as the parent compound THC.
How Does The Chemistry Work
THC is reacted with phosphoryl chloride by using pyridine as a solvent. Pyridine is a highly flammable substance, making its use extremely dangerous anywhere other than a controlled lab environment. Even then, only a trained chemist should handle it. Phosphoryl acid changes to phosphoric acid when it comes in contact with moisture in the air and releases fumes of hydrogen chloride. Hydrogen chloride, in turn, can change to hydrochloric acid when present in moist air. So, both these chemicals should only be handled by trained professionals, in a safe lab environment, and using appropriate safety equipment. After the reaction has occurred, the resulting substance is quenched with water, at which point it creates the desired THC-O Phosphate. This kind of chemical compound is called an organophosphate ester.
Effects of THC-O Phosphate On The Human Body
THC-O Phosphate is a prodrug version of regular THC. This means the compound has to be metabolized by the digestive system to become active. This is similar to the process that occurs when THC is taken in an edible. It has to pass through the body and be processed so that it becomes bioavailable, meaning it can be used by the body to create the desired effects. THC on its own, when ingested, goes through the liver to become 11-hydroxy-THC and changes in potency; the increased potency is a common experience for many edible users.
In the case of THC-O-Phosphate, the opposite is true. It passes through the system to become bioavailable THC. However, it is slower to the onset and is less potent than the parent THC. One study found that THC-O Phosphate is only a fraction as potent as the parent compound. The testing was done on mice, and it measured the various mechanisms that trigger the onset of sleep.
Creating A Psilocybin Like Effects
From a pharmacological point of view, this THC analog parallels the effects of psilocybin. This is because it is the metabolic prodrug of Psilocin, the psychoactive compound found in most psychedelic mushrooms. This further shows the interconnected nature of these compounds and how they trigger similar effects but in very different ways.
Is it Toxic
According to the current research, no toxicity in realistic doses has been observed. THC itself requires the equivalent of consuming 1500 pounds of Cannabis under 15 minutes in order for it to be fatal.
Potency: How Much To Take?
Depending on the features being measured, it is only about 7 to 10% as potent as Delta-8-THC, a popular analog of Delta-9-THC, the compound responsible for the heavy psychoactive feeling and the onset of anxiety and paranoia. So THC-O Phosphate is not a very viable option for triggering the typical Cannabis experience. For this reason, it did not gain much popularity. Even though it is water-soluble, which makes it very easy to introduce into the body, it is not potent enough to be useful.
Is It Legal
There is no scheduling specifically for THC-O-Phosphate at the time of writing. However, in areas where all analogs of THC are prohibited, this too will likely be automatically illegal.
Where Can I Buy It
It is not commercially available because there is simply no demand for it. Researchers who need it can efficiently synthesize it in their own labs using THC and the other two ingredients we mentioned earlier. As a weaker alternative to THC itself, it has been neglected by the market. Most buyers are looking for higher potency, and that is what is driving the demand for other THC analogs like Delta-8 and Delta-10, along with Delta-9 wherever it is legal.
THC-O Phosphate is a less potent version of THC that has the potential to cause psilocybin-like effects due to its unique chemical nature. It was developed for its water-soluble nature for use in research. However, it was quickly set aside for other alternatives as it was only about 10% as potent as Delta-8 or Delta-9 THC. Thus it is not available commercially. It is not to be confused with THC-O or THC-O Acetate, which are separate compounds with different properties.