THC, Properties, Benefits, and Uses
Several cannabis-derived compounds are getting a lot of attention lately.
- CBD (cannabidiol)
- CBG (cannabigerol)
- CBN (cannabinol)
- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
These powerful, plant-derived compounds are featured in wellness products across the world, and they are praised for their natural wellness evoking qualities.
While many people are shifting their attention to the benefits of these cannabinoids, one still holds some some negative stigmas, THC. Perhaps, it’s because THC is generally misunderstood.
THC: A Closer Look
In 1964, Raphael Mechoulam isolated and identified the plant-derived molecule. THC is believed to have evolved to mimic anandamide, which is a cannabinoid produced by the human body naturally. The word “anandamide” is derived from the Sanskrit word “ananda,” which means “bliss, joy, and delight.”
This is important because hundreds of plant-derived cannabinoids are able to interact harmoniously with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a biological entity shared by humans as well as other animals, and it contains numerous receptors that are constantly engaging within the body to promote homeostasis (a true state of well-being and optimal balance).
There are two types of receptors:
- CB1, which is predominantly focused on neurological cells
- CB2, which is located within immune tissues.
When different molecular compounds (specifically cannabinoids) enter the body, depending on the exact structure of the molecule, it can positively impact and influence the endocannabinoid system.
What many people don’t realize is that “THC“ is not one specific compound. There are several variations of THC, called chemical analogs, and these analogs distinguish various types of THC from one another. They feature some similarities as well as a few minor differences. These differences impact the way the body reacts to them and whether they comply with the law.
Different Types of THC
We will discuss the various THCs and explain the difference between their compounds.
- Delta 9 THC
- Delta 8 THC
THC-a (Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
This is the most prolific type of THC in the cannabis plant. It is the acidic form of THC, and it is the precursor to the other THC variations. As the cannabis plant matures, or when the compound is heated, it evolves from an acidic state to a neutral state as it transitions into other analogs of THC. This process is called decarboxylation.
Because the compound evolves when heated, it sometimes causes a stir when it comes to legality. This is because the US diligently regulates legal hemp products from illegal marijuana products, and it is typically distinguished by the molecular composition of each compound.
- Hemp-derived THC-a is federally legal across the US.
- Marijuana-derived THC-a is not federally legal, but in some states, it is. Check your state’s laws to be sure.
THC-a binds to the CB2 receptors within the endocannabinoid system, and it does not produce mind-altering side effects.
Delta 9 THC (∆9 THC)
Delta 9 THC is well-known for being psychoactive. When most people think about “THC,” they associate it with the “high” commonly paired with the use of marijuana. This is Delta 9 THC. Some people absolutely love it, while others find it unappealing. No matter how you feel about Delta 9 THC, it has a profound impact on the mind and body.
Delta 9 THC primarily binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system, and produces:
- Mind-altering effects, like feelings of mental and physical disconnection from time,
- Reduced short term memory
- Increased bodily relaxation.
- Research also indicates that this analog of THC has therapeutic benefits. These include promoting one’s appetite, helping with bodily tension, and helping one manage physical discomfort.
Delta 9 is influential to the body because of the way it binds to CB1 receptors. It contains five carbon atoms in a long chain that looks like a tail on the body of the molecule (5-term alkyl side chain). Long chains make a profound impact on the compound’s interaction with the body, which is why Delta 9 is so influential to the endocannabinoid receptors.
In the United States, hemp-derived products can contain a maximum of 0.3% Delta 9 THC (a very small amount) to comply with federal law.
Delta 8 THC (∆8 THC)
Despite being discovered nearly 50 years ago, Delta 8 THC is not as well-known as Delta 9. Mainly because it naturally makes up less than 1% of the cannabis plant, making it difficult to yield high amounts of it. Delta 8 is something called a double bond isomer of Delta 9. An isomer is a compound that contains the same number of elements and atoms, but is structurally different in how the elements are arranged. This may sound like a small difference, but it is actually quite substantial.
While Delta 9 is known for its high psychoactive consequences, Delta 8 is estimated to be half as psychoactive.
Delta 8 communicates and engages with CB1 and CB2 receptors, and it appears to have many benefits to the body.
- Specifically, it can help stimulate appetite
- Reduce nausea
- Offer many relaxation-evoking qualities without the psychoactive side effects you can expect from Delta 9.
- It is also said to be nature’s answer to hangovers.
Delta 8 is beginning to rise in popularity because, using an advanced process, the more prevalent Delta 9 compound can be converted to Delta 8 THC, making the less psychoactive Delta 8 more easily accessible.
In 1995, a famous Delta 8 THC study was conducted. The study concluded that, when used for its anti-nausea properties, it successfully inhibited nausea with “an essential lack of side effects” to 100% of the patients who used it during their treatment.
Consumers are beginning to enjoy Delta 8 in vape cartridges, edibles, and oils and even pet treats because the compound delivers several wellness-evoking benefits. Hemp-derived Delta 8 (with up to 0.3% Delta 9 THC present) is also federally legal.
THCP was discovered in 2019. THCP is a unique analog of THC, called a homolog. Homologs are present in units of repeating compounds, similar to Delta 9 THC. While Delta 9 THC has five carbon atoms, THCP has a 7-term chain that, prior to the discovery of this analog, was unheard of, as a 5-term alkyl chain has always been the largest. Longer side chains have a greater impact on the body and the endocannabinoid system receptors. Because of this, THCP appears to have about 33% more potency and strength than Delta 9, but the medical benefits are still unknown because of how new this THC analog is.
THCV is very similar to THCP, minus the repeating side chain. With a shorter chain, it’s far less effective in binding to receptors in the body.
- THCV is somewhat of an antagonist to CB1 receptors. Antagonists work to deflect the reaction. If THCV is consumed in large amounts, however, it can have an opposite effect, making it mind-altering in high doses but not in low doses.
- Delta 9 THC is partially an agonist. Agonists evoke a reaction when it comes in contact with cells.
The more consumers learn about the different THCs, the less afraid they will be of them. Perhaps they will begin to see the benefits this compound can offer the mind and it’s power to influence the body.
THC and the Law – Let’s Get Technical
THC is technically considered a controlled substance under Schedule 1 of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which means it is not currently used for medical treatment and it has the potential to be abused. Also featured under Schedule 1 is the specific definition that “all parts” of the marijuana plant are illegal, which obviously includes THC.
However, THC is derived from plants in the cannabis family, which include marijuana and hemp. The plants are siblings, but they are not identical, so they have a slightly different genetic make-up within their leaves, stalks, and flowers. Hemp is naturally low in Delta 9 THC, and marijuana contains a much higher concentration of the psychoactive compound.
According to The Farm Bill of 2018, only derivatives of hemp with no more than 0.3% Delta 9 THC are legal in the US for purchase and consumption. These derivatives include all extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers.
It gets a bit complicated when you look at the federal law’s lengthy definition of a hemp plant. The bill explicitly explains that 0.3% is on a “dry weight basis,” which can be hard to apply to liquid products like hemp-extracted oils. Despite this, the law generally legalizes most analogs of THC, minus Delta 9, which can only be present in no more than 0.3% of any product.
In summary, here is the legal standing of the various THCs:
- Delta 8 THC, THCP, and THCV are legal when derived from hemp. None of these are considered a controlled substance according to the law.
- Hemp-derived THC-a is not currently considered a controlled substance, but starting October 2020, it will be looked at more closely in pre-harvest because of the way it converts into Delta 9 when heated (decarboxylation).
- It is currently observed in post-harvest only, and this process is changing to help curb misunderstandings on how the compound evolves when processed to comply with the law.
- Compounds derived from marijuana are not federally legal.
Restart CBD specializes in everything hemp-related with the goal of providing consumers up-to-date information on hemp-derived compounds, educational resources, and the latest hemp and CBD products.
We are hemp cannabis advocates. We believe in the body’s natural ability to heal and recognize the synergistic value of nature’s remedies. We believe that the mind, body, and spirit work together as a system of energy. Balancing oneself and maintaining optimal health within your Endocannabinoid System is key to reaching your full potential.
If you’re ready to experience the all-natural, plant-derived power of our premium hemp, CBD, CBG, and THC products, then get started now! You can shop our premium hemp-derived wellness products on our website or in person at our Austin, TX shop.
We promise to only offer the industry’s most cutting-edge products, crafted using the most advanced technology to maximize the robust hemp-derived compounds.
Shop with confidence. RESTART CBD offers products which are:
- Farm Bill Compliant
If you have further questions about the different types of THC or any other product in our inventory, contact us today. We are here to help!