What is THC? Let’s Talk Tetrahydrocannabinol
Are you ready to learn more about tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)? A chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, THC is renowned for its psychoactive properties and wide-reaching effects on both medical and recreational users. In this guide, we’ll tackle to question of what is THC and how it can improve health, provide relief from pain and stress, or just simply enhance a recreational experience. So buckle up, ’cause it’s time to talk Tetrahydrocannabinol!
THC, a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, is one of the hundreds of natural components that are present.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors found throughout the nervous and immune systems. THC binds to these receptors, which causes changes and reactions in various body parts.
However, what makes THC special is that it’s the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and has wide-reaching effects on both medical and recreational users.
How does THC work?
THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) — a cell-signaling network that regulates the central and peripheral nervous systems. The ECS is responsible for movement and motor coordination, learning and memory, emotion and motivation, and pain modulation.
When THC passes through the blood-brain barrier, it binds with ECS cannabinoid receptors in the brain, the central nervous system (CB1), and the immune system (CB2). Once THC has attached itself to CB1 and CB2 receptors, it produces effects such as hunger, pain relief, euphoria, and reduced anxiety.
Where does THC come from?
Cannabinoids like THC occur naturally in the cannabis plant. However, they are usually found in different concentrations depending on the particular strain or species of cannabis. For example, THC is found in higher concentrations in marijuana plants, while cannabidiol (CBD) — another cannabinoid — is more abundant in hemp plants.
While this may seem insignificant, it’s not when it comes to the sale of cannabis products, FDA regulation, and cannabis potency.
In terms of sale, marijuana and hemp are treated differently under the law, as hemp-derived products are legal in all 50 states, while marijuana is only legal in certain states. This affects the availability of THC products and concentrates. So be sure to consult your state medical cannabis laws or recreational laws before purchasing.
Likewise, FDA regulation of weed products and their labeling varies, depending on the product’s origin and type. For example, cannabis-derived products with more than 0.3% THC are considered marijuana, while products with less than 0.3% THC are generally classified as hemp.
Finally, THC potency is another important factor when looking at cannabis products. With marijuana and hemp being different species, they are bred differently and can have very different levels of THC. While some may have little to no THC, others may contain more than 30%. Therefore, consumers must be aware of the potency levels to assess their THC consumption.
Types of THC
There are two main types of THC — Delta-8 and Delta-9. They are similar in composition but have slightly different chemical structures.
Delta-8 is found in tiny quantities in the cannabis plant and is much milder in terms of its effects. Therefore, there is minimal research on the potential benefits and side effects of Delta-8. It has not been evaluated or approved for safe use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Delta-9 is the more abundant variety of THC. When you buy a product containing THC, you are likely getting Delta-9. It is far more potent and is responsible for intoxicating effects in users. Delta-9 is often extracted from the cannabis plant and concentrated in oils, waxes, and edibles. These products are widely available in states where recreational or medical marijuana use is legal.
THC vs. CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and has been gaining popularity for its potential health benefits. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce intoxicating effects.
The main difference between CBD and THC is that THC binds directly with CB1 receptors in the brain to produce psychotropic effects, while CBD does not bind directly. Instead, CBD activates other receptors, which can lead to many of the potential benefits associated with it.
History and Legal Status of THC
Cannabis has been consumed worldwide for thousands of years for recreational purposes and as traditional medicine in many cultures. Historical evidence suggests that cannabis was being smoked for its intoxicating effects in Central Asia as far back as 2,500 years ago!
However, by the early twentieth century, marijuana use began to be controlled and eventually banned. In the United States, The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 began taxing the sale of cannabis. By 1970, the Controlled Substances Act classified it as a Schedule I drug and outlawed its use altogether.
Although THC or CBD is still illegal without qualifiers, recent legal developments have been promising. According to the US Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, hemp-derived products with less than 0.3% THC are permitted in the United States. However, as we have already mentioned, cannabis products with more than 0.3% THC by dry weight are illegal at the federal level.
At the state level, however, it is a whole different story! States in the US have their own laws about the consumption of cannabis. As of 2023, 21 states allow the recreational use of cannabis. Similarly, 33 states and Washington, DC, allow the medical use of cannabis. While this is great news, several states still ban the use of cannabis. So always check your local laws before purchasing, storing, or using cannabis.
Current Legal Status Around the World
Most countries still don’t allow the recreational use of cannabis. However, many have decriminalized the possession of cannabis so that its possession or use is no longer a criminal offense but counts as a minor infraction. Countries like Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Croatia, Israel, Moldova, Peru, and Spain have followed this policy of cannabis decriminalization.
Those that have legalized the recreational use of cannabis include Canada, Georgia, Malta, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, and Uruguay. Canada, Thailand, and Uruguay even allow the commercial sale of recreational marijuana.
Medical marijuana is also legal in many countries. They include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
Health Benefits of THC
While research has only taken off in the past few decades, we know that there are various medical benefits and therapeutic effects associated with THC. From medical journals to scientific research in areas like clinical neuroscience and clinical psychopharmacology, there is significant evidence that THC may help treat a variety of medical conditions, particularly chronic pain and inflammation.
Pain Relief and Inflammation Reduction
THC provides pain relief and help reduce inflammation, and many patients with these symptoms use cannabis to alleviate their suffering. While specific research regarding the potential benefits of THC on this front is scarce, several studies conclude that THC can help patients with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other illnesses where pain management is vital.
Anxiety and Stress Reduction
Marijuana has long been used to treat depression and anxiety. Its active compound, THC, works in two ways — when consumed at higher doses, it can trigger a sense of euphoria, which helps with moods, while lower doses can help reduce feelings of anxiety. But beware! Overindulging may have an adverse effect and worsen symptoms instead.
Improved Sleep Quality and Insomnia Treatment
When taken in low doses, THC can help people suffering from insomnia. This is because THC acts on CB1 receptors and helps reduce ‘sleep onset latency’ (the time it takes to fall asleep) and improve total sleep time.
Appetite Stimulation for Patients With Eating Disorders
THC is the main active ingredient in cannabis that improves appetite and stimulates hunger. By binding with CB1 receptors found in the brain, stomach, and small intestines, THC stimulates the release of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, inducing hunger in the user.
Cancer Treatment Potential
THC has been used in several cancer treatment medications for its ability to reduce and manage the common side effects of chemotherapy-induced nausea. Clinical trials have found that giving patients THC, in addition to standard cancer therapies, produced far more favorable results and helped alleviate chemotherapy-related symptoms.
Risks Associated With THC Use
The usage of THC can have some potentially negative effects or adverse reactions. Some side effects associated with THC use include:
- Dry mouth
- Memory loss
- Slow reaction time
- Increased heart rate
- Cannabis Use Disorder
While you cannot overdose on it, extended THC use can lead to dependency and make it harder for you to concentrate or focus on daily tasks. In addition, long-term THC use can cause changes in behavior and make users believe they cannot function with cannabis use. If you stop using cannabis after extended use, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, memory impairment, loss of appetite, insomnia, and restlessness.
To mitigate these reactions, here are a few rules of thumb:
- No driving or operating machinery while under the influence of THC, as it can impair your judgment and reaction time.
- Avoid taking too much THC in one sitting, as this can increase the risk of anxiety, paranoia, and other adverse reactions.
- Be mindful of how much cannabis you are using to reduce the potential of developing an addiction.
- Always consult your doctor before using cannabis as a therapy or to treat any medical condition.
Whether you’re consuming for medical purposes or recreational use, always remember to use responsibly and know your limits.
What to expect from a THC high
While everyone’s ECS is different, the effects of THC can generally be described as a mild feeling of relaxation and an increased sense of well-being.
However, it’s important to note that the effects of THC can vary depending on several factors, such as your tolerance, body weight, the type and strain of cannabis consumed, and how much you’ve ingested. As always, practice caution when consuming marijuana.
THC can cause physical effects such as red eyes, increased heart rate, and dry mouth. Additionally, depending on how much THC consumed, users may experience a feeling of heaviness or numbness in the limbs.
Psychologically speaking, THC can have a variety of effects on the user. Many users report feeling uplifted and having an improved sense of well-being. Others may experience feelings of mild euphoria or heightened creativity. However, at high doses, it’s possible to feel anxiety, paranoia, or even dissociation.
Duration of Effects
Depending on the method of ingestion, THC can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. For example, smoking or vaping cannabis produces an immediate effect lasting 2-3 hours, while edibles may take 1-2 hours to take effect and last up to 6-8 hours.
How does potency affect the THC experience?
The potency of the cannabis product will affect both the intensity and duration of your THC experience. Products with higher THC content may produce stronger effects, while products with lower THC content may cause milder effects that last a shorter time.
Is Delta-9 THC more potent than Delta-8 THC?
Yes, Delta-9 is a much more potent variety of THC. Delta-8 is found in minimal quantities in cannabis plants and usually produces a milder high.
Are Delta-9 and Delta-8 legal?
The federal government has deemed all cannabis products with more than 0.3% THC concentration illegal. Since Delta-8 is a milder form of THC, people are often led to believe it is legal. However, this is not true. It has not been FDA-approved.
Talk THC with WHTC LA
If you’re in Studio City, feel free to drop by to talk THC! We love answering all your questions and helping you find the right cannabis product for you. We can talk about the different types of THC, methods of ingestion, how to get the most out of your THC experience, or how THC can be a complementary and integrative health practice.
Visit us at 3760 Cahuenga Blvd, Studio City, to browse through our extensive menu, or order online for easy pickup!