You are probably already familiar with delta 9 THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
You might also be familiar with delta 8 and delta10 THC, two slightly different molecules with similar psychoactive properties.
There are actually dozens of different kinds of THC with differing strengths and psychoactive effects.
This article will cover the strongest cannabinoid in the THC family, THCP. This cannabinoid is known to have 30 times the potency of delta 9 THC.
What is THCP? (tetrahydrocannabiphorol)
THCP is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabiphorol. It was only discovered in 2019 so there has not been much official research. Only animal and in vitro cell culture research has provided evidence of its safety, potency, and efficacy.
These are the facts we know so far.
It is a naturally occurring cannabinoid within the cannabis plant. Similar to delta 8, It occurs in very small quantities, so it is extracted and isolated using chromatography techniques.
This cannabinoid binds to the CB1 receptor 33 times more frequently than delta 9 THC. The rate that it binds to the CB1 receptor demonstrates the powerful potency of this cannabinoid. THC is psychoactive because it binds to this receptor (CB1) in the brain.
Is It Natural?
Yes, it is indeed natural. It is one of the many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, (there are almost 200 of them).
Natural levels of THCP are lower than 0.1 percent. Some cannabis plants, like the FM2 Italian-bred strain, have nearly 0.1% of THCP.
For perspective, delta 9 THC is found in concentrations of 25%-30% in high THC cannabis plants. In hemp plants, the THC levels are around 0.3% or less.
Although there are exceptions, some strains are bred to have high THC levels and low CBD while some strains are bred for higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC.
CBD is often found in hemp at concentrations between 20%-30% and marijuana at 15%.
Curious about the difference between marijuana and hemp? Check out this article!
How Is It Made?
As we mentioned earlier, because of the extremely low concentrations of this new cannabinoid in cannabis, some researchers have recreated it artificially to study it further.
The first paper describing THCP extraction from cannabis was published in 2019. Later, modifications were made to the manufacturing process that is used today.
In the past, CBD has been used as a starting material for making this budding cannabinoid. This means that it can be effectively derived from hemp, making it a technically legal cannabinoid. Even though it can be derived from hemp, it is still a psychoactive cannabinoid so it resides in a legal gray area. We will get into this later.
Read more about how hemp-derived THC cannabinoids, like delta 8, are classified in this article.
It is important to note that this super-potent cannabinoid has to go through quite the process to get to its end form, it is often made with toxic solvents and chemicals so always use discretion when purchasing this new cannabinoid.
How Is It Produced Within The Cannabis Plant?
Almost all of the cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp, including CBD, THC, D8, and THCP, begin as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).
Without getting too into the chemistry and science behind it, CBGA goes through an enzymatic reaction with other acidic compounds that creates the precursor molecule for THCP: tetrahydrocannabiphorolic acid (THCPA).
THCPA is then gradually transformed into THCP within the cannabis/hemp plant through a process called “decarboxylation”.
Is It Legal?
The international treaty, “Convention on Psychotropic Substances” only has one scheduled cannabinoid: Delta 9 THC. This means that this new cannabinoid is an internationally legal substance.
The legality of this mega potent compound may be slightly different in the United States. It’s legal so long as it’s derived from hemp plants that contain less than 0.3% delta 9 THC.
Want to learn more? Check out: Marijuana vs Hemp
But it isn’t always so clear-cut, especially when dealing with cannabis. Each state has the right to make their own laws concerning cannabis. While this new cannabinoid may technically be legal at the federal level, it could be subject to separate state laws.
This cannabinoid is currently not included in any state legislation, but it is illegal in states that ban all forms of THC.
Here is a list where THCP is most likely legal:
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
Because cannabis legislation can vary by state, rules and regulations are always subject to change.
For more information on the federal legalization of cannabis and its constituents, see the 2018 Farm Bill.
To err on the safe side, check with your state’s legislature for more detailed information. Many states have policies on the regulation of THC as well as analogs like delta 8 and THCP.
How Is It Different Than THC?
THC and THCP have nearly identical chemical structures, with one important difference: the lengths of their alkyl side chains.
THC’s chain has five carbon atoms, while THCP’s has seven.
Aside from being an interesting and trivial difference, this structural distinction actually makes this newly discovered cannabinoid significantly more biologically active than delta 9 THC.
THCP has a longer side-chain, which gives it a 30x higher bonding activity at CB1 receptors. Furthermore, it could be 30x more potent than conventional THC.
What Are The Effects?
Many THCP users describe the effects as a more powerful version of THC. It is significantly stronger than THC, (almost psychedelic). So, it’s generally a good idea to start with a smaller dose than you would with delta 9 THC.
While there isn’t much evidence to support THCP’s effects, those who have used it say that its effects are nearly identical to THC.
The 2019 original paper following the discovery of this potent compound in cannabis plants claims that it has pain relief and other medicinal properties, similar to THC. In essence, it has the same healing benefits as delta 9 THC.
THCP and THC might share many benefits but there is one major difference.
THCP is 30% more biologically active than THC and has proportionally greater effects. This means that the doses of THCP or THC will be quite different.
This is why it’s important to tread carefully. If you’ve ever had adverse side effects like paranoia, memory impairment, anxiety, or memory loss from THC, then you know it’s best to start low and go slow.
How Does It Work?
This cannabinoid, like all cannabinoids, interacts with the endocannabinoid system in your body. Within the endocannabinoid system (ECS), there are two main types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. These receptors affect different aspects and systems in the body and therefore produce different results.
CB1 receptors are located in the central nervous system and are responsible for THC and THCP’s psychoactive properties.
THCP, like THC, is a strong CB1 agonist. It binds to the receptor and produces an effect. Because THC and THCP share the same CB1 behavior, they have similar pharmacological effects.
How To Take THCP
Products made with this new cannabinoid are not readily available at the moment, but it is likely that this will change soon.
It can be used in the same manner as any other cannabinoid. You can vape, smoke, eat, take it sublingually, or apply it to your skin topically.
However, the majority of companies selling this cannabinoid currently provide it in the form of a replaceable vape cart.
Can It Get You High?
Yes. this cannabinoid is very psychoactive.
As we mentioned earlier, this cannabinoid essentially has an identical effect profile to delta 9 THC .
Although there is not much scientific evidence to support THCP’s psychoactive or medical benefits, the anecdotal evidence supports it as having similar psychotropic effects to THC.
How Does It Compare to Other Cannabinoids?
Delta 8 THC vs. THCP
Since delta-8 is about half as potent as delta 9 THC, that makes THCP at least 60 times stronger than delta 8.
These cannabinoids have very different effects. THCP can be very stimulating. Due to its extraordinary potency, this cannabinoid is likely to cause anxious side effects such as insomnia and rapid heartbeat.
Delta 8 is quite the opposite. It’s far milder, more relaxing, and mellower than other THC products. D8 THC is not known to cause anxiety or adverse effects on sleep.
Although there is theoretically a version of THCP that can be converted to delta 8, it’s not known how it compares with delta 9 THCP. The method of determining the potency of THCP products is not well-developed enough to differentiate between the two isomers.
Delta 9 THC vs. THCP
As we mentioned earlier, D9 and THCP essentially have the same effects. However, this newer cannabinoid is significantly stronger and can exacerbate common THC effects.
The only difference really comes down to potency and the levels at which each is found in the cannabis plant. Delta 9 THC is abundant in marijuana plants while this new cannabinoid is found in very low levels in both marijuana and hemp plants.
A regular dose of delta 9 THC is anywhere from 10mg-20mg. The same dose for THCP is closer to 0.3mg (300 micrograms). In fact, you don’t even need a full milligram of this mega potent THC relative to experience its potent effects.
Again, because of how potent this newer cannabinoid is, it is more likely to lead to negative side effects than conventional THC products.
Delta 10 vs. THCP
D10 THC can be used as a nootropic during the day. It is more stimulating than delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC but doesn’t affect headspace as much.
Delta 10 THC has a much lower impact on the brain than THCP. This new and potent compound can really affect your mental ability to do things like study or work, while delta 10 THC (in moderate to low doses) can often be used to improve it.
THC-O vs. THCP
THC-O, another potent cannabinoid, is almost three times more potent than delta 9 THC and six times as potent than delta 8 THC.
The main differences between THCP and THC-O are the origin– (THCP occurs naturally, THC-O is completely synthetic), the onset period (THCP kicks off immediately, THC-O has a delay), as well as the potency (THCP can be around 10x stronger than THC-O).
HHC vs. THCP
Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) is another new cannabinoid to hit the cannabis world by storm. This one is more similar to delta 9 THC than THCP. HHC shares nearly identical effects as delta 9 THC but it is slightly weaker.
This cannabinoid (HHC) is used as more of a stimulant than for relaxing effects. To get the same effects as delta 9 THC, you may need to take a few extra puffs from an HHC vape.
Takeaways – What Is THCP?
This strong cannabinoid is a cutting-edge psychoactive cannabis compound.
Cliff notes version: THCP is a stronger and legal version of delta 9 THC.
Products containing this newly discovered cannabinoid can be difficult to find due to the complicated manufacturing process. However, those who have been able to get their hands on some say it is like taking THC (just watch out for the dosage).
Keep in mind, as with any budding cannabinoid, it is always important to use discretion when searching for these products. Because it only naturally occurs in such small quantities within the cannabis plant, it can be extracted in some sketchy ways using toxic chemicals and solvents.
Make sure you ask to see third-party lab results and source from a trusted cannabis dispensary.