What are the three most infamous letters in weed? THC, of course — it gets you higher than a Georgia pine. But the most fantastic thing about THC is that there's a whole lot more to those infamous letters than meets the eye. In this cannabinoids guide, we'll explore everything there is to know about THC - from its effects on the body to its medical benefits to its legal status. So let's start with our guide to cannabinoids by learning a little more about our favorite plant.
What is a Cannabinoid?
Derived from the plant cannabis Sativa, Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body.
The name cannabinoids doesn't derive from what they are but rather from their function. They're a class of natural chemical compounds produced by the cannabis plant that can interact with receptors inside our cells. These interactions change the chemical distribution in the brain, resulting in a host of reactions throughout the body.
Cannabinoid Receptors & The Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid system work together. Cannabinoid receptors are found throughout the body but are most concentrated in the brain and central nervous system. They make up what's known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for regulating various essential functions, including mood, memory, appetite, pain sensation, and inflammation.
There are two types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. THC primarily binds to CB1 receptors, mostly found in the brain. These are the receptors that are responsible for the psychoactive effects of THC. CB2 receptors are primarily found in the immune system. They're not as well understood as CB1 receptors, but they're thought to play a role in inflammation and pain relief.
Cannabinoids like THC bind to these receptors and activate them. When THC binds to CB1 receptors, it changes the way information is processed in the brain - which is why it produces psychoactive effects.
Types of Cannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that come from within our bodies. 2-AG and anandamide are the best-known endocannabinoids, but there are others.
Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that come from plants. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two best-known phytocannabinoids, but there are many others, including:
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabidiolic-acid (CBDA)
- Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA)
- Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA) and more.
Endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids share many of the same properties, but they differ in one crucial way: endocannabinoids are produced by our bodies, while plants produce phytocannabinoids.
There are over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The two most well-known and researched cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but we'll discuss a few more important cannabinoids below.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. In other words, it's the compound that gets you high. THC is just one of many cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids interact with our bodies in a variety of ways - some of them psychoactive, and some of them not.
THC is unique among cannabinoids because it's the only one that's psychoactive. That means it can change your mood and alter your state of mind. When you smoke or ingest weed, THC produces the characteristic high that people associate with cannabis use.
However, other major cannabinoids do not produce psychoactive effects. Some of them are even being studied for their potential to counteract the effects of THC. We'll get into that more later on.
The four major types of tetrahydrocannabinol:
- Delta-9 THC: Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is the main component in marijuana that causes psychoactive effects.
- Delta-8 THC: Delta-8 is similar to Delta 9, but the high is milder and more relaxing than euphoric.
- THCa: THCA is a precursor to THC found in raw cannabis. It may have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects but is non psychoactive. When combusted, it converts to THC via decarboxylation.
- THCv: THCv is also non psychoactive. Commonly called "diet weed" or "Weederall," it may curb appetite and boost energy.
What Are The Effects Of THC?
The best way to break this down is through recreational and medicinal effects. We say this because the impact can vary depending on how you use THC.
The Recreational Effects
The recreational effects of THC are all about that euphoric feeling of being high. When a person smokes cannabis, THC enters the bloodstream through the lungs. This is the fastest way to experience the psychoactive effects of THC. THC ingested via edible takes longer to kick in because your digestive tract must process it to reach your bloodstream. Many find the edible high more intense, stable, and longer lasting.
Regardless of the delivery system, once absorbed, THC causes the brain to release dopamine which creates the feeling of euphoria we associate with being high. However, THC also affects other brain areas related to cognitive function and reaction to external stimuli. As a result, some people find it difficult to do basic motor cognitive tasks when high.
Other common THC recreational effects:
- Altered sense of time
- Increased appetite
- Pain relief
For those who use recreationally, the effects of THC can be mostly positive. But it's important to remember that everyone experiences THC differently. For example, the cognitive effects of THC can sometimes result in anxiety or paranoia. This is more common in those new to THC or those with a low tolerance. If you experience anxiety, it's best to take a break and return to it another day or try a different strain or consumption method.
The medicinal effects of THC are all about treating what ails you. Medical marijuana isn't new; according to the National Institute of Health, people have used cannabis medicinally for nearly 3000 years, if not longer.
When cannabis was legalized for medical use in California (the first US state to do so), AIDS activists played a pivotal role as they found that THC could induce hunger in AIDS patients by increasing the production of ghrelin, a hormone associated with hunger and digestion. It was also found to provide effective pain relief.
Beyond increased appetite and pain relief, cannabis can help reduce stress and anxiety, and may help treat all of the following conditions:
Medicinal THC effects:
- Analgesia (pain relief)
- Anxiolytic (reduces anxiety)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Depression (reduces symptoms)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Antiemetic (reduces nausea and vomiting)
- Anticonvulsant (suppresses seizure activity)
- Sedative (induces sleepiness or drowsiness)
Cannabis has also been shown to help people with cancer as it can help alleviate the side effects of cancer treatment, like nausea and vomiting. Cannabinoids may also have anti-tumor effects.
While medical marijuana is legal in many US states, it's important to remember that THC is still illegal under federal law. That said, attitudes towards medical marijuana are changing, and federal legalization will likely happen soon.
Many states, including Massachusetts, now make medical marijuana cards available to patients. A medical marijuana card has several benefits, including lower costs, access to cannabis products with higher potency, higher possession and purchase limits, and better legal protection. If you want access to a medical marijuana card, get in touch with your healthcare provider.
What Ways Can THC Be Consumed?
THC may be consumed in many ways. It's all a matter of preference or convenience.
- Smoking: You can smoke cannabis via hand-rolled joints, pre-rolls, pipes, bongs, or even rigs for concentrate. This is the most popular way to consume it as it's fast acting and easy to control the dosage.
- Vaping: Vaping is an excellent alternative for those who don't want to smoke or can't smoke for medical reasons. You can vape cannabis flower or concentrates.
- Edibles: Edibles are food products that have been infused with cannabis. For example, you can find cannabis gummies, brownies, candy, cookies, and more. Edibles take longer to kick in (30 minutes to 2 hours), but the high can last much longer (up to 8 hours).
- Beverages: Cannabinoid-infused drinks are becoming increasingly popular. You can find cannabis-infused coffee, tea, juices, and more. Like edibles, it takes a while for the effects to kick in, but they can last several hours.
- Topicals: Cannabinoid-infused lotions, balms, salves, gels, ointments and oils are applied directly to the skin. They're great for localized pain relief and don't produce any psychoactive effects.
- Tincture: Tinctures are concentrated cannabis extracts taken orally (typically under the tongue) or added to food and drinks. They're a great option for those who don't want to smoke or eat cannabis.
- Capsules: Cannabinoid capsules are similar to tinctures, but they're taken like any other pill, with water.
- Other sublingual: Lozenges, sprays, film tabs, and dissolvable strips can be placed beneath the tongue. These items dissolve in the mouth in seconds, allowing THC to enter the bloodstream.
For pain management, we recommend trying a tincture or topical. For anxiety relief, we recommend smoking, vaping, or taking capsules. And for general wellness, we recommend edibles or beverages.
No matter how you consume THC, starting with a low dose and increasing gradually as needed is essential. This will help you avoid any adverse effects.
How Long Does THC Stay In Your System?
THC can stay in your system for several days or even weeks. The exact amount of time depends on several factors, including:
- How much THC you've consumed
- How often you consume THC
- Your body fat percentage
- Your metabolism
THC is generally detectable in urine for up to 5 days after last use. However, THC may only be detectable for occasional users for 1-2 days. For heavy users, THC may be detectable for up to 12 days.
Some baseline estimates are:
- Single-use: Up to 3 days after your latest consumption
- Moderate (4 times a week): Up to 5-7 days
- Chronic use (every day): Up to 10-15 days
- Chronic heavy use (multiple times every day): Up to 30 days
THC can also be detected in hair follicles for up to 90 days. This method is not as common but can be used to detect cannabis use over a more extended period.
Another factor that may affect how long THC stays in your system is the product's potency. More potent products will contain more THC, which will naturally take longer to metabolize completely. Finally, consider that THC is just one of many plant cannabinoids in cannabis. Some products may also contain CBD, CBN, or other cannabinoids. These cannabinoids can also be detected in urine and hair tests.
Cannabinoids CBD is a non psychoactive cannabinoid that has shown promise in treating various conditions, including anxiety, pain, inflammation, and more. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects. This makes it an ideal option for those who want the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the high.CBD is available in a variety of forms, including:
- Capsules: Cannabidiol capsules are taken like any other pill, with water.
- Tinctures: Tinctures are concentrated cannabis extracts taken orally (typically under the tongue) or added to food and drinks.
- Topicals: Cannabidiol-infused topicals are applied directly to the skin. They're great for localized pain relief and don't produce any psychoactive effects.
- Other sublinguals: Lozenges, sprays, film tabs, and dissolvable strips can be placed beneath the tongue. These items dissolve in the mouth in seconds, allowing CBD to enter the bloodstream.
CBD is also available in edibles, beverages, and vapes. However, it's important to note that the CBD content in these products can vary widely. Check the label to see how much CBD is in each serving.
If you're interested in trying CBD, we recommend starting with a low dose and gradually increasing as needed. This will help you avoid any negative side effects.
Cannabigerol (CBG) is one of the minor cannabinoids that has shown promise in treating various conditions, including pain, inflammation, anxiety, and more. CBGV is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid that has no mind-altering properties. CBG is extracted from cannabis plants that are still developing, and they have more CBG than fully grown plants. Like CBD, CBG is available in a variety of forms.
CBN doesn't get nearly as much recognition as it deserves. It's the opposite of intoxicating, making it ideal for taking before sleep. Most CBN products you see on the market come from growers who manipulated CBD into CBN.
Cannabicyclol (CBL) is a cannabinoid that's found in aged cannabis. CBL is created when Cannabichromene (CBC) degrades. Unlike most cannabinoids, CBL isn't psychoactive.
Cannabichromene (CBC) is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. CBC is often used to treat pain, inflammation, anxiety, and more.
Cannabidivarin (CBDV) is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid known for its anti-nausea and anti-epileptic effects. CBDV is often used to treat nausea, vomiting, and seizures.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a cannabinoid known for its psychoactive effects. THCV is often used to treat anxiety, pain, and inflammation.
What's the difference between a synthetic cannabinoid and a natural cannabinoid?
A synthetic cannabinoid is an artificial compound that's designed to mimic the effects of a natural cannabinoid. Natural cannabinoids are found in the cannabis plant.
What's the difference between a Cannabidiol and a Cannabinoid?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a type of cannabinoid, a class of compounds found in cannabis plants. There are over 100 different cannabinoids, each with its unique effects.
What's the difference between Cannabigerol and Cannabichromene
Cannabigerol (CBG) is a type of cannabinoid, while Cannabichromene (CBC) is a type of terpene. Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in all plants, not just cannabis. Cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce the desired effect.
How many cannabinoids are there?
There are over 100 different cannabinoids, each with its own unique effects. The cannabis industry continues to explore and discover new cannabinoids.
We hope this guide to cannabinoids was helpful! As more cannabinoid research is conducted, we will learn more about these unique compounds. Cannabinoids are just one of the many reasons why cannabis is such a versatile and healing plant!
Cannabis Derived Products from Panacea Wellness
At Panacea Wellness, we carry a full range of high-quality cannabis products. You can find everything here for your recreational or medical needs: high-quality flowers, pre-rolls, concentrates, edibles, tinctures, vape cartridges, beverages, and more. We also carry the best brands in the business, including our in-house brands, Nature's Heritage and Betty's Eddies.
We welcome all medical cannabis users to join us by signing up with us to assist us in providing you with better service. Visit our store, and we'll sign you up, or use our online form to become a patient.
For discreet delivery right to your door, visit our website or give us a call today. At Panacea, we're committed to your well-being!