What is THCP? A New & Uncommon Cannabinoid


In the evolving world of the cannabis industry, it's easy to overlook some of the more uncommon components of this versatile plant. After all, THC and CBD seem to take all the limelight. But, yet again, there's a new kid on the block. Move aside CBG and CBN, THCP, short for tetrahydrocannabiphorol, has arrived.


Discovered in 2019, THCP (along with THCB) is the cannabis plant's recent reveal.


Why all the buzz, you ask?


Well, initial studies suggest that THCP could pack a punch with potency up to 30 times that of regular THC (delta-9). The potential for more pronounced benefits has people exploring its uses, from pain management to mood enhancement. So far, this cannabinoid is legal as long as it’s derived from hemp, but its psychoactive nature could change the legal status of this cannabinoid in the future — but only time will tell.


This article discusses what makes this newly discovered cannabinoid unique, its potential therapeutic effects, how it feels, and its legal status.


Key Takeaways:

THCP is a novel cannabinoid discovered in 2019, recognized for its strong affinity for the CB1 receptor and potentially potent effects.

THCP's chemical structure is similar to THC, but it contains a propyl chain (three carbon atoms) compared to THC's pentyl chain (five carbon atoms). This difference could influence how it interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system.

Due to its trace amounts in cannabis plants, producing THCP products involves complex chemical processes, and the quality of these products can vary significantly.

THCP is believed to have stronger psychoactive effects than THC, resulting in an intensified high, but it may also cause discomfort or distress for some individuals.

Research on THCP is still in its early stages, and much about its potential benefits, side effects, and long-term effects remain unknown.

What Exactly is THCP?

Tetrahydrocannabiphorol, or THCP, is a rare cannabinoid discovered in 2019 when a team of researchers, using advanced liquid chromatography techniques, isolated the compound from the cannabis plant [1].


From a molecular perspective, THCP shares a striking similarity with delta-9 THC, the most famous cannabinoid for its wide-ranging therapeutic benefits and psychoactive effects.


However, where the THC molecule has a pentyl chain (five carbon atoms), THCP takes it up a notch with a heptyl chain containing seven carbon atoms. This might seem like a minor difference, but the shape of the cannabinoid significantly affects how THCP interacts with the human body.


Our bodies are equipped with a complex system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is key to maintaining overall balance (homeostasis) and well-being. The ECS responds to cannabinoids like delta-9 THC and THCP through its receptors, CB1 and CB2.


Thanks to its extended carbon chain, THCP is believed to bind with the CB1 receptor more strongly than THC, potentially resulting in more potent effects [2].


When it comes to its natural presence in the cannabis plant, THCP is a rare find.


It's present in trace amounts, often less than 1% of the plant's chemical composition.


Extracting and isolating THCP is a complex process due to its low concentration, so most THCP available on the market is not directly extracted from the plant. Instead, it's created in laboratories by transforming other naturally derived cannabinoids, like THC or CBD, into THCP through meticulous chemical processes.


Twin Discovery: THCP and THCB

THCP was discovered alongside another rare psychoactive cannabinoid, THCB (tetrahydrocannabinol) — both of which are incredibly potent in comparison to their popular counterpart, delta-9 THC.


This elevated potency is linked to their extended carbon chains—THCP boasts a heptyl chain with seven carbon atoms, while THCB flaunts a butyl chain with four.


Despite their shared potency, the effects of THCP and THCB differ due to their unique chemical structures and the way they interact with our body's endocannabinoid system.


Both cannabinoids are believed to bind strongly with CB1 receptors, leading to potential psychoactive effects. However, THCP, with its longer carbon chain, is hypothesized to bind even more strongly, potentially leading to more pronounced effects.


The intensity of these effects largely depends on the individual, the dosage, and the method of consumption. As with any cannabinoid, particularly those with psychoactive properties, it's crucial to exercise caution, start with a low dose, and pay close attention to your body's reactions.



THCP and THC a detailed table comparison


Chemical Composition

THCP and THC belong to the same cannabinoid family but differ significantly in their chemical structures and effects. THC, the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana plants, has a pentyl chain (five carbon atoms).


In contrast, THCP, or tetrahydrocannabiphorol, outstretches its cousin with a heptyl chain holding seven carbon atoms. This structural variation has a crucial bearing on their affinity for the body's CB1 and CB2 receptors, leading to possibly different psychoactive effects.


Concentration in Cannabis Plants

In marijuana, the concentration of THC can reach up to 30%, making it the most prominent cannabinoid in the plant.


In stark contrast, THCP plays hide-and-seek in the verdant maze of cannabis.


It's regarded as a trace cannabinoid, constituting less than 1% of the plant's chemical composition. This low concentration renders THCP a precious rarity compared to other more abundant minor cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, CBN, and CBG.


Accessibility and Availability

The prevalence of THC means it's widely available in a host of forms, from oils, edibles, vapes, to topicals. It's the star of marijuana products and has appeared in more products derived from legal hemp plants as long as it abides by the less than 0.3% of dried weight rule set by the Farm Bill.


However, THCP remains elusive.


Given its trace presence in the cannabis plant, isolating and extracting THCP is a complex task. This rarity implies that THCP-specific products aren't readily available and may be harder to find.


Research and Understanding

When it comes to research, THC is undoubtedly the valedictorian.


Because of its recent discovery, there's not as much THCP research regarding its potential medicinal benefits and implications for long-term users.


Early studies and anecdotal evidence hint at significant potency and therapeutic promise due to THCP's superior binding affinity to CB1 receptors. However, much more research is required to understand and unlock THCP's potential fully.


The medicinal applications of THC, including its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, are well-documented, but its intoxicating effects also contribute to its notoriety.


What Does THCP Feel Like?

Because THCP is a recent discovery and research on its effects is still early, personal experiences can vary widely.


Given its enhanced binding affinity to the CB1 receptor, THCP is considered to be approximately 30 times more potent than traditional THC.


This means the effects can be more pronounced, potentially leading to a stronger, more intense euphoric feeling with smaller doses.


Users have reported heightened feelings of relaxation, altered perception, and increased introspection. In some cases, individuals have noted a greater intensity in the typical effects associated with THC, such as enhanced sensory perception.


While these effects may sound appealing, they can also be overwhelming, especially for novice users or those with a low tolerance to cannabinoids. Therefore, most are not recommended to start their cannabis journey with THCP.


However, if you want to try it for yourself, it's advisable to start with a low dose and gradually increase it as your comfort and tolerance levels allow.


Please keep in mind everyone's reaction to THCP could be different, as the effects of cannabinoids are often influenced by factors such as individual body chemistry, the method of consumption, and the presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes.


Despite the lack of comprehensive scientific studies, anecdotal evidence from those who have used THCP suggests potential benefits similar to those associated with THC, including pain relief, anti-inflammatory properties, and mood elevation.


Risks and Side Effects with THCP

Potent Psychoactivity

THCP is a potent psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning its effects on the mind can be strong and potentially overwhelming.


Users may experience psychological distress, including anxiety or paranoia, particularly at higher doses or in individuals who are not accustomed to the psychoactive effects of cannabis.


Additionally, the altered perception and potential impairment of decision-making capabilities can lead to poor motor coordination. This can increase the risk of accidents or injuries, particularly if one attempts to drive or operate heavy machinery under the influence of THCP.


Quality of THCP Products

Another significant area of concern surrounding THCP pertains to the quality and safety of available products.


Due to the trace amounts of THCP found naturally in cannabis plants, producing THCP products involves complex chemical processes. These methods can sometimes lead to unsafe products, especially if manufacturers take shortcuts or lack appropriate quality controls.


Moreover, as the cannabis industry continues to evolve, the regulation and testing standards for these new cannabinoids are still catching up.


This means some THCP products on the market may not have been tested for safety, purity, or potency. In some cases, products may not contain the advertised amount of THCP or contain contaminants harmful to health.


The Need for More Research

Finally, a significant risk associated with THCP lies in the unknown.


While initial research on THCP is promising, we're still in the early stages of understanding this cannabinoid. Much about its long-term effects, interactions with other substances, and potential health benefits remain unknown.


Frequently Asked Questions About THCP

Is THCP legal?

Unlike delta-9THC, THCP isn't specifically listed as a Controlled Substance at the federal level in the United States. However, regulations may vary by state or country, and laws surrounding cannabis and its derivatives are subject to change.


Currently, most people apply an interpretation of the 2018 Farm Bill that states hemp-derived cannabinoids are federally legal as long as they maintain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC in the final product.


Always check your local regulations before purchasing or using THCP products.


How do THCP and THCB compare?

Both THCP and THCB are relatively new discoveries in the world of cannabinoids, and they share similarities in terms of their strong affinity for the CB1 receptor and their potentially potent effects.


However, there are differences in their chemical structures, which can influence how they interact with the body. Because these cannabinoids are so new, there's still a lot we don't know about their potential therapeutic benefits and risks associated with their use.


How do THCP and THCA compare?

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the non-psychoactive precursor to THC. It converts to THC when exposed to heat in a process called decarboxylation.


THCP, on the other hand, is a psychoactive cannabinoid with a stronger affinity for the CB1 receptor than THC or THCA. Because THCP is psychoactive and THCA is not, so their effects on the body can differ.


Does THCP show up on a drug test?

Most standard drug tests are designed to detect THC and its metabolites, not THCP. However, because THCP has a similar structure to THC, it's possible that it could trigger a false positive on a drug test. Additionally, if a THCP product also contains THC, use of the product could result in a positive test for THC.


Are there existing marijuana strains that contain higher levels of THCP?

Because THCP is present in such small quantities in the cannabis plant, identifying and breeding strains for higher THCP content could be a complex and time-consuming process.


As research and interest in THCP continue to grow, this may change in the future.


The Takeaway: What is THCP?

THCP is a fascinating addition to the ever-expanding family of cannabinoids. While its high potency and potential benefits make it an interesting compound for researchers and cannabis enthusiasts, the lack of comprehensive studies and legal ambiguity warrant caution.


If you're considering trying THCP, remember to start slow, pay attention to how your body reacts, and always ensure that you're purchasing from a trusted source that can provide third-party lab results to prove its safety.


As with any cannabis product, staying updated with the latest research and legal changes is important. The world of cannabis is vast and continually evolving, and there's always something new to discover.

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