What is THCP?

THCP is the new powerhouse cannabinoid on the block.

Medical cannabis THCP

At present, there are roughly 150 known cannabinoids in varieties of cannabis. The two most famous cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Other common cannabinoids include cannabinol (CBN), cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabichromene (CBC).

Most of these cannabinoids were discovered over 40 years ago. However, new and exciting cannabinoids are starting to be discovered thanks to advanced cannabis analysis technology. 

At the end of 2019, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP), a newly-founded cannabinoid said to be more intoxicating than its famous THC cousin, was reported.  

This discovery has gotten the cannabis world in quite a frenzy. The mere thought of a cannabinoid stronger than THC is enough to get medical and recreational users, as well as cannabis brands and manufacturers, curious about its potential. Publications all across the internet have jumped on THCP, some believing it’s the next best thing in the cannabis industry. 

But how much do we really know about this elusive cannabinoid beyond the initial hype?

How and when was THCP discovered?

THCP was first shown to the world on 30th December 2019 via an open-access Scientific Reports journal titled, “A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol…”. 

The title, alone, is enough to make even the most casual cannabis users’ ears prick up in curiosity. 

What is this new cannabinoid? How was it discovered? What does this mean for the entire cannabis landscape as a whole?

THCP was discovered by accident

The study was conducted by a team of Italian researchers. They used advanced mass-spectrometry and liquid chromatography technology on a natural (not synthetic) cannabis sample (FM2) provided by the Military Chemical Institute in Florence, Italy.

The mass-spectrometry and liquid chromatography analysis allowed the researchers to analyze the plant matter on a very precise level. During this process, THCP was found by chance. A total accident. 

THCP is thirty times more effective than THC at binding with CB1 receptors

Once the shellshock of discovering a new cannabinoid subsided, the team recognized THCP as almost identical to THC…with a twist. 

You see, naturally-occurring cannabinoid molecules have alkyl side chains. Alkyl side chains are strings of carbon atoms. If you look at a chemical structure diagram of THC or CBD, the alkyl side chains look like the tails attached to an animal.

These alkyl side chains indicate how the cannabinoid will interact with your endocannabinoid system (ECS) — specifically your cannabinoid receptors. 

There must be at least three carbon atoms in an alkyl side chain present for the cannabinoid to have some efficacy on your cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1). THC has five, which is partly the reason for the “high” or “stoned” feeling you get from THC consumption.

Now, here’s the real kicker. 

THCP has seven carbon atoms in its alkyl side chain. A previous synthetic seven carbon chain derivative of THC (JWH 091) proved to be two times more effective at binding with CB1 receptors in comparison to THC. 

However, when the Italian team tested its naturally-sourced THCP on human receptors, it was thirty times more effective at binding with CB1 receptors, thus begging the question: 

“What are the therapeutic benefits of THCP consumption?”

Researchers also discovered CBDP…

Alongside THCP, researchers also uncovered cannabidiphorol (CBDP), a cannabinoid also with a seven hydrocarbon chain. CBDP is also known more formally as CBD-C7 or CBD-heptyl

Compared to THCP, less is known about CBDP. Researchers don’t think it’s a priority right now, simply because CBD itself has little efficacy with CB1 and CB2 receptors. It’s, therefore, unlikely the extra two links in the chain will increase the likelihood of cannabinoid receptor binding. 

As it stands, no research into CBDP and its effects is underway. 

What can THCP do for you and your body?

This is a good question and one that we don’t fully know yet. More studies need to be conducted before we can say with some certainty what THCP can do for you and your body. 

When studying the effects of THCP on human cannabinoid receptors, the Italian team uncovered physiological effects including:

  • Hypomobility
  • Pain-relief (analgesia) 
  • Decreased temperature in the rectum 

These effects are essentially identical to THC’s but with added horsepower. Without any other substantial evidence to support its therapeutic use, we can only guess what it might be useful for in the future. Pain-relief could likely be more pronounced. It could also be a more potent sleep-aid for those suffering from insomnia. 

Recreationally, some users will have fun with the added potency. The resulting “high” from a THCP-rich cannabis strain or product could produce some pretty powerful effects. Paired with other cannabinoids and terpenes, the effects might be more sedating, energizing, or soothing. 

Have you been consuming THCP inadvertently? 

It’s probable that you’ve inadvertently consumed THCP at some point in your life. Many now believe a very strong and unexpected “high” could be caused by a combo of THC and THCP, as opposed to THC on its own. This makes sense. Cannabis compounds don’t suddenly begin to exist when they’re discovered. They’ve been there the whole time. 

Side-effects of THCP

The side-effects of THCP are somewhat unknown. Again, this is a new cannabinoid and exclusive THCP side-effects (short and long-term) have yet to be recorded properly. 

However, since THCP is similar to THC, we can assume side-effects are similar between the two. Common THC side-effects include:

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiousness
  • Self-consciousness
  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Alertness
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Memory loss (temporary)
  • Sickness
  • Vomiting

Because THCP is said to bind more effectively to your CB1 receptor, we assume the side-effects may be more pronounced. Care and consideration should be taken if (or when) you decide to consume THCP products. 

Are there any THCP products on the market?

There’s growing interest in THCP. Many cannabis brands want to capitalize on it. Right now, only a few select cannabis brands have released THCP labeled products but many users are concerned. With a lack of real scientific studies and research on what this cannabinoid can do to you in the short and long-term, it’s up to your own judgment. 

Brands currently selling THCP products

WNC CBD, a highly-praised cannabis company based in North Carolina, is one of the first companies to take THCP and put it into an edible gummy product. 

Sold under an “only for experienced CBD users” disclaimer, the company clearly knows the potential power here. A cannabinoid supposedly thirty times stronger than THC? That’s enough to put any disclaimer on a product. Also enough to potentially blow your head off. 

WNC CBD continues its product description with feedback from its users. Apparently, consumption of its THCP gummies have a “strong effect” and feel more “recreational”. The seven carbon atoms instead of five results in “greater biological activity to CB receptors” where “even small doses can have a great effect”.

Considerably higher prices

What we noticed about WNC CBD’s THCP gummies is the higher price. We imagine this will be off-putting for many users. For a two-pack of gummies carry a small 0.3 mg of THCP each., you’ll be met with a $25 price + shipping. For a five-pack of THCP gummies, you’ll be paying double ($50). In the eyes of many, the cost is outrageous.

The question on everyone’s lips, however, is: “Are they good value for the money you pay?”. 

We’re not sure. Our first thoughts are THCP gummies are filling a profitable gap in the market. Naturally, any new and exciting product not commonly sold will be stamped with a mark-up price until numerous competitors start producing their own THCP products.

What are people saying about THCP products?

In terms of THCP effects? On a personal level, we haven’t had the chance to try them. Again, anecdotal stories across the internet claim positive results with a few people saying it gives them a really satisfying high similar to delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8-THC). Others, however, aren’t so convinced, simply because the THCP content is so low.