What is THCP?

THCP is the new powerhouse cannabinoid on the block.

Medical cannabis THCP

THCP, which is short for tetrahydrocannabiphorol and scientifically known as (-)-Trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabiphorol, is a natural cannabinoid and analog of THC present in varieties of cannabis. It’s thought to be 33 times more active at cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors than THC, causing an intense and intoxicating euphoric high. 

THCP’s legality is stuck between conflicting federal legislation. It’s not explicitly listed as a controlled substance and might be protected by the 2018 Farm Bill. However, many believe it’s an illegal substance and belongs under the Federal Analogue Act (FAA).

The discovery of THCP is causing quite a storm. The mere thought of a cannabinoid stronger than THC is enough to get the cannabis world in quite the frenzy. 

What more do we know about THCP? How was it discovered? Does it have any benefits to you?

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 precisely. 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 than 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. Pain-relief could likely be more pronounced. It could also be a more potent sleep aid for those suffering from insomnia. Without any other substantial evidence to support its therapeutic use, we can only guess what it might be helpful for in the future. 

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. 

Is THCP legal?

Like delta-8 THC and delta-10 THC, THCP exists in a legal grey area. 

Despite not being listed as a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), THCP is still an analog of THC. All analogs of THC are prohibited under the Federal Analogue Act (FAA) by default unless removed by law. 

However, since THCP exists naturally in hemp carrying up to 0.3% THC, many argue it’s protected under the Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill), a critical piece of legislation federally legalizing hemp and all hemp derivatives (not including THC).

Are there any THCP products on the market?

Yes. Thanks to the growing interest in THCP, there are THCP products on the market. Right now, only a select few CBD brands stock and sell THCP labeled products but there’s concern over their safety. 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 difficult to recommend THCP products to you in good faith.

Brands currently selling THCP products include:

1. Spyglass Wellness

Spyglass Wellness is a CBD company located in Texas specializing in rare minor cannabinoids. The company recently began selling a THCP oil using medium-chain triglyceride as a carrier. The THCP oil is third-party tested and marketed as 30 times more potent than regular THC. 

THCP tincture oil

2. Binoid

Binoid is a popular CBD company based in California. The company stocks and sells a wide range of THCP vape cartridges. Each cartridge contains a mix of hemp-derived THCP, delta-8, and terpenes. The cartridges are said to induce a “potent and powerful mental and physical buzz”. 

THC-P vape cartridge

3. Bee’s Knee’s CBD’s

Bee’s Knee’s CBD’s is a Colorado-based CBD company that owns its own organic hemp farm. The company sells USDA Organic THCP gummies carrying 10 mg of CBD and 1 mg of THCP per gummy. The gummies are suitable for vegans and contain non-GMO ingredients with no artificial flavors or colors.

THC-P gummies

Considerably higher prices

THCP products currently available are priced higher than other CBD products. We imagine this will be off-putting for many users. For a pack of gummies carrying a small 1mg of THCP each, you’ll be paying $30 + shipping (that comes out to about $2 per serving). In comparison, CBD gummies (without THCP) cost about $1-$1.50 per serving.

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 products 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-THC. Others, however, aren’t so convinced, simply because the THCP content is so low.

Conclusion: THCP is one of the most interesting cannabinoids right now

THCP is one of the most interesting discoveries in the cannabis industry right now. The prospect of a natural cannabinoid being 30 times more active than THC at CB1 receptors is incredibly exciting. 

However, as with any new cannabinoid, there are concerns over its safety. Very few scientific studies verify its short and long-term side effects. We recommend some caution when buying THCP products. Make sure they’re third-party testing and sold by a credible vendor.