All You Need to Know About THCP

THCP is the new powerhouse cannabinoid on the block.

Written by

Mell Green

Mell is a cannabis connoisseur who has been published in nearly 50 online publications surrounding cannabis, including Cannabis Industry Association, Analytical Cannabis, Terpenes and Testing Magazine, Plant People, Byrdie, and...

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Medically reviewed byTanja Bagar, PhD

Medically reviewed by

Tanja Bagar, PhD

Tanja Bagar, PhD, is the co-founder, CEO and Chairman of the Expert Council of the ICANNA International Institute for Cannabinoids. She lectures in microbiology, biochemistry and topics on ecology at...

CBD Oracle's Editorial Process

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CBD Oracle’s primary mission is to provide accurate, evidence-based information, and our medical reviewers hold us accountable to this goal. The “medically reviewed” tag on our health and wellness articles means that an experienced medical professional or a researcher who specializes in cannabis has reviewed the content, evaluated the references, and confirmed that the information contained within reflects current scientific knowledge.


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Illustration: Layla Selestrini / CBD Oracle
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Tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) is a newly discovered cannabinoid that is significantly more potent and psychoactive than delta-9 THC.

If you’re considering THCP, you should be aware of its powerful effects and potential legal issues, as well as the possibility of testing positive on drug tests due to its metabolites.

Key Takeaways:

  • Effects and potency: THCP is known to bind more strongly to CB1 receptors than delta-9 THC, suggesting higher potency and stronger psychoactive effects. It could be several times more potent than delta-9 THC, but individual responses can vary widely.
  • Side effects and safety: As a potent cannabinoid, THCP may lead to intense effects, such as increased heart rate and strong psychoactivity. It is recommended for experienced users with caution due to its powerful nature.
  • Legality: Current THCP products on the market are legally derived from hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill if they contain less than 0.3% delta-9 THC. However, legality varies by state.
  • Drug testing: THCP metabolizes into THC-COOH, potentially causing a positive result in drug tests.

What Is THCP?

THC-P is short for tetrahydrocannabiphorol, and while this cannabinoid naturally appears in the cannabis plant, it wasn’t until 2019 that Italian researchers actually discovered it.

Backed by the UNIHEMP project, this comprehensive study helped reveal the presence of both THCP and CBDP — as well as how to synthesize THCP themselves. 

Even though THCP is in the cannabis plant naturally, it doesn’t have a significant presence. In fact, in most strains, THCP makes up less than 0.1% of all cannabinoids. This makes it difficult to easily extract and isolate the cannabinoid, as there just isn’t much to work with in the first place. It would take about 35 grams of cannabis to isolate 5 mg of THCP.

To date, there are no cannabis strains that are naturally high in THCP, so if you find cannabis being sold as high-THCP flower it is likely false advertising or flowers have been coated with a THCP distillate after harvest. 

Thus, extractors have started curating THCP on their own using hemp-derived CBD or more likely using biochemical precursors to synthetically create THCP in a laboratory. It is likely that no plants were involved in the supply chain of most THCP products on the market.

In general, the cannabis world simply doesn’t know much about THCP. We know what the recent 2019 study tells us, but that’s about it. The exact effects, how the cannabinoid works in the body, and its best applications are still a bit up in the air.  

THCP Effects: A Cannabinoid Stronger Than Delta-9? 

The THCP cannabinoid is very strong – likely more powerful than delta-9 THC – but without proper research, we cannot say for certain that it’s always stronger than delta-9.

Still, when people read about the THCP cannabinoid — particularly in the UNIHEMP study — one thing stands out the most: THCP’s ability to bind to the body’s CB1 receptor is 33 times better than delta-9 THC. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that THCP is over thirty times stronger than THC. Dr. Abraham Benavides, MD, a CBD Oracle Medical Advisor and cannabis coach at the GW Center for Integrative Medicine, explains why this is the case:

“The effects are certainly stronger but this rough estimate does not account for all of its potential effects. What this literally means is that the molecule THCP has 33 times better binding capacity to the CB1 receptor, and 5 to 10 times more binding at CB2.” 

He goes on to elaborate, “Our age, health conditions, medications, metabolism, and individual genetic mutations also change how many of these receptors are available for binding by THCP that also cause different effects not accounted for in this estimate. These are reasons why we cannot directly equate 33 times CB1 receptor binding with 33 times the effects, as there are many steps and variables in between.”

I would say THCP is probably 5-10 times more potent delta-9 and 10-20 times more potent than delta-8.

Tanja Bagar, PhD

Essentially the cannabinoid does have the potential to bring highly psychoactive effects, but we cannot say for sure just how much this activity reflects in potency. For most consumers, it’s likely that they are going to feel very, very high from this cannabinoid; but, the exact results are still slightly unknown.

In this THCP study, scientists began to suggest that the reason some strains feel a lot more potent than others may have to do with THCP levels. Those higher potency strains may have slightly higher THCP levels. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to see cultivars with high THCP levels in the future. 

Dr. Tanja Bagar is a CBD Oracle Medical Advisor and the CEO of the ICANNA Institute: the International Institute of Cannabinoids. When asked about the potency of THCP, she had this to say:

“This is also hard to guess, so THCP is definitely more potent than both delta-9 and delta-8 THC, but to what extent is hard to predict,” she explains. “If we were to say delta-8 THC is half as potent as delta-9 THC, then I would say THCP is probably 5-10 times more potent delta-9 and 10-20 times more potent than delta-8.”

However, as the doctor notes, this is just hypothetical, and we cannot tell for sure just how powerful this cannabinoid is. It really does vary on a case-by-case basis.

Does THCP Get You High? More Than You Might Like 

When people learn about new cannabinoids, one of the first questions they ask is: does it get you high? So, does THCP get you high? Is it psychoactive?

Yes, stoners may be happy to know that THCP can get them high — quite high, possibly. The exact potency of this cannabinoid still remains unknown, but with the ability to bind to the CB1 receptors over 30 times more than delta-9 THC, this suggests that THCP has some strong psychoactivity levels. 

Dr. Benavides explains THCP’s potency in greater detail: “Based on the tight binding and effects THCP had on mice in this study, we can expect greater psychoactive effects from THCP than either D9 or D8.” He says. “In short, the psychoactivity of THCP is much greater than D9, which is slightly greater than D8.”

Of course, the exact THCP experience you have is going to vary from person to person. Not everyone will find THCP as strong as others; but, still, it’s important to note that this cannabinoid is, indeed, intoxicating. And, it seems as though it’s much more intoxicating than most people realize. 

“Taking THCP is a bit like starting a Rube Goldberg machine with a hard hammer blow as opposed to a gentle tap,” explains Dr. Benavides. “We know it’s a stronger tool but don’t know if it’ll work the same way or throw key internal mechanisms off balance.”

Because of this, you want to make sure to only try this cannabinoid if you’re well-versed in the world of weed and have high cannabis tolerances. THCP will most likely be way too strong for those with low tolerances, especially newer consumers, and cause an unpleasant high.

RELATED: THCP vs. THC-O Acetate: Which Is Stronger?

We’ll talk more about proper dosing later, but it’s crucial to start with only a small amount of this psychoactive cannabinoid to see how your body reacts – while also closely monitoring.

Are There Any Medicinal Benefits of THCP? 

In terms of the actual medical effects of THCP, we can only speculate. “It will likely take many investigations before we understand the therapeutic potential and safety of THCP,” says Dr. Benavides. 

“However,” he explains, “we do know that THCP behaves more like a synthetic full CB1 agonist than THC, a partial agonist. We know that similar full CB1 synthetics were developed for and have beneficial therapeutic effects in the treatment of epilepsy, pain, nausea, and more.”

Many consumers have assumed that because THCP is higher in potency, this means it will be better for those with chronic, more deep-seated pains. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case.  

“According to many studies, we know there is substantial evidence that cannabis containing THC is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults,” says Dr. Benavides. “THC is a partial CB1 and CB2 agonist, while THCP acts more like a full CB1 and CB2 agonist. This means THCP also has the potential for treating pain and inflammation, but likely has a much narrower therapeutic dosage window than THC because of intense psychoactivity and adverse effects like increased heart rate and blood pressure.”

So, while THCP does appear to have potential applications, it likely won’t be nearly as effective as other cannabinoids simply due to the way that THC-P works in the body. Yes, the cannabinoid is powerful, but no, it’s not the most therapeutic option available.

Dr. Bagar notes that the cannabinoid may have the potential to “prove to be useful for patients recovering from severe injury, or elderly that have the tendency to wonder about aimlessly,” but these conclusions come explicitly from animal studies – not human ones.

THCP does appear to have potential applications, but we simply don’t know the extent of these uses, nor do we know how effective they could be.

The cannabinoid could be beneficial for those with chronic pain and discomfort, but more studies are needed before any conclusions can be drawn about the medicinal properties of this powerful compound.

The Risks and Side Effects of High-Potency Cannabinoids Like THCP

Consuming cannabinoids of any kind comes with the potential for side effects. New, unregulated cannabinoids also bring a bit of risk to consumers. 

To give you more detailed insights into the risks and side effects that THCP can bring, we asked Dr. Abraham Benavides for his expertise.

“The potential problems with this increased potency stem from the fact that THCP is closer to a full CB1 agonist, whereas D9 THC is naturally a partial agonist. Thus, it raises potential issues similar to synthetic cannabinoids that are full CB1 agonists occasionally used as recreational drugs (i.e. Spike, K2, Eclipse, etc),” he explains. 

“Full agonism at CB1 is not a pleasant switch to activate and not an easy one to turn off either. According to NIDA and reported by NASEM, this tight CB1 binding is associated with higher toxicities such as rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations (psychotic symptoms),” the doctor warns.

Benavides goes on to say, “It can also quickly raise blood pressure and lower blood supply to the heart, which in rare cases have been associated with heart attacks. It also quickly increases the risk of tolerance, withdrawal, and dependence.”    

In layman’s terms, the way that the THC-P compound works with the receptors in the body isn’t a gentle process, and it’s quite common for people to experience negative side effects because of it.

So, if you’re prone to anxiety, heart conditions, or psychotic conditions, this is likely a compound to avoid, say the experts.

The legality of cannabinoids seems to change every day. As of right now, the THCP cannabinoid is currently legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, the cannabinoid has to be derived from hemp and cannot contain more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. If it doesn’t meet these qualifications, the product is no longer federally legal. 

You can buy THCP online and have the products shipped to you in practically every state. However, some places have begun creating regulations on THC isomers like THCP, making them impossible to buy, possess, or enjoy in certain areas. Before you buy THCP online, it’s important to double-check the laws surrounding THC isomers in your state.

Does THCP Show Up on a Drug Test? 

While the THCP cannabinoid itself isn’t going to show up on a drug test, unfortunately, the cannabinoid will cause you to fail a drug test.

“THCP is most likely processed by the same metabolic enzymes which take synthetic and natural cannabinoids, and turn them into inactive metabolites including THC-COOH – the target of drug testing,” explains Dr. Benavides.

Since THCP breaks down in the body and produces THC-COOH, you will test positive for marijuana if you take a drug test. Again, the test isn’t going to say that you tested positive for THCP, specifically; instead, it will just detect the presence of cannabis. And that’s enough to fail, sadly.

If you have a drug test soon, it’s probably a safe bet that you avoid consuming THCP, as well as any other THC-based cannabinoids for several weeks beforehand.

Dosing THCP (Or Should We Say Microdosing?) 

Proper dosing is integral for any cannabinoid; however, it’s even more crucial for cannabinoids as powerful as THCP.

Dr. Benavides gives us a bit more detail about THCP dosing and proceeding with caution: “In humans, we don’t have any data to suggest what a proper dosage of THCP would look like to meet any health needs or day-to-day wellness,” he explains. “The dosages studied in the mice (2.5, 5, and 10 mg/kg) are likely too high for humans to experience in a pleasant way and open up the possibility of side effects.”

When trying to determine your dosing of THCP, Dr. Bagar suggests first thinking about your ideal dosage of THC:

“When considering using THCP, at least cut the dose to half of what you would normally use with [delta-9] THC. But my recommendation would be even lower, to start with 1/10,” she explains. “So, if you are good with using let’s say 20 mg of THC, then it would be best to start with 2 mg of THCP and see how the effects work for you.”

The Biggest Factors to Look for When Buying THCP

Right now, you may not be able to find an abundance of THCP products because the cannabinoid is still so new to the mainstream market. However, if you do come across online THCP products, here are some things you should look for.

First and foremost, you only want to buy from reputable brands that offer copies of their third-party lab test results. These COAs are integral in illustrating the quality and safety of your products, and you never want to buy cannabinoid products without viewing them first. These documents show that the product has been tested for potency as well as purity.

“Be sure to look for quality products that have been independently lab tested to verify purity and vet for contamination,” explains Dr. Benavides. “Commercial THCP products are more likely to be synthetic and therefore have leftover unwanted residues and byproducts.” And even trace amounts of these residues and byproducts can have harmful effects.

It’s also important to buy from an already-established brand. Brands that have been curating cannabinoid products for years are much more likely to have higher-quality products than those who just started making THCP and nothing else. Take a look at customer reviews as well as any testimonials that pop up about the brand. This will tell you what you need to know about the company.

RELATED: The Best THCP Vape Cartridges

In general, you want to look for THCP products that provide ample product information, have comprehensive COAs, and demonstrate high customer reviews. Again, make sure you proceed with caution as we continue to learn more about this cannabinoid; but, with these things to look for, you’re sure to come across the best brands around for your THCP products. 

Exploring New Cannabinoids 

The cannabis industry is going to continue to expand as the years go on, and the list of new cannabinoids is sure to get longer and longer. No matter what cannabinoid is discovered (or curated), it’s important to proceed with caution and only stick with products from the best, most reputable brands.

Last medically reviewed on June 6, 2023

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