I’m sure you already know why you’re here. You’ve just discovered the term tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and you have no idea what it is, which is totally understandable — it’s not particularly common knowledge even though it should be.
Because THC isn’t cannabidiol (CBD). In fact, it’s a totally different beast and many inexperienced users don’t realize this. Whilst it has so many awesome benefits, it’s still intoxicating and has the ability to impair your mind beyond what you may feel comfortable with. Therefore, it’s important for you to recognize what THC can do for you, what it can do to you, and how to use it safely and responsibly.
Everything you need to know about THC (at a glance):
THC is one of the 113 cannabinoids found in varieties of cannabis
The DEA still classifies THC as a schedule 1 substance. It is, therefore, illegal on a federal level
THC is used to treat a variety of illnesses, including chronic pain and symptoms from terminal diagnoses
Unlike CBD, it produces a “high” or otherworldly feeling
Care needs to be taken when dosing THC — its intoxicating properties can be overwhelming for beginners
You can’t die from ingesting too much THC but it can have side effects
Methods of putting THC into your body include vaping and oral/sublingual application (such as edibles and oils)
THC 101 Guide
Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a comprehensive guide for you to follow. We’ll both look at what THC actually is, how it makes you feel, and how to use it properly — we’ll also discover ways to take it and how much to take if you’re a beginner or experienced user.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
THC is a psychotropic and intoxicating cannabinoid
As with any deep-dive into a cannabinoid, the first thing you’re probably going to do is search for what THC actually is. Well, if you’ve stumbled on this page you’ve come to the right place!
THC, which is an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, is arguably the most famous cannabinoid found in varieties of cannabis. It’s also the only intoxicating and psychotropic cannabinoid present in cannabis, which makes it popular amongst users who enjoy a “high” or “otherworldly” feeling.
The discovery of THC
If you do a quick Google search on who discovered THC, you’ll most likely encounter an Israeli natural products chemist named Dr. Ralph Mechoulam. He’s widely regarded as the top guy who first isolated THC from varieties of cannabis in 1963. He also discovered how different it is to CBD in terms of the functions and effects within your body, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
THC will get you high. CBD won’t. (THC vs CBD)
Despite THC and CBD being almost identical on a molecular level, they’re both very different in terms of how you feel
THC is intoxicating and makes you feel high; CBD isn’t intoxicating and won’t make you feel high
This “high” or, rather, the otherworldly feeling is very popular amongst users who want something more than just the subtle feels of relaxation attributed to CBD.
THC is more effective for sleep and insomnia due to its intoxicating effects
As we’ll explore later in this guide, more care needs to be taken with THC. The side-effects can be much harsher and a little more frightening, particularly for rookie users unaccustomed to the power of this intoxicating cannabinoid.
How CBD and THC can help you
Both THC and CBD have various uses, both recreationally and medicinally. Most recreational THC users simply want to relax and explore the “high”. However, medicinally, THC usage has proven to help with chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, and appetite loss.
CBD, on the other hand, isn’t so much a “recreational” cannabinoid (though we guess it could be if you’re simply looking for some subtle relaxation). Instead, CBD is more of a helping hand to improve your overall wellness. CBD is commonly known for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as an effective anti-anxiety compound (public speaking anxiety specifically).
Chemical makeup of THC
So, I just mentioned that THC and CBD are almost identical on a molecular level. But how so? Well, both have 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms.
That means they’re the same, right? No. Not at all. The atoms are arranged much differently from each other, which affects how they interact with your endocannabinoid system. THC’s molecular makeup allows it to successfully bind to your brain’s cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1). This, my friends, is when the “high” really begins.
You can extract THC (and other cannabinoids) through different methods
I’m sure you’ve already heard about cannabis extraction but still have absolutely no idea what it means. It’s all good. It’s a complicated subject for beginners.
Although there are numerous cannabis extraction methods currently being used to isolate cannabinoids, there are typically two umbrella terms used: “solvent” and “solventless”.
In very simple terms, volatile solvents are used to break down a solid into a liquid — or, in this case, break the cannabis trichomes (where the cannabinoids are held) away from plant material ready to be extracted from the resulting liquid formula.
Solvents can be liquids, gases, or solids depending on the extractor’s preference. The most popular solvents used are Co2 and ethanol, though it’s not rare for propane hash oil (PHO) and butane hash oil (BHO) to be used as well. Co2 is commonly referred to as the safest and cleanest way of extracting cannabinoids and terpenes.
Solventless extraction is exactly what it says on the tin: extraction without the use of solvents — funny that!
Dry-sift extraction, for example, is the art of, well, hand-sifting dried cannabis flower using wire mesh screens (usually three screens). This helps remove the trichomes from the flower, leaving you with the cannabinoids you desire!
As a general rule, solventless extraction methods are often seen as the safest way to extract cannabinoids if you’re doing DIY extraction.
What is THC oil?
Just to clear up any confusion, THC oil is also known as marijuana oil or cannabis oil. It’s totally different from hemp oil and hemp-derived CBD oil. Whilst hemp-derived CBD oil contains less than 0.3% THC, marijuana-derived THC and CBD oil contain a much higher percentage due to the use of high-THC cannabis strains.
Can you vape THC oil?
THC oil isn’t the same as THC vape oil. You typically apply the former sublingually and use the latter in a vape pen. There’s some confusion around this, however. There are quite a few companies mislabelling THC oils as THC vape oils as if they’re interchangeable terms. This is flat-out wrong and inaccurate.
THC oils are not there to be vaped. You should buy THC e-liquid or THC vape juice which is clearly specified as such on the label. THC is usually not the only cannabinoid in the mix. Vaping THC can also be a safer option than smoking.
Remember, if you’re going to get THC vape oil or e-liquid, make sure it’s from a reputable company. There have known fatalities from people inhaling shitty products.
Sublingual THC oil application
THC oil is very popular because it’s so convenient to use! You don’t have to be a high IQ genius to figure out how to put it into your body.
I recommend using THC oils sublingually (placing it under your tongue for 15-20 seconds and then chasing it down with some water). Most bottles come with a squeezable bulb and a rounded nozzle to accurately measure out your dose. If you really dislike the taste of natural cannabis extract, you can find flavored THC oils.
You can also simply place the oil in your favorite beverage, but don’t go expecting it to be all that effective. Oil and water don’t mix well. It’s better to get a water-soluble THC/cannabis product.
Dosing for beginners: don’t overdo it!
It’s certainly difficult to give you a 100% accurate THC dosing guide without knowing your body weight, your body fat percentage, or your THC tolerance. Personally, when I first started smoking joints, I was very young and quite stupid. I didn’t care how much I was putting into my body. It was fun, but I wouldn’t recommend taking this route. Prior knowledge of how much to take when you’re first starting out is pretty important. You don’t want to have a shit experience and totally ruin your first time.
I recommend starting as low as possible. Stick to anything that’s 5 mg of THC or below. This will save you from taking too much all in one go and having a really shitty experience.
2-3 mg of THC
Perfect if you’re a beginner or you microdose during the day
Relieves mild pain and inflammation
Combats mild stress & anxiety symptoms
Can help with concentration and focus
Won’t be overwhelming
3.5-10 mg of THC
Much stronger. Better for beginners looking to transition to a higher strength without being overbearing
Fantastic for mild euphoria
Does have the capacity to alter your mind frame and impair judgment
Useful for more chronic pain and inflammation
10-25 mg of THC
Not for beginners. Starting here will probably make you unpleasantly high
Helpful for chronic pain and inflammation, though it may make anxiety and stress symptoms worse
Typically given to medical patients with a higher tolerance to THC
25-50 mg of THC
Suitable for seasoned THC/marijuana users. Beginners should stay away from this. You won’t enjoy the high at all unless you have a Superman insensitivity to THC
THC’s benefits are well-documented
The benefits of THC are well-documented. In fact, THC still remains the most widely researched cannabinoid (even overtaking CBD!). Most believe THC only serves to get you as baked as possible, but this kind of thinking doesn’t really do it justice — at all.
You see, THC comes with a whole range of health benefits backed by some trusty old science!
The medical uses of THC/cannabis are still continuing. Cannabis-derived products and medicines with THC in them are becoming slightly more commonplace in the medical field — though it is still met with some resistance from anti-cannabis campaigners and the FDA.
Currently, Epidiolex, is the only FDA-approved cannabis-derived drug being used to treat rare and severe epilepsy — the drug only contains CBD and not THC, though.
Medical marijuana, which is exactly the same as the stuff you use recreationally, is often used for the following:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Despite having some pretty amazing benefits, THC can also kick your ass and give you some pretty strong side-effects, which is why some first-time users (and some experienced users, FYI) can get a pretty nasty shock. This usually happens if you’re particularly sensitive to THC or you’ve simply taken way too much.
THC’s side-effects include:
Elevated heart rate
Panic & anxiety
Red & bloodshot eyes
Anxiety (at higher doses)
Impaired thinking & memory loss
To avoid potential side-effects, take it easy, especially if you’re a beginner. Don’t rush the experience and make sure you have a trusted (and sober) friend with you. Also, remember, these side-effects are only temporary. I’ve outlined what you should do if you get way too baked in the sections below.
THC’s effects on your brain
The effects of not only THC but the entire cannabis family on the brain has been very well documented. I’m sure you’ve all heard archaic and downright inaccurate ideas of THC killing mass amounts of brain cells and causing people to be permanent zombies. However, there’s so much more to it than that — and it’s not all about stoners rolling around on the ground with big red eyes.
There’s quite a lot that goes on in your brain you might not know about such as:
There’s also research to suggest long-term marijuana use can cause mental health problems for teenagers and adolescents as well.
Does THC get you high?
THC gets you high. There’s absolutely no question about that. If you’ve ever smoked a joint or consumed a few edibles, you’ll know exactly what it feels like! However, the type of high you feel really all depends on the CBD:THC ratio. Naturally, the higher the THC content, the more baked you’re going to get.
However, there are times where THC will more than likely not get you high. This is typically at very low doses. Hemp-derived CBD oil with 0.3% THC or less won’t get you “high” unless you gulp a whole bottle, and even then you probably won’t fly into the sky. Even a 0.5-1 mg dose of THC probably won’t be enough unless you’re particularly sensitive to it.
How long a THC high lasts depends on a number of things
I’ve personally smoked joints that have either catapulted me up to the moon for a long time or given me a buzz for a short while. As a general rule of thumb, a “high” from varieties of cannabis containing THC can last anywhere between 2 to 10 hours.
This timescale depends on quite a few things:
The CBD:THC ratio (the higher the THC content, the higher you’ll be!)
The amount you put into your body
Your metabolism, body weight, and body fat
Your overall tolerance to THC
Whether or not you have an empty stomach
You can’t overdose on THC
You can’t overdose on THC per se, but you can get so high you won’t know your ass from your elbow. This can be particularly uncomfortable, especially as the THC starts flowing through your mind and body. If you’ve ever experienced this, you’ll know exactly what I mean! If you’re ever in this state again, remember there have been no recorded fatalities from putting too much THC into your body. The anxiety you can get from too much may make you feel like you’re on your way to the gates of heaven, but this is just a byproduct of the THC in you. Don’t panic.
Steps to take if you’ve consumed too much THC
If you’re in a safe but uncomfortable state of being way too high, first remember what I mentioned above: There have been no recorded fatalities from consuming too much THC. This will help you get a sense of yourself.
In terms of practical solutions, your safest option is to not get so baked. If you’re a certified beginner (or you know your THC tolerance is really low), I suggest anywhere up to 5 mg of THC — no more than this. It’s also worth keeping a trusted (and sober) friend around you just in case you find yourself becoming too high.
Other practical tips to help you here include:
Consuming CBD helps balance out your THC high. Research shows CBD can actually counteract the bad feelings of too much THC.
Black pepper, lemon, and/or pine nuts are known to heal your THC-induced anxiousness. Lemon (and other citrus fruits), in particular, are very effective in combating the negative feelings of too much THC intake.
Sleep/rest – putting your head down, following your own breathing, and allowing the high to pass is pretty damned crucial here.
THC half-life: How long does THC stay in your system? (hair, urine, saliva, blood)
The question of how long THC stays in your system is so common. Maybe you have a drug test for work coming up and you smashed back a huge bowl a couple of weeks ago. Or maybe you had a quick hit of a joint a couple of months ago and you’re worried it’ll show up. Either way, it’s a slight panic, isn’t it?
So, let’s have a look at the length of time THC stays in your system and how long it’s detectable on a drug test:
Hair – at least 60 days
Urine – at least 70 days
Blood – at least 7 days
Saliva – at least 7 days
The amount of THC needed in your body for it to be detectable is as follows:
Hair – No cutoff limit
Urine – 50 nanograms per milliliter
Blood – 1, 2, and 5 nanograms per milliliter
Saliva – 4 nanograms per milliliter
Side note: You should always expect THC to be detectable for 60 days irrespective of whether you’re a heavy user or not. If you’re a beginner, you may pass it much earlier but don’t always count on that. The best way to pass a drug test is to not consume cannabis at all.
There are four different types of THC
Tetrahydrocannabolic acid (THCA)
THCA is the precursor acid of THC
It’s completely non-intoxicating (it won’t get you high or alter your mental state)
It’s the most abundant non-intoxicating cannabinoid in fresh, growing, and undried varieties of cannabis
Once THCA is heated (via smoking, etc), it then turns into THC
A study showed delta-9 THC’s effectiveness in preventing cancer-induced nausea and vomiting in child patients
If you ever anyone mention THC, they’re more than likely talking about delta-9 THC. In fact, I’ve been talking about this phytocannabinoid throughout this whole guide
Delta-9 THC is the most well-known and most popular phytocannabinoid in varieties of cannabis (alongside CBD)
Delta-9 THC is the primary psychoactive phytocannabinoid in varieties of cannabis
There is a multitude of ways to get THC into your body:
THC vape juice
If you really dislike the idea of inhaling smoke from joints or bowls, THC vape juices are a solid alternative to smoking cannabis flower — there’s very little smell and you typically don’t get a rough taste after you’ve consumed it. This makes them pretty popular amongst most cannabis users. However, because THC vape juices come in different flavors, it can be so, so easy to get carried away. Be careful here.
You can’t ingest THC vape juice by putting the liquid into your mouth and swallowing it — it isn’t a THC oil. You need to invest in a decent vape kit.
THC oil pen
THC oil pens are incredibly popular amongst users who want to inhale cannabis-derived products without putting any kind of smoke into the lungs.
Most THC oil pens come with preloaded cartridges with the oil already inside of them. You can also get refillable tanks to fill up yourself with individually bought THC vape oil or e-liquid. The former is certainly more convenient. If you do decide to get a THC vape pen or kit with an empty tank, make sure you get a product with a syringe capable of putting the oil into it.
THC flower (also known as “bud”, “herb”, and “nug”) is the smokable part of varieties of cannabis — it’s what you put in a joint, a bowl, or a blunt (or edibles). Most users purchase a “grinder” to grind up the flower into smaller, more manageable chunks.
THC wax is extremely potent and is not for beginners. Most THC waxes typically provide you with 30-35% THC content. However, some waxes can go up to 70, 80, or 90% THC. This is an outrageous amount of THC to consume at one time and should only be left to experienced users if they dare try it. The side-effects can be pretty harsh and very, very unpleasant! On the other hand, if you’re an experienced user, THC wax will certainly satiate your hunger for a nice high.
I recommend breaking up some of the wax into smaller chunks and putting it into a joint of high-CBD flower — the CBD will counteract the effects of THC and give you a more rounded buzz.
THC tampons (otherwise known as cannabis or marijuana tampons) are for all you ladies out there, especially during a certain time of the month where your PMS pain can either be mild or pretty severe. You use them the same way you would use a regular tampon. Place it in the vagina and wait for the magic to work!
THC tea is very easy to make yourself actually. You don’t need any weird, fiddly equipment. All you need to do is put some cannabis flower into some hot water and wait for it to infuse effectively — I recommend waiting 5 or 10 minutes before you drink it. Remember, though, THC isn’t particularly water-soluble, so you’re not really going to get an intense high, especially if you have a high tolerance.
THC isolates are typically the strongest products you can buy. Through careful extraction processes, the THC is isolated from all the other cannabinoids present in the extract and made into powder form. Most isolates will contain anywhere between 90-99% THC, which is a huge amount and not something I recommend to any beginners — ever.
THC pills are simple to dose and very easy for you to consume. They typically come as softgels or in a hardshell form. The former contains liquified cannabis extract and the latter contains small chunks of ground-up cannabis flower. Simply put one in your mouth and chase it down with water.
THC gummies are very popular and I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of them in your local dispensaries. The reason for their popularity is the sweet taste. Most, if not all THC gummies come in some pretty awesome sweet flavors — I mean, this is exactly why I use them frequently. Just be careful with them though. They might look like regular sweets but if you chew too many of them, you may experience an unpleasant high (beginners take note!).
Also, because they look like sweets, keep them away from children.
If you’re looking for an oral method of consuming THC/cannabis, I’d recommend THC syrup. Again, like edibles, it’s super easy and convenient to use. Most users blend the syrup in with a cold beverage or hot tea, but you can also drink it straight from the bottle too if you want.
Again, be careful with syrup products. They can be extremely potent.
I’d argue a THC patch is probably the most convenient way of giving your mind and body a swift dose of THC. All you do is simply place it on a venous part of your body and wait for the small amount of THC to begin circulating inside you.
Patches are particularly useful if you’re experiencing pain during the day and you need a gradual hit of THC in your system. They’re also helpful just before bed if you experience sleep-related issues.
THC powder is actually quite a recent invention and not as common as, say, THC gummies or cannabis flower itself. These powders are typically flavorless and water-soluble, so you won’t experience an overwhelming aftertaste. If you prefer some flavor, you can always mix it into your favorite drink. Just be careful not to do this with alcohol — a mixture of THC and booze can make you feel pretty shitty to the point of nausea and vomiting.
Not a good look.
THC bath bombs
On a personal level, I see THC bath bombs as more of a gimmick than I do a legitimate cannabis-derived product — but, hey, just my opinion, right? Because these types of bath bombs are actually gaining a lot of popularity. Many users have reported very good things about them and claim to make their bath time that much more enjoyable.
The idea behind THC/cannabis-derived bath bombs is to help you reduce stress and provide a product that’s great for your skin — they’re pretty nice smelling too, so you get some of that aromatic quality as well!
Pure THC (otherwise known as THC distillate) is 99.99% THC. Yeah. I know. Just imagine consuming this one. It’s not for the faint of heart and certainly not something for social occasions. You’ll be blasted on this stuff. If you want to try it, I suggest being sure you can handle such a high. Therefore, beginners beware of going near this stuff. It comes in a white powder form that almost looks like salt. I recommend adding a pinch of it into your favorite edibles recipe and seeing how you go.
Last but not least, the trusty THC drinks. You can purchase them as sodas, teas, fruit drinks, and coffee. I’ve personally noticed a lot of users are now switching from homemade edibles to drinks — probably because they’re more convenient and don’t require any cooking time.
What is liquid THC?
As you may have already guessed, liquid THC is exactly what it says on the tin — a liquidized version of THC. It’s basically a tincture oil with very, very high concentrations of THC. Think of it as the cannabis equivalent to absinthe but stronger and way more potent. Honestly, you only need to consume a tiny bit sublingually, orally, or in food in order for you to feel buzzed as hell. That’s why I recommend a lot of care when consuming it.
What does liquid THC look like?
Not all liquid THC is created equal and you’ll find it comes in quite a few different colors, shades, and consistencies — it all depends on the cannabis strain, the extraction method, and what type of alcohol was used during the extraction (amongst others). If you want a high-quality liquid THC product, be on the lookout for these things:
Golden or amber color
No plant matter or “bits” in it — it should just be the oil and nothing else
Be careful giving your pets THC
Whether you can allow your pets to consume THC has sparked a lot of debate. In fact, it’s actually quite a hot topic right now with reports of animals becoming very sick from consuming THC-rich cannabis — some have even died from it. I suggest a really high level of caution here. Don’t feed your pets THC. Instead, I recommend a specially-made pet-friendly CBD isolate if you want to provide your furry friend with some cannabis-related goodness.
Here are some of the clear signs of marijuana/THC poisoning:
Inability to walk
Vomiting (mild or excessive)
Low or high heart rate
If you suspect your pet has consumed THC, please take him/her to the nearest local veterinary service immediately. You can read one of our own here at Oracle guiding you through the CBD Pet process.
THC is only found in cannabis
THC is only exclusive to varieties of cannabis — you won’t find it in any other plant or living organism. This is why cannabis is so special. There are, however, phytocannabinoids found in other plants away from the cannabis family.
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Paracress (Acmella oleracea)
How legal is THC in the US and beyond?
United States THC/cannabis legality
In the US, THC/cannabis legality is complicated. On a federal level, cannabis is illegal as a schedule 1 substance, which would lead you to assume you can’t get your hands on it anywhere in the country, right? Wrong. 34 states allow medical cannabis — 14 other states also allow it but limit the THC content. Recreational use is fully legal in 12 other states.
United Kingdom THC/cannabis legality
The UK is quite tolerant of most things. The country isn’t the strictest country you’ll ever visit in your lifetime. However, marijuana laws there are surprisingly tough — it’s considered a Class B drug, which makes it illegal to grow, sell, use, or possess in any quantity. Punishments are quite extreme in some cases. You can be hit with quite a large fine (unlimited in rare cases) or prison sentence (up to 5 years) if you’re in possession of it. If you’re growing it with the intention to sell, you can face up to 14 years in jail.
However, the police force uses discretion as well. I was once caught smoking it when I was visiting London as a teenager and the police officer threw my stash away and gave me a warning. It’s really all down to the circumstances.
The Netherlands THC/cannabis legality
One of the biggest and well-known cannabis hubs is The Netherlands — namely Amsterdam. Casual and experienced cannabis users from all over the globe make the pilgrimage to Europe’s weed capital to try out all the different strains on offer.
However, you’ll be surprised to learn The Netherlands actually hasn’t legalized cannabis; it’s decriminalized for personal use. You can be in possession of up to 5 grams but that’s your limit. If you accidentally have a small amount of marijuana on you whilst leaving the country, you probably won’t get in trouble, but it’s still certainly not worth the risk.
I personally had a joint in my back pocket leaving Amsterdam once. I freaked out and owned up to it. The customs officer gave a quick smirk, took it off me, and told me not to do it again. On the other hand, one of my buddies had 3 grams on him still and they weren’t too happy about it.
Keep your weed in the country and leave whatever you have leftover in the bin.
You can 100% cook with THC
Is The Pope a Catholic? Of course you can cook with THC! Some of my favorite edibles are made with a nice and healthy dose of this cannabinoid (amongst others). The sweeter the better as well. Brownies are always a sure-fire hit, and because I’m an amazing human being, I’ll share with you a quick recipe.
4 or 5 of your best eggs
100-120 grams of butter (full fat if you’re feeling particularly rebellious)
1 cup of sugar (because everyone needs to up their blood sugar level)
250 grams of your finest chocolate (don’t forget to melt it!)
4 grams of marijuana
2 grams of mint leaves (the mask the flavor of marijuana)
Maybe a touch of vanilla extract too
THC can be fun and effective if used responsibly
As I mentioned right at the beginning of this guide, THC is not like CBD. It gets you high. It can impair your judgment, cause some memory loss, and make you feel quite uncomfortable if it’s not understood and used correctly.
Beginners often choose to consume high levels of THC when trying cannabis and cannabis-related products for the first time. This really isn’t wise — at all. Though you can’t technically overdose on THC, it can be a pretty harsh high and will most likely make you think twice about using it again. This would be a huge shame, to be honest. It’s an amazing cannabinoid with some pretty awesome therapeutic qualities.
Therefore, I recommend you take the time to fully digest this guide and recognize safe (but fun) uses for THC.