How Many Forms or Types of THC Are There?
Even though it has been illegal for decades and is currently still illegal on a federal level, marijuana introduced us to the abbreviation THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) years ago. Since then, more than 100 phytocannabinoids have been found in the cannabis plant. Additionally, the endocannabinoid system has been identified in the human body. The hemp-based product market now features items with cannabinoids such as CBD, CBG, and CBN, among others. But there are different forms or types of these cannabinoids, and the THC cannabinoid is no exception.
The Different Forms or Types of THC
Our research has discovered that there are seven different THC molecules currently known. However, research into cannabinoids is still in its infancy, and more THC and other cannabinoids are likely to be found in the future.
THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
This form of THC is the basis of the other four plant-based, naturally occurring THC molecules. As the cannabis plant grows, sunlight and natural aging cause parts of the THCA molecule to convert to other THC molecules. This form of THC has no intoxicating effects, as its chemical composition and shape do not allow it to attach to the CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system. However, this cannabinoid does bind nicely with the body’s CB2 receptors and may have wellness benefits.
THCV is one of the cannabinoids that is formed from the breakdown of THCA. It is very similar to Delta 9 THC but does not create a psychotropic result at low doses. However, at high doses, THCV does create a clear, stimulating high. One interesting contrast to Delta 9 THC is that THCV is an appetite suppressant, while Delta 9 THC is known to give users “the munchies.”
THCP is one of the most recently discovered THC cannabinoids — this molecule wasn’t found until 2019. As opposed to other THC molecules, the unique thing about this element is that it has a 7-term alkyl side chain, which means it contains seven carbon atoms. Other THC molecules, like Delta 9 THC, all have 5-term chains. This leads scientists to believe that THCP could be 33% more potent than other THC cannabinoids.
Delta 9 THC (Δ9 THC)
Delta 9 THC is the THC cannabinoid found in abundance in the marijuana variety of the cannabis plant. It is famous for binding to the CB1 receptors in the brain and nervous system and giving users the feeling of being high. While this cannabinoid is still illegal on a federal level in the U.S., many states have legalized its use for recreational or medical purposes. To date, only six states still refuse to legalize it for any reason.
Delta 8 THC (Δ8 THC)
This cannabinoid is also a relatively recent discovery. This is likely because this cannabinoid is only found in less than 1% of a mature cannabis plant. However, the ease in which CBD, Delta 9 THC, and other cannabinoids can be converted into Delta 8 THC has made it an economically viable substance. This has led to a wide variety of Delta 8 THC products being offered into the market. This cannabinoid does induce intoxicating effects, but those effects are not nearly as intense as with Delta 9 THC. Users have reported that, instead of the mind-altering results you get from Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 THC gives the user an overall good feeling throughout their body and the ability to still think clearly. Delta 8 THC is currently legal on a federal level but has been banned in 11 states and is currently under scrutiny by the DEA.
Delta 10 THC (Δ10 THC)
This cannabinoid is formed in such minute quantities in the cannabis plant that it has been mistaken for other elements. It was discovered by accident after a manufacturer in California tried processing cannabis that had been treated with a fire retardant. Strange crystals formed while creating concentrates, and those crystals were sent off for laboratory testing. The lab discovered that the combination of fire retardant and extraction solvents had turned some of the cannabinoids into Delta 10 THC.
This form of THC is believed to give the user an energized state of mind and body, without the psychoactive effects of Delta 9 THC or the sedative properties of Delta 8 THC. Delta 10 THC can only be created from a chemical process that turns other cannabinoids into Delta 10. When the safe production of this THC element is found, you will likely see products hit retail and online shelves with the same ferocity as Delta 8 THC products.
This is the only THC cannabinoid on our list created in the human body instead of in a cannabis plant. However, instead of being created like other cannabinoids, this one results from the digestion of Delta 9 and Delta 8 THC cannabinoids. Here’s how it works.
If you eat an edible Delta 9 THC or Delta 8 THC product or swallow a capsule with the same THC cannabinoids, your stomach and liver go to work and process these cannabinoids through the digestive tract before releasing them into the bloodstream. However, before releasing these cannabinoids, they are turned into a metabolite that is known as 11-Hydroxy-THC.
Your stomach and liver are so efficient at turning Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC into 11-Hydroxy-THC that it dramatically increases the amount of THC that reaches the bloodstream. Studies have shown that while vaping THC will institute 11-Hydroxy-THC levels of 5 percent, ingesting THC will raise those same levels from 25 percent to over 300 percent. This cannabinoid crosses the blood-brain barrier more effectively than Delta 8 or Delta 9 THC. This fact, and the increase in THC levels, is why a THC edible tends to be more potent than if you were to vape or smoke it.