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What is THC-P? Complete Guide to the New Cannabinoid

In 2019, Italian scientists isolated Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabiphorol from a synthetic medical marijuana strain. Abbreviated as THC-P, THCP, and THCp, this minor cannabinoid appears to act on endocannabinoid receptors in the brain with incredible efficiency. This binding ability makes THCP is the most potent psychoactive cannabinoid yet. Users report THCP feels even stronger than delta-9 (standard THC). 

THCP is a fascinating compound, joining the ranks of Delta-8, Delta-10, and HHC as the latest cannabinoids to take the hemp industry by storm. 

Here we review THC-P’s effects, uses, benefits, legality, and strength.

What Is THC-P?

THC-P is an organic cannabinoid (or phytocannabinoid) similar to delta-9 THC, the most abundant cannabinoid in most marijuana strains. However, THC-P products are not natural extracts. They are produced synthetically using hemp-derived compounds. 

THC-P’s molecular structure is similar to delta-9 THC, but with one significant difference: It has a longer alkyl side chain that contains seven carbon atoms versus five in delta-9 THC. According to researchers, the extra carbon atoms allow THC-P to bind more readily with receptors in the brain to unleash its psychoactive effects. As a result, THC-P is the most potent THC analog discovered so far. 

Like other minor cannabinoids, such as delta-8 and delta-10, THC-P occurs naturally in cannabis sativa plants in very low concentrations. As a result, manufacturers don’t extract it directly from the plant. Instead, they produce THC-P by chemically altering cannabinoids extracted from legal hemp plants.

THC-P Effects: Overview

THC-P’s effects are essentially identical to THC but more intense. Almost everything known about THC-P comes from the 2019 research study

Scientists found that THC-P binds 33 times more effectively with cannabinoid receptors (called CB1) in the brain and nervous system than delta-9 THC. This property is most likely due to THCP’s extended seven-atom side chain. CB1 receptors regulate functions like sleep, mood, and appetite They’re also responsible for delivering marijuana’s psychoactive effects. 

The resulting “high” from a THCP-rich cannabis strain or product is powerful and potentially more sedating, energizing, or soothing than delta-9 THC. Some users even describe THC-P as “psychedelic-like,” saying it can amplify sounds and colors, an uncommon effect with traditional THC. Most THCP users report:

  • Stress relief
  • Relaxation
  • Appetite stimulation
  • A heavy mental and physical buzz

THCP is certainly more potent than THC due to its 33X receptor-binding affinity. But that doesn’t mean this novel compound gets users 33 times higher. Most say THC-P feels about five to 10 times stronger than Delta-9 THC. 

The disconnect between THCP’s binding affinity and reported potency is that there is a limit to any cannabinoid’s ability to activate endocannabinoid receptors before maxing out its effects.

What Does THC-P Do? THC-P Uses and Benefits

When studying the effects of THC-P on human cannabinoid receptors, the Italian research team uncovered several physiological effects, including:

  • Analgesia (pain relief)
  • Hypomotility (slowing of movement)
  • Catalepsy (trance-like state)
  • Decreased rectal temperature

Researchers say THC-P’s powerful properties could account for some of cannabis’ healing powers that are difficult to explain with Delta-9 THC alone. For instance, THC-P binds more readily with receptors in the immune system that regulate key anti-inflammatory processes. As a result, THCP could be critical in amplifying marijuana’s pain, insomnia, and nausea-relieving properties. 

THC-P Flower: What is it?

Hemp and cannabis don’t naturally contain enough THCP to deliver psychoactive effect when smoked. As a result, manufacturers produce THCP extract in a lab. Then, they infuse or coat the plant with pure THC-P distillates (or blends that include THC-P). 

Because THC-P is so potent, infused flower can pack a punch while offering many of the same therapeutic effects users enjoy from THC, such as pain and nausea relief, appetite stimulation, a euphoric high, and sleepy effects.

THC-P vs. Other Cannabinoids

Like other minor cannabinoids such as Delta-8, Delta-10, and HHC, THCP interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the brain to unleash its effects. However, THCP is much stronger and contains a different molecular profile. 

THC-P vs. Delta-9 (or THC P vs. THC)

THC-P and delta-9 THC produce euphoric psychoactive effects and offer various therapeutic and mood-boosting benefits. However, THC-P is more potent than delta-9 due to its chemical structure. Also, THC-P is federally unregulated, while Delta 9-THC derived from marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance. 

Chemical Composition 

THCP has a similar molecular structure as Delta-9. However, THCP has a longer alkyl side chain (the “tail” of atoms that extends out from the bottom of the largest part of the molecule). THCP’s side chain has seven carbon atoms versus five in delta-9.

Concentration in Cannabis Plants

Delta-9 THC is the most abundant form of THC in cannabis plants, comprising 25% to 30% of the total cannabinoid content. THCP, on the other hand, occurs in trace amounts, often less than 1% of the plant’s chemical composition. 

Accessibility and Availability

Delta-9 THC legality and accessibility vary significantly at the state and federal levels. THCP is completely unregulated and available nationwide.

Delta-9 THC:

  • Federal Level: Classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, Delta-9 THC is illegal federally.
  • State Level: Many states have legalized medical or recreational use, with each state having specific regulations.
  • Hemp vs. Cannabis: Delta-9 THC derived from hemp (containing less than 0.3% THC) is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. However, it is still subject to state laws.

THCP:

  • Federal Level: THCP is less recognized and, therefore, exists in a legal gray area. Since it is similar to Delta-9 THC, it could be considered a controlled substance.
  • State Level: Few states have explicit laws regarding THCP, likely due to its lesser-known status.
  • Hemp vs. Cannabis: THCP is typically produced in a lab by synthetically manipulating hemp-based cannabinoids. Its precise legal standing remains unclear, but most industry leaders consider it permissible under the 2018 Farm Bill. 

Research and Understanding

Delta-9 THC has been studied for decades, with a vast body of research exploring its potential therapeutic benefits and side effects. THC’s discovery in 1964 opened the gate to decades of research indicating its pain-relieving, sleep-promoting, appetite-enhancing, and nausea-relieving properties. 

On the other hand, scientists discovered THCP recently, and most data comes from the 2019 research study. While there is much to learn about THCP, the study noted that it likely contributes to marijuana’s healing powers. The report states, “The discovery of an extremely potent THC-like phytocannabinoid may shed light on several pharmacological effects not ascribable solely to [delta 9 THC].” 

THC-P and THCB

THCB (tetrahydrocannabutol) is another minor cannabinoid structurally similar to THC. Researchers reported its existence in 2019 in the same THCP paper. Some say THCB’s psychoactive effects align with THCP, while others say THCB is more in line with regular delta-9 THC’s heightened euphoria.

Chemical Composition

Chemically, THCB and THCP are similar, but THCB has a shorter side chain, four carbon atoms, compared to THCP’s seven. The alkyl side chain length is crucial for binding to the CB1 receptor. 

Researchers expect THCP to have a higher binding affinity and greater pharmacological activity than Δ9-THC. They also determined that THCP was 13 times more active than THCB against the CB1 receptor.

Concentration in Cannabis Plants

THCP and THCB both occur in trace amounts. Scientists originally discovered THCP in a medicinal cannabis variety called Italian FM2. They found THCB in CBD samples from hemp and cannabis. It is unclear if these compounds exist in all hemp and cannabis strains. 

Accessibility and Availability

THCB and THCP exist in a somewhat legal gray area due to their source material and how they’re made. Most experts believe they are legal when produced from hemp-derived compounds under the Farm Bill as long as they contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by law. This loophole makes THCP and THCB accessible in most of the United States. 

However, state laws that target synthetic minor cannabinoids could extend to THCP and THCB, given their similar manufacturing processes.

Research and Understanding

THCB is still a relatively new discovery. Like THCP, many aspects surrounding THCB, including its long-term effects and modes of action, still need to be fully understood.

THC-O vs. THC-P (or THC P vs THC)

Unlike THC-P, THC-O (or THCO acetate) does not ever occur naturally in hemp or cannabis plants. It is an acetylated form of THC produced by adding an acetic anhydride to the mixture. Like THC-P, THC-O is a more potent analog of Delta-9 THC. The consensus says that THC-O is around three times more powerful, while THC-P is five to 10 times stronger. 

Chemical Composition

Like THCP, THC-O has a chemical structure almost identical to THC. There are two main differences: 

  1. THCO has five carbon atoms in its side chain (the same as regular THC) versus THCP’s seven atoms. 
  2. THCO molecule has an acetate ester added. The “acetylation” process increases the bioavailability, making it easier for THCO to cross blood barriers in the body. This effect increases THCO’s potency compared to THC, although less so than THCP.

Concentration in Cannabis Plants

THCP exists in trace quantities in at least one cannabis strain known as Italian FM2.THCO does not exist naturally in cannabis plants, not even in trace amounts. 

Accessibility and Availability

In February 2023, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) stated that THCO falls within the Controlled Substances Act’s definition of “marijuana” because they are synthetic compounds. As such, THCO doesn’t qualify as “hemp-derived” under the Farm Bill. Still. THCO is not a scheduled substance and is largely unregulated, like THCP.

Research and Understanding

As with THCP, there are limited studies of THC-O acetate’s clinical effects in humans. Researchers have expressed concern about THCO vape safety, and have linked the compound to potential lung complications

THC-P vs. Delta-8

Delta-8 THC is a THC analog that occurs naturally in hemp in cannabis at low levels. It appears to have a lower affinity for the CB1 receptor, making it less potent than Delta-9 THC and significantly less than THC-P. Most consumers say Delta-8 is more soothing, whereas THC-P can be more stimulating.

Chemical Composition

Delta-8-THC and THCP differ primarily in the length of their alkyl side chains and the position of the double bond in the cyclic ring. In Delta-8-THC, the alkyl side chain is a five-carbon chain, which is standard for most THC analogs like Delta-9-THC. The double bond in the ring structure is on the 8th carbon atom, hence the name “Delta-8.”

THCP, on the other hand, has a seven-carbon alkyl side chain, making it longer than the typical five-carbon chain found in Delta-8-THC. The double bond in THCP is also located at the 9th carbon in the ring, similar to Delta-9-THC but different from the 8th position in Delta-8-THC.

THCP’s longer seven-carbon alkyl side chain enhances its affinity for CB1 receptors, making it more potent.

Concentration in Cannabis Plants

Delta-8-THC is a natural cannabinoid found in all aging cannabis plants, likely produced through the degradation of Delta 9. THCP was isolated from a particular medicinal cannabis strain, but researchers aren’t sure if it occurs in all cannabis strains.

Accessibility and Availability

Delta-8 was the first minor cannabinoid to become popular after the Farm Bill passed in 2018, which legalized hemp-derived products containing no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC. However, 15 states have enacted outright bans on the compound despite its federally legal status. THCP’s legal status is more unclear as the government doesn’t explicitly regulate it. But THCP is available for sale nationwide. 

Research and Understanding

Most Delta-8 THC research is based on animal/cell models or focuses on its chemical identification. One review indicated potential Delta 8 benefits like pain relief, reduced chemotherapy side-effects, and lower intraocular pressure. However, human studies are scarce. The study also revealed risks, including impaired coordination, abdominal pain, and low blood pressure. 

HHC vs. THC-P

HHC is a hexahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive minor cannabinoid made through hydrogenation, a process of adding hydrogen to a molecule to extend its shelf life. As a result, HHC is more stable than other cannabinoids with longer-lasting effects. However, consumers say HHC induces less potent psychoactive effects than conventional delta-9 THC or THC-P, describing it as less energetic and more cerebral. 

Chemical Composition

HHC is not a tetrahydrocannabinol like THC or THCP. HHC belongs to a different chemical class known as hexahydrocannabinol. Where THC and THCP molecules have a double carbon bond, HHC has hydrogen molecules instead. HHC also shares THC’s five-atom tail, whereas THCP has seven atoms. 

Concentration in Cannabis Plants

Peer-reviewed research can’t confirm that HHC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid. Manufacturers produce HHC from hemp-derived CBD, usually converting it into Delta-8 THC and then replacing the double carbon bonds with hydrogen. 

Accessibility and Availability

Many claim that HHC is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill because it is made from hemp-derived compounds and contains no Delta-9 THC. However, as state and federal agencies continue to ban Delta-8 THC and other synthetic cannabinoids, some have also banned HHC. On top of that, the DEA’s ruling on synthetic cannabinoids could apply to HHC since no verified reports show it occurs naturally in cannabis plants. 

Research and Understanding

HHC has been around since the 1940s but only became popular recently. However, animal studies verify HHC’s ability to help with pain and poor sleep.  

Is THC-P Legal, and How Can I Buy THC-P Online?

THC-P is entirely federally legal and available in most states. However, some states have banned or limited the availability of “artificially derived cannabinoids” (which manufacturers produce from hemp-derived CBD or THC). Other states created rules prohibiting THC content above 0.3% in hemp-derived products–effectively eliminating many THCP products. 

Is THC-P Safe? Risks and Side Effects with THCP

Few scientific studies exist to verify THC-P’s short- and long-term side effects. Here’s what we know. Because THC-P is more potent than traditional delta-9 THC, users should take smaller doses to see how it affects them.  

Potent Psychoactivity

THCP’s longer alkyl side chain makes the cannabinoid attach more securely to receptors throughout the body. The Italian researchers who discovered THCP reported it could bind with cannabinoid receptors up to 33 times more than Delta-9 THC. As a result, it would likely take a smaller THCP dose to achieve the same effects as regular THC. A high THCP dose would be highly potent and more likely to give users adverse and overwhelming impact, such as:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Impaired coordination
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness or vertigo 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety or panic attack
  • Paranoia

Quality of THCP Products

Some people are concerned about THCP product quality due to the lack of regulatory oversight and potentially unsafe manufacturing practices. For example:

  • Some manufacturers may use potentially unsafe household chemicals to make THCP. 
  • Final THCP products may have potentially harmful byproducts and contaminants due to the chemicals used in the process. 
  • Manufacturing THCP products may occur in uncontrolled or unsanitary settings, which may lead to the presence of unsafe contaminants or other potentially harmful substances.

Lack of regulatory oversight also generates concerns over things like:

  • Variability in product formulations and product labeling, 
  • Unpredictable effects
  • Unsubstantiated health claims

Buyers should look for credible brands that thoroughly test their products for potency and residual contaminants to be sure they are free from these potentially harmful compounds. 

The Need for More Research

THC’s medicinal benefits are well-documented, including its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. However, THCP lacks research-based data aside from user reviews. 

THCP effects appear stronger and more intense, which could boost its effectiveness in various therapeutic uses and enhance the psychoactive experience. But, its strength could have implications in other areas, such as side effects and drug interactions. THCP requires more research to understand and unlock its potential. 

Common Questions About THC-P

Does THC-P show up on a drug test?

THC-P likely breaks down into the federally illicit THC in the body. As a result, consuming THC-P could cause users to fail a standard drug test.

Does THC-P get you high?

THC-P is the strongest cannabinoid discovered yet to date. It offers the same intoxicating effects and euphoric feelings associated with traditional delta-9 THC.

Is THC-P stronger than Delta-9?

People who have tried THC-P suggest its effects were 5 to 10 times stronger than regular delta-9 THC. 

How is THC-P made?

Some resources indicate that THCP products are produced by chemically altering hemp-derived CBD. However, not every expert agrees. Chemist Dr. Mark Scialdone of BetterChem Consulting told The Cannigma that the process may not include any natural compounds. 

According to Mark, manufacturers make THCP by mixing two main ingredients. The first ingredient is a long-chained THC precursor known as 5-heptyl resorcinol. The second is an oxygen-rich version of the terpene limonene called PMD. They combine these substances in a specific chemical reaction. In simpler terms, scientists use a special form of a THC building block and a modified citrusy element to make synthetic THCP.

How long does THC-P last?

Most users report that THC-P’s effects last about the same as delta-9 THC. The length depends on the delivery method and user tolerance level. Peak effects are usually within one hour, tapering off after two hours. The impact of gummies or cookies often lasts up to six hours.

How long does THC-P stay in your system?

Small amounts of any substance can remain in the body for a surprisingly long time due to the nature of metabolization. Delta-9 THC can stay in the body for two to 30 days, and THC-P is likely similar. 

How long does THC-P take time to kick in?

Most people feel the effects of THC-P within 15 minutes when smoking or vaping. It could take an hour when consuming THC-P via gummies or cookies.

Is THC-P synthetic?

THC-P occurs naturally in cannabis. However, because it only exists in trace amounts, most THC-P comes from labs, which create it from hemp-derived CBD. This is a semi-synthetic process. 

What is the difference between THC and THC-P?

The main difference between THC and THC-P is their psychoactive strength. THC-P has more potent effects than THC, likely because it has two extra carbons in its chemical structure. THC has five carbons, while THC-P has seven.

Is THC-P good for anxiety?

THC-P is known for its anti-anxiety properties. It has an immense affinity for binding with CB1 receptors, which regulate anxiety, stress, pain relief, happiness, and more. Still, users should start with a low dose to determine how THC-P alters their mood, as effects vary. 

How do THCP and THCB compare?

THCP and THCB have unique chemical structures compared to THC that many believe allow them to bind with CB1 receptors more effectively. THCP has a longer side chain than THC, with seven atoms compared to five. THCB has a butyl side chain (four atoms) rather than a pentyl side chain, a shape that likely helps it attach to CB1 receptors in the brain. These chemical differences give THCP and THCB stronger effects than regular THC, although reports say THCP is the strongest cannabinoid discovered so far. 

How do THCP and THCA compare?

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the most common cannibinoid in cannabis plants. It is the precursor to THC, found in plentiful amounts in freshly harvested plants. THCA is non-psychoactive, similar to CBD, but will convert to THC when exposed to heat (such as when smoked or vaped) in a process called decarboxylation. 

THCP, on the other hand, is a minor cannabinoid found in some cannabis plants in trace amounts. It has a stronger affinity for the CB1 receptor than THC, giving it potent psychoactive effects. 

Final Thoughts on THC-P

THC-P, which is up to 33 times more active at binding with cannabinoid receptors than THC, is a natural cannabinoid that causes an intense and intoxicating euphoric high. THC-P is not explicitly listed as a controlled substance and is largely unregulated. Researchers have only begun to explore THC-P’s potential, which could offer new therapeutic benefits. Initial research and user reviews indicate this powerful compound rivals delta-9 THC, making it worthy of attention.