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Created Feb 2021


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DEA CODE 7370: Schedule 1

Most people know that THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical compound in cannabis responsible for a euphoric high. But what more is there to know about cannabis' primary psychoactive component? Whether the question comes as a newbie to the cannabis world or an experienced consumer who would like to know a bit more about the most famous of cannabinoids, THC has likely been synonymous with cannabis in your mind for as long as you've known about the plant.

THC is a cannabinoid, but what's a cannabinoid?
The first step to understanding THC is to understand cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant that interact with receptors in the brain and body to create various effects. There exist dozens, and potentially more than 100, cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but THC is most widely known among these due to its abundance and euphoric attributes.

The isolation of THC came from an Israeli chemist by the name of Raphael Mechoulam. In 1964, Mechoulam isolated and synthesized THC from Lebanese hashish, marking the beginning of cannabis research that would lead to the discovery of many other cannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, and "endocannabinoids" - the THC-like compounds our body naturally produces to maintain stability and health.

Why does cannabis produce cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are known as secondary metabolites, which means they are chemicals the plant produces that have no primary role on the plant's development. However, the leading hypothesis is that secondary metabolites act as an immune system for the plant, fending off predators, parasites, and pests.

Because humans (and many other animals) have receptor systems that THC binds to, we can also reap the benefits of cannabinoids for both health and enjoyment. This system, called the endocannabinoid system (or ECS), is a group of specialized signaling chemicals (think "keys"), their receptors (think "locks"), and the metabolic enzymes that produce and break them down. These endocannabinoid chemical signals act on some of the same brain and immune cell receptors (CB1 and CB2) that plant cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) and delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act on.

Simply put, THC works by binding to cannabinoid receptors concentrated in the brain and central nervous system to produce intoxicating effects. Our bodies evolved to interact with natural cannabinoids such as anandamide, but this same system is responsible for the effects experienced from THC and other cannabinoids.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. It acts much like the cannabinoid chemicals made naturally by the body, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. THC stimulates cells in the brain to release dopamine, creating euphoria. It also interferes with how information is processed in the hippocampus, which is part of the brain responsible for forming new memories. THC can induce hallucinations, change thinking and cause delusions. On average, the effects last about two hours, and kick in 10 to 30 minutes after ingestion. Psychomotor impairment may continue after the perceived high has stopped, however.

Cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC attaches to these receptors and activates them and affects a person's memory, pleasure, movements, thinking, concentration, coordination, and sensory and time perception.

THC is one of many compounds found in the resin secreted by glands of the marijuana plant. THC can be extracted from marijuana, or synthesized, as is the case for the FDA-approved drug dronabinol. Dronabinol is used to treat or prevent the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer medicines and to increase the appetites of people with AIDS. It is a light yellow resinous oil. When THC is exposed to air, it degrades into cannabinol, a cannabinoid that has its own psychological effects. THC concentration also depends on the cultivation of the marijuana plant, known scientifically as Cannabis sativa L.

Hemp is a type of cannabis that has a minimal amount of THC, as low as 0.5 percent. Hemp is used for industrial and medical purposes. Some strains of cannabis can have as little as 0.3 percent THC by weight. In other strains, THC makes up 20 percent of the weight in a sample. The average THC concentration in marijuana is 1 to 5 percent; in hashish, it is 5 to 15 percent, and in hashish oil, it averages 20 percent.

THC Chemical Structure
THC's chemical structure is similar to the brain chemical anandamide. Similarity in structure allows drugs to be recognized by the body and to alter normal brain communication.

Endogenous cannabinoids such as anandamide (see figure) function as neurotransmitters because they send chemical messages between nerve cells (neurons) throughout the nervous system. They affect brain areas that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination, and sensory and time perception. Because of this similarity, THC is able to attach to molecules called cannabinoid receptors on neurons in these brain areas and activate them, disrupting various mental and physical functions and causing the effects described earlier. The neural communication network that uses these cannabinoid neurotransmitters, known as the endocannabinoid system, plays a critical role in the nervous system's normal functioning, so interfering with it can have profound effects.

THC is believed to protect the cannabis plant from UV rays and herbivores. It is considered aromatic terpenoid, part of the phytocannabinoid family. THC is not soluble in water but mixes well with lipids and alcohol. When consumed, THC binds with cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system and brain to produce a euphoric effect.

Cannabinoid receptors exist in the brain to work with the endogenous cannabinoids the body naturally produces. Natural cannabinoids produce a mild euphoric feeling when they are produced in abundance, such as at the end of a good work out. THC inserts itself in this natural pathway to euphoria and increases those positive effects. Cannabinoid receptors are associated with memory, pleasure, thinking, time perception and coordination. All these functions can be affected by the detection of THC at the receptor sites. The exact effect depends on the amount of THC consumed, the level of natural cannabinoids in the system and several other health variables.

When THC is consumed in its natural form, it is accompanied by other chemical elements of the cannabis plant. One other prominent component of marijuana, CBD, blocks the effects of THC. Each cannabis plant has a different ratio of THC to CBD, so the euphoric effects may be tempered by this balance.

THC is an acronym for the unwieldy and eight-syllable full name of the chemical compound in weed that makes you high. Tetrahydrocannabinol. Its chemical name is (-)-trans-delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol if you want to get really technical.

Cannabinoid Receptors:
When you consume cannabis, you introduce its cannabinoids into your body. Once inside, they're metabolized and enter the bloodstream. From there, they bind to receptors CB1 and CB2, which are concentrated in the brain and central nervous system. Astonishingly, there are 10 times more CB1 receptors in the brain than u-opioid receptors, which are responsible for the effects of morphine. CB2 receptors hang out exclusively on the cells of the immune system. For that reason, cannabis has significant medicinal applications, in addition to its more popular recreational uses.

So what does THC do to the brain and body?
THC isn't the only cannabinoid that can bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors. But when it does, the ECS stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain, creating a sense of euphoria and relaxation. THC doesn't just bind to receptors in your brain. Their network extends throughout the body. Most of the bodily sensations you experience when you consume cannabis are actually the result of changes in your brain.

But cannabinoids can also act on ECS receptors all through the body, creating a range of beneficial effects:

  • Importantly, there are receptors in the immune system, which is why THC can act as a powerful anti-inflammatory, but can also reduce the immune system's effectiveness.
  • In the digestive tract, THC can stimulate the release of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin and help ease nausea. A little morsel of cannabis history: despite prohibition, the FDA has approved a synthetic form of THC as an appetite stimulant and an antiemetic for AIDS and chemotherapy patients.
  • There are even CB2 receptors in our skin. Cannabis topical creams are quickly becoming popular as pain relievers and skincare products. The ability to absorb THC into the skin means people can use the cannabinoid for therapeutic benefits without the psychotropic effects.
Despite its medicinal properties, THC's claim to fame (and infamy) is the euphoric high it produces. In it's "raw form," tetrahydrocannabinol is totally inert and will do nothing for you. Again, the form in which tetrahydrocannabinol manifests in cannabis plants is inactive. If you ate a handful of dried cannabis flowers, you wouldn't get high. You need heat to make tetrahydrocannabinol work!

Technically speaking, the cannabinoid that appears in cannabis is THCA. The "A" designates its acidic form. It takes heat to convert THCA to the psychoactive delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. That's why you have to apply a flame to dried cannabis. Not just to combust the buds to produce smoke to inhale, but to actually activate the THC.

That activation process is called decarboxylation, or "decarb" for short. Decarbing your cannabis is an absolutely indispensable step when making edibles. Without it, you're just eating a bunch of raw THCA. But heating THC to the point of decarboxylation is challenging. It's too easy to apply too much heat, which results in boiling off the tetrahydrocannabinol completely. Not good!

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA):
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC as it is commonly referred to as, results from numerous changes and reactions in the cannabis plant. For starters, the cannabis plant produces a cannabinoid known as Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). From here, a portion of the CBGA is then converted to tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (THCA), which only becomes THC when exposed to heat or UV light. Because of this decarboxylation process, most of the THC you consume when ingesting or inhaling the cannabis plant actually started as THCA - not THC.

Cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) is the precursor to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Cannabichromene (CBC)

Tetrahydrocannabivarin or THCV is an extremely close cousin of the most famous cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), though there are significant differences between the two. THCV is practically identical to THC in its chemical structure, but it's formed differently in the cannabis plant. This results in THCV producing divergent effects. Both THC and THCV work with the same CB1 and CB2 receptors in our natural endocannabinoid system. Although, the big difference here is that THC is an agonist (a chemical substance that initiates a physiological or pharmacological response) and THCV is an antagonist (which inhibits or interferes with the physiological or pharmacological response of other substances).

THCV Psychoactive Effect:
Both THCV and THC are psychoactive and affect the same receptors in the endocannabinoid system and in the brain (though you'll need far more THCV than THC to experience any effects). There's also a difference in the high. THCV creates a high that is more euphoric and clear. THCV is also believed to encourage THC to hit much faster, resulting in a quick, energizing rush - this means the THC high will fade faster, too.

THCV Medicinal and Therapeutic Benefits:
While most of us know that THC stimulates appetite (as in, a case of the munchies), recent studies have found that THCV suppresses appetite. Research is also confirming that THCV has properties to help regulate blood sugar levels and curb the rewarding effects we feel from eating unhealthy foods. It's also showing promise in promoting bone cell growth and having anti-anxiety and antioxidant properties. In addition to weight loss and diabetes, medical marijuana researchers are looking at THCV's anticonvulsant properties and its potential ability to help reduce tremors and seizures and improve motor control - which may lead to future treatments that include THCV for conditions including epilepsy and Parkinson's disease.

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) Definition:
The cannabis world almost unanimously defines delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as the most well-known cannabinoid, responsible for the cannabis "high." This definition, though undeniably complicated by what we know about the effects of other cannabinoids, is mostly accurate.

In recent years, cannabidiol (CBD) has received more attention for its therapeutic potential, but THC is arguably still the most famous (and certainly the most infamous) cannabinoid. And while THC is not solely responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, it is the primary psychoactive component.

Endocannabinoid System:
Understanding how THC works in the body and mind also means understanding the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a system of cannabinoid receptors, lipids, and enzymes that plays a discernible role in maintaining internal regulatory balance. When our bodies achieve this balance, it's called homeostasis. The ECS is present throughout the body, consisting of three main components: "messenger" molecules, or endocannabinoids, that our bodies produce; the receptors these molecules bind to; and the enzymes that break them down. The ECS has several receptors, but the main players are receptors CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors, found mainly in the central nervous system, activate when THC binds to them, which in turn causes THC intoxication and other cerebral effects.

The THC Boom:

As underground breeders of the 1980s and '90s entered an era of extensive crossbreeding for more potent yields, cannabis cultivars produced higher and higher percentages of THC. Incremental legalization has also played a massive role in creating the high-THC cultivars and cannabis products that most consumers encounter today. According to a 2014 report published by the Society of Biological Psychiatry, the average THC to CBD ratio was 14:1 in 1995, but it jumped to 80:1 by 2014.

Tetrahydrocannabinol Definition:
The compound in cannabis responsible for its intoxicating, and many of its medical, effects. The most common compound produced in cannabis varieties that have been bred for recreational and medicinal use.The activated form of THC, delta9-THC, causes the intoxicating feelings generally associated with consuming cannabis and being 'high'. THC causes intoxication by binding to the CB1 receptor in our bodies. It also binds to the CB2 receptor and stimulates our immune system. THC Mnemonic device: The High Causer.

THC (Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol) Definition:
The primary active ingredient in cannabis (Marijuana). When smoked or orally administered, THC produces euphoric effects. Users have impaired short-term memory and slowed learning. They may also experience transient episodes of confusion and anxiety. Long-term, relatively heavy use may be associated with behavioral disorders. The peak effect of marijuana administered by smoking occurs in 20-30 minutes and the duration is 90-120 minutes after one cigarette. Elevated levels of urinary metabolites are found within hours of exposure and remain detectable for 3-10 days after smoking.


WHO PDF THC Critical Review

  • A psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant
  • It is an isomer of Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC), the compound commonly known as THC
  • Delta-8-THC has antiemetic, anxiolytic, orexigenic, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties

In 2018 the federal farm bill was passed allowing any hemp derived product not exceeding 0.3% delta-9 THC to be sold legally. Since the law counted only delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC was considered legal to sell under the farm bill and was sold online. After August 21st, 2020, all forms of THC were deemed illegal above 0.3% under the Controlled Substances Act according to the DEA. The ruling is currently being debated and companies that formerly sold forms of THC are lobbying to keep other forms of THC (other than delta-9) legal for commerce

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis
  • It is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. The marijuana plant's primary component for causing psychoactive effects
  • Discovered and isolated and its structure elucidated by synthesis in 1964

It was found that, when smoked, tetrahydrocannabinol is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain, attaching itself to the naturally-occurring endocannabinoid receptors located in the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia. These are the parts of the brain responsible for thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and movement

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Cannabis Rescheduling: The DEA's Proposed Rule and the Supporting OLC Opinion - “Limiting the CAMU analysis to whether a drug has been approved by FDA ... which is outside the CSA’s definition of marijuana. Those tetrahydrocannabinols that can be derived only through ...
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More sickened after eating diamond Shruumz bars, Cones and Gummies - The number of people severely sickened after consuming mushroom edibles sold as Diamond Shruumz-brand Chocolate Bars, Cones or Gummies has risen, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said June 11.
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