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What is THC?

Legalization of marijuana has caused an urge for more information on the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids. Marijuana is derived from the flowers of the cannabis plant, where many of the chemical component cannabinoids, can be found. THC and CBD are two of the main cannabinoids. THC is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana that can cause mind-altering effects. There are cannabinoid receptors in areas of the brain that are for thinking and memory, and THC can stimulate these receptors and cause them to react to different things.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC acts in a similar manner to the endocannabinoids produced naturally by the body.  This cannabinoid was first synthesized by Raphael Mechoula, an Israeli chemist in 1964. This is the landmark of cannabis research. Since then, more research has been done on cannabis leading to the discovery of many more cannabinoids. There is much more research needed on cannabis so that we can understand the effects of THC and other cannabinoids more and the possibility of treatment for health issues.

THC in marijuana

Marijuana, unlike Hemp, has a high concentration of THC. The exposure of THC to air can transform it into another cannabinoid called cannabinol. Cannabinol also has psychoactive effects similar to THC. The concentration of THC in marijuana depends on various factors such as the cultivation methods. Some cultivators of cannabis grow various strains that have a high concentration of THC.

Based on the data from the North American Industrial Hemp Council, the hemp plant has a low concentration of THC, and its THC content can be as low as 0.3%.

The most common form of cannabis consumption is smoking. THC in marijuana is not intoxicating, and the effects of the cannabinoid will not arise. In its raw form, it is called THCA, and after heat is applied to THC in marijuana, the THCA is converted to THC. In this form, THC is intoxicating and operative.

The THC component found in marijuana is important because along with terpenes, it is responsible for the potency of the marijuana.

Strains high in THC

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  1. Sativa
    People who consume marijuana for recreational purposes are fascinated with this kind of strain. Reason being, Sativa has a higher concentration of THC, and the ‘high’ that an individual gets from Sativa is uplifting and energy filled. However, persons who usually experience anxiety when they smoke marijuana must be cautious as this strain may intensify those effects

  2. GSC (Girl Scout Cookies)
    GSC in recent years has become popular because it has a high THC content which usually ranges up to 20% during tests. For hours, this strain can provide your body and mind with a high, relaxing euphoric feeling.

  3. Ghost OG
    Ghost OG is cultivated for its high sense of feeling and is a crossbreed from the OG Kush. This strain’s potency is due to its terpenes and high THC content. It is remarkable for the purpose of relaxation.

  4. Bruce Banner
    This is a hybrid strain that has a strong THC content. It was rated by High Times in 2014 as the strongest strain. No doubt, this is due to its intoxicating THC concentration.

  5. Ghost Train Haze
    Ghost Train Haze has somehow climbed up the Cannabis Cup ladder. It is a Sativa strain. It is cultivated by Rare Dankness Seeds. In 2011, Ghost Train was reported to have submitted to the Cannabis Cup the highest THC content of 25.5%. This strain’s high potency level will cause a sharp and long euphoric high that will make you dizzy and uneasy.

  6. GG4
    This strain is called GG4 because of the sticky texture of its buds. In the potency analytic chart GG4, THC levels can go the highest in the 20% range. This strain has won many awards for its high potency levels.

  7. White Fire OG
    This strain is a mix of two strains, The White and Fire OG. This strain is a force to be reckoned with in terms of its potency levels. Based on data from previous tests, THC levels range from 22% to 29%. Despite the high euphoric feeling, this strain also has an uplifting feeling. It may just be the right kind of ‘high’ you are looking for to enhance your creativity.

  8. Death Star
    Death Star has a THC content of 20-24%. It is a hybrid that arose as a result of crossbreeding between Sensi Star and Sour Diesel. The psychoactive effects of Death Star are quite intense. You may have to stay one place until you are sober from this euphoric high feeling


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Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive. It is one of the many cannabinoids found in marijuana and can counteract the ‘high’ caused by THC. THC and CBD have different effects on the body due to their atomic structure and interaction with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

THC can cause the activation of cannabinoids CB1 receptors in the body while CBD does the opposite. CBD can prevent the activation of the cannabinoid receptors and so it may prevent the psychoactive effect of THC. The level of interaction between THC and the cannabinoid CB1 receptors causes the euphoric feeling.

Generally, people smoke marijuana to get the ‘high’ feeling, which is linked to THC. Therefore, THC can be consumed by smoking or vaping marijuana.

Another difference between THC and CBD is that some medical marijuana may contain CBD while some may not. As a result, patients who consume medical marijuana containing THC may get high while others that use medical marijuana with CBD won’t.

Benefits of THC

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1. Recreational Benefits

Many people find a high THC content in marijuana to be pleasurable. These are recreational users of marijuana. The ‘high’ that is caused by THC is really the driving factor for their use of marijuana. The psychoactive effects of THC may be a side effect but are beneficial to smokers. The psychoactive effects of THC allow some people to reach new dimensions, and some people believe the high causes relaxation and creativity.

2. Medical Benefits

THC has similar benefits as CBD. THC found in marijuana has been used for medical and recreational use for many years. THC can be synthesised or extracted from the marijuana plant. The drug called Dronabinol that has been approved by the FDA is made from synthetic THC.

The small dosage of THC can cause an improvement in the memory based on a 2016 study that was conducted on mice.

Findings of a recent study show that THC, active ingredient in marijuana is responsible for many of the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. Data from over 3000 people were collected. These participants had consumed marijuana for medical purposes. They had used a smartphone app to record their marijuana use. The study found that higher levels of THC were associated with relief from symptoms. However, this study may not be a generalization of the wider public because researchers confirmed that it had limitations. Some of these limitations are the self-reported data, and there was no control group that didn’t use cannabis.

THC has many medical benefits. Some conditions that can be treated by THC are PTSD, nausea, insomnia, migraine and sleep disorder. A few studies show that THC has the potential to grow new cells because it is a stimulant. THC stimulates the growth of new cells in the brain. THC also provides relief from pain and inflammation because it is anti-inflammatory. Also, THC, along with CBD can promote sleep.

Although, research on THC is limited due to the early stage and legalization issues in the United States, hopefully, more research will be conducted on the medical benefits of THC as legalization spreads to more countries.

Side Effects of THC

1. THC can stimulate the release of dopamine by cells in the brain. The release of dopamine causes euphoria. The effects of THC usually last for about 2 hours. THC can also affect the processing of information, and this is probably the reason for hallucinations and delusions.

A.J. Fabrizio, a marijuana expert at Terra Tech Corp, stated that side effects of THC usually include anxiety, elation, short-term memory loss, among others. He also stated that a study in the British Journal of Pharmacology confirmed that the presence of other cannabinoids could reduce the negative side effects of THC. Based on information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC has the potential to cause symptoms of schizophrenia to reappear.


2. THC can cause an impairment of a person’s capability to drive. This impairment of driving can last for about 3 hours. The effects of THC may last longer in the body, depending on the method of consumption. Marijuana is the second common type of psychoactive drug found in impaired drivers. This is supported by data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Due to the negative effects of THC, people are advised not to drive until they get sober or feel capable to drive. Impairment caused by THC can lead to fatal accidents, so we should be cautious.

3. THC can cause drastic problems for many people. According to Dr. Damon Raskin, medical director at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center, THC has been proven to cause IQ levels to decrease and memory issues. These issues tend to affect younger persons than other people. It has been backed by research that young smokers of marijuana do poorly on cognitive tests than young persons who do not smoke.  A study conducted on 300 students in 2016 found that smokers of weed have a high rate of withdrawal from school.

4. THC can also interact with other medications, and so you need to consult with a doctor if it’s safe to consume THC while on other drugs.

It should be noted that the effects of THC depending on the individual. Some people feel calm and relax after consuming THC while others may experience a level of anxiety. The type of strain can also determine the effects. So, it is advisable that you experiment with the strains and see which ones suit you best.

There is still little known about the long-term effects of THC. So far, research that has already been conducted is inconclusive and so more research is required.

Long term side effects

  1. Brain changes
    A recent study shows that frequent consumption of THC can possibly cause changes in the corpus callosum part of the brain. The data were obtained from persons who reported their cannabis use. Due to the self-reported data, there is no guarantee that the information was accurate and so more research would be required to verify the research’s accuracy.

  2. Bronchitis
    It is well-known that smoking can cause respiratory problems such as bronchitis and so it is preferable to vape marijuana instead of smoking it.

  3. Psychosis
    For persons who already have psychotic issues, THC in marijuana can worsen the symptoms. Research shows that regular cannabis use can increase the symptoms of psychosis.

  4. Memory issues
    A study in March 2016 found that frequent consumption of marijuana over a long period of time can cause memory loss. However, this study is inconclusive and requires more research considering that the sample size was small and self-reported.

Although there are many side effects of THC, none of them has been scientifically proven to be fatal. There is also little risk of having an addiction to THC.

Types of THC Products

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There are different forms of THC for different purposes. THC is available in buds, oils, tinctures, capsules, and edibles.

Medical products

There have been two medical products approved by the FDA since the legalization of cannabis. These two medical products, dronabinol, and nabilone, are made from the cannabinoid THC. Dronabinol is a medicine that is used by patients who have developed nausea from chemotherapy. Canada and the United Kingdom have approved nabiximols (Sativex) as a drug to treat muscle problems. It contains a concentration of THC. However, this medical drug is not yet approved by the FDA.

Recreational products

1. Marijuana Flower

This is a well-known form of marijuana. In the marijuana plant, the flower is the part that contains the highest concentration of THC. There are two main types of strains: Indica and Sativa. Although there are different kinds of marijuana due to crossbreeding. Traditionally, the flower must be dried. Then, it must be separated from the stem and seeds. This flower is consumed by smoking through a pipe or bong. Also, marijuana flower can be converted into a concentrate and vaped, which is a popular way of consuming marijuana flower these days.

2. Marijuana Concentrates

Concentrates are an easy way to get high without having to deal with the plant itself. Concentrates are high in THC, and so they can provide the user with a euphoric ‘high’. The THC concentration in marijuana concentrates higher than other forms because THC, as well as other cannabinoids, are separated using solvents such as alcohol or butane. The extract from the concentrate is used to make shatter, wax or budder.

There are several different types of marijuana concentrates.  Some of these concentrates are solvent-based while some are solvent-less. These concentrates can be used along with the marijuana flower when smoking because they have a high potency level.

  • Shatter - Shatter is the most popular type of concentrate. It has a solid-like form. It is flexible and easy to utilize. Shatter has a high THC content.

  • Wax- This type of concentrate has a waxy form and is dark and sticky. Based on the consistency, it is referred to as budder or crumbles. Crumble is wax that is cracked while budder wax is more like glue.

3. THC oil

THC oil, as its name suggests, is oil that is extracted from cannabis that contains a high concentration of THC. One such THC oil is the Rick Simpson oil. It was named after the activist who created it. He claims that the application of the oil on his skin healed cancer spots within a couple of days. This oil contains a high concentration of THC as well as other cannabinoids. Scientific research is needed to verify these claims, though.

4. Topicals

Topical applications are a new innovative way of using cannabis. Topicals include lotions and balms. These products can be applied to the skin to provide relief from pain and inflammation. Some of these topicals contain THC, but the amount of THC concentration will not get you high.

5. Marijuana Edibles

Edibles have become a popular and convenient way to consume cannabis. Eating your favorite meal with a little of your favorite weed is quite a remarkable option. These edibles usually have a THC level from 5mg to 10 mg per serving. However, Elvis, a medical marijuana cookie contains more than the stipulated amount. It contains 1000mg of THC.

Considerably, edibles that are made with THC have become an issue in states that have legalized marijuana due to a problem with overdoses. Generally, people consume more than enough edibles because they are not checking the dosage. The dosage in edibles is difficult to regulate. Too much THC can get a person high. Marijuana edibles take up to 2 hours to operate, but it can last a longer period of time in the body. Unlike smoking cannabis, edibles can last up to 8 hours. They are also available in pill form like supplements.

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