What is THCP?

What is THCP?

A recently discovered cannabinoid compound named THCP, also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabiphorol, was “accidentally” discovered by Italian researchers in 2019 when researching Cannabis Sativa L. This discovery opened a new wave of research on marijuana strains in cannabis, and its potential workings on humans. As delta 8 THC, delta 10 THC, THVC, and HHC became popular on the cannabinoid market, THCP has drawn attention as being a potential next in line. While THCP may provide a potent new high for recreational users, it could also offer new therapeutic benefits for medical patients. Researchers have just barely begun to explore the potential of THCP. Though research on THCP is limited, and there is still a lot to learn on the specific effects and potential medical applications, we will dive into some of the things that we do already know about this compound and its effects on its users.

What is THCP’s Chemical Structure?



First we should learn about the structure of THCP and why it is different from other cannabinoid compounds found in marijuana. 

THCP is an organic cannabinoid (or phytocannabinoid) very similar to delta 9 THC, which is the most abundant cannabinoid in most strains of marijuana. Although first identified as naturally occuring in a particular marijuana strain, THCP can also be manufactured in a lab by chemically manipulating CBD extracted from legal hemp plants. Since not very much THCP can be derived from the actual cannabis flower, it must be concentrated or synthesized in a lab for any sizable quantity to be collected.


THCP’s molecular structure is significantly different from delta 9’s. It has a longer alkyl side chain (the “tail” of atoms that extends out from the bottom of the largest part of the molecule). The oversized side chain, seven carbon atoms versus five in delta 9, allows THCP to bind more readily with human CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, meaning its effects are likely to be more potent in the brain and body compared to Delta 9 THC.

effects of thcp

Is THCP Legal?

Congress legalized hemp and all of its compounds and derivatives in the 2018 Farm Bill, as long as they contain less than 0.3 percent delta 9 THC.
In May 2022 a federal appeals court confirmed that delta 8 THC is a legal hemp product, a decision that seems applicable to other hemp-derived products too, protecting manufacturers, sellers and users from federal enforcement.

Even though hemp is federally legal, states have begun to act on their own to keep hemp-derived cannabinoids off retail shelves, or restricted to licensed cannabis dispensaries, and some states have banned or limited the availability of delta 8 THC alone. THCP is likely to face similar scrutiny if it becomes a more popular compound.

When Was THCP Discovered?

THCP was first identified and isolated in 2019 by a group of Italian researchers led by Dr. Giuseppe Cannazza at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. The discovery of THCP was part of their study on the chemical composition of cannabis plants. They identified THCP as a potential new cannabinoid with a longer side chain than THC, which could potentially contribute to its enhanced binding affinity to cannabinoid receptors. The research findings were published in the scientific journal "Nature" in December 2019. 

There has not been any research on human subjects yet, so we know little about possible THCP safety issues or side effects, except what we can guess based on the effects of other forms of THC.
The Italian scientists who unearthed organic THCP in trials conducted on cultivated human cells, observed that THCP exhibits 33 times stronger affinity towards the CB1 receptor compared to delta 9 THC. This heightened binding capacity is likely due to its elongated side chain consisting of seven atoms. While the CB1 receptor plays a crucial role in inducing psychoactive effects, THCP also demonstrates greater affinity for the CB2 receptor.

How does THCP affect users and is it safe?

As THCP as a standalone compound has not been tested on human subjects yet it is difficult to determine the safety of it. Though it is already present in tiny amounts in marijuana strains, so its safety within other cannabinoids has been found to not be of any danger when dosed correctly.

Since there has not been any research conducted on human subjects, it is hard to determine the exact effects of THCP. However, based on its structural similarity to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it is believed that THCP may interact with the body's endocannabinoid system in a similar manner. 

THC is known for its psychoactive properties and its ability to bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, producing various effects such as relaxation, euphoria, altered perception of time, and increased appetite.

It has been hypothesized that due to its longer side chain, THCP may have a higher affinity for cannabinoid receptors compared to THC. This could potentially result in more potent or long-lasting effects, although this is purely speculative at this point. The scientists who discovered THCP conducted standard cannabis mouse experiments to gauge the new cannabinoid’s physical effects. Mice displayed reduced levels of activity at lower doses, which became catalepsy—a trance-like state—at higher doses. THCP appeared to work as an effective pain killer at higher doses too.

The ability of THCP to bind so effectively with cannabinoid receptors in the body could make it highly valuable—not just as a recreational high, but also to relieve pain, ease nausea, and help users sleep. It seems likely binding affinity with human receptors will make it especially valuable for treating those and other conditions.
It could even be that the small amounts of THCP in existing marijuana strains may be responsible for some of cannabis’ known healing powers. 

It's important to note that individual experiences with cannabinoids can vary widely based on factors such as dosage, mode of consumption, an individual's metabolism, and tolerance. 

For safe usage only use legalized hemp products, as the dosage will be tailored to safe usage. For more info on how to dose hemp-derived cannabinoids like THC check out our Complete Guide to Microdosing THC.

What are some potential side effects of THCP?

The powerful binding affinity of THCP could also magnify the typical unwelcomed THC side effects, like dry mouth and eyes, or anxiety and paranoia. It could even pose new risks for users. But until we see the results of research on human subjects, we’re mostly guessing.

However, based on the general understanding of cannabinoids and their effects, including THC, it is possible that THCP may have similar side effects to THC, albeit potentially more potent. Some common side effects associated with THC use can include:

  1. Cognitive effects: These may include impaired memory, concentration, and coordination. THC can affect cognitive function and reaction times, which may impair activities such as driving or operating machinery.
  2. Psychological effects: THC can induce mood alterations, including euphoria, relaxation, or anxiety. Some individuals may experience heightened anxiety, paranoia, or even panic attacks.
  3. Cardiovascular effects: THC has the potential to increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can pose risks, particularly for individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.
  4. Respiratory effects: If THCP is consumed via smoking, it may have similar respiratory risks as smoking cannabis, including lung irritation and respiratory symptoms.
  5. Appetite and gastrointestinal effects: THC is known to stimulate appetite and can lead to increased food intake or cravings, commonly referred to as the "munchies." Some individuals may also experience gastrointestinal discomfort or changes in digestion.

As research on THCP is still in its early stages, further studies are needed to better understand its specific side effects and long-term implications.

How much more potent is THCP compared to THC?

THCP is very new. There hasn’t been any serious research (or many real-world observations) describing the experience of using THCP as a standalone cannabinoid. Not many people have used it by itself, since almost all current commercial products containing THCP are blends of multiple THC analogs.

We don’t yet have enough knowledge to say exactly how you’ll feel using THCP versus THC-O, for example—or how THCP affects you in comparison to other popular hemp-derived cannabinoids like delta 8, delta 10 or HHC. Again, most of the time, the THCP products currently available contain a mix of delta 8 and THCP, or a cocktail containing several hemp-derived cannabinoids. It’s impossible to tease out the effects of one cannabinoid when it’s blended with two or three others.

Though looking at its potential, it may be more potent than other cannabinoid compounds found in marijuana strains because of its powerful binding affinity with CB1 receptors.

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