What is THCP?

Liz Filmer
08 Nov 2023

THCP is found at trace levels in some strains of cannabis and can be created in a laboratory by altering legal hemp-derived CBD. It was discovered accidentally by Italian researchers in 2019 during analysis of a particular cannabis strain.

After the incredible commercial success of Delta 8 THC, the cannabis industry seems to be regularly discovering new varieties of hemp-derived cannabinoids that are more than capable of knocking Delta 9 THC off its top spot in future years. These cannabinoids are all popular in the ever-changing and evolving cannabis landscape, and THCP is one of the latest on the scene. 

THCP is proving a potential contender thanks to its genetic chemical makeup, which may provide both a potent new high for recreational users and practical therapeutic benefits for medical patients. However, researchers have still barely begun to explore its full potential.

About THCP

THCP is an organically derived cannabinoid that is similar to delta-9 THC. THCP can also be created in a lab through the chemical manipulation of CBD, which has been legally extracted from hemp. For THCP to have any real commercial value at the current time, it has to be lab-manufactured. There are not high enough levels of it in actual cannabis flower to make extraction cost-effective.

Everything currently known about THCP originates from the 2019 study that introduced it to the world. There has not yet been any human research, so we know very little for sure about safety issues or side effects, apart from what can be guessed based on other forms of THC.

Does THCP get you high?

The Italian researchers who discovered THCP carried out experiments on cultured human cells. They found that THCP can bind 33 times more effectively with the CB1 receptor than its delta-9 THC counterpart. The CB1 receptor is the most critical cannabinoid receptor for inducing psychoactive effects. Additionally, THCP was also found to bind more readily with the CB2 receptor.

That doesn’t mean THCP can take you 33 times higher than Delta 9, as there is probably a limit to any cannabinoid’s ability to stimulate the endocannabinoid receptors. It does, however, remain possible that THCP will be more potent than delta-9 THC, and it might indeed get you very high.

The presence of small amounts of THCP in some cannabis strains could explain why those strains are more intoxicating than other strains containing similar or even higher levels of delta-9 THC. In the future, cannabis breeders may choose to create strains with higher concentrations of THCP to emphasise its effects.

What are the effects of THCP?

The scientists who discovered THCP conducted standard rodent experiments to gauge the physical effects of THCP. The mice displayed reduced activity levels at lower doses and a trance-like state—at higher doses. THCP also appeared to be effective as a pain killer at higher doses.

The capacity of THCP to bind so effectively with cannabinoid receptors in the human body could make it highly beneficial for both recreational users and medicinal patients. This is thanks to its rumoured abilities as a pain and nausea reliever, as well as a sleep aid. The scientists who discovered THCP back in 2019 wrote that “the discovery of this extremely potent cannabinoid may shed light on several effects that are not ascribable solely to delta 9 THC.”

Of course, the robust nature of THCP could also have a hand in the unwelcome THC side effects like cotton mouth, paranoia and anxiety. However, until we see the research results on human subjects, we’re mostly guessing.

Is THCP legal?

Hemp and its compounds and derivatives were legalised in the US per the 2018 Farm Bill. This is as long as they are found to contain less than 0.3 per cent delta 9 THC.

Individual states, however, tend to enforce their laws on hemp-derived cannabinoids. Some states have banned or limited the availability of all “artificially derived cannabinoids,” including Delta-8 and THC-P.

Most products available with THCP in the name contain THCP mixed with a blend of more common and cheap hemp-derived cannabinoids. You can buy vapes and oils containing THCP, tinctures, gummies, waxy concentrates for dabbing, and “THCP flower,” just hemp flower infused with a THCP blend. Whether the amounts contained in current products are enough to induce effects is yet to be seen, and more research is needed on this promising hemp-derived cannabinoid.

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Hemp derived cannabinoids


Liz Filmer