THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive substance found in cannabis. This is the ingredient that gives us that joyous, euphoric high known the world over. Just mention the word “THC” around some people that look like they own a Phish t-shirt, and you’re likely to have a host of brand new friends.
That said, many pot smokers still have quite a few questions regarding the famous medicinal component, especially in terms of how it interacts with our body and brain to provide that amazing, indescribable “high”.
Here at MarijuanaBreak, we naturally get a lot of questions in regards to all things cannabis, so we decided to share with you some of the most common ones. Without further ado, here is our THC FAQ with 22 of the most common inquires we receive about this amazing cannabinoid.
THC FAQ: Your Most Common Questions Answered
In a general sense, the effects of THC are believed to be due to the compound’s interaction with CB1 receptors in our brain and central nervous system. Studies have shown that THC actively binds to receptors that influence a wide range of cognition – hence the radical psychoactive effects we experience when we smoke weed (especially strains that have a potent THC content).
There is still much to be discovered about cannabis in terms of the physiological, psychological, and behavioral effects that it has on human beings, but with the increase in marijuana legality over recent years, we are hoping that major breakthroughs in medicinal knowledge will be arriving sooner rather than later. Anyway with that in mind, here are some answers to a handful of the most frequently asked questions about THC .
1) When Was THC Discovered?
By most accounts, THC was first discovered in Israel in 1964 by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam – aka the father of modern cannabis. His discovery of THC paved the way for later discoveries, and also earned him numerous honors, including a NIDA Discovery Award in 2011.
2) How is THC produced?
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is produced by the cannabis plant in the form of a carboxylic acid (commonly called THCA). This acidic form of THC is non-psychoactive, which means that fresh, raw cannabis does NOT deliver a high. When heated (decarboxylated), though, THCA transforms into THC, giving it its psychoactive effects.
3) is the “Quality” of THC the same in each Marijuana Strain?
Not quite. It might seem like THC is THC, but the fact is that each strain has the potential to produce radically different amounts of THCA. The decarboxylation process also plays an important role in the final THC product, as excessive heat can cycle THC into a more thermally stable form (delta-8-THC), which is commonly found in poorly-made cannabis extractions.
4) How Long Does THC Stay in Your System?
THC is a “clinger” to fatty tissues; the tissues quickly absorb the chemical when consumed, and then release it slowly back into the blood. In general, standard urine tests can detect traces of THC in your system up to one month after use, though THC metabolites have been detected in hair samples over 90 days after consumption.
5) Are Ultra high-THC strains Better than Low-THC ones?
Not necessarily. It really just depends on the reason(s) you are consuming marijuana. For medical purposes, it is advised to seek strains with a higher level of CBD as this will produce a more mild high. Levels of THC also depend on your tolerance; in contrast to what most people think, some ultra high-THC strains can produce a strong yet “boring” high, while lower-THC strains can produce more interesting psychoactivity due to their varying terpene and cannabinoid profiles.
6) How is THC Detected in Your System?
There are many ways to detect THC in your system, but the most common way is through urine testing. Other methods include hair, blood, and saliva screening.
7) Are THC Urine Tests Accurate?
The major problem with THC urine tests is that it doesn’t really test for THC, but a different chemical called THC-COOH – a metabolite that is produced when the liver breaks down THC (THC-COOH is actually the chemical that stays in your system and appears on different drug tests).
8) Why Does THC Give You a Euphoric High?
When smoked, THC enters into the bloodstream through the lung capillaries and then goes to the brain, where it causes the iconic “high” (which usually can be felt within a few minutes). Here’s how the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains the activity of THC in the brain:
“THC, acting through cannabinoid receptors, activates the brain’s reward system, which includes regions that govern the response to healthy pleasurable behaviors like sex and eating. Like most other drugs of abuse, THC stimulates neurons in the reward system to release the signaling chemical dopamine at levels higher than typically observed in response to natural stimuli. This flood of dopamine contributes to the pleasurable “high” that recreational marijuana users seek.”
9) Can THC Effect My Baby?
Research indicates that the use of marijuana by a mother during the first month of breastfeeding can impair the infant’s motor development. Research also shows more anger and more regressive behavior (thumb sucking, temper tantrums) in toddlers whose parents use marijuana as opposed to those who do not. In other words, it is certainly not advised to consume marijuana while pregnant.
10) Is THC the Same as CBD?
Absolutely not. THC is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana – the compound that produces the “high” effect. CBD is the “second most” talked about cannabinoid in marijuana, but unlike its cousin, it is entirely non-psychoactive (i.e. it does NOT produce a high). Furthermore, CBD is known to actually reduce or counter the psychoactive effects of THC. (Read more about the difference between THC and CBD).
[Congratulations, you’re halfway through the post! Let’s keep chugging along…]
11) How does THC Effect You?
Whether you are smoking marijuana, eating it, dabbing it, or taking it as an oil, THC will almost certainly make you feel “a little different.” For example, you may experience any of the following:
- Pain Relief
- Hunger (serious munchies)
- Red, Dry Eyes
- Dry mouth
- Decreased Body Temperature
- Slow Reaction Time
- Slower reflex time
- Increased Heart-rate
For a more detailed description of the effects of THC, check out our article on what it feels like to be high).
12) Does THC cause Anxiety?
There can be several unpleasant side effects of THC, some of which include paranoia and anxiety. Anecdotally, THC has been known to relieve anxiety in smaller doses but increase it in larger doses. This is likely due to the compound’s biphasic effects, meaning it has opposite effects for low and high doses.
13) How Long Will It Take for The Effects of THC to Wear Off?
The immediate effects of THC are not long, and they tend to wear off significantly within 2-3 hours. However, you may still experience a “lingering” high for several hours after that.
14) Does THC Have Any Long-Term Effects on Your Body?
If you are not a marijuana smoking fanatic, then you’re most probably not going to turn into The Dude from The Big Lebowski. With that said, however, it is important to understand that the long-term effects of THC are not yet fully understood. It is therefore important to consume marijuana responsibly. Only over the last couple of years have researchers begun to explore the long-term impact of THC on our bodies.
15) Is Marijuana (and/or THC by itself) Addictive?
Addiction is a very complex topic. It’s possible for people to get addicted to anything that is pleasurable. While marijuana addiction is real, it is certainly a less significant addiction than other substances. Statistics say, for example, that 9% of people who use marijuana become dependent on it, compared to 32% of tobacco users, 20% of cocaine users, and 15% of alcohol drinkers.
16) Will I get a Better High By Eating Marijuana Edibles?
Marijuana edibles are an entirely different experience compared to smoking. When consuming edibles, the cannabinoids enter your system through your gastrointestinal tract instead of your lungs. The absorption process is slower, and the effects typically take longer (this is because your body has to process THC through your liver). Once in your liver, however, THC is converted into another chemical called 11-hydroxy-THC, which is more potent and longer-lasting — explaining the intensity of an edible high.
17) How do you Get THC Out of Your System Fast?
There is no real trick to “getting THC out of your system fast,” but there are a few DIY methods you can try in an effort to dilute the amount of THC in your system. Check out an in-depth guide on how to do it by reading our article “The Dilution Method“.
18) I Grow Cannabis, How Can I Increase THC levels?
In most cases, this depends entirely on the type of marijuana strain you are trying to grow. If your strain doesn’t have the genetic potential of providing high THC levels, you can try as many different methods as you want, but they probably won’t work.
[Want to increase THC levels? Check out our 5 hacks to increase THC when Growing Weed.]
19) I Don’t Feel the effects of THC. What Should I do?
Everybody has a different tolerance level when it comes to THC and marijuana. Some will feel the “high” immediately, while for others, it will take longer (if at all). To maximize your high, it’s best to try different strains and also different ways of consumption. Please note however that it is important to consult with your physician before any intake.
20) Do I need a Medical Marijuana Card to Purchase THC?
It depends on where you live. In some states, those who want to purchase marijuana with high levels of THC are required to obtain a medical marijuana card. With that said, some states have made cannabis legal recreationally, allowing for legal adult use for state residents over the age of 21 (check here for an updated list of marijuana laws in the U.S.).
21) What are the Positive Effects of THC?
Apart from giving you a stimulating “high,” THC has actually been shown to have numerous positive effects on both the brain and body. Cannabinoids like THC are considered neuroprotectants, meaning they can protect brain cells from damage caused by things like inflammation and oxidative stress. They are also known to promote the growth of new brain cells.
22) What are the Medical Benefits of THC?
Over the years, THC has (among other things) been found to provide therapeutic relief from:
- Pain relief
- Nausea and vomiting
- Decreased appetite
- Sleep aid
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
THC FAQ: Wrapping it All Up
Phew, congratulations for making through to the end of the article! As we mentioned earlier, there is still much to learn about cannabis, its medical effects, and how THC works on a chemical and physiological basis to influence processes in both our body and mind.
That said, we hope the answers to some of these THC frequently asked questions were helpful and informative, and that you learned at least a little bit by spending this time with us. Thanks for tuning in, and if you’ve got any more questions about THC, be sure to post them on our Facebook page or in the comments section below!