THC, otherwise known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the many compounds found in resin secreted by the marijuana plant. Other cannabinoids include CBD, which is a compound that does not produce a high.
THC stimulates brain cells to release dopamine and also attaches itself to receptors that impact a person’s memory, sense of pleasure, thinking, coordination, and concentration, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
While most people assume THC with getting high, this unique compound also has a wide variety of medical benefits.
Unique THC History
Some studies point towards THC’s effectiveness as a chronic pain treatment. Others suggest THC serves as an effective treatment for symptoms associated with PTSD.
THC was first isolated in 1964 by an eager Israel postdoctoral student named Raphael Mechoulam. While studying during the early 1960s, Mechoulam was puzzled why the active compound in marijuana was still unknown, even though the active compound in both morphine and cocaine had been separated a century before.
The young researcher turned to friends in the police department to (illegally) obtain cannabis for research. In 1963, Mechoulam was able to determine the structure of CBD and managed to isolate THC a year later.
He and his team spent the next few decades isolating other compounds from cannabis and gained valuable insights on how the plant affected the brain.
Right before the turn of the millennium, Mechoulam penned a paper describing the ‘entourage effect,” arguing each of the many compounds in the cannabis plant works better together than as isolated substances.
Many other researchers have come alongside Raphael Mechoulam to study and gain insights from THC. Keep reading for a list of other surprising and interesting facts about the compound.
- The Cannabis Plant Makes THC For Protection: The cannabis plant is able to grow in a variety of climate and environments. Different cannabinoids, like THC (which is converted from THCA), appear on surface glands called trichomes. Trichomes help the cannabis plant protect against insects, retain water, defend against frost, and keep in water when the climate is windy. Some, like Raphael Mechoulam, believe THC also might serve as an antimicrobial since plants don’t have an immune system.
- Does Medical Marijuana Have THC? Yes And No: There’s hundreds of cannabis strains available for purchase and use. Many strains are a hybrid of Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa, which both have large THC levels. Cannabis indica is known to help with stress and anxiety reduction, while Cannabis sativa is often consumed by those interested in increased energy and euphoria. Different hybrids will have different concentrations of CBD, which can modify and mitigate some of the effects of THC. Those interested in a smaller amount of THC’s psychotropic effect opt for cannabis strains that have larger amounts of CBD. THC has a large number of medicinal uses and can even be used on animals like dogs to relieve pain and anxiety. Marinol, a medicine crafted with synthetic THC, has been approved by the FDA to treat appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting due to cancer chemotherapy.
- No, You Can’t Die From Overdosing On Marijuana: While it’s not possible to overdose directly from smoking marijuana, ingesting too much can alter your mind to where you suffer from intense hallucinations that could cause you to get into a variety of dangerous situations. There has not been any research pointing to how much marijuana would be needed to cause an overdose. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wrote in a 2017 resource guide how there’s been no reported deaths from a marijuana overdose. Back in 1988, a DEA judge named Robert Young argued for removing marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs since a person would need to “consume around 1,500 pounds of weed within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response,” according to him.
- THC’s Lifecycle In The Body Varies: Cannabis detection will depend on how much is smoked or ingested, along with the schedule and intensity of doses. In general, cannabis can be seen in urine anywhere from three to 30 days since cannabis metabolites bind to fat molecules that can take large amounts of time to leave the body. Cannabis can be seen in the bloodstream within seconds after inhalation and is often able to be picked up until at least a few days after, according to an article in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.
- The Amount Of THC In Weed Can Be Vastly Different: Th actual amount of THC in marijuana is going to depend on the concentration and how the cannabis in ingested. For example, those who dab usually will intake high concentrations of THC, since wax often has at least 70% THC. Some dabs contain over 90% THC, which is a far cry from most joints that generally contain less than 25% THC. Most bowls will contain 0.25 grams of weed, but some believe up to 60% of the THC could be burned off during combustion, reducing the amount of THC that actually makes its way into the body. The same story is often seen with joints – a study published in 1990 published in the UK said 40-50% of THC is lost through smoking a joint. Most joints will contain about 0.32 grams of marijuana, according to 2016 analysis in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
- There’s Controversy About The Strongest Weed Ever Recorded: A variety of labs and people have claimed to make weed with the highest THC content ever recorded. Back in 2018, 7 Points Oregon claimed their ‘Future’ strain, at 37.28% THC content, was the strongest sample ever grown after submitting the strain for lab tests. However, a Berlin politician revealed some interesting statistics when answering questions about cannabis seized between 2007 and 2017. The politician claimed a stash seized had a 44% THC level, while ones taken in 2009 and 2011 were just a few percentage points behind.
- Several U.S. Presidents Were Said To Have Smoked Weed: Discussion over the Founding Father’s weed habits has been a contentious issue. Most research suggests if people like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson smoked, it most likely was weed without THC. However, President Zachary Taylor smoked when he was the French Ambassador and John F. Kennedy took advantage of marijuana to deal with back pain. Bill Clinton claimed to experiment with cannabis in England but says he did not ‘inhale.’
The Powerful Impact Of THC
Many know the effects of marijuana, but few might understand the powerful impact THC can have in the medical world, aside from inducing a high. Continued research into THC only reveals more fascinating insights and information about the cannabinoid.