The Complete Beginners Guide to THC | cannabisMD

What Is THC? The Complete Beginners Guide to THC

Beginners Guide to THC

THC is also known as tetrahydrocannabinol. It is one of the most widely known cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant along with cannabidiol (CBD). “Marijuana” is colloquial term for the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. Marijuana is one of the most commonly used illicit drugs in the world due to the recreational and medicinal benefits of THC.

THC is the main mind-altering chemical compound found in the cannabis plant which causes the psychoactive effect or “the high” associated with smoking marijuana. There are lots of cannabiniods within the cannabis plant and THC is one of the main ones that we study. The glands secrete THC and can be detected around the reproductive areas of the cannabis plant (this is the most common place to find THC, even though it can be found all over).

There are also other cannabinoids found in the plants resin. This includes the second most famous cannabinoid from the marijuana plant which is the non-psychoactive chemical called cannabidiol (CBD). Studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information state that CBD actually stops the psychoactivity related to THC. CBD and THC are widely used for medicinal purposes but their effects still require more human clinical studies before they can become mainstream treatments.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that, THC mimics the chemicals made by the cannibnoid system in our body. Cannabinoids naturally made by our body are called endocannabinoids and can be found in the endocannabinoid system. Most of us are short on our natural endocannabinoids. The cannabis plant also has similar cannabinoids and therefore holds therapeutic value although it still remains poorly understood.

The endocannabinoid system incorporates neurotransmitters in your brain, immune system and spine that are responsible for pain sensation, mood and more. Dr. Richard Kaufman who is the Chief Science Officer of NanoSphere Health Sciences and Evolve Formulas explains how cannabinoids work “with your endocannabinoid system to make things happen. [As they] bind [to] and activate receptors in the brain called ‘cannabinoid receptors 2’ (CB2) and selectively blocks other receptors in the brain – the CB1 receptors.”

Cannabinoid receptors can be found around the brain that correlate with functions of pleasure, thinking, memory, time perception and coordination. The cannabinoid receptors can be attached by THC which therefore will have an impact on ones memory, concentration, pleasure, coordination, thinking and perception of senses and time.

Raphael Mechoulam, the grandfather of medical marijuana, is accredited for the discovery of the endocannabinoid system and the discovery that THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the specific psychoactive compound within the cannabis plant.

Bodily Effects of THC

THC activates certain cells within our brain, causing them to release a dose of dopamine and create a sense of euphoria. THC can last anywhere from a few hours and usually takes effect after 10 minutes after edible consumption. More studies are required to properly access the long-term effects of THC.

Some of the impacts of THC are:

  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of elation
  • Increased hear rate levels
  • Memory issues in the short term
  • Similar feelings of being sedated
  • Relaxation
  • Relief of types of pain

A cannabis chemistry expert, A.J. Fabrizio, has been reported to have stated that:

A study in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that other types of cannabinoids, as well as terpenes (compounds that produce flavor and fragrance in plants), can modulate and reduce negative effects.

Marijuana may pause your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery for up to 3 hours after use. After alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently noted substance consumed by drivers. As a result, people prescribed with medical cannabis are advised not to even get into their car, let alone drive, until they are fully able to control their motor skills.

In 2016, research found by the University of Montreal stated that

Early use of marijuana can negatively affect teens. Smokers that start around age 14 do worse on cognitive tests than non-smokers. The study focused on 300 students and also found young cannabis users had a higher school dropout rate. Participants who waited until around 17 to start smoking did not seem to have the same impairments.

However, after research carried out on mice in 2016, small doeses of THC could actually be accountable in improving memory. THC’s impact on memory remains muddled but the ability of THC to impact our memory has been used for PTSD treatment.

THC may also negatively interact with some prescription medications so be sure to communicate and consult with your doctor about it before purchasing or using THC. You should also research local and national laws to assure you are within the laws limitations regarding cannabis purchasing and use.

THC as Medicine

Cannabis has been used in medical practises for an estimated three thousand years, according to the National Cancer Institute. As of the beginning of 2017, half of America had legalized medical marijuana. Many states also went as far as to legalize the drug recreationally.

THC degrades into cannabinol (CBD) when it given way to air. CBD involves independent medical powers. THC levels depends on the type of cannabis plant. According to the North American Industrial Hemp Council, a family member of the cannabis plant that has extremely low traces of THC (as low as 0.5 percent) would be the hemp plant. Hemp is now given for medical and even industrial uses and can also be used for car parts, clothing and making rope. Surprisingly, there are strains of marijuana that only contain 0.3% of THC in weight. THC, in other breeds of the plant, is accountable for making up to 20% in weight samples.

THC can be isolated from the cannabis plant as a light yellow resinous oil or, in regards to dronabinol (FDA approved drug), synthetic THC can be chemically engineered. Dronabinol has many different impacts, but can be used as treatment for nausea related to chemotherapy and to better the appetite of those with AIDS.

Before using THC it is important for you to consult with your doctor or a medical professional. You should check your state or national laws to assure you are acting within the confines of the law. If you cannot acquire THC within your state or country, you may benefit from looking into CBD.

Niamh Tumilty
Niamh Tumilty
Niamh Tumilty is a writer and multimedia producer for cannabisMD where she is constantly evaluating the continued growth of CBD and its presence in the news. Her research and writing on cannabis and CBD can be found at

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