Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9-THC), or short for THC, is a cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. 

By now, tokers and non-tokers alike will be familiar with this cannabinoid’s psychoactive properties and medicinal benefits. 

But how does this cannabinoid work? And does THC have any other benefits aside from getting its users high? 

If you don’t know, you are in luck!

Today, we will be discussing how THC gets us high and its many other medicinal benefits. By the end of this article, you’ll be a cannaficionado on this cannabis compound!

What is THC?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a phytocannabinoid, a cannabinoid produced in the trichomes of the cannabis plant. Although the cannabis plant possesses many compounds and cannabinoids, THC is one of the most common and arguably, one of the important. 

As we have also learned, it comes from the cannabis plant and has many benefits and uses that we’ll touch on later.

That said, the cannabis plant produces cannabinoids for selfish reasons. These compounds offer protection from pests, pathogens, and the impacts of weather. 

Cannabis is a versatile plant, and it has been optimized overtime to produce more of the compounds we want.

These compounds include the most common CBD and THC alongside other compounds such as CBN, THCA and more.

How Does Tetrahydrocannabinol Work?

how thc works

THC is a phytocannabinoid, which means it is naturally occurring within the plant.

Inside our bodies, we have a natural endocannabinoid system. This system produces endocannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids – made internally) and provides a means for us to process them.

These endocannabinoids have a massive assortment of critical impacts on the human body in normal and abnormal functioning, controlling everything from hunger and mood to libido and energy. 

The ECS is complex, which is why we wrote an entirely separate endocannabinoid system guide to explain how it works.  

To sum it up, the endocannabinoid system has two primary endocannabinoids which function as cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. The first one is anandamide (ADA) and the second one is 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These receptors send and receive signals from the brain to the rest of the body. 

These receptors also have enzymes, which can either create or break down endocannabinoids into fatty acids. 

If you’re feeling hungry, it’ll be because your ECS is producing more endocannabinoids to let your body know it’s time to eat. After you’ve eaten, these endocannabinoids will break down and you’ll return to normal.

When we smoke, eat, or vape cannabis, extra cannabinoids are introduced into our system.  To get into the details, THC acts upon our endocannabinoid system’s natural cannabinoid receptors. 

These receptors are designed to match our endocannabinoids. They are like keys and locks, perfectly matched.

However, the chemical structure of THC is remarkably similar to ADA. This similarity gives THC the ability to activate CB1 and CB2 receptors within the ECS.

Like AEA, THC is a partial agonist at cannabinoid receptor-1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor-2 (CB2). 

And so, medical cannabis attempts to take advantage of these effects for medical benefits. On the other hand, recreational use of marijuana focuses on the psychoactive effects – with THC being the focus.

Comparing CBD and THC

In many ways, THC and CBD are directly opposing forces inside cannabis. This over-simplification does not quite do CBD justice, but it works for our discussion here today. 

Related: CBD vs THC Differences – Is it a Rivalry or Perfect Match?

Hemp-derived CBD products are known to be:

  • Non-psychoactive (does not produce a high)
  • Non-impairing (no motor or cognitive impairment)
  • Anxiety-reducing

The reason why the effects of CBD are so different is because of how it works. 

In short, CBD stimulates the receptors inside your body while THC attaches itself to them. 

The Benefits of THC – Medical Marijuana

medical cannabis thc

Many benefits come from consuming cannabis. 

This list continues to grow as cannabis becomes more medically reviewed. The psychoactive effects are certainly the most well-known, but the list is much longer than that. 

Here are the supposed medicinal effects of THC:

  • Antibacterial
  • Enhances the senses
  • Potential antitumor agent
  • Muscle relaxation
  • May help treat PTSD
  • Anticonvulsant – reduces seizures
  • Reduced muscle spasticity
  • Pain relief – especially related to chronic pain
  • Easing nausea and vomiting
  • Antioxidant
  • Bronchodilator – makes breathing easier.

How to Consume THC

By far, the most popular method for consuming THC has been smoking. This can be in the form of joints or bowls (pipes and bongs). 

In addition, vaping is an alternative that provides the benefits of THC without combustion. Vaporizers offer the ability to stay medicated discreetly and can be used on the go.THC can also be bought in concentrates and extracts that can be smoked, vaped, or dabbed (depending on the exact product).

Additionally, THC topicals help target the skin and the muscles below it. 

And finally, infused edibles and beverages can be ingested, removing the need for fire or vaporization. However, edibles also tend to produce a stronger, more potent high by metabolizing THC into 11-OH-THC.  

No matter how you choose to consume it, there are important considerations. Ensure you start low and go slow! 

Be especially cautious with concentrates, as they possess very high potencies as well as cannabis edibles. Their delayed effects can lead to overconsumption and greening out (avoid double-dosing for at least a couple of hours!). 

No matter the product type, over-consumption can produce side effects. Learn more about them below.

THC Side Effects

Consuming excessive amounts of THC can result in a series of side effects. These can be acute and temporary or chronic and more persistent. For example, it can temporarily cause:

  • Motor impairment 
  • Reduced perceptual-motor control
  • Anxiety
  • Sleepiness
  • Fear or panic
  • Paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations

The best way to avoid these side effects is by consuming moderately. Avoiding over-consumption can reduce the likelihood of the negative effects discussed above. 

Moreover, taking occasional tolerance breaks and avoiding daily consumption of weed is beneficial if you want to reset your cannabis tolerance.

Final Thoughts

Congrats, you made it through! You are now an expert on THC. 

As we have learned, THC is a compound from the cannabis plant. In addition to its psychoactive effects, this cannabinoid also offers various medical benefits ranging from antibacterial and relaxing to tumours inhibiting.

By far, the most popular method of consuming THC is smoking. However, since THC’s humble beginnings, the market has developed a lot, and today, you can find THC in many products such as edibles, topicals and vape pens. 

Looking to give these products a try? Check out our website!

Our online dispensary offers an extensive selection of various THC-infused products, such as discreet vaporizers, delicious edibles and beverages, and your favourite classic flower. Be sure to check them out!

And as always, happy trails!