Nowadays, you can order gummies, vapes, tinctures made from all kinds of Hemp-derived cannabinoids that’ll have your eyes glazed and probably hungry.
With some of the latest cannabinoids being THC-O and THC-P.
But, what’s the difference between these 2? Keep reading for our THC-O vs THCP comparison.
What is the THC-O Cannabinoid?
THC-O is the ester version of THC. Meaning its THC that has been altered at a molecular level, using acetic anhydride and sulfuric acid to create THCO. You’ll also find THCO frequently named as:
- THC-O Acetate
Pretty much, THC-O is a modified variety of the good ol’ Delta-9 or 8.
Supposedly, the first known attempts to produce THC-O date back to 1955 – 1975. Back then, the U.S Army Chemical Corps conducted a series of unscrupulous classified medical studies in which THC-O is rumored to have been a compound of interest for testing.
Ultimately, THC-O is an analog to THC, and both turn into the same detectable metabolite THC-COOH after the compound is metabolized if consumed.
Picture analog compounds as close family members, e.g. cousins.
So, cousins do share similar genes, right?
That’s the case with the THC-O and Delta-9 fam gang. Both compounds have a relatively similar molecular structure.
However, analog compounds are not exactly the same. Instead, there’s always one unique component that sets them apart.
The key to THC-O’s unique potency and effects is in the molecule. THC-O has an acetate molecule, while Delta-9 lacks such an addition.
As a rule of thumb, THC-O can only be manufactured in a lab setting as a rule of thumb.
Yup, there’s quite some volatile chemistry involved.
To produce THC-O, experts need extensive knowledge and advanced technology.
And before you ask, no, it’s not possible to just whip a batch of THC-O in a DIY home setting.
What Is The THC-P Cannabinoid?
THCP (Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol) is one of the newest cannabinoids to hit the global hemp stage.
The discovery of this unique compound was first announced in December 2019 by a team of Italian researchers. And hell yeah, it was a blast.
What’s with the hype though?!
Well, THCP is 33x times more potent than Delta 9 THC. So, in theory, 1mg THCP is equivalent to 33mg Delta-9 THC.
Yup. It’s mega potent.
Along with THC-P, the Italian researchers’ team also discovered CBDP (Cannabidiphorol).
Both THCP and CBDP are regarded as stepping stones in the new age science of hemp.
Just like with THC-O, to decode THCP’s potency and potential benefits, we need to look at the very structure of the molecule.
Discovering THCP was nothing less than groundbreaking news.
Researchers came across a naturally occurring cannabinoid that contains more than 5 carbon atoms in its alkyl side chains for the first time ever.
Ok, I know that this whole talk over here tends to feel quite scientific. But stick with me. It will make sense soon. Promise!
The thing is, the effects of each cannabinoid are determined by the size and the shape of the molecule.
Most cannabinoid molecules consist of alkyl side chains. These alkyl side chains contain a string of carbon atoms. For example, THC and CBD have 5 carbon atoms in their alkyl side chains.
But with THCP, we have 7 carbon atoms involved.
You see, size does matter in every aspect of our world, and the ganja world is not an exception to this rule.
Cannabinoids bind with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the human body through the alkyl side chains. That’s why alkyl side chains play such a crucial role in how we get to experience cannabis.
With its one-of-a-kind alkyl chain that contains 7 and not 5 carbon atoms, consumption leads to effects that cannot be experienced with any other cannabinoid that we know outside of THCP.
THCP Is The First Of Its Kind
So far, experts have managed to create synthetic cannabinoids with alkyl side chains longer than the 5-carbon atom tail of THC.
It’s the reason why some synthetic versions of THC have effects that are often much stronger than even the most potent hydro.
But, before THCP, we didn’t know of any naturally produced cannabinoid with such a structure or potency.
THC-O VS THC-P
THCP Is Natural
- THC-O is a synthetic cannabinoid
- THCP is a natural phytocannabinoid
As a rule of thumb, all cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant are entirely natural compounds. So, usually, we simply refer to them as cannabinoids.
Scientifically, natural cannabinoids are called phytocannabinoids.
The human body also produces its own set of cannabinoids, and these are known as endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids).
In the meantime, the science of ganja keeps evolving, and so experts proceed to create various derivatives of phytocannabinoids.
That’s how synthetic cannabinoids like THC-O are born.
As the name implies, synthetic cannabinoids are not naturally produced by the Cannabis plant family.
However, synthetic cannabinoids, just like phytocannabinoids, work in the human body through the endogenous cannabinoid system.
The truth is, there are various concerns related to the safety of synthetic and semi-synthetic cannabinoids. But nonetheless, synthetic cannabinoids continue to be studied for their high potential in medicinal use.
Ultimately, we end up experiencing a completely different type of high based on the cannabinoids we choose to consume.
The Current THC-P On The Market Is Likely Semi-Synthetic
The current THCP on the market is more likely than not semi-synthetic.
This means it is produced by the chemical conversion of CBD to Delta 8 and then into THCP.
That’s the only financially possible approach at this point because THCP is only available in very tiny quantities in hemp.
Thus, extracting a substantial amount of the compound directly from hemp would require an enormous amount of plant material, making it uneconomical.
THC-P Is More Potent
33x times more potent than Delta 9 THC, to be precise. Period.
Woah, that’s what I mean when I say I am getting my socks knocked off puffing on THCP carts or popping a 1mg gummy.
Yup! THCP is much, much stronger than THC-O. That’s why you only need a very tiny amount of THCP to experience potent effects.
Stronger binding to CB receptors isn’t always a good thing, and could lead to more adverse effects so be cautious.
THC-O Acetate Takes Ages To Hit
One of the most significant differences in the effects of THC-O VS THCP?
THC-O takes at least 30 minutes to hit when inhaled. The high creeps in even slower when it comes to THC-O edibles.
Yet the high with THC-O also tends to last longer than with THCP.
Regardless of the consumption method, THC-O has to be metabolized appropriately before we can feel the effects. This has to do with the fact that THC-O is a prodrug to THC.
Prodrugs can improve bioavailability after absorption. This can turn the “otherwise negative effects of first-pass metabolism into an advantage,” as highlighted in an article by Medical Cannabis Network.
THCP Isn’t A Gray Area When Extracted From Hemp
When extracted from hemp, THCP is legal under the 2018 Farm Bill.
But when produced synthetically, the legality of THCP remains a gray area.
Currently, the THCP products available on the market fall under the same gray area as THC-O because they are both semi-synthetically produced.
Natural VS Synthetic Cannabinoids
In short summary, some cannabinoids can be synthetically produced. This is often the case with some natural cannabinoids that occur in only trace amounts in cannabis plants.
Also, the science of synthetic cannabinoids aims to create and explore new pathways for cannabis to work its way into the human body and provide unique effects.
A shortlist of natural cannabinoids produced by the Cannabis Sativa plant family.
Some of these cannabinoids occur in smaller amounts than others. For example, CBD and THC are the two most abundant cannabinoids.
Meanwhile, other minor cannabinoids like CBN and CBG are naturally found in low amounts.
Even though low, the amount is substantial enough for experts to extract the desired cannabinoids directly from hemp.
In an intriguing article created by Dr. Guillermo Moreno-Sanz (Ph.D. in Neuroscience), semi-synthetic cannabinoids are regarded as the human attempt to “better nature”
Semi-synthetic cannabinoids often occur naturally in cannabis plants but only in small amounts.
However, experts can apply the needed know-how to convert CBD into any of the cannabinoids noted below.
Since the conversion is not a natural process that occurs within the cannabis plant itself, these cannabinoids are termed semi-synthetic:
Outside of the foray of new semi-synthetic cannabinoids being touted as the next best thing, the medical cannabis community has long depended on synthetically produced cannabinoids.
Interestingly enough, the most famous of these is the synthetic version of Delta-9-THC called Marinol (dronabinol).
Marinol is an FDA-licensed prescription medicine, often used to aid an increase in appetite and to treat nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.
The reason why synthetic cannabinoids like Dronabinol are preferred by some in the medical community is simply because of the consistency of effects compared to marijuana flower, which can vary in THC % batch to batch.
Wrapping Up: THC-O VS THCP
Which one do you choose when it comes down to THCO VS THCP?
This question is simply some food for thought, actually. But, of course, everything about cannabis is strictly personal, and so is your choice on which cannabinoid caters best to your taste.
Both THCP and THCO provide a distinct type of buzz that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.
Please, remember that science has no clear answers about the potential long-term effects of semi-synthetic cannabinoids produced in this new era of Hemp conversions. Therefore, consume at your own risk.