Cannabidiol (CBD) still dominates the global hemp industry, but dozens of alternative cannabinoids are steadily gaining a significant market share. Interestingly, many cannabinoids related to the famed “delta-9 THC” are surging in popularity as customers search for legal ways to experiment with THC’s psychoactive effects. Most notably, the hemp-derived cannabinoid delta-8 THC has grown tremendously, with an estimated $2 billion in sales in recent years. Another cannabinoid called “THCP” is also gaining popularity due to its novelty and reputation for offering one of the “highest highs” ever recorded in cannabis.
While it’s getting easier to find delta-8 and THCP in various forms, consumers need to understand there are significant distinctions between these products — especially in edibles like gummies. Scientists are still researching the intricacies of delta-8 versus THCP gummies, but there are a few considerations to consider when picking between these compounds.
Delta-8 vs. THCP — What Are the Key Differences?
Arguably, delta-8 and THCP have more similarities than differences. Both cannabinoids are psychoactive and naturally occuring in marijuana and hemp plants, albeit in small concentrations. Since it’s impractical from a cost perspective to extract delta-8 or THCP and sell it, manufacturers manipulate CBD molecules in a lab setting to produce synthetic delta-8 or THCP products for consumers. Also, since delta-8 and THCP aren’t the same as “delta-9 THC,” they are in a legal gray area in the USA. The 2018 US Farm Bill only specifies delta-9 THC as an illegal substance in hemp-derived products, so it’s technically legal to offer hemp delta-8 and THCP to customers. However, due to the psychoactivity both delta-8 and THCP provoke, some states and cities have issued local bans on these hemp derivatives.
Despite these similarities, delta-8 and THCP aren’t the same compound. In fact, when lab technicians examine these cannabinoids under a microscope, they note significant molecular distinctions. Delta-8 THC’s notable feature is its double-bond on the eighth carbon atom (hence the “8” in its title). THCP, however, has an “alkyl side chain” with seven carbon atoms versus the standard “five” in delta-9 THC.
Chemists don’t know precisely how these molecular differences influence delta-8 versus THCP, but many believe THCP’s structure increases its potential for psychoactivity. Although we didn’t know THCP existed till 2019, preliminary rat trials suggest THCP’s longer alkyl side chain produces an intense psychoactive experience that could be 33x stronger than delta-9 THC. By contrast, trials and anecdotal reports surrounding delta-8 THC suggest its psychoactivity isn’t as potent as delta-9’s. Most surveys surrounding delta-8 use suggest it has a sedating and relaxing effect similar to famous indica cannabis strains like Hindu Kush or Granddaddy Purps.
So, Are THCP Gummies Stronger than Delta-8 THC Gummies?
Since there’s not much clinical data on THCP or delta-8 THC gummies, it’s impossible to say anything with scientific certainty when comparing these substances. However, there’s no denying THCP is the more experimental cannabinoid because we don’t have as much info on its effects versus delta-8. Also, the preliminary findings we have on THCP gummies strongly suggest they’re more potent than delta-8 gummies.
THCP’s longer alkyl side chain seems to have a greater affinity with CB1 and CB2 receptors, meaning it produces greater psychoactivity with lower doses. For this reason, THCP gummies are more likely to provoke intense adverse side effects like paranoia, confusion, and memory impairment versus comparative amounts of delta-8 THC gummies.
While this doesn’t mean delta-8 THC is “risk-free,” it doesn’t appear to provoke as intense side effects as frequently versus THCP gummies. Therefore, it’s safest for customers to avoid THCP gummies if they don’t know how THC affects their bodies. Also, even if people have a high THC tolerance, it’s imperative to take extremely low doses of THCP on the first try to safely experiment with this new compound.
What Makes THCP and Delta-8 Edibles Different From Other Hemp Products?
Customers must remember that edible gummies are radically different from other hemp delivery methods like tinctures, vape carts, and smokable hemp flowers. THCP and delta-8 candy looks and tastes innocent, but it’s far more common for consumers to get impatient for results and take high doses of these yummy sugar-drenched edibles.
Since tasty sweet & sour gummies must go through the liver before cannabinoids pass the blood-brain barrier, it often takes a few hours before the effects hit the endocannabinoid system (ECS). If people take too much of a THCP or delta-8-infused gummy early on, they increase the odds of having a negative experience ranging from paranoid thoughts and delusions to uncontrollable shaking.
Also, research into cannabinoid metabolism suggests THC molecules transform into the more potent 11-hydroxy-THC once they pass through the liver. 11-hydroxy-THC may amplify a THC molecule’s potency, increasing the risk of paranoid side effects if customers take too many delta-8 or THCP gummies early in their session.
The only way to mitigate these risks is to start with below the lowest recommended dosage for delta-8 or THCP gummies. It’s always safest to start with the smallest possible dosage and patiently wait for the symptoms to hit to evaluate how these cannabinoids affect your ECS.
People allergic to ingredients like gelatin or who are on vegan, gluten-free, or vegetarian diet also need to be extra cautious about which THC gummies they choose.
THCP vs. Delta-8 Gummies — Delicious or Dangerous?
Customers who want to begin dabbling with natural delta-9 THC analogs should only focus on delta-8 THC for the moment. At this point, we have far less data on THCP’s effects, and what little we know suggests THCP is extremely powerful. Even at low doses, THCP food products are more likely to induce significant side effects, so steer clear of THCP until you know how your body reacts to milder variants like delta-8 THC. For those who want to avoid any psychoactive reactions, it’s still best to stay with non-psychoactive hemp cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, and CBN, all of which have a lower risk of paranoia.