The hemp industry has entered an “era of discovery” as more customers hunt for new and exciting compounds. Although the non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) remains the most influential cannabinoid in the hemp sector, chemicals related to delta-9 THC — the intoxicating compound in marijuana — are gaining attention. Most notably, hemp-derived delta-8 THC products are now a multi-billion dollar industry.
To capture a slice of the green THC analog market, more hemp extractors are exploring dozens of natural and synthetic psychoactive cannabinoids that offer unique experiences. Although all this activity is exciting for hemp fans, it also adds a lot of confusion to this new market. Since the research on hemp cannabinoids is so new, there are many unanswered questions about how different THC cannabinoids affect consumers.
For instance, scientists didn’t know THCP existed until a few years ago, which leads many people to ask how it differs from more popular extracts like delta-8 THC. If anyone is thinking about experimenting with new hemp cannabinoids like THCP or delta-8 THC, they need to gather as much data as possible to make an informed decision.
Understanding THCP versus Delta-8 THC — The Basic Facts
The only difference scientists know about THCP and delta-8 THC is that they have unique chemical structures. Specifically, THCP has an unusually long “alkyl side chain,” meaning there are more carbon atoms on this molecule’s tail versus delta-8 or delta-9 THC. When Italian researchers discovered THCP, they found this cannabinoid has seven carbon atoms in the alkyl side chain versus the five in delta-9 and delta-8. Also, delta-8 THC is the only hemp cannabinoid with a double-bond on its eighth carbon chain, which helps explain the “eight” in its name.
Although researchers agree on the chemical distinctions between THCP and delta-8, there’s no hard evidence on how these structures may influence the body’s endocannabinoid system. However, since delta-8 has been around for longer than THCP, there’s more evidence on its potential impact on customers. Also, since delta-8 is more widely accessible in the hemp market, it’s easier to find anecdotal testimonies on these products on social media sites like Reddit versus THCP.
At this point, we have no clinical trials on THCP’s impact on people, but researchers involved in the preliminary Italian test examined this cannabinoid’s effect on mice. According to their findings, THCP binds to the brain’s CB1 receptors 30x times more than delta-9 THC. Since delta-8 seems to have a weaker impact versus delta-9 THC, it’s likely THCP binds even more aggressively in the endocannabinoid system (ECS) compared with delta-8 products.
So, Is THCP More Potent Than Delta-8 THC?
After reading THCP binds with CB1 receptors roughly 30x more than delta-8, many customers assume THCP concentrate has a more substantial psychoactive impact. Indeed, some people already nickname THCP as the “psychedelic cannabinoid” due to its supposedly incredible potency. Although the preliminary mice trials on THCP suggest it has a stronger affinity with the ECS at low doses, it’s still difficult to say anything with scientific certainty. There’s simply too little clinical evidence on THCP to “know” it’s more psychoactive than delta-8.
All that being said, it’s safe to assume THCP offers a more profound psychoactive experience compared with delta-8 products. Recent anecdotal testimonies on THCP strongly suggest this cannabinoid produces a more “heady” high sensation comparable to sativa weed strains. Traditionally, sativa cannabis hybrids are associated with an increased risk of adverse reactions like a racing mind, paranoia, and confusion. It also doesn’t help that THCP has far less scientific literature backing it up, making it a more experimental choice versus delta-8 THC.
By contrast, there’s a lot of emerging anecdotal and clinical data on delta-8 THC suggesting it offers a soothing “delta-9 lite” experience. For instance, a study out of Israel’s Shaare Zedek Hospital discovered delta-8 is potentially beneficial for nausea. Research out of the University at Buffalo also compared subjective experiences of delta-8 versus delta-9, and it concluded that delta-8 tends to induce a sleepy stoned high.
Even though delta-8 appears to be the “safer” choice compared to THCP, please remember delta-8 isn’t as tame as non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD. There are many reports of paranoia-related side effects on delta-8 THC products, particularly when taking edibles like gummies or baked goods. If customers don’t already have a THC tolerance, there’s still a chance delta-8 THC items like dabs, vapes, or blunts could provoke panic attacks or anxiety.
When Should Customers Venture To THCP? — A Few Final Considerations
Due to its novelty and purportedly potent effects, THCP is causing a commotion in the hemp industry. Although there’s a lot of excitement surrounding THCP’s impact, customers need to remember there’s a lot we don’t know about this cannabinoid. At this point, it’s still safest to stick with CBD oil since it’s the most well-researched cannabinoid and non-psychoactive. However, if people want a psychoactive experience, lab-tested & hemp-derived delta-8 THC seems to be the safer call. Until we have more clinical data on THCP’s effects, customers must assume it’s more potent than other hemp THC compounds.