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What Is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)?

Understanding THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

THC, short for Tetrahydrocannabinol, is a phytocannabinoid found in the Cannabis sativa species. It is well-known for its psychoactive properties, primarily binding with CB1 receptors in various regions of the brain when consumed through smoking, vaporising, or ingestion.

Effects of THC

THC is often found abundantly in marijuana, a variety of Cannabis sativa, and is predominantly used for recreational purposes. It is responsible for inducing an altered mental state commonly known as being “high” and may cause short-term impairment of memory and coordination. Additionally, THC has been associated with an increase in appetite, famously referred to as “the munchies,” due to its effects on the endocannabinoid system.

Therapeutic Applications

Despite its psychoactive nature, studies have shown potential therapeutic benefits of THC when used in controlled doses. Synthetic THC drug Dronabinol has been approved by the FDA for treating nausea and vomiting. Research into its application for conditions such as multiple sclerosis and cancer-related pain has also shown promising results, although the risk of adverse effects must be considered.

Legal Status of THC

THC’s legal status has evolved over the years, with it being classified as a Schedule I narcotic in 1961 due to its perceived lack of medical use and high potential for abuse. However, the presence of THC in CBD oils and other cannabinoid products is legal as long as concentrations are within specified limits. Some countries and states are beginning to amend their legislation to allow for the recreational and medicinal use of THC, with Canada legalising cannabis entirely in 2018.


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[3] Rice, J., & Cameron, M. (2018). Cannabinoids for Treatment of MS Symptoms: State of the Evidence. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, 18(8). [Source]

[4] Johnson, J. R., Burnell-Nugent, M., Lossignol, D., Ganae-Motan, E. D., Potts, R., & Fallon,M. T. (2010). Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study of the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of THC:CBD Extract and THC Extract in Patients with Intractable Cancer-Related Pain. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 39(2), 167–179. [Source]