What is THCC (Tetrahydrocannabiorcol)? Uses & Benefits

Area 52
September 07, 2021 | Blog

If you follow cannabis-related news, you have probably recently heard about tetrahydrocannabiorcol (THCC), a phytocannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp pollen.

Despite its name, THCC is more similar to CBD than it is to THC. It’s non-psychoactive and targets more or less the same receptors as CBD, CBC, and CBG.

Here’s everything you need to know about this promising new cannabinoid.

What is THCC?

Illustration of THHC chemical structure

THCC is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in both hemp plants and cannabis plants.

It’s part of a broad category of cannabinoids that share a similar chemical structure to THC and are created through similar chemical processes as a cannabis or hemp plant matures.

From a molecular perspective, THCC is nearly identical to THC. The difference is as subtle as three missing carbon atoms — but this makes a big difference in the effect profiles of these cannabinoids.

THCC is unable to activate the CB1 receptors — which is what THC uses to exert its psychoactive effects.

Instead, THCC appears to work in much the same way as CBD.

THCC appears to upregulate the body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoids and interacts with a parallel system of receptors called the TRP channels — which regulate everything from pain and nerve regeneration to temperature control and mood.

With that said, more research is needed to uncover the potential health benefits of THCC.

Is THCC Synthetic?

No, THCC is found naturally in the cannabis plant.

THCC is a phytocannabinoid, that is, a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in marijuana and hemp plants.

Specifically, THCC is found in cannabis and hemp pollen, unlike THC, which is found in the resin produced on the female flowers.

THCC occurs naturally and exists independently from humans.

Where Does THCC Come From?

Hemp Field

Many cannabinoids — including THC and THCC — begin their life as cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).

As the plant grows, CBGA undergoes one of several enzymatic reactions that convert it to various acidic molecules that are precursors to the biologically active compounds humans like to consume, like THC and THCC, as two examples.

The precursor molecule to THCC is called tetrahydrocannabiorcolic acid (THCCA), and it gets converted to THCC over the cannabis or hemp plant’s maturation cycle through a process called decarboxylation.

Companies extract THCC from either marijuana or hemp pollen and concentrate it the same way other cannabinoids are concentrated. This makes them easier to use and eliminates unnecessary components like amino acids, proteins, fibers, and plant cell structures.

Is THCC Legal?

Delta 9 THC is the only cannabinoid that is internationally regulated. These laws usually exclude other forms of THC, including delta 8, delta 10, or THCC.

In the United States, THCC is federally legal as long as it’s derived from hemp and contains no more than 0.3% delta 9 THC [1].

Each state has its own set of laws governing THC analogs, with some placing heavier restrictions on them than others. Some states regulate all forms of THC — which, unfortunately, includes THCC (despite being entirely non-psychoactive).

States where THCC is likely illegal: 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington

These laws change all the time, so make sure you do your research before you buy THCC.

We do our best to avoid shipping to states where our products are prohibited, but it’s up to you to make sure you’re not ordering products illegally in your state.

THCC vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

From their names, you can probably tell that THC and THCC are similar molecules, but they aren’t identical.

THC and THC-like molecules have an important molecular feature called an alkyl side chain that governs their biological activity. The longer this side chain, the stronger the psychoactive effects.

Delta 8, 9, and 10 THC all have a side chain of 5-carbons long, while THCC only has one.

Other forms of THC include THCV (3 carbons, mildly psychoactive), THCP (7 carbons, highly psychoactive).

In terms of effects, THCC is most similar to CBD. It has a pleasant, relaxing effect similar to the experienced felt by using delta 8 THC but without any psychoactivity.

How Does THCC Work?

THCC and Endocannabinoid System

THCC works through two primary systems — the endocannabinoid system and the TRP channels.

Let’s cover how each of these works in more detail.

Your body’s endocannabinoid system consists of two main receptors that interact with cannabinoids to produce the array of effects we experience when we consume THCC.

Cannabinoid receptors of type 1 (CB1) are primarily located in the central nervous system in the brain and spinal cord. They play a role in creating the euphoric and psychotropic effects of THC [2].

Cannabinoid receptors of type 2 (CB2) are primarily located in the peripheral nervous system in the organs and immune cells.

Unlike THC, THCC has virtually no affinity for CB1 or CB2 receptors, meaning it doesn’t produce a high and doesn’t have the same effects that THC does. It works the same way as CBD in this regard — boosting the effects of naturally occurring endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG instead.

THCC also activates the body’s TRPA1 and other TRP receptors. These receptors are found on special gated ion channels on the cell wall. They play a critical role in our perception of pain, regulation of temperature and may even be involved with nerve cell regeneration.

Does THCC Get You High?

No. Unlike THC, THCC has a much smaller alkyl chain and has virtually no interaction with the body’s CB1 receptors, meaning it doesn’t have any psychoactive properties.

No matter how much of this cannabinoid you take, you’re not going to feel high like you do with other THC products.

Key Takeaways: What is THCC?

THCC is one of many naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis and hemp plants that promise future medical use.

Unlike THC, THCC doesn’t produce a high and interacts with the body through entirely different pathways. It’s much more similar to CBD than it is to delta 8, 9, or 10 THC.

Some THCC proponents are hopeful that its unique biological mechanism could make it a promising candidate for new analgesics without as many side effects as mainstream pain medications. However, more research is needed to elucidate these effects.

May we suggest?