- Italian scientists have discovered a new marijuana compound that’s thirty times more potent than THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a buzz.
- Whether this new compound, named tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) will get people high is still unclear.
- There are many cannabis compounds, like CBD, that don’t get people high.
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Researchers in an Italian lab have discovered two new marijuana compounds, or cannabinoids, including one they say is 30 times more powerful than THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a buzz.
Researchers previously have identified over 100 cannabinoids. Most of them won’t get you high. The most prominent example of this is CBD, which has no psychoactive properties but is thought to have pain-relieving abilities.
When tested in small doses on mice, this new compound, named tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP) did appear more potent than THC.
But there are caveats: researchers have yet to test THCP’s effect on humans, and researchers still don’t know if THCP will be equally as potent when ingested, or if it gets humans high at all.
THCP appears to have stronger binding powers than other cannabis compounds
After sending THCP for lab testing, researchers found the compound bonded to human cannabinoid receptors 33 times more than THC did. “This means that these compounds have higher affinity for the receptors in the human body,” Dr. Cinzia Citti, lead author of the study, told CNN.
As a result, THCP might generate stronger and faster reactions in the human body than other weed compounds. But researchers don’t yet know whether THCP’s effects on the human body could have medical uses or be psychoactive.
What researchers do know is that when they gave a relatively low dose of THCP to lab mice, they exhibited less of a reaction to painful stimuli. The mice also acted like they were on THC, moving slowly and showed decreased body temperature.
It’s possible this compound could be used for pain relief in the future for humans, although researchers don’t know enough about THCP to make any conclusions right now.
This isn’t the first drug this Italian research team has discovered. In 2019, they went public about their discovery of two other compounds, CBDB and THCB. The latter seemed to relieve pain in mice.
Science is only beginning to really learn about the medical properties of marijuana compounds
Cannabis sativa is a complex plant that produces over 400 chemicals, some of which are cannabinoids. Until this most recent study, published in Scientific Reports, researchers thought THC was one of the only cannabinoids that could get a person high.
Cannabis is both a lifesaving medical treatment for illnesses like epilepsy and glaucoma, and one of the most widely used illicit drugs in the world. Because of the controversy and legal restrictions surrounding it, research has developed in fits and starts.
But what we know is promising; one marijuana compound might be able to be used to regulate obesity, another might also benefit veterans with PTSD, and some researchers have proposed that whole groups of cannabinoids can even be used to reduce inflammation in the body.