Ask your parents their favorite strain of weed in the 1970’s and they’ll probably tell you that there was just one strain and it was just called “weed” and they were in big trouble if they didn't hide it well enough.

Fast forward to the present day and the knowledge we have regarding the cannabis plant has increased tenfold. Not only have we uncovered more strains than one can reasonably memorize, we’ve begun to isolate and synthesize various types of THC.

Coupled with an increased understanding of the cannabis plant, substantial changes regarding the legalization of hemp at the federal level in the United States with The Farm Bill. This has led to the introduction of synthetic THC variations into the marketplace. 

No longer lumped together, The Farm Bill differentiates industrial hemp and cannabis with the latter only being able to contain 0.3% THC. Since The Farm Bill legalized and expanded the scope of hemp legalization to include hemp derived products, synthetic cannabinoids fall into a legal gray area since they procured from federally legal hemp and then modified. 

Not all THC is created equal, and understanding the different types of THC is crucial for anyone navigating the cannabis landscape. In this blog post, we'll delve into the top 7 types of THC, what makes each unique and the effect they have on when consumed. 

The Top 7 THC Types to Know

Cannabis flower and vape pen

1. Delta-9 THC

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is perhaps the most familiar type of THC and what the bulk of people are referring to when they use the term “THC”. This compound is responsible for the classic reefer-madness effects associated with cannabis use. 

It binds to CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system, leading to the euphoria and altered perception commonly known as a "high." This type of THC also has potential medical benefits, such as relief from chronic pain, nausea relief and appetite stimulation. However, its mind-altering effects can be overwhelming for some users, leading to anxiety or paranoia.

2. Delta -8 THC

Delta -8 THC is gaining popularity for its milder psychoactive effects compared to delta -9 THC. It binds to the same CB1 cannabinoid receptors but with a lower affinity, resulting in a less intense high. Many users appreciate delta -8 THC products for its anxiolytic properties, potentially offering relaxation without the scaries that can accompany higher doses of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. 

This type of THC is derived from hemp, pushing it into a legal gray area when it comes to federal law. When it comes to Delta-8 THC, the FDA says “Delta-8 THC is one of over 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant but is not found in significant amounts in the cannabis plant. As a result, concentrated amounts of delta-8 THC are typically manufactured from hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD).”

That’s a lot of science words so to put it into layman terms, Delta -8 THC found in cannabis tends to be very low and thus, additives and chemicals are used to turn other cannabinoids present in the plant into Delta -8 THC. This results in a synthetic Delta -8 THC. Because there is no federal level regulation or oversight in this process, manufacturers are not subject to restrictions when it comes to the chemicals used to create synthetic Delta -8 THC or the environment in which the process is performed.

3. THC-O (THC Acetate)

THC-O, or THC Acetate, is a synthetic cannabinoid known for its potency and rumored psychedelic effects similar to mushrooms or LSD. It is created by converting CBD into Delta -8 THC then combining it with acetic anhydride resulting in a synthetic THC compound. 

Studies on its effects and potential benefits are still in its early stages but generally speaking, users should approach THC-O with caution. THC-O is not inherently harmful however, when exposed to heat, it can create a toxic gas which has been linked to EVALDI. EVALDI or e-cigarette and vaping use associated lung injury has been linked to over 2,800 emergency room visits and 68 deaths since 2019. 

4. THC-P (THC Pentahydroxycannabinol)

THC-P is another synthetic cannabinoid that has gained attention for its purported potency. Like THC-O, THC-P is created through chemical processes. This process results in a THC chemical formula that contains a propyl chain (three carbon atoms) compared to THC 9’s pentyl chain (five carbon atoms).  

This modification in the amount of carbon atoms present is believed to enable the compound to bind more easily to receptors in the brain resulting in reportedly strong psychoactive effects. As with other synthetic cannabinoids, more research is needed to determine its safety and efficacy.

5. THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)

THCV is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that differs from traditional THC in its effects and potential benefits. Known for its appetite-suppressant properties, THCV has shown promise in the management of metabolic disorders (watch out Ozempic!) and has picked up the nickname “Diet Weed” by some. 

THCV may also have anticonvulsant effects, making it an area of interest for researchers studying epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Its psychoactive effects are reported to be shorter-lived than those of delta -9 THC though it is important to note that the bulk of clinical research has been conducted on non-human animals.


THCA is the acidic precursor to THC, and it does not produce psychoactive effects in its raw form. Through processes like decarboxylation, THCA can be converted into delta -9 THC, unlocking its psychoactive potential- kind of like when you give a white girl a pumpkin spice latte.

Some users prefer THCA products for their potential medicinal use. With properties like anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties without the traditional "high" associated with THC, many users may opt for this chemical formula.

7. Delta-10 THC

Delta-10 THC is a lesser-known variant that is still being explored. It is structurally similar to delta -9 THC but with subtle differences that inhibit the compound's ability to bind to CB1 receptors in the brain. 

Users describe its effects as a milder high compared to delta-9 and delta -8 THC. The research on delta-10 THC is limited, and its prevalence in cannabis products is not as widespread as other THC types. Similar to delta -8 THC, users should keep in mind the chemicals needed to synthesize the compound and the lack of regulation and oversight currently present.

What is THC and Where Does it Come From?

Display of cannabis concentrates in containers

Iit's essential to understand what THC is and where it comes from. THC is one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is produced in glandular trichomes, small structures that look like tiny hairs or crystals on the surface of cannabis flowers, leaves, and stems.

THC is biosynthesized in the form of THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) within the plant. Through processes like drying, curing, and especially heating (decarboxylation), THCA is converted into THC, unlocking its therapeutic effects and psychoactive properties. The concentration of THC in a cannabis strain can vary widely, leading to different effects and experiences for users.

What’s the Strongest Type of THC?

Determining the strongest type of THC involves considering factors such as potency, duration of effects, and the individual's tolerance. In other words, it’s pretty subjective. 

That being said, THC-O and THC-P, both synthetic cannabinoids, are often considered potent, but their strength and effects can vary among users. Delta -9 THC is known for its strong psychoactive effects, especially in higher doses, making it a candidate for being one of the strongest types of THC. However, we’re all just little chemistry experiments and  individual responses to THC can vary, and what may have therapeutic effects for one person may not have the same impact on another.

What’s the Best Type of THC for Sleep?

Choosing the best type of THC for nighttime use and sleep depends on individual preferences and sensitivities. Delta-8 THC products are often suggested for its calming effects without the intense mind-altering effects of delta-9 THC. Some users find that strains rich in myrcene, a terpene with sedative properties, enhance the sleep-inducing effects of THC. 

However, it's crucial to note that excessive cannabis use can disrupt sleep patterns, so moderation is key when using it as a sleep aid.

What’s the Best Type of THC for Chronic Pain?

THC, in general, is known for its potential medicinal properties. Delta-9 THC has been extensively studied for its ability to alleviate pain, making it a common choice for individuals dealing with chronic pain conditions. 

However, other THC variants, such as delta -8 THC and THCV, are also being explored for their potential pain-relieving effects. The best type of THC for medicinal use and chronic pain may vary from smoker to smoker, and it's advisable to consult with your doc for personalized recommendations.

How to Choose the Right THC Variant for You

Scientist looking into microscope

Choosing the right THC variant involves considering factors such as desired effects, tolerance, and any potential sensitivities or health conditions so suffice to say it’s like picking a match on Tinder. 

Individuals seeking a milder experience may opt for delta-8 THC or THCA-rich products, while those looking for a traditional psychoactive effects of THC may prefer delta-9 THC. Experimenting with different types and strains, starting with low and high doses, and paying attention to individual responses can help users find the THC variant that aligns with their preferences and goals.

Now that you have a little background knowledge about the different types of THC available, you might as well start putting your stash pack together. Whether exploring the classic effects of cannabis use with delta-9 THC or venturing into the realm of synthetic cannabinoids like THC-O and THC-P, understanding the makeup and potential effects of each type is clutch before rolling or ripping.

February 03, 2024 — Amber Sparks
Tags: cannabis

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