What is THC? (Tetrahydrocannabinol)

October 8, 2020

by Ma Raim

When you work in a dispensary, customers always ask: “what is THC?” Cannabis users are curious by nature. Some are science nerds, others want to know about the medicinal benefits of cannabis, others are concerned about safety.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive chemical in weed, one of over 100 cannabinoids present in the plant. THC is the fun part that makes you feel high, secreted in the resin of the marijuana plant. While it’s easy to focus on the recreational effects of THC, it’s also beneficial to your health in a number of ways. This fascinating, alternative route to health is why many of us got involved in Vancouver dispensaries to begin with.

Tetrahydrocannabinol interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). That’s a major part of our body’s make-up which regulates mood, stress recovery, appetite, memory and pain receptors. It also creates natural cannabinoids within our bodies to help us function. When we use cannabis, cannabinoids transmit through this system to the brain and produce therapeutic effects, helping our bodies to heal. The main chemicals which produce these effects are THC and CBD.

THC’s Relationship to CBD

The vague understanding of these chemicals is that CBD (Cannabidiol) is for health while THC is for getting stoned. While this is true in a broad sense, there’s more of a nuanced relationship at play between the two than many people think. THC affects you in one way and CBD in another, but when ingested together they affect each other too. While THC is the headliner for recreational users, it helps medicinal users with:

  • low appetite
  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • pain relief
  • muscle spasticity
  • glaucoma
  • insomnia

Recent studies even suggest THC could help treat colon cancer.


The science of the relationship between the two chemicals is complicated, featuring such tongue-twisters as Anandamide and Allosteric Inhibition. Try saying those five times in a row. Anandamide is a natural cannabinoid found in the body which THC mimics when you use cannabis. It does this by attaching itself to cannabinoid receptors within the brain. This stimulates the brain to release dopamine and gives you a pleasant euphoria.

Canadian dispensaries are staffed by weed nerds, but for those of us without a degree in green, here’s the cliff notes:

  • Marijuana contains two major chemical components: THC and CBD.
  • THC gets you high, CBD doesn’t.
  • A more concentrated potency of Tetrahydrocannabinol causes you to get higher but also increases the chances of experiencing paranoia, reduced concentration and anxiety while smoking cannabis.
  • CBD can reduce anxiety.
  • CBD works to block some of the intense psychoactive effects of THC due to how they interact at the chemical level. This lessens your high but also your chances of pranging out while trying to enjoy yourself.

Potent Cannabis

The potency of cannabis is expressed as mg/g or as a percentage of THC content. So, if a product is labelled 12% THC and 120 mg/g, it has 120 milligrams of THC per gram of bud.

Each human brain is unique, so it’s tough to tell how THC will affect you. Balancing your THC and CBD intake is key to using medicinal marijuana. If you’re prone to the negative psychological effects of cannabis, want to lessen your anxiety or have a low tolerance then choosing high CBD cannabis with low THC may be a smart choice.

  • If you use cannabis recreationally on the regular and are starting to develop a high tolerance, then a higher THC (like Alien OG – 20 to 28%) will give you some added lift.
  • If you’ve found CBD doesn’t really help with pain relief, upping your THC dosage could be beneficial. However, if you’re new to cannabis products containing THC, go easy to start with.
  • If you need to up your THC, concentrates are becoming more popular in Canada as cannabis use becomes more common.

If you’re unsure what level  is suitable for you, reach out and we’ll be happy to advise you. If you’re looking for a top tier Canadian online pot store, you’re in the right place. We offer some of the cheapest ounces in Canada. That doesn’t mean the quality’s lacking either: the climate here in Vancouver has been perfect for growing cannabis this summer. If you have any questions, hit us up and if you want to read more on weed science, take a look here. Blaze responsibly.


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