Getting a high from using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the key reasons people use marijuana. But the potency level of THC has been rising quickly over the years, and the pot is much stronger than it was in the past.
New research out of Italy suggests there could be a much more potent cannabis compound than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Scientists have found a new psychoactive substance in the plant called tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP), which they believe could be more than 30 times stronger. Researchers measured the impact of THCP in a lab and found that like THC, the compounded attached to cannabinoid receptors in the body but bonded to them 33 times more strongly, indicating it’s possible for THCP to disrupt mental and physical functions even more than THC.
Dr. Cinzia Citti, who is the study’s lead author, believes this helps explain why some strains behave differently than one would expect based solely on their THC levels.
“In cannabis varieties where THC is present in very low concentrations, then we can think that the presence of another, more active cannabinoid can explain those effects.”Dr. Cinzia Citti
While this discovery of THCP suggests the potential for creating marijuana products that give users a more intense high, the researchers are also optimistic about the possibility of uncovering health benefits related to THCP.
Vireo Health will launch “LiteBud” Brand
In January, Vireo Health (OTC: VREOF) announced it was launching a brand of products dubbed “LiteBud” in an attempt to meet the needs of consumers looking for a buzz as opposed to getting downright stoned.
One of the dangers for new marijuana users is that THC levels can be very high and lead to some bad experiences and unwanted side effects. Rather than producing a calming effect, high THC levels can lead to panic attacks and increase a person’s paranoia and anxiety. For people consuming marijuana for the first time, this can create a negative experience with pot and put people off cannabis right from the get-go.
The THC percentage, which is the THC content as a percentage of the flower’s dry weight, indicates how potent the cannabis product is. From 1995 to 2014, the Drug Enforcement Agency saw THC potency levels rise from 4% to 12%.
But now, it’s possible to find products that have THC levels of more than 25%.
Why there’s a need for low-THC products?
Cannabis users don’t need high levels of THC to get a high or the calming effect they’re after. And that’s where a “lite” product may have a broad appeal. A less potent product may help users avoid unexpected side effects. Delivering a positive, consistent experience can be key to attracting and keeping new cannabis users.
Relying on potency to evaluate marijuana also may not be ideal, as THC percentages can often be inaccurate and inflated. Different testing labs in different states test cannabis using varying methods and technology, and thus some of those highly potent marijuana products may not be as potent as users expect them to be.
Without standardized testing procedures across the country, there’s plenty of room for discrepancies to take place. That’s an additional reason why mainstream cannabis consumers may not have an incentive to seek out high-THC products. Not only could the effects be adverse, but the potency levels may not be as advertised.
There’s a big need for more cannabis research to be done, and industry leaders Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis have played significant roles in trying to learn more about the potential benefits of using cannabis.
What does this mean for investors?
Vireo’s executive chairman is former Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC) CEO Bruce Linton, who knows a thing or two about the cannabis industry. And for a large cannabis company like Canopy Growth to be successful and reach a wide audience, it needs to offer a variety of products, including ones with high and low levels of THC. It’s a way for a company to hedge its bets and see what’s popular with consumers and what isn’t.
The edible and ingestible market, also known as “cannabis 2.0,” officially opened for business in Canada in October 2019; Canopy Growth announced in September that it had 50 products it was working on for the new segment of the market.
Canopy Growth’s focus on offering many products in many different parts of the world has helped make it a strong brand. It even has a deal in place with Acreage Holdings (CSE: ACRG.U) that’s ready to go once cannabis is legal federally in the U.S.
Last year, Aurora partnered with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) — the two plan to jointly study and develop hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products that could help treat athletes with injuries. Canopy Growth, meanwhile, has partnered with ex-athletes from the National Hockey League to determine if cannabis be useful in helping to treat post-concussion diseases, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Read more about THC: