What is THC and How It Affects You

Marijuana smokers are all familiar with the cerebral buzz that comes from inhaling from a well-packed bowl, which can be attributed to the THC content of cannabis. But not all smokers know what THC actually is - they are just familiar with its effects. So what is THC? This is something you should know as a responsible cannabis consumer.

At the very least, it helps to know how THC was discovered and how it affects your brain and body. And with that, you should also know the common methods of consuming it and how its potency can affect your cannabis experience.

THC: The Basics

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is a chemical secreted by the glands of the cannabis plant. Within the reproductive organs, as well as in the resin glands of the bud or flower of the female marijuana plant, can be found high doses of THC. 

THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient of the cannabis plant, even though it's just one of the plant's 85 plus chemical compounds (known as cannabinoids). This means THC is mostly the one responsible for the cerebral high you get when you smoke marijuana.

This cannabinoid serves to keep predators away from marijuana plants, as it repels bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Such antibacterial properties are not applicable to humans, although there’s one non-psychoactive compound called CBG (cannabigerol) that does. So this is why the primary use of THC to humans is to get high.

How THC Was Discovered

It was Bulgarian-born chemist Rafael Mechoulam who first discovered THC during the 1960s. He is now regarded as the godfather of cannabinoid research.

As he was studying the properties of marijuana, Mechoulam was trying to figure out how to get a large quantity of marijuana legally. He ended up getting his fix from his friends in the police, obtaining five kilos of hash, It was this scientific hash that Mechoulam used to discover groundbreaking findings.

He was also the first scientist to separate the THC compound successfully. Because of him, the structure of THC was identified and led to the discovery of the psychophysiological effects and synthesis. Because of Mechoulam's research in the medicinal properties of marijuana, others started to regard cannabis not just as a tool for recreation, but also for medication.

The Effect of THC on the Brain and Body

If you’re already a marijuana smoker, especially a regular one, you’re definitely aware of that floating feeling you get after ingesting THC. But do you know what’s actually happening inside your body during the process?

THC gets released into your blood when you smoke and then it swims upstream swiftly. It then reaches your brain in just seconds. Now there are cannabinoid chemicals that occur naturally in your body - THC mimics these chemicals and then attaches itself to your brain’s cannabinoid receptors.

These receptors are found in different areas of your body - cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and basal ganglia. These are connected to your body's processes of thinking, memory, pleasure, motor movements, concentration, and coordination.

Compared to other active cannabinoids such as CBD, it’s THC that has a stronger effect on these areas. It’s the specific molecular structure of THC that is responsible for this - THC binds strongly to your neurotransmitters, which are those spaces that pass communication between your neurons. THC mimics the bliss molecule called anandamide, which can be found naturally in your body. 

Once THC in cannabis attaches firmly to anandamide, it takes over the molecule’s role and then stimulates your brain cells to release more dopamine - the feel-good hormone. THC then plants itself pleasantly in your brain, which produces sensory side effects that include calmness, light-headedness, euphoria, alertness, and fragmentary thoughts.

These vibes can feel so good that you may find yourself having short-term memory loss - you know, the sort that makes you forget what came in to search for in the kitchen. THC has an effect on your hippocampus, which is your memory’s control center. 

Taking too much THC comes with buzz-killing side effects - dizziness, anxiety, fatigue, or even depression. Physically, you may experience dry mouth, increase in appetite, pain inhibition, and slowing down of movements. The effects of THC will vary from person to person.

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How Potent is Your Marijuana?

How strong your THC is and how long the effects will last will depend on the type of marijuana strain that you’re on as well as your method of ingestion. Strains with more than 20% THC levels - such as Sour Diesel, Blue Dream, and Yoda OG - are generally potent. 

But keep in mind that no two tokes are alike and no two crops are the same either. Farmer A’s Blue Dream harvest may have higher or lower THC levels compared to the one harvested by Farmer B. This is a result of various factors, such as growing conditions, genetic phenotypes, and environmental effects.

Your method of ingestion also plays a big part on how hard the THC will hit you. Interestingly, munching on raw marijuana won’t actually get you high. It’s because THC, in its raw plant form, doesn’t fit the shape of human neurotransmitters.

In order for your marijuana to have an effect, you have to apply heat (decarboxylation) in one form or another. This removes one of the carbon groups that stops the THC molecule from binding with the right receptors.

You can achieve decarboxylation via smoking and vaping, but what about magic brownies? In this case, you just can't put your raw marijuana in the batter and call it a party. You have to do some manual decarboxylation first for your baked goodies to turn into "space brownies".

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How To Decarboxylate Marijuana

Speaking of which, the process of decarboxylation, which occurs naturally when you light up a joint or bong, is necessary for making edible goodies with marijuana, as well as tincture or THC oil.

Simply put, you have to bake the bud itself for around 35 minutes, wait for it to turn light brown, cool them, and then shred them using a food processor. Now these are the pieces that you can put in your product.

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How to Consume THC

These days, the possibilities are abundant when it comes to methods of consuming cannabis. These are the tried-and-tested methods of consuming THC.

Smoking

You can savor your fresh cannabis by smoking a joint, blunt, hookah, bong, hand pipe, bubbler, and hand pipe. If you want the fastest way to get your THC fix, then smoking it is. This method will also get 50% to 60% of the marijuana’s THC concentration in your blood plasma. It will reach your brain in just a couple of seconds. You will get a high hit, but in order to keep the buzz going, you have to top up regularly.

Vaporizing

Vaping is fast becoming popular with health-conscious marijuana users. The vape works by heating the cannabinoids in a temperature that is high enough to release THC’s psychoactive properties, but it shouldn’t be so high that it will release the harmful toxins that come with combustion. 

When you vape, you ingest up to 95% of cannabinoids. In comparison, smoking a regular joint will only get you 12%. If you want one hell of a head rush, try vaping butane hash oil, which contains 80% THC. Remember though that vaping butane hash oil is best left for the seasoned potheads and newbie users should avoid it.

Eating

Those who have tried eating marijuana know too well that the buzz is longer and stronger this way compared to smoking or vaping. It’s because when you eat cannabis, it gets metabolized by the liver. In this case, Delta-9 THC becomes 11-hydroxy-THC. It goes through the blood-brain barrier much faster and the psychoactive effect is definitely higher than the standard THC. 

Eating marijuana will release only 10% to 20% of cannabinoids, but you will get a high that can go on for up to six hours. 

Absorbing

If you don’t want to smoke, drink, or eat your THC, you will have to absorb it in other ways. This means taking tinctures, creams, patches, or dissolvable strips. Tinctures are administered under your tongue - only a few drops are needed to get an effect. Just hold the drops for a while before swallowing, letting the liquid get into your bloodstream.

Creams with THC are ideal for targeting certain medical symptoms, not really for getting high. The THC won’t make its way to your brain since your skin will prevent foreign substances from getting into your bloodstream. In this way, you won’t get a psychedelic high. What the THC will do though is to soothe sore muscles in areas where you apply the cream.

Patches are for those who prefer to consume their THC discreetly. It works like a nicotine patch - you just slap the patch on to your skin and leave it alone. You will get around four to six hours of effect from patches.

Dissolvable strips work like breath-freshening strips. Just place the strip against your cheek or under your tongue and then hold it in there until the strip dissolves. The THC will then get absorbed into your bloodstream as it passes through the soft tissue in your mouth. 

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How to Find the Right Dose of Marijuana

Determining the right dose for THC can be very tricky. If you take too little, you won't be able to feel the relief or high you’re expecting. If you take too much, you will get too high and risk feeling the undesirable side effects. But discovering the right dose for your desired hit is part of the fun of the cannabis experience.

Knowing the right dose will depend on your method of consumption. 

Smoking

This is best done by experimenting with a simple smoking device called a one-hitter. It can hold around 0.1 gram a hit. Using a one-hitter can make it easier for you to calculate the amount of THC needed to get your high. 

So for example, if it takes five hitters for you to get sufficiently high, then when it’s time for you to use a joint, you just roll one that contains 0.5 grams and smoke away without worrying about getting too high.

Vaping

You should be extra careful with vapes since it’s very difficult to gauge how much THC you’re getting. Also, THC liquid is much concentrated compared to a regular dried bud. Most probably, you only needed a few hits from the vaporizer to make you soar into the clouds.

So the best way to go about this is to take it one hit at a time. Take one and then wait for its effect on your body. If you’re still fine, then take another hit, and then pause again. 

It’s ideal to wait a few minutes in between hits and then just stop when you’re nicely baked already. Take note of how many hits it took you to get to this level so you will know how much to take the next time you vape cannabis.

Edibles

If you want an easy and strongest way for THC to get into your system, then you should get into edibles. You will consume far less edible than your average joint to get the high you need. It’s best way to start off with edibles is 10 milligrams (0.1 gram), but first timers can go as low as 5 milligrams if they really want to play it safe.

Buy Only the Best THC Products At Apotheca

If you’re in the North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia areas, Apotheca can give you the THC products you need. Its mission is to provide alternative remedies to modern medicine that are clean, affordable, and sustainable for both people and plants. 

Apotheca’s team researches, tests, and curates partner brands that put people first before profit through intent and action. No product reaches their store shelves without being thoroughly tested for quality and efficacy. 

Every partner brand provides full test documentation and educational materials to support their customers' purpose of buying all-natural products to lead a healthier lifestyle.

In an industry full of uncertainty, Apotheca provides a safe, secure shopping experience.

Visit the Apotheca Store Locations to see what’s in store for you.