Everybody's always talking about THC and CBD. We get it. These are the most abundant cannabinoids out there and the most popular among consumers.
We love THC and CBD too, but lately, we’ve been taking a deep dive into some of the more obscure cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. There are dozens of different cannabinoids out there, all with their own unique effects and benefits.
Today, we’re focusing on one of the rarest cannabis compounds out there—THCV. It’s been called diet weed, it’s been called the sports car of cannabinoids, it’s been called “weederall”, but what exactly is THCV? Is it legal? Are THCV effects very different from regular old THC? What’s the best way to get THCV? Keep reading to find out.
What Is THCV?
THCV is an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabivarin. Right off the bat, you may notice how close this sounds to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Despite similarly sounding names, the two compounds are actually quite different.
But they do have some basic properties in common. They both are cannabinoids, meaning they come from the cannabis plant and can affect the endocannabinoid system. They both have similar molecular structures, and they both can be intoxicating (although THCV appears to only be intoxicating at high doses).
Unlike THC, THCV is a rare cannabinoid that is usually only present in small percentages if it’s present at all.
Is THCV Legal?
For nearly a century, the cannabis plant and the compounds derived from it have been highly illegal worldwide. Today, cannabis still inexplicably remains a Schedule I Substance (drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse), but we have managed to walk back many of the prohibition laws restricting access to cannabis compounds.
Generally, cannabis reform has taken place at the state level. However, the 2018 Farm Bill made huge strides towards legalization on the federal level. The bill officially legalized hemp, but what the bill defines as hemp opens the door to several different cannabis-derived compounds.
The Farm Bill defines hemp as any cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3% delta 9 THC per dry weight. So technically, THCV is legal on the federal level so long as it comes from a plant with less than 0.3% THC. However, most strains that contain THCV also have high levels of THC, and ultimately, it’s up to individual states to regulate THCV extracts.
Like almost all cannabinoids, THCV can have tangible effects on the mind and body by activating the endocannabinoid system.
Due to the compound’s rarity, its effects aren’t well known among the cannabis community. When taken on it’s own in the form of an isolate or extract, THCV’s intoxicating effects are extremely dose dependent. Low doses of THCV aren’t likely to get users high at all, while high doses of THCV are anecdotally said to induce a more energetic and clear-headed high than conventional THC.
Unlike THC, which can give users a serious case of the munchies, THCV seems to operate as an appetite suppressant.
THCV is often used in tandem with THC since strains with THCV tend to have THC percentages as well. When consumed alongside THC, THCV seems to mitigate some of the effects of THC.
Preliminary research suggests that THCV may also have some potential health benefits. One 2010 study found that THCV reduces inflammatory pain in mice, and another 2020 study determined THCV has promising potential as a therapy for Parkinson’s disease.
Most cannabis strains have such a small percentage of THCV it’s completely undetectable, and the extraction process for THCV concentrates is so expensive that there are very few THCV extracts available. As a result, THCV is one of the rarest cannabinoids out there.
That being said, some strains tend to have high THCV levels, particularly those that originate in Africa. Here’s a list of some high THCV cannabis strains:
Bear in mind, not every crop of the strains above will contain THCV, so make sure to check test results if you’re shopping for a THCV strain.