What is THC? Definition and Meaning of THC

Loss of control, addiction, hallucinations ... the reputation of the THC is not nice to hear. For a long time, the molecule was responsible for all the evils attributed to cannabis. This is still true today in many countries, starting with France, which boasts one of the most restrictive legal frameworks in Europe in terms of hemp consumption. With the arrival on the market of perfectly legal CBD-rich products, minds are beginning, however, slowly but surely, to open up.

Despite everything, THC remains very little known to the general public, at least beyond appearances. Far from wanting to sing its praises, this article attempts to take a step back to wear a objective gaze on the cannabinoid eliciting the strongest reactions.

Definition of THC

THC is a molecule with a structure very similar to that of CBD

THC, definition and meaning

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in its full version) is a molecule belonging to the large family of cannabinoids, as well as CBD, the CBN or the CBG. It is therefore naturally produced by cannabis and is even the most naturally occurring cannabinoid in the plant. Apart from the predisposition of the plant to produce it, this is partly explained by the fact that hemp was one of the very first plants domesticated by man. Since THC has more powerful and easily identifiable effects without laboratory tests, man has unwittingly, and for millennia, favored the cultivation of plants with a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol. There are therefore, to date, fewer varieties rich in CBD.

Its effects were thus identified millennia ago, and many civilizations have exploited its effects throughout history. However, it was not until 1964 and the work of Israeli researchers Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni before succeeding in isolating the molecule.

A simple definition of THC is to think of it as the main active molecule in cannabis. In the wild, its content varies on average from 4 to 10%. Depending on the variety and hybridization, however, it is not uncommon to find human-modified varieties that exceed a rate of 20%.

THC, a cannabinoid like no other

Like other cannabinoids, THC is able to bind to the CB1 and CB2 sensors of our endocannabinoid system. Able to communicate with our nervous and immune systems, this explains why THC causes effects on the human body. Unlike other cannabinoids, however, it involves effects that make it fit straight into the box reserved for narcotics by law.

Effects of THC on the body

Addictive and psychoactive, THC is considered a narcotic by law

Addictive and psychoactive, THC is considered a narcotic by law

Like CBD, tetrahydrocannabinol has analgesic properties, giving it the ability to soothe certain pains. He is best known for his psychoactive effects, causing a certain loss of control of the consumer, the famous "high" (excitement) or "stone" (lymphatic state) often pronounced a little randomly without really understanding the implications.

However, while the effects of THC on the human body are broadly similar, we all react to cannabinoid receptors differently. This is true for THC, but also for CBD, which will provide more or less significant effects but, for its part, never harmful. This phenomenon, explained by our genetic differences, corpulence or even our current state of mind, has a name: law of effect.

Risks of consuming THC

In Europe, THC is considered a narcotic and its consumption is therefore, in the majority of cases, prohibited. However, several countries allow its use, either usage thérapeutique only, or also for a recreational useAs Canada. Before consuming THC, two main types of risks must in all cases be considered: what the molecule can cause on our own body, but also what it can imply in relation to society. And therefore the risks vis-à-vis the law.

For the organization

At moderate dose, the effects of THC are above all temporary (mainly planing and analgesic effects). he is also addictive, and therefore encourages consumers to consume more, more often. In high doses, however, it can cause nervous system depression.

A lethal (fatal) dose was also demonstrated in rats in 1971 by the intravenous route. Continued on dogs and monkeys, the study has nevertheless highlighted that it seems impossible to achieve a lethal dose of THC in these animals orally. Therefore, fatal overdose seems impossible in humans by smoking THC, whatever the quantity.

Even if the danger is therefore not fatal, THC can cause various more or less serious and / or unpleasant side effects:

  • Psychotropic effects (mostly 30 minutes after taking THC and peaking for around two hours).
  • High (shortly after consumption): euphoria, recklessness, laughter, openness to others.
  • Down (during the elimination of THC by the body): physical and mental slowing down, fear.
  • Decreased attention and the capacity for judgment.
  • Memory loss in the short and medium term.
  • Decreased effectiveness of the immune system.
  • Irritability.
  • Change of personality (long-term).

Vis-à-vis the law

European law has long tolerated a tetrahydrocannabinol level of 0,2% in CBD-rich products. However, the European Parliament has approved a switch to a THC rate of 0,3%, which should be applied from 2023 if the European Commission confirms its decision. In France, where the law is relatively restrictive, it is still 0 tolerance in terms of control. They can be carried out in the event of involvement in a court case, in the event of a routine road safety check, and even in the workplace under certain conditions (handling of machines or toxic products in particular). In the event of a positive control, tickets and prison sentences are possible.

For a simple use or possession of THC cannabis during a routine check, it is thefixed fine of 200 € for drug consumption, which is the most common (reduced to € 150 in the event of rapid payment, within 15 days). It comes with a criminal record entry, perhaps at least as daunting as the fine itself. In case of THC cannabis use while driving, the penalties are heavier, a direct consequence of the dangerousness of the behavior modification caused by tetrahydrocannabinol. the THC cannabis trafficking is also very heavily sanctioned, with fines and jail time varying according to the nature of the structure and its size.

Opportunities of THC

Produced by trichomes like other cannabinoids, THC does not only present risks

Produced by trichomes like other cannabinoids, THC does not only present risks

So after reading the definition of THC, is the sentence clear? THC is the ugly little demon that demonizes cannabis in the eyes of the world and is CBD the perfect little cherub trying to rebuild a reputation worthy of the name? It is not so simple. If, indeed, cannabidiol (CBD) does not have much to be ashamed of (remember that it is not addictive and does not cause any major side effects), THC is not as irrelevant (other than recreational) as you might think.

Its effects are thus notably studied within the framework of the fight against cancer or multiple sclerosis. Not only do early studies show that properly dosed and targeted tetrahydrocannabinol may help limit the development of certain tumors, it is also known for its ability to encourage appetite, earning him an interest of the scientific community in the case of nausea relief due to some heavy treatments like chemotherapy.

The future and advances in science will undoubtedly allow us to discover much more about THC, CBD and other cannabinoids in the near future!


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