The THC Family Tree – A Guide to The Known Forms of THC

With THC being such a hot topic recently, we decided to do some digging to find out more about it. Turns out there’s more to be learned than we could imagine! For instance, did you know there were four kinds of THC? There is THCA, THCV, Delta-8-THC, Delta-9-THC, Delta-10-THC, 11-hydroxy-THC

Let’s have a look at each one in more detail.


This form of THC is the precursor to Delta-9-THC. In the acidic form, THC is non-psychoactive as it does not interact with the CB1 receptors as readily as regular THC would in the same amount.

This may come as a surprise, but cannabis plants do not produce psychoactive THC – in any quantity. What they primarily produce is the THCA compound. In order to activate it, THCA must be heated to between 230 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This process is called decarboxylation, where the molecule loses a carboxyl group and is then able to bind to the CB1 receptor.


We don’t know very much about THCV since it’s still fairly new to science. What we do know however is that it seems to have a direct effect on our metabolism.

THCV seems to suppress hunger, regulate digestion, and also seems to have an effect on bone growth and neurological health – both positive.

With bones, it seems to help promote better bone density, but findings still need additional research to confirm.

When it comes to neuron health, it seems to help protect against nerves developing scar tissue.

More work needs to be done on this phytocannabinoid, but initial research is promising.

One notable drawback however is that very little THCV is produced by most cannabis strains. 


A phytocannabinoid making headlines more and more often is Delta-8-THC. It is less of a sedative than Delta-9-THC but maybe just as psychoactive. Most people who have smoked it report feeling the same high, but don’t seem to lose focus as easily. 

It also doesn’t bind as snuggly to CB1 receptors as Delta-9-THC does, but it still produces a high in much the same way.

As research continues, perhaps more will be discovered about this form of THC.


The most widely known and celebrated form of THC, this version of the phytocannabinoid is the most abundant and most sought-after cannabinoid with CBD coming in at the second most.

As is likely known, this is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis flower and is the reason most people take an interest in cannabis.

Delta-9-THC’s effects commonly include sedation, pain relief, appetite stimulation, muscle relaxation, migraine management, and as a social stimulant. 

The psychoactive properties have also been known to enhance creativity, although different terpenes also seem to play a role in this.


The newest discovery on our list, little is known about delta-10-THC. This cannabinoid doesn’t exist in nature, and research is still ongoing. 

The origin of the compound is believed to be connected to the plant being processed into a concentrate while contaminated with a foreign chemical – likely fire retardant.  

11-Hydroxy THC

11-Hydroxy THC is a form of THC which is not found anywhere else in nature, aside from inside the body of someone who has ingested decarboxylated delta-9-THC.

Once processed by the liver, delta-9-THC becomes 11-Hydroxy-THC, a more potent, more psychoactive, and might highly binding version of THC that fits the CB1 receptor so snuggly it can successfully remain bound for several hours – extending the intensity and duration of the psychoactive properties of THC.

The active time of this phytocannabinoid is roughly 5-8hrs, but with a delayed onset effect of 1-2hrs.

Because of the potency, it is recommended that only a small amount of edible cannabis is injected until the effects are felt. That way, the dose is learned over time, and the risk of overdoing it is dramatically reduced.


We hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to THC variants! Did we miss anything important? Have questions? Let us know in the comments!


What is delta-8? – Leafly

What is delta-10? – Leafly

Understanding Cannabinoids: Your Complete Cannabis Guide / Samantha Miller / Green Flower

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