What is THCP? (Is it synthetic + other FAQ)

by Kat Austin July 11, 2022 11 min read

What is THCP? - Vida Optima™

THCP, or tetrahydrocannabiphorol, is a psychoactive cannabinoid and THC analog that’s naturally present in cannabis material. Alongside Delta-8, THC-O, and other hemp-derivatives, it can be classified as a hemp isomer and extracted from legal hemp material. That means that when it’s made according to federal guidelines, it’s potentially legal and much more accessible than traditional THC products.

Given it’s high potency–which is possibly 33 times higher than traditional THC products–that’s a surprising fact. So, what’s the catch? What is THCP? Is it as intensely intoxicating as people claim? Is THCP synthetic? And Is it really legal?

All great questions!

We’ll break down everything you need to know about THCP below:

Table of Contents
When Was THCP Discovered?
Why is THCP More Potent?
THCP Effects
Will THCP Make You Fail a Drug Test?
How is THCP Used?
Is THCP Legal to Buy?
Conclusion: What is THCP?
Frequently Asked Questions

Key Takeaways

  • THCP is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that can be synthesized from legal hemp material.
  • It’s thought to be over 30x more potent than traditional THC, though research is currently limited.
  • It is more accessible than Delta-9 because it is federally legal, and it may provide similar, but stronger psychoactive effects.
  • It’s important that the THCP products you buy are well made and free of potential contaminants, like pesticides and solvents.
A model of the THCP molecule, which is similar to Delta-9-THC in structure

What is THCP: Quick Facts

THCP (tetrahydrocannabiphorol), a cannabinoid recently discovered in cannabis, resembles THC but features a longer carbon chain. Here are some quick facts about THCP:

  • Researchers believe THCP surpasses THC in potency.
  • THCP's discovery has sparked interest in its potential therapeutic benefits.
  • Studies indicate that THCP exhibits a higher affinity for cannabinoid receptors.
  • It occurs naturally in small amounts in select cannabis strains.
  • Most commercially available THCP is synthesized due to its scarcity in nature.
  • THCP is often made from legal hemp, making it federally legal. State laws on THCP vary. 

When Was THC-P Discovered?

THCP was introduced in a 2019 study titled “A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol…”.

In this study, a team of Italian researchers used a natural cannabis sample derived from the Military Chemical Institute in Florence, Italy to isolate and analyze the wide array of compounds naturally found in the cannabis material.

As it turns out, THCP was discovered accidentally, but the groundbreaking findings almost immediately made waves through the cannabis industry. The new and unique cannabinoid was isolated using a series of mass-spectrometry and liquid chromatography technology, and researchers quickly realized that THCP is thirty times more effective at binding with CB1 receptors than Delta-9-THC.

Is THCP Synthetic?

THCP (tetrahydrocannabiphorol) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in cannabis, though it is present in very small quantities.

However, due to its scarcity in nature, most THCP available on the market is synthetically produced. This synthetic production allows for larger quantities and consistent purity, catering to research and commercial needs. Therefore, while THCP itself is a natural compound, its commercial availability is primarily through synthetic means.

THCP is not related to synthetic cannabinoids like K2 or spice. These synthetic cannabinoids are not made with hemp or cannabis material and are illegal to produce and distribute.

Why is THCP More Potent?

While molecular differences in Delta-9-THC and THCP may be impossible to spot for the untrained eye, experienced cannabinoid researchers were able to quickly identify THCP’s increased potential.

Like all naturally occurring molecules, THC molecules have alkyl side chains. To interact with the Endocannabinoid System in an efficient manner, a cannabinoid must have at least 3 of these chains. Delta-9-THC has five, which is why it’s able to incite its psychoactive effects (and therapeutic benefits).

This is why researchers were intrigued to find that THCP has seven of these alkyl side chains, meaning it could have seriously potent interactions with the Endocannabinoid System. For reference, a synthetically-derived THC-based research chemical named JWH 091 has seven alkyl chains and was found to be about two times more effective at binding with cannabinoid receptors than Delta-9.

However, when the researchers evaluated the binding potential for THC-P, they were shell shocked to find that it was thirty times more effectiveat binding with CB1 receptors than Delta-9-THC.

Of course, we can’t truly be sure about THCP’s potency until we have more research, but for now, anecdotal effects do give us some insight into it’s general effects.

A few hemp flower joints, one of the many ways that THCP can be consumed.

THCP Effects: What Kind of High is THCP? 

THCP is still fairly new to the industry, and most of what we know about THCP’s effects comes from anecdotal reports and the one limited study regarding it’s effects. Still, curious consumers want to know–what kind of high is THCP?

Will THCP Get You High?

Generally speaking, it’s often said to be incredibly similar to the effects of traditional THC, although much more potent. This is the case with another highly-potent THC analogue–THC-O–so THCP is expected to follow suit.

Many people use tiny doses of THCP to reap powerful psychoactive effects. The effects are commonly described as intoxicating and uplifting, and even potentially hallucinogenic. Likely because of it’s increased potency, it’s also described as having pretty potent sedative effects that could cause a “couch-lock” high.

Of course, the effects you experience from THCP depend heavily on the product you choose. The quality of the formulation and the specific ingredients used, such as other cannabinoids and terpenes, can greatly affect the THCP dosing experience. Plus, everyone reacts to different cannabinoids uniquely, so anecdotal reports offer a wide range of possibilities.

A leaf from the hemp plant, the natural source of THCP products made via isomerization.

How Long Do THCP’s Effects Last?

As with all forms of THC, the amount of time that a THCP high lasts mainly depends on body weight and dosing method. Your metabolism affects how long certain substances stay in the body, and different forms of THCP are metabolized at different rates.

In general, digested forms of THCP may provide longer lasting effects, while inhaled forms of THCP may metabolize more quickly. Depending on the form used and your unique metabolism, the effects of most THC products lasts between 2-6 hours.

In general, everyone's experience with THCP will differ, so it's best to try it out in a comfortable environment where you don't have a strict time frame.

What are the Benefits of THCP?

Although consumers and researchers alike share great interest in understanding the therapeutic benefits of THCP, the truth is that we simply don’t know much about it yet. Here are some of the possible therapeutic effects of THCP given the small amount of research available:

  • Increased mobility
  • Analgesic effects
  • Decreased temperature

Of course, researchers believe that THCP could also offer many of the same benefits as Delta-9-THC, including pain relief, sleep support, relief from nausea and vomiting, and more. More research is needed to fully understand THCP’s therapeutic potential.

What are THC-P Side Effects?

The lack of THCP-focused research also makes it difficult to say what side effects may be associated with the new cannabinoid. However, many experts agree that it likely carries a similar risk profile to Delta-9-THC. THCP headaches are the most commonly reported side effect.

Keep in mind that the hemp industry is still widely unregulated, and many manufacturers are not proficient at making these trendy new THC products. In other words, THCP may have potential side effects on its own, but formula quality poses the most serious risk.

When a high-quality product is used responsibly, the risk of side effects is probably low, but some of the following side effects are possible:

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry mouth
  • Red eyes
  • Increased thirst
  • Hunger
  • Tiredness

Because THCP is said to bind more effectively to your CB1 receptor, the side effect risks may be higher than the risks associated with traditional THC. Of course,, we assume the side-effects are dose-dependent, so we always recommend that new THC users dose slowly and carefully while they feel out their dosing threshold.

Will THCP Make You Fail a Drug Test?

As far as we currently know, all forms of THC (including THCP) convert to 11-hydroxy-THC in the body. Because drug tests look for this THC metabolite and not Delta-9 specifically, all forms of THC may trigger a positive drug test result.

That means that even though THCP may be legal in your area, a THCP drug test will appear positive just like traditional THC products, and it can be difficult to prove which form of THC you've consumed.

To understand more about how THCP drug tests work, read about how Delta-8 shows up on drug tests.

How is THCP Used?

THCP is still new and can sometimes be difficult to find in today's hemp market, but its popularity is slowly spreading, mostly among seasoned cannabis consumers interested in it’s massively increased potency.

If you’re a bit less experienced with THC products, or especially with THC-P products specifically, here's a quick run down of the types of products you may find in today’s market:


THC edibles can come in many different forms, like traditional digestible edibles and sublingual style edibles.

Traditional edibles, like gummies and baked goods, are chewed and swallowed which means they need to be processed by digestion. Sublingual edibles, on the other hand, are meant to melt in your mouth so that the THC can be absorbed by the mucus membranes.

Both method can offer the benefit of pre-measured doses, but THC edibles that are metabolized may have different effects because of the way that THC turns into 11-hydroxy-THC in the gut.

THCP edibles are not yet incredibly common, but they may be preferred by experienced THC consumers.

Read our THC Edibles Buyer’s Guide to learn more.

Vida Optima Elev8 Vaporizer


Vaporizers are a popular dosing method for all cannabis and hemp products because they take effect almost instantly and make it easy to stack small doses until you reach your desired effects.

This can be a great thing for a cannabinoid as potent as THCP since you can more easily control the dosage. Plus, vaporizers use a technique called strain profiling to create THCP products modeled after different sativa, indica, and hybrid strains, offering a bit more versatility in terms of formulas and effects.

Currently, vapes are one of the most common THCP products available. To learn more, read our THC Carts Buyer’s Guide.


THCP is naturally occurring in cannabis, and many experts speculate that it may have something to do with the unexpected high associated with many of the high-THC strains available at dispensaries across the nation. After all, THCP didn’t begin to exist when it was discovered–it’s been there in our cannabis the entire time.

Now that the molecule has been isolated and is rising in popularity, you may be able to find highly potent strains that are specifically bred to contain small doses of THCP.

Keep in mind that these aren’t typically legal by federal standards, though it is possible to find hemp flower with hemp-derived THCP added, similar to the process used to make Delta-8 flower.

Other forms of THCP

There may be other forms of THCP available on a limited basis, but the THCP market is still extremely interested. Some people have expressed interest in THCP concentrates, but this isn’t currently a common formulation because it’s hard to dose and control thanks to THCP’s increased potency. In any case, be wary of the quality of THCP products you may find, and always look at the hemp source and third-party lab tests for hemp products before you buy.

Is THCP legal to buy?

THCP’s legality is currently under fire. Although it can exist as a hemp product that’s technically legal according to The Hemp Farming Act of 2018, some people believe that it should be classified as illegal under the Federal Analogue Act (FAA), a text that declares all THC analogues illegal by default unless removed from this list by law.

Still, section 12619b of the Hemp Farming Act specifically addresses tetrahydrocannabinols in hemp. This portion of the bill suggests that any THC that can be naturally derived from legal hemp material, which includes hemp and all of its cannabinoids, isomers, salts, extracts, and other derivatives, is considered to be a legal hemp product, so long as it contains less than 3% Delta-9-THC.

The DEA and FDA are still ironing out the details behind federal hemp laws, so it really leaves THCP in a legal gray area. For now, THCP is likely legal when it’s derived from hemp material, but it may boil down to state laws.

Just like some states have banned Delta-8-THC derived from hemp, many of the same states do not allow THCP to be manufactured and sold within the state. Still, hemp-derived THC products may be accessible to consumers across the country who are shopping online.

THCP and Delta-8-THC are generally lumped under the same hemp-derived THC laws, so you can read more about Delta-8 laws by state to learn about the THCP laws in your state.

Conclusion: What is THCP?

THCP is one of the newest things in the hemp world right now. It's super strong and easy to get, which makes it a hit, especially for folks who are used to high-THC stuff.

People are really into its intense buzz and think it might help with things like pain and sleep. Right now, you won't find it everywhere in different forms, but more and more hemp companies are figuring out how to make it.

If you want to try it, look for a brand that tests their batches with outside labs to be sure it's legit. Check out our Elev8 Collection and Cloud9 Collection for premium hemp THC products you can order online. 


Frequently Asked Questions

What is THCP good for?

More research is needed to prove any therapeutic benefits linked to THCP. According to anecdotal reports, THCP is often said to help support healthy sleep cycles and relieve pain.

Is THCP synthetic?

No, THCP is naturally found in cannabis, meaning it is not synthetically derived. However, it’s found in low quantities, so it is commonly synthesized from other natural hemp cannabinoids in order to create useful concentrations of THCP.

How long does it take for THCP to kick in?

The amount of time it takes to feel the effects of THCP depend on the dosing method used. For inhaled THC-O, it could take up to 30 minutes to feel the effects, while edibles may take about twice that long.

Does THCP cause headaches?

A THCP headache is the most common side effects associated with overuse of THCP. Taking doses that are too large can result in a THCP headache, which should subside after the THCP is fully metabolized.

Is THCP legal in every state?

Not necessarily, but it is legal in most states. If the THCP products are made from legal hemp material, then they are legal by federal law thanks to the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Check local laws to see if THCP and other hemp-derivates are legal near you.

What does THCP do for you?

THCP is a potent cannabinoid that can produce intense psychoactive effects, including euphoria, relaxation, and enhanced sensory perception. It is believed to be much stronger than THC, potentially providing more pronounced effects even at lower doses.

Is THCP the same as Delta 8?

No, THCP is not the same as Delta 8. THCP (Tetrahydrocannabiphorol) is a different cannabinoid with a much stronger affinity for cannabinoid receptors, leading to more potent effects. Delta 8 THC, while psychoactive, is generally considered milder than Delta 9 THC and THCP.

How long does THCP high last?

The high from THCP can last significantly longer than that from other cannabinoids, often extending up to 12 hours or more, depending on the dosage and individual metabolism.

Why is THCP legal?

THCP is legal in some regions because it is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC, aligning with the stipulations of the 2018 Farm Bill in the United States. However, its legal status can vary, so it's important to check local regulations.

Is THCP Indica or Sativa?

THCP itself is neither Indica nor Sativa. These terms refer to the broader cannabis plant classifications. THCP can be found in both Indica and Sativa strains, and its effects will vary depending on the specific strain's profile.

Is THCP artificial?

No, THCP is not artificial. It is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, although it is typically present in very small amounts. For commercial use, THCP is often extracted and concentrated from hemp.


  1. “A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol”https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-56785-1#Sec10
  2. “Liquid chromatography”https://hiq.linde-gas.com/en/analytical_methods/liquid_chromatography/index.html#:~:text=Liquid%20chromatography%20(LC)%20is%20a,a%20column%20or%20a%20plane.
  3. “What is Mass Spectrometry?”https://www.broadinstitute.org/technology-areas/what-mass-spectrometry 
  4. “USDA - 2018 Farm Bill” https://www.usda.gov/farmbill

  5. "Global Substance Registration System - JWH-091"  https://gsrs.ncats.nih.gov/ginas/app/beta/substances/Q6P6W9SNR2 

  6. "The Structure–Function Relationships of Classical Cannabinoids: CB1/CB2 Modulation" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927043/ 

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