Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCv) are both naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. They each interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and look almost identical at the molecular level, but the range of effects and benefits vary greatly.
When comparing THCv vs THC, the first thing people mention is the difference in effect. THCv has been touted as “diet weed” due to its reported abilities to help aid in suppressing appetite, as opposed to the more commonly-known munchies that are often associated with THC.
So what is THCv, where can you find it, and how does it differ from THC?
What Is THCv?
THCv is a psychoactive cannabinoid with a unique list of potential benefits distinct from THC and cannabidiol (CBD). It is most prevalent in sativa strains originating from Africa, such as Durban Poison. Using this example, any strain with a parent of Durban Poison is likely to have higher than average percentages of THCv.
THCv vs THC: Differences Explained
These two cannabinoids look similar but have very different origins. THC (and many other cannabinoids) are derivatives of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). The parent molecule of THCv is cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA).
In low doses, THCv doesn’t produce the psychoactive effects associated with THC. Much like CBD, it is said to help reduce the psychoactive properties of THC to mitigate some of the effects of being “high.” However, THCv will produce psychoactive effects in higher doses, although they are more closely related to the effects of its sativa genetics. This typically presents as a cerebral head high with a clear-headed sense of euphoria.
A primary difference between THCv vs THC is how they affect appetite. Many people use THC to increase low appetite, whereas THCv is reported to help decrease or suppress appetite, hence the nickname “diet weed.”
THCv vs THCa
THCa is the precursor to THC. If you were to eat a handful of cannabis flowers, you would be consuming the THCa and wouldn’t experience any of the expected effects from THC. To convert THCa into THC, it must be decarboxylated. This is the process of heating the THCa to activate it into THC. While that might sound complicated, it’s as simple as lighting up some fresh herb or heating vaporizer oil in a cartridge.
Simply put—THCa is non-psychoactive, and although it takes a more significant amount, THCv does have psychoactive properties. Both THCa and THCv are said to produce light euphoria. It has been reported that users are so pleased with the effects that they have incorporated it into their overall wellness routine.
Commonly Reported THCv Effects & Benefits
Cognitively, THCv is said to help produce a short burst of energy with a clear-headed high. It behaves like a sativa when it comes to elevating creative thinking and enhancing productivity, all while creating a pleasant, mild high. Physiologically, users report a myriad of benefits.
Many users report that smoking strains high in THCv help reduce hunger pangs and cravings, and some early research is further investigating these anecdotal claims. It is believed that THCv blocks the receptors that trigger the hunger hormone, which some researchers feel may play an important role in battling obesity. Additionally, THCv may help boost energy levels, which supports weight loss. There is no conclusive medical evidence as of yet, but the future is bright for THCv research.
Other people claim that THCv has helped manage muscular spasms and tremors, while some research on lab rats suggests that THCv may also have anti-seizure properties, both preventatively and during a seizure. Should this cannabinoid ever be included in further clinical trials, it is hopeful that it can be added to a list of approved drugs, much like Epidiolex for seizures.
Subjectively, THCv is also said to help with acne, fatty liver disease, bone growth, and inflammation.
Legality of THCv
As with other THC analogs like Delta-8 and Delta-10, the legality around THCv is a complicated issue. Although THCv is so similar to THC, it does not fall under the same definition as THC in the Controlled Substances Act, which lists THC as a federally illegal substance. However, if the THCv is found in a marijuana plant, it will fall under regulation mandated by the state in which it was grown, produced, and sold.
Yet, if the THCv was obtained from a hemp plant, then it falls under the legality of the Farm Bill. This means that so long as the final product does not contain more than 0.3% THC, it is legal for use and sale outside of a regulated state medical or adult-use marijuana program.
Top THCv Strains
If you are looking for a strain that is high in THCv, look no further than our Pink Boost Goddess. This is a rare strain cultivated by Emerald Spirit Botanicals and has been bred by this family farm for generations. Pink Boost Goddess has ranked highest in THCv among 70,000 cultivars and boasts a sweet and creamy aroma with notes of strawberry and rosewood.
Consumers love this strain for its soft high that results in feeling grounded and calm, but with a slight mood boost and energetic buzz. Pink Boost Goddess is also said to help suppress appetite and reduce anxiety.
Other strains to consider are Pineapple Purps, Willie Nelson, Jack the Ripper, Red Congolese, Power Plant, Durban Cheese, Skunk #1, and Doug’s Varin. When shopping for THCv strains, be sure to ask for test results and note how each strain feels so you can monitor personal effects.
While research is only going to continue bringing us new information about cannabis, the best way to enjoy the benefits is to experiment slowly and try new products as you become more familiar with your desired dosage and experience. Keeping a strain journal handy is a great way to document your journey with cannabis. Write down your frame of mind, dosage and method of consumption, and any pertinent strain or potency details.