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If you thought that Italy was all about the food and culture, well, you’re only partially right. It’s also about new, potentially more potent strains of marijuana. A team of Italian researchers recently discovered two new cannabinoids, one of which, THCP (tetrahydrocannabiphorol), is thought to be around 30 times stronger than THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in weed.
Along with THCP, the study’s findings, published in the journal Nature, Scientific Reports, also chronicles a new compound named CBDP (cannabidiphorol) that appears closely related to CBD, a cannabinoid often championed for it’s anti-inflammatory and anticonvulsant properties.
CBD has numerous known, as well as many yet to be discovered, additional health benefits.
Scientists made the discovery from a medical cannabis variety in Italy, known as FM2. But THCP, which has a unique seven-link molecular structure compared to THC’s five-link makeup, is likely found in many different strains of marijuana.
In fact, researchers believe THCP likely accounts for why some cannabis strains are more powerful than others.
Is THCP Like Marijuana Concentrates?
A more intense, potent strain of weed may be welcome news for pot-smokers seeking to get even “higher.” Right now, marijuana concentrates, such as shatter, are popular for that kind of powerful intoxicating experience.
There are downsides with concentrates, though. Users tend to develop a tolerance much more quickly, and must consume higher quantities or more frequently to achieve the desired effects. More potent concentrates also increase the chances of becoming addicted to pot.
Before marijuana-advocates start rejoicing, scientists aren’t entirely sure, outside of testing in mice, that THCP will actually provide a high that’s 30 times more potent, or if it’s even psychoactive at all.
Potential Drawbacks to Potent Marijuana
While more and more states are legalizing both medicinal and recreational marijuana, there is the less discussed, darker side of the cannabis industry.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports, “marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States, after alcohol.”
Despite claims from regular users that a “weed habit” is harmless, chronic consumption comes with a number of negative side effects of marijuana, including some of the following:
- Psychological and physical addiction, especially in users that began using cannabis at a young age, while the brain was still developing
- A potential increase in mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and paranoia. Those with preexisting mental illness conditions are likely at a greater risk of deteriorating mental health with regular marijuana use
- Bodily dysfunction and impairment in long-term users, including memory loss, heart damage, respiratory problems, low testosterone production and a decrease in motor functions
- Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS), a marijuana induced sickness characterized by abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and obsessive bathing or showering in hot water
The Future of CBDP and THCP is Unknown
There are nearly 150 phytocannabinoids that have been detected in the cannabis plant, with THC and CBD being two of the most common. There might be some medical benefits to the newly discovered CBDP and THCP cannabinoid compounds that we don’t even know about yet.
Unfortunately, scientists and U.S. based researchers are regrettably blocked from doing intensive studies because of the schedule I classification of marijuana as a dangerous narcotic by the federal government.
The lack of legitimate medical research into cannabis compounds, their effects and benefits, is particularly troubling, especially as it relates to CBD because it’s non-habit forming and, according to most experts, offers the most promise in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions.
In theory, growers may be able to breed strains of marijuana that produce the more potent THCP and CBDP. Though, for now at least, isolating the new compounds is still extremely difficult and requires intensive investigation beyond the scope of many commercial weed-growing operations.
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