What is THC and Where is it Found in the Cannabis Plant?

THC is one of many compounds found in marijuana plants' resin secreted by glands. It's most abundantly found in female marijuana plants' flowers covered with trichomes. Learn more about where THC is found & its effects.

What is THC and Where is it Found in the Cannabis Plant?

THC is one of the many compounds found in the resin secreted by the glands of the marijuana plant. This resin, which contains unique cannabinoids, is most abundantly found in the flowers of female marijuana plants. These flowers are covered with small resin glands called trichomes, which protect the plant from external stressors and contain resinous glands that create flavonoids, cannabinoids and terpenes. The bracts around a woman's reproductive area have several resin glands that contain the most cannabinoids within the marijuana plant.

Cannabis and hemp are the main plants containing THC, but the percentage they contain varies between strains. Horticulturists who grow cannabis can cross strains to produce new varieties. The percentage of THC in dry weight in cannabis ranges from 3 percent to 30 percent, with 30 percent being considered a very high THC content. Many commercially available cannabis strains, where legal, contain up to 20 percent THC.

The compounds can be obtained from hemp trichomes, cell suspension cultures, hair root systems, or by biotransforming THCA or CBDA using fungal, bacterial or plant cells. CBD isn't the only compound that has different effects than its main ingredient, D-9-THC, a CB1R partial agonist. While D-9-THC alone increased the pulse rate, altered chronological tasks, and induced strong psychological reactions in subjects, CBD alone did not cause such. The psychoactive decarboxylated form of THCA, THC, is a partial agonist of the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but has a greater affinity for the CB1 receptor, which appears to mediate its psychoactive properties.

More attention is now being paid to the active components of THC-free cannabis, which may act synergistically and contribute to the pharmacological power and environmental effects of medicinal-based cannabis extract. Naturally, due to the recent and consistent increase in the availability of higher content THC variants of cannabis worldwide, there has been a growing concern about health risks, especially for young people. CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body, albeit indirectly; unlike THC, it is not an agonist of the receptors. CBD has a wide range of pharmacological properties that have been downplayed for many years compared to THC.

However, higher doses of CBD may enhance lower doses of D-9-THC by increasing the level of CB1R expression in the hippocampus and hypothalamus. The sum of the THC and CBD fractions (not indicating the different amounts of each) in hemp stem and bark wood extracts was 2 and 1%, respectively, representing 0.003 and 0.0005% of the total fiber content.