Medical Research

In Terms of Potency, THCP is the Strongest Cannabinoid Out There

Written by Denise Recalde

In 2019, Italian scientists discovered, within the trichomes of cannabis, the strongest natural cannabinoid known: tetrahydrocannabiphorol (THCP). [1] This psychoactive molecule has a potency that is up to 30 times that of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and is at the top of the spectrum of cannabinoid potency by a long shot.

Though it is too soon to tell how the discovery of THCP will affect the industry in the long run, in the short run consumers are already trying the cannabinoid in products available in the United States. The scientific research on the highly potent compound, however, is scarce, despite interest in the cannabinoid being on the up and up in the years since its discovery.

Scientists have been unveiling wonders derived from cannabis and hemp plants since the 1940s. [2] The advent of new technologies in the decades since directly led to the discovery of as many as 150 cannabinoids across the botanical varieties of the two plants.

Today, consumers remain intimately familiar with THC or cannabidiol (CBD) and have only begun to ask questions about the lesser known THCP.

The existence of the highly potent cannabinoid was first disclosed to the public in December 2019. The event was highly noted by global observers – many of whom believe the cannabinoid compound’s strong intoxicating properties are more intense than those of THC.

THCP was discovered and isolated during a laboratory decarboxylation process by a team of Italian researchers. These scientists significantly tested the compound’s influence over the human endocannabinoid system and concluded it was up to 30 times more effective than THC in interacting with human brain’s cannabinoid receptors type 1 (CB1).

The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) react to cannabinoid compounds through the brain’s CB1 and CB2 receptors. The alkyl side chains of each cannabinoid compound interact differently with one or both of the brain receptors. A minimum of three carbon atoms of the cannabinoid are needed to have an impact on the brain through CB1 receptors. Five alkyl side chains are in THC, while seven are found in THCP. Studies undertaken since THCP’s discovery have largely been dedicated to the study of the cannabinoid’s specific impact on the brain.



[1] Citti, C. et al. A novel phytocannabinoid isolated from Cannabis sativa L. with an in vivo cannabimimetic activity higher than Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiphorol. Sci Rep. 2019; 9: 20335. [Journal Impact Factor = 4.380] [Times cited = 104]


[2] Pertwee RG. Et al. Cannabinoid pharmacology: the first 66 years. Br J Pharmacol. 2006;147 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S163-S171. doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0706406 [Journal Impact Factor = 7.73] [Times cited = 778]



About the author

Denise Recalde