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Learn All About High-Potency Cannabinoids and the Products Containing Them  

high-potency products
Written by Alexandra Hicks

In today’s cannabis market – at the very least, in states that don’t have legal recreational weed – high-potency products containing blends of extra strong cannabinoids and gaining popularity. But what exactly are these new compounds? Are they natural or synthetic? What makes them different from one another? And what kind of products contain them? Scroll down to learn all about high-potency products.

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What are high-potency cannabis products? 

High-potency cannabis products are just that, consumer weed products that contain the more psychoactive compounds found in the cannabis plant, as well as some new, synthetic variations. The two categories of cannabinoids that actually produce these type of effects are THCs (tetrahydrocannabinols) and HHCs (hexahydrocannabinols).  

To better understand why some cannabinoids get you high and others don’t, you’ll need a basic understanding of the human endocannabinoid system and how it works. It’s worth pointing out that nearly all animals (minus insects) have an endocannabinoid system – this includes mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and invertebrates. As a whole, the ECS regulates numerous different functions and processes in our bodies and maintains internal balance and homeostasis. The ECS modulates the nervous and immune systems and other organ systems to relieve pain and inflammation, regulate metabolism and neurologic function, promote healthy digestive processes, and support reproductive function and embryologic development.

In humans, our endocannabinoid system is made up of a network of neurotransmitters and receptors that exists in the bodies of all animals. Cannabinoid 1 and Cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB1 and CB2) are found in the brain and nervous system, as well as in peripheral organs and tissues. Tetrahydrocannabinols binds with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain, which results in the “high” we all know and love. Other compounds, like CBD for example, binds only to CB2 receptors and does not produce any type of psychoactive effects.

When it comes to high-potency cannabis products, they can fall into one of three categories: products that contain only one high-potency cannabinoid, such as THC-P only products. You can also have products with a blend of high-potency cannabinoids, like THC-O, Delta 10, THCjd, and THCh mixed together. Or, you can have a product with very high concentrations of any psychoactive cannabinoid, like edibles with 100mg or more of delta 9 per serving.  

Typically, high-potency products consist of vapes, edibles, and concentrates. Flower products can be infused with stronger cannabinoids, but they still are not usually considered high-potency, because there really is a limit to how high one can get on smokables.  

More about THCs and HHCs 

First, let’s quickly review THCs. There are a total of at least 15 that we know of. There are 4 major types of THC that are naturally occurring in the plant: THCA, THCV, Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC. Then, we have a few synthetics like THC-O and Delta 10. And we also have some very trace cannabinoids (those that show up in very low amounts) like THCP. And then we have a whole slew of new THCs that very little remains known about, and these include THCjd and THCh.

We also have one, naturally occurring endocannabinoid that is in the family of THCs, and that’s 11-hydroxy THC. This is not a cannabinoid per se, but a metabolite that our body creates when we digest different types of THC. So, if you’re eating naturally occurring THCs, like Delta 8 or Delta 9, the effects in our bodies will be the same, because they are all converted to 11-hydroxy THC. Synthetic THCs may have different effects, this has not been thoroughly studied.  

Now, on to HHCs. There are way less HHCs than THCs, so at least it doesn’t get very confusing here. With hexahydrocannabinols we have HHC, HHC-O, and HHC-P. There is a biologically active naturally occurring (−)-hexahydrocannabinol, as well as its synthetic enantiomer (+)-hexahydrocannabinol. The synthetic HHC, which can be found in spice, has the chemical formula: 9-Nor-9β-hydroxyhexahydrocannabinol, and the natural variety, found in trace amounts in cannabis pollen, goes by the formula: 6aR,9R,10aR-Hexahydrocannabinol. 

Both HHC-O and HHC-P are synthetic. HHC-O is the acetate version of HHC. HHC-P has the same alkaline chain as HHC but with two extra carbons included. The addition of these extra carbons is believed to enhance its ability to bind to cannabinoid receptors in the human body – but again, much of this research is extremely new and limited.  

Cannabinoid blends and the entourage effect

According to recent surveys, nearly half of all cannabis consumers prefer to use products that contain more than one cannabinoid, and this number is expected to grow, at least while the alternative cannabinoid market remains stable. Knowing what we know about the entourage effect and how different plant compounds work together synergistically to provide the highest level of benefits, it’s no surprise that people are excited to try new mixes.

First, let’s quickly sum up the entourage effect. The entourage effect describes the way different plant compounds work together in our bodies, often providing stronger and more noticeable effects in comparison to using isolated compounds. In cannabis, the entourage effect refers to how the combination of numerous cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids offer the best benefits, in both terms of psychoactive and physiological effects.

To date, over 120 cannabinoids, and more than 150 terpenes have been isolated from the cannabis plant. Although many of these exist in only very trace amounts, every single compound in the plant does have a specific role, and different ratios of these compounds can lead to very different effects in the human body.

For example, the terpene myrcene can help diminish resistance in the blood-brain barrier which allows other cannabinoids to access the central nervous system with more ease. Linalool and limonene, two terpenes commonly found in citrus fruits, show promise in managing symptoms of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) when combined with CBG (cannabigerol). The study covers many more instances of how all these chemicals work together to the patient’s advantage. 

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About the author

Alexandra Hicks

Managing editor at Cannadelics and U.S based journalist, helping spread the word about the many benefits of using cannabis and psychedelics.