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What is THCV? Understanding “Diet Weed”

Feb, 2022
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From a spectator’s point of view, it might seem like the cannabis industry has a thing for pushing out new acronyms. There’s CBD, THC, CBN, Δ8-THC, CBG, and now we have what seems to be a new acronym, THCV (often referred to as the diet weed), getting some media hype.

It gives rise to questions begging to be answered: What is THCV? Is THCV legal? Should you give in to the hype and try out those THCV cartridges and THCV gummies you see on ads? If so, where do you buy genuine THCV products?

But before you get into all that, you must understand that, just like other cannabis products, THCV cannabis products have unique THCV effects that make them stand out from others. And no, it is not just about suppressing appetite — as most of the hypes around it indicate.

So, let’s dive in and unmask this “new” cannabinoid on the block and see what it has to offer. 

what is THCV

What is THCV?

Is it some formulation cannabis growers whipped out from thin air to boost sales, as some conspiracists claim? Nope. Is it some miracle cannabis formula that guarantees you will get in shape, as some hypes claim? Also no.

THCV stands for tetrahydrocannabivarin, a cannabinoid with a chemical structure similar to THC. But instead of a pentyl (–C5) side chain as with THC, it has a propyl (–C3) side chain. Structurally, this difference is the single most distinguishable disparity between THC and THCV.

Consequently, the scientific community referred to it as a younger brother of the famous THC, with similar but slightly less potent effects.

In most cannabis strains, THCV occurs in smaller quantities alongside THC. The amount of tetrahydrocannabivarin in most cannabis strains is often too small to allow for extraction at commercial levels.

However, some THCV-rich cannabis strains contain amounts reaching up to 16% of the plant’s dry weight. Such tetrahydrocannabivarin cannabis strains (What a mouthful!) mostly originate from Africa and sparingly from India, Thailand, Nepal, and Afghanistan.

THCV Cannabis: The Intersection Between History, Research, and Popularity

THCV is not a newly discovered cannabinoid, contrary to what you may think. Researchers discovered the compound in early 1973, barely nine years after the discovery and isolation of Δ9-THC, commonly known as THC. Since then, several researchers have conducted numerous studies to surface this cannabinoid's effects and pharmacological applications.

Now, you may be wondering why it was not as popular as CBD and THC if it was discovered as far back as the early ’70s. The thing is, although we can describe THCV cannabis as relatively abundant in some pure sativa strains rich in tetrahydrocannabivarin, trying to grow these strains and isolate THCV is often a complicated process. 

What has changed?

Well, the buzz has a lot to do with anecdotes from consumers and the results of THCV research over the years and more recently. Put together, these factors led to the gradual increase in the market demand. The increase in market demand served as a motivation for more research and more willingness on the part of cannabis growers to dive into the fortune.

Its peculiarity as an appetite suppressant and a conditionally psychoactive substance are key factors in its popularity. A study assessing the therapeutic benefit of the cannabinoid in managing diabetes and obesity indicates that THCV cannabis can help suppress appetite and boost feelings of satisfaction.

The appetite suppressant effect is totally different from THC’s, which boosts appetite and decreases satiety. Hence, consumers and growers started referring to tetrahydrocannabivarin as the diet weed.

At a time when being in shape is a pop culture across borders, you can see why patients are opting for THCV in managing the symptoms of their ailment while supposedly reaping the extra benefit of staying in shape.  

The THCV Effects

What are the effects of THCV? Does THCV get you high?

Tetrahydrocannabivarin comes with many pharmacological and therapeutic effects, just like other cannabinoids. Before trying a THCV cartridge, THCV tincture, THCV isolate, or THCV gummies, it is important to know what to expect. Let’s take a look at the known effects of this unique compound.

Weight Loss and Diabetes

The appetite suppressing properties of diet weed makes it a superb option for weight loss patients who would rather avoid the munchies in their weight loss journey.

A 2020 publication in the Journal of Cannabis Research reports that, unlike THC, tetrahydrocannabivarin acts antagonistically at the cannabinoid receptors, resulting in a decrease in glucose and lipid intake. Additionally, it exhibits appetite suppressant effects, creates a sense of being filled, and increases metabolic levels.

In the previous years, researchers conducted some THCV cannabis studies on mice to determine the weight loss of the substance on obesity. The researchers concluded that given THCV effects on insulin-resistant myotubes and hepatocytes, the cannabinoid could be a treatment for obesity-associated glucose intolerance.

All in all, researchers suggest that while there is a need for more extensive studies, the indications are verifiable pointers that tetrahydrocannabivarin is beneficial for weight loss and diabetes. 

benefits of THCV; what is THCV

Psychoactivity

The psychoactivity question often follows after an enthusiast asks, “What is THCV?” And that’s quite valid. Unfortunately, with this cannabinoid, the answer is not always straightforward because the anecdotes from patients tend to be different from the research conclusions.

The 2020 publication in the Journal of Cannabis Research suggests that the most distinguishing benefit of THCV over THC is the lack of psychoactive effects. They hedged this absence of psychoactive effects on the fact that tetrahydrocannabivarin blocks out cannabinoid receptors—the CB1 receptors.

The CB1 receptors are the receptors that THC interacts with to give off the feeling of highness. By being antagonistic to these receptors, THCV becomes incapable of influencing psychoactivity in patients. In some medical trials, researchers administered tetrahydrocannabivarin to patients a while before administering THC, and THCV inhibited the short-term memory, paranoia, and psychotic effects of THC.

On the one hand, researchers noted that at higher doses, THCV could turn around to be an agonistic substance, just like THC, and induce highness. On the other hand, patients report that the compound gets them energetically high even at doses as low as 0.1g, but the highness does not last long. For this reason, some individuals refer to it as the sports car of cannabis—hyper and quick.

So, is THCV psychoactive? Given the two scenarios and bearing in mind that everybody reacts differently to cannabis, it is safer to conclude that tetrahydrocannabivarin is psychoactive. So, approach these cannabis products with caution

Other THCV Effects

  • Anxiolytic effects: Researchers suggest that THCV could be a potent substance for anxiety patients, as it helps blunt out anxiety and paranoia in trial participants who took THC intravenous doses afterward.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: A study on mice shows that THCV could be a potential treatment for inflammation. Also, patients report that their pain reduces significantly after taking their THCV doses.
  • There are indications that the cannabinoid helps manage PTSD, acne, seizures, and psychosis. However, studies are still ongoing to reach more concrete results.

Is THCV Safe?

Diet weed is considered a relatively safe substance to consume. So far, researchers have not pointed out any damning THCV effect that makes it unsafe for patients and recreational consumers.

Irrespective of that, you must note that people react differently to cannabis products. It is important that you understand what a low dose of this cannabinoid means to your body. While some patients consider 0.1g to be a low or insignificant amount, others get high pretty quickly on the same dose. If you have a low tolerance for THC, a THCV dose above 0.1g is definitely not for you.

Also, the appetite-suppressing THCV effects could put you at risk of an eating disorder. If you have had any experience with any eating disorder, diet weed might not be for you. 

There is a bit of technicality to answering this question.

The 2018 Farm Bill allows the production and sale of industrial hemp and its extracts. Industrial hemp refers to cannabis with less than 0.3% THC content. Certified THCV products from certified growers are generally extracted from industrial hemp. Hence, tetrahydrocannabivarin extracted from industrial hemp is technically legal under federal law.

However, THCV cannabis products with THCV extracts from marijuana — cannabis with over 0.3% THC — are illegal.

Additionally, your location also matters. If recreational and medical marijuana is illegal in your state, possessing a THCV product would put you on the wrong side of the law. Possessing a THCV product in a state where only medical marijuana is legal without a medical marijuana card will also put you on the wrong side of the law. To be on the safer side in legal states, always make sure you have a medical marijuana card before purchasing and possessing a product with this cannabinoid.

As you can see, the answer to “is THCV legal?” is multilayered with different outcomes. Feel free to contact Elevate Holistics or your local dispensary to confirm the legality of tetrahydrocannabivarin in your locality.

Where to Buy Tetrahydrocannabivarin Products

buying weed online; what is THCV

If you are like one of the many enthusiasts that learned of tetrahydrocannabivarin from the Vice documentary, The Kings of Cannabis, you might have been disappointed to know that it isn’t readily available in your local dispensary.

THCV and THCV products are growing market trends; hence, very few outlets—mostly online—sell them. If you are looking for where to buy THCV, CannaAid Shop is one of the very few places you can get your THCV cannabis products, such as THCV cartridges, THCV gummies, THCV tincture, and THCV isolates.

Bear in mind that it might be easier for you to find THCV cartridges and THCV isolates than THCV gummies and tinctures.

Alternatively, you can look for landrace sativas from Africa (e.g., Durban Poison) or hybrid strains with an African mix—ask your budtender to suggest such strains within your locality. With less luck, you can extend your search to strains from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Thailand.

Examples of tetrahydrocannabivarin-rich strains to look out for include:

  • Pineapple Purps
  • Doug’s Varin
  • Malawi
  • Red Congolese
  • Durban Cheese

Elevate and THCV: Understanding Diet Weed Better

As THCV is gaining more public interest, researchers are also taking a more extensive look into the nature of the cannabinoid.

On the other hand, the question “is THCV legal?” is one that could be crudely aligned to the “to be or not to be” dilemma. The answers are laced with some degrees of uncertainty. However, having a medical marijuana card eliminates most of those uncertainties and puts you on the safer side of the law.

Here at Elevate Holistics, we specialize in helping people like you get their MMJ cards effortlessly. You complete the process entirely online, right from the comfort of your home. One of our amazing medical cannabis doctors will sit down with you (digitally, of course) to help determine whether or not MMJ is right for you. If it is, they'll give you the medical recommendation you need for your state medical marijuana card. It really is that quick and that easy. That's our goal.


If you're interested in getting your own medical cannabis card, you can click here to make an appointment.

Want to learn more about the cannabinoids that cannabis offers? We've got you covered: CBD, THC, CBG, CBN, THCO, Minor Cannabinoids