OMG!  The world is exploding with new cannabinoid “medicines” hitting the market.  There are new ones every week.  What do we really know about them and whether they’re useful or even safe?

The short story, if you’re not going to read the rest of the article, is that we know almost nothing about whether they’re useful and the likelihood is that they’re not safe.  My best advice at this time is don’t go there.  

Below please find the questions posed to me recently by a journalist on this topic and the answers I provided.

What is THC-0? (Note it’s THC-zero, not “oh”)

THC-0 or more properly THC-0 Acetate is a version of delta-9 THC in which the zero position on the first ring has an acetate group substituted.  This is not a commonly naturally occurring variant and it must be synthesized by chemists.  

Like d10 and K2/Spice there are an infinite number of variations on the THC molecule that can be created in the laboratory.  This fact has led to vast arrays of these synthetic cannabinoids, often generated to stay one step ahead of the DEA.  The problem is that, knowingly or unknowingly, these chemists can create cannabinoids, like K2/Spice, that can be very dangerous and even lethal.

What are the effects associated with THC-0?

Searching in Pubmed reveals exactly ZERO studies on THC-0.  There are a bunch of lay articles claiming that THC-0 is “3x more potent” than THC and “nearly hallucinogenic”.

Since THC is quite hallucinogenic at high doses, I don’t doubt that THC-0 may be as well.  However, except perhaps for getting stoned, there is little that this characteristic would offer to patients.  I doubt that there would be much medical benefit, and until a significant number of safety and efficacy studies are done, I would strongly urge people to stay away.  

Remember that synthetic cannabinoids can have impurities from the manufacturing process that can be harmful.  Further, remember that not all cannabinoids are safe: K2 and similar are synthetic and designed for greater potency and lead to erratic behavior, self-harm, and even death.

How is THC-0 different from regular THC?

Aside from the potency issue, THC-0 is synthetic (see above warning).  Further, since we believe that THC needs other “helper chemicals” to work optimally (called the Entourage Effect) using THC-0 seems likely to miss most of the medical benefit from THC.  

What is Delta-10 THC?

Delta-10 is yet another designer creation aimed at getting around the illegality of d9.  In this case the double bond that is usually in one position in d9 has been moved to an adjacent location.  

There is similarly nothing known about its safety and efficacy.  My warnings above hold for d10 as well.  

What are the effects of Delta-10? How is Delta-10 different from Delta-9 or Delta-8?

d9 and to a lesser extent d8 are naturally occurring and we have decades of research on both, though much more on d9.  The benefits and safety of d9 are well described in the science.  Less so for d8 but much whole plant research on d9 includes small amounts of naturally occurring d8.  

Again we have NO science on d10.  Nothing on what it’s good for and nothing on its safety.  

What is HHC and what are its effects?

HHC is hexahydrocannabinol which can be chemically manufactured (synthesized) from CBD or a number of other starting chemicals. It’s important to understand that THC and all cannabinoids are large, complex molecules that can be synthesized from each other and from similar molecules.  This is, in fact, how the “bad” cannabinoids like K2/Spice are made as well.  Certain changes to the molecules lead to differences in the effects of those molecules.  Some are ok, others are quite dangerous.  

The safety and effectiveness of HHC is completely unknown.  While we do know that it binds loosely to the CB1 receptor (the same one that THC affects), we have no idea what other effects it may have in the human body.  There are zero human data on HHC. 


Everything I said about HHC applies to THCP: no safety data, no regulation, no purity oversight.  

I would add that THCP is an old-style designer cannabinoid just like K2.  It is more potent than THC and likely very dangerous on that basis.  Remember the pharmaceutical trial in France some years ago that left a student in a coma?  That’s the kind of risk here.  

Let’s remember that cannabinoids are complex molecules and any chemist can start to tweak those molecules to make something new and different.  This is why the DEA has the “controlled substance analogue” law.  There are an infinite number of analogs that can be made, but the risk of harm from these novel molecules and from poor manufacturing is substantially the same for all, until proven otherwise. 

A Word On Purity

As you can imagine, making new or different cannabinoids requires some knowledge of chemistry.  You add this or that and set the conditions for a chemical reaction and hopefully it goes, creating the substances you expect.  However, even if it does do what you expect, then you have a vat of the intended chemical along with some of what your started with and whatever the heck else gets generated in the process.  These are impurities that need to be removed.  Removing those is a whole other science as well – time consuming, requiring special knowledge, and costing money.  How sure are we that the clean-up process was done right?

Well there have been studies looking at CBD products that are available in the community.  Generally speaking these have been quite shocking.  Some have revealed that those prodcuts have little to no CBD in them.  They have also found impurities including heavy metals, pesticides, and plastics.  In some cases they’ve even found adulterants (things added deliberately) like benzodiazepines or opioids!

So, it’s a good bet that products like synthetic cannabinoids introduced to market without oversight and regulation will not be made to a safe standard.  

Last Thoughts

Please, please, please don’t use this stuff.  K2 kills people.  Until we have better (or some) science on THC-0 and d10, we should assume they can be dangerous.  Further, if the people making these molecules are doing so to avoid legal issues, what is the likelihood that they have your safety and best interests at heart?

Consult with a Qualified Boston Medical Marijuana Expert Today 

Those considering using THC, CBD, or any type of medicine found in cannabis to help manage their condition should consider speaking to a trained medical expert who is knowledgeable about using cannabis therapeutically. Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler, M.D. sits on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has years of experience helping patients treat pain and other ailments using cannabis. He and the team at InhaleMD stand ready to assist patients in determining whether medical marijuana is right for them. For more information, or to set up a virtual consultation with the team at InhaleMD, call us at (617) 477-8886 today.

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