A cannabis plant on neon green background.

When it comes to cannabis products, there is a lot of information available. One Google search can lead to thousands upon thousands of results! It can be hard to know where to start, and what sources to trust.

If you are trying to learn more about cannabis, and specifically products that contain THC, then you are in the right place.

Sit down, get out your notebook and a pencil, and pay attention–class is in session.

Welcome to THC 101, your ultimate guide to everything you need to know about tetrahydrocannabinol.

The History of Cannabis

Human beings have used the cannabis plant (1) for over five thousand years. For a large portion of THC history, this plant was seen as an important tool for medicine and spirituality.

As we move into modern times, however, the public opinion of cannabis began to change.

The Ancient World

Different strains of cannabis first appeared in a variety of locations throughout Africa and Asia. Each type of cannabis that grew had different effects and different uses in the surrounding cultures.

The Ancient Hebrews had a more spiritual focus in their use of cannabis. They used cannabis as one of the herbs in anointing oil.

The Egyptians focused on cannabis as medicine. They used the plant as a treatment for glaucoma and severe inflammation. The Egyptians weren’t the only culture to acknowledge the medicinal benefits of this adaptable plant.

As early as 2900 B.C., cannabis was a popular medicinal plant in China, and over the next millennium, the Chinese discovered over one hundred uses for the plant.

In India, cannabis was important medicinally as well as spiritually. It is said that the god Shiva rested under a cannabis plant and ate its leaves. The Vedas says that the plant sprang up when a drop of heavenly nectar fell to the earth, and the plant was used to induce calm and reduce anxiety.

The Greeks smoked cannabis for recreational purposes. The plant would have been consumed at parties, at festivals celebrating gods such as Dionysus, or by priests and priestesses.

The Romans and English used the plant to treat a wide variety of ailments. Everything from neurological disorders to sore stomachs could be treated with the cannabis plant.

In early U.S. history, hemp (a variation of cannabis) was widely grown by early settlers and farmers. The early American cannabis industry was an important factor in the colonial economy.

Throughout the 1700s and 1800s, cannabis and its variations were grown to create textiles, medications, and other products. It was sold as an anti-anxiety medication, a pain reliever, an appetite stimulant, and a treatment for opioid withdrawal.

Until one hundred years ago, cannabis was seen as a vital part of medical care in many cultures around the world. It fostered world religions, built up economies, and improved people’s quality of life.

THC in the Last Century

It is only in the last century that cannabis’ public image (2) began to change. Once a plant that held medicinal and spiritual significance for thousands of years, cannabis became an illegal substance.

In the early 1900s, there was an influx of Mexican immigrants into the United States. Anti-immigrant and anti-drug groups began to call cannabis the “Mexican Menace”, and the use of the word “marijuana” began to become more popular.

The public began to see cannabis not as a medicine, but as a recreational drug that was being brought into the U.S. by Mexican immigrants. There was a wave of advertisements and rumors spread with the goal of painting marijuana as a dangerous substance.

This smear campaign was successful on all fronts, and by 1930 most states had prohibited or severely restricted the use of cannabis. The prohibition of cannabis and the prohibition of alcohol led to massive underground markets for both substances.

As the Great Depression raged on, people blamed the Mexican immigrants for a wide variety of issues including unemployment, but the most popular outlet for the anti-immigrant sentiment was a newfound outrage against the use of marijuana.

Throughout the rest of the 20th century, cannabis was reported to increase instances of violence and assault. Some claimed it was highly addictive, and policies were put into place that criminalized the plant and instated harsh punishments for the people who were caught using it.

The criminalization of marijuana was used as a means to incarcerate African American and Latino men in disproportionate numbers. With the rise of the War on Drugs, the prison problem in the United States rose to new heights, with marijuana possession arrests contributing highly.

THC in the 21st Century

In the last ten years, public opinion in the United States has begun to shift. Several states have legalized marijuana, and CBD (a compound in cannabis that is discussed below) is legal in all 50 states (3).

The medicinal uses of cannabis are being studied heavily, and it is being used to treat seizure disorders, chronic pain, mental illness, and other diseases. Anecdotal evidence is slowly being supported by scientific studies.

In the coming years, many believe that cannabis products containing THC will be decriminalized and legalized in all 50 states.

Currently, many states are dealing with the racial implications of the criminalization of marijuana, the massive amount of arrests made over the years, and the impact it has had on minority communities across the country.

This wave of legalization can be seen all around the world, with many countries moving forward and past the prohibition of marijuana.

The Science of THC

Cannabis and the compounds it contains, most notably THC, has many effects on the people who use it. But what is THC? How does it affect our brains and our bodies?

While many people know the feelings that THC can cause, not as many know the scientific reasons for these effects.

What Is Tetrahydrocannabinol?

THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol (4), the psychoactive compound present in marijuana that produces the sensation of a “high.” This compound interacts with your endocannabinoid system and can have a wide variety of effects on your body and mental state.

THC is found in a resin made by the glands of the marijuana plant, and it is a compound that is unique to cannabis. The immediate effects of THC last about two hours on average, but everyone’s body chemistry is unique, so there are different experiences that people have when ingesting this compound.

Depending on the strain of cannabis you are consuming, the method of consumption (such as smoking vs. edibles), and your body chemistry, THC will have varying effects on you, physically and mentally.

What Is the Endocannabinoid System?

With the study of THC came the study of how cannabis works in the body. Scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system, a communications system that exists between the body and the brain.

The human body naturally produces anandamide and 2-AG (2-arachidonoyl glycerol) which act as cannabinoid (CB) receptors (5). When someone ingests cannabis, compounds like THC also act as CB receptors.

Cannabinoids affect how the cells communicate, often dimming and slowing down the communication processes.

CB receptors are found throughout the brain and spinal cord. Because their presence is widespread, THC can have a variety of effects on the body and mind. These effects can include mood, judgment, appetite, responses to pain, and more.

For example, if THC comes into contact with CB receptors near your amygdala, you may experience more paranoia because this part of the brain controls your fear response.

How Does THC Affect the Body?

Because of the prevalence of CB receptors throughout the brain, THC can affect almost every part of the body.

When smoking marijuana, people may experience slower reflexes, increased fatigue or long periods of sleep, and increased appetite, to name a few of the effects.

Some strains of cannabis will affect the body more than they affect the mind. This “body high” creates strong feelings of muscle relaxation and slows your ability to react to outside stimuli.

How Does THC Affect the Mind?

THC has an effect on the mind and our mental and emotional processes as well. Some people experience mood changes and feel elation, while others feel paranoid or introspective. Memory recall becomes more difficult, and users can expect an increased feeling of relaxation and sedation.

While cannabis is relatively safe for consumption by adults, there is evidence to suggest that it can have long-lasting effects when used during adolescence.

The human brain is not fully developed until a person reaches their mid-twenties. If cannabis is used before the brain is fully developed, it can cause problems in healthy brain development.

Teens who smoke marijuana when they are young can deal with problems such as:

  • Difficulty problem solving
  • Difficulty with memory and learning
  • Reduced ability to maintain attention
  • Reduced coordination skills
  • Increased risk of developing mental health issues
  • Increased risk of addiction

For this reason, there is an age limit on the purchase of marijuana in states where dispensaries are legal. The scientific study of cannabis is a modern phenomenon, so there is still a lot to learn about the long-term effects of cannabis use in early adolescence (6).

Is THC Addictive?

Becoming addicted to marijuana (7) is much less likely to occur than an addiction to substances like alcohol or cocaine. However, excessive use and addiction can occur with cannabis.

If someone develops a marijuana use disorder, they often have trouble functioning without the presence of THC in their system. If someone with a marijuana use disorder stops using cannabis, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. These can include:

  • Restlessness or an inability to sleep
  • Reduced appetite
  • Strong cravings
  • Irritability and mood swings

There are several signs that someone’s recreational use has turned into an addiction. It is important to know these signs so that you can recognize them in yourself or in your loved ones. Some of these signs include:

  • Spending large amounts of time using marijuana (or obtaining it or recovering from its effects on the body)
  • Neglecting work, family, and friends to get high
  • Using marijuana even when it is harmful to their health (developing lung problems or mental health issues)
  • Using marijuana even when it is harmful to the health of those around them (when driving a car or operating machinery)
  • Constantly craving the high that THC provides
  • Developing an incredibly high tolerance for THC

While cannabis has so many positive applications for medicine, spirituality, and recreation, it is important to remember that there is always a possibility of addiction with increased, continuous use.

If you are unable to sleep, eat, or conduct life normally without cannabis, you may need to address this issue with a health professional.

Types of Cannabinoids Other Than THC

While THC is the most prevalent cannabinoid in marijuana, and it is the most psychoactive, it is not the only cannabinoid.

The second most popular cannabinoid in the cannabis plant is CBD. Even in areas where THC is illegal, CBD is often legally accessible. CBD is non-psychoactive (it doesn’t get you high), and it is known to help reduce seizures, ease migraines, and reduce pain and nausea.

CBD can be consumed in many of the same ways that cannabis products with THC can be consumed. There are CBD hemp cigarettes, vapes, lotions, balms, oils, and gummies–to name a few.

CBN is the cannabinoid most effective for neurological conditions. Epilepsy, seizure, severe muscle stiffness–they are all eased by the presence of CBN.

CBG might be most effective for easing the effects of mental health disorders. Some say that using CBG can help to reduce the effects of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Like THC, each of these cannabinoids works by affecting the endocannabinoid system by reacting with CB receptors. While studies are being conducted to further research the anecdotal evidence of the effects of different cannabinoids, it has already been found that CBD, CBD, and CBG (8) all have pain-relief and anti-inflammatory effects.

Types of Cannabis

Not all cannabis products containing THC have the same effect. There are many, many strains available to choose from. They all fall under the following three categories (9).

Each category produces, on average, a specific effect on the consumer and has historically been grown in different parts of the world.


Cannabis indica is native to areas of the Middle East and South Asia including India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Afghanistan. These plants had to adapt to the harsh, windy climate of this mountainous region. Because of this, the cannabis indica plant is shorter, wider, more durable, and matures faster than its cousin, cannabis Sativa.

Cannabis indica has equal levels of THC as other kinds of cannabis, but it has much more CBD.

Indica gives the calming effect that people often associate with cannabis. Intense relaxation and sedation, increased appetite, and reduced pain and nausea are all common effects of Indica strains.

Because of the effect that it has on energy and sleep, it is better to consume Indica strains in the late evening or nighttime.

This type of cannabis can be used as a sleep aid, muscle relaxant, or for its calming effect for stress and anxiety.


Cannabis sativa is found in hot, dry climates that get a lot of sunshine. Originally, this type of cannabis would have grown easily in parts of Africa, Central America, and Southeast Asia. The plant is tall and thin and often takes longer to mature than other types of cannabis.

Cannabis sativa is known for its energizing effects. It contains higher amounts of THC and lower amounts of CBD. The ratio produces an invigorating effect. You are more likely to feel an influx of creative energy and an elevated mood with Sativa than the stereotypical, relaxed sensation often associated with marijuana.

Because it is so energizing and stimulating, it is better to use this strain in the day or early evening than late at night.


While Indica and Sativa started with plants native to different parts of the world, hybrid strains developed in greenhouses.

These strains combine the effects of Indica and Sativa in a variety of ways. Because of the range of possibilities, each type of hybrid strain has different ratios of CBD and THC, plant height and leaf shape, and effects on the body.

Hybrid strains are identified by which parent plant they are most like. Hybrids are more closely related to Indica (Indica-dom) or Sativa (Sativa-dom).

Understanding which strains the hybrid is most closely related to will help you understand the kind of high you might experience if you consume it.

The Impact of Terpenes

Aside from the specific kind of cannabis, the terpenes present in the plant can also affect the experience the consumer has. Terpenes are another naturally occurring compound in the cannabis plant. The terpenes of a specific plant will affect its smell and the kind of impact the plant has on the consumer.

There are many types of terpenes, but some of the most common include:

  • Myrcene: this is the most common terpene (has an earthy smell and may help with sleep problems and anxiety)
  • Limonene: smells of citrus and may help to reduce stress and brighten your mood
  • Humulene: has a woody (almost hops-like) smell and may reduce inflammation
  • Caryophyllene: is almost spicy in its smell and feel, and may help to improve depression, anxiety, and ulcers

The effect that terpenes have on the high that the consumer experiences are still being studied.

How to Consume THC

Cannabis products that include THC can be consumed in many different ways. As the legalization of cannabis becomes more popular, there is an increased level of innovation and more and more products are becoming available.

Depending on your personal preferences, existing health conditions, and availability, you may prefer one method of consumption over another. Here are some of the most popular ways to consume cannabis products with THC.


This is one of the oldest and most common ways to ingest THC. Cannabis flowers can be smoked in a pipe, bong, or joint (wrapped in paper).

Smoking is one of the fastest ways to feel the effects of THC. The flower burns as the consumer inhales, carrying the smoke into the lungs. Receptors in the lungs immediately carry THC and other cannabinoids into the bloodstream, where it has a quick effect on the body.

The types of terpenes present in marijuana will affect the smell that it emits while burning.

Some pipes/bongs contain water. This cools the smoke and creates a smoother, easier inhaling experience which can reduce the stress on the throat and lungs.

Cannabis can be smoked from a joint smaller than a cigarette or a bong taller than a grown adult man! While this is the oldest way to consume cannabis, some people avoid it due to questions about lung health.


For those who are uncomfortable with smoking, edibles provide an alternative. Edibles are foods and drinks that have been infused with THC. This can include desserts like cookies and brownies, gummies and supplements, teas, and more.

Edibles produce a high just like smoking, but the effects are delayed because the THC is not carried directly to the bloodstream upon consumption. The high comes later with edibles, but it is also known to last longer and be more consistent.

When making edibles at home, consumers often use butter or oil that is infused with THC. This butter or oil is incorporated into normal recipes for foods like pasta, brownies, candy, and more.

Now that cannabis is being legalized throughout the United States, you can even visit cannabis restaurants! These restaurants feature menus filled with inventive and delicious edibles.


Vaping has gained popularity in the past decade. One benefit of vaping is that the smell and feel are not as harsh as smoking. There is no mess from ash, no grinding, and no preparation of a bowl or joint.

Vaping provides a cleaner, less obvious cannabis experience, as well as the same quick high that smoking does.

Vaping with a vaporizer can be done with flower or distillate while vaping with a vape pen is specifically done with oils and distillates.

Vape pens have specifically been connected to certain health problems. If you are purchasing a vape pen, be sure to buy it from a reputable dispensary.


Some people drop tinctures onto their tongues to dose themselves with a specific amount of CBD and THC each day. Tinctures are made by soaking cannabis in alcohol.

The liquid is dropped under the tongue and held there. The cannabinoids will absorb into the bloodstream through the vessels under the tongue. Any cannabinoids that do not absorb will be swallowed and later absorbed through the digestive system.

By using tinctures, you can experience both the quick effects of smoking and the latent effects of edibles.

Tinctures are also an easy way to administer medical marijuana to a patient who suffers from a severe seizure disorder. A few drops under the tongue can help relieve some patients of some of their symptoms.

If you are using tinctures to treat a medical condition, be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure that you won’t be causing bad reactions with other medications.


Topical treatments allow the cannabinoids to absorb directly into the affected area of the body.

People who deal with pain from past injuries, arthritis, or migraines often prefer topical cannabis products like balms and lotions because these products can be applied to the area that is experiencing the most pain or stiffness.

Topicals are also used for massage oils or lubricants due to their relaxing effect.

What Is the Difference Between CBD and THC?

As discussed above, there are different types of cannabinoids (10) present in the cannabis plant. The most common psychoactive compound (and the subject of this guide) is THC. But the second most common compound is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid known as CBD.

While some people prefer products that contain both compounds, many people prefer (either for personal or legal reasons) to consume cannabis products that only contain CBD.

THC produces the sensation of being “high.” This sensation can lead to increases in creativity or introspection, as well as heightened feelings of relaxation. However, because THC is psychoactive, it impairs your mental functioning and your ability to process and react to stimuli.

Many people who consume products that do not contain THC are looking to reap the benefits of the cannabis plant without becoming temporarily mentally impaired. CBD products can be used as sleep aids, pain relievers, and tools of healing and relaxation.

What Kinds of THC Are There?

Many people do not know that there are different kinds of THC. The kind that has been discussed so far in this article, what many people call THC, is also called Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. But Delta-9 THC is not the only kind of THC available.

Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8) is a relatively new form of THC that is derived from the hemp plant. Because it comes from hemp, it is legally able to be sold in places where Delta-9 THC is still criminalized.

Delta-8 THC occurs naturally in small amounts in the Sativa strain of hemp, and a process of synthetic conversion is used to create more Delta-8 CBD from the existing CBD in the plant.

The high caused by Delta-8 THC is described as being not as strong as the high caused by Delta-9 THC.

Delta-8 THC has not been thoroughly tested by the FDA, so it is important to do research and find reputable brands if you are interested in purchasing products that contain this psychoactive compound.

The Legality of THC

The laws surrounding cannabis products with THC are constantly changing. Depending on your home country (and in the U.S., your state), you may face very serious consequences for possessing marijuana.

Here is a basic overview of the legality of cannabis products with THC in the United States and around the world. Please note that these laws are in constant flux, and it is important to research the legality of marijuana in your area before purchasing cannabis products.

The United States

Marijuana is completely legal in 19 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. Territory of Guam. In several other states, medical marijuana is legal with permission from a doctor. Cannabis products that contain CBD and Delta-8 THC derived from hemp are legal in all 50 states and most U.S. territories. One exception is the U.S. territory of American Samoa, where possession of marijuana can be punished with five years in prison, and all CBD products have been deemed illegal.

The prohibition of products containing THC has lasted for roughly 100 years in the United States, but many believe that in the next decade, marijuana will be decriminalized in all 50 states.

Around the World

Most countries around the world have policies addressing the use of cannabis and its legality. Some countries have fully decriminalized marijuana (11) and allowed its recreational use. Other countries only allow marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes, or have completely criminalized its use.

In Europe, countries like the Czech Republic, Portugal, Russia, Croatia, Spain, and others are in the stages of decriminalization. In Central and South America, cannabis is either legal (or its use is ignored) in Mexico, Peru, Belize, Colombia, and others. Legality is limited in East Asia and most of the African continent (except for South Africa).

Some countries, like the Netherlands, have incorporated marijuana into their tourism industry. Cities like Amsterdam are filled with cafes where tourists can buy a wide variety of different strains of marijuana.

Cannabis Accessories

For most forms of cannabis, you will need certain tools and materials to consume the cannabis properly. Most of these tools and materials can be purchased at smoke shops, dispensaries, or online stores.

Rolling Papers

Depending on if you are rolling a joint or a blunt, you will need different kinds of rolling paper. Joints use smaller, thinner rolling paper (like what is used for a cigarette). Blunts use cigar paper. As a result, blunts are larger and burn longer.

There are a lot of options for rolling papers. You can find unbleached, flavored, printed, and more.

Pipes and Bongs

Pipes are probably the most diverse smoking item in the cannabis industry. You can buy them in different materials like glass or ceramic. They can be in different colors. They can be mass-produced or one of a kind.

There are pipes that are the size of a thumb, and there are bongs that are the height of a grown man.

The type of bong you buy will depend on your budget and personal preferences. Many can be bought at your local smoke shop, but if you want something more specific, you might need to order online or have one specially made.


If you are going to start vaping, then you will need to buy a vaporizer or a vape pen. Once you have chosen your vaping device, you won’t need to replace it until it breaks or wears down!

You can replace your oil, distillate, or flower at your local dispensary or order online.


Everyone has their own preference when it comes to lighting up. You can use a match or a cheap lighter from a gas station, or you can invest in a table-top lighter or a Zippo lighter.

If you want to express yourself with your lighter, there are a variety of options in different colors, shapes, and designs to help customize your cannabis experience even further.

Oil Infusers

If you enjoy edibles and are looking to splurge on a new kitchen appliance, an oil infuser might be the perfect cannabis accessory for you. Infusers help you to dry, activate, and infuse easily.

You can infuse butter or oil with THC, and then store it for future baking! While the stereotypical edible treat is a brownie, once you have infused your butter or oil, the possibilities are pretty much limitless.


If you are smoking cannabis, then you would benefit from investing in a good grinder. A grinder will break down the cannabis flower into small, uniform pieces for better rolling and smoking experience.

Using a grinder can make it easier to roll a joint or a blunt, but it isn’t absolutely necessary!

Carrying Cases

If you are worried about the smell of cannabis spreading to your other belongings, you can buy a carrying case for your cannabis that will help diminish the smell.

This cannabis accessory allows you to enjoy THC in a discrete way.

How to Buy Products With THC

Once you have researched the legality of cannabis products (specifically those with Delta-9 THC) in your area, you can start looking at where you want to buy your products from!

Depending on your personal preferences, location, and experience level, you may prefer to either go into a dispensary in person or purchase your products online.

In-Person at a Dispensary

One of the benefits of going to a reputable dispensary in person is that you can talk with the people who work there. If you are interested in trying a different product than you normally do, or if you are trying cannabis for the first time, you may benefit from a face-to-face conversation with a professional.

Visiting a store in person is also a great way to ensure that you are spending your money in a place that is carrying quality products and has clean conditions. If the dispensary is close to your home, you can also talk to friends and family to get personal recommendations from them.

Online Through a Reputable Supplier

Another option is to purchase your cannabis products through an online store. There are many benefits to purchasing from an online dispensary! If you are immuno-compromised, ordering online allows you to stay in your home and have your products delivered to you.

If you live in an area that is not very welcoming of cannabis products, most dispensaries will deliver products to your house using discrete packaging so that you can keep your cannabis-use private.

When you are choosing an online dispensary, be sure to check reviews that other customers have left online. You should also look into their documentation of the testing of their products. You can even check out the company’s About page to learn more about its mission and team.

What to Look for When Choosing a Dispensary

Whether you are buying in-person or online, it is important to keep a few things in mind when choosing a dispensary.

First, you need to make sure that they have the kinds of products you are looking for! If you have read this guide and decided that you are interested in buying tinctures that are derived from the cannabis Sativa plant, then you need to make sure that they carry those products.

Every dispensary has certain products that they specialize in, and certain products that they always have in stock. Do research beforehand to figure out which products you are most interested in, and then find a dispensary that matches your preferences.

Another thing to keep in mind is safety. Checking reviews, looking at health and safety certifications, and diving into their product-testing procedures are all ways to make sure that the products you are buying are going to be safe and up to normal standards.

THC 101: Class Dismissed!

The cannabis industry is always changing. Humans have been using cannabis for over 5000 years, and we are still learning more every day about the benefits it can have for our health and our lives.

This THC guide is your comprehensive introduction to THC, but there is so much more out there for you to learn! If you have questions about cannabis products, head over to our contact page so that we can help you to make the most informed purchasing decisions possible.


1: “History of Marijuana,” Scot Thomas M.D.,

2: “Frontline: Marijuana Timeline,” Public Broadcasting Service,

3. “Is CBD Legal All States? Or Are There Some Exceptions?”, Health Canal,,different%20from%20state%20to%20state.&text=Medical%20conditions%20also%20allow%20for,are%20approved%20by%20the%20FDA.

4. “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need to Know,” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health,

5. “Regulation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the central nervous system by chronic cannabinoids,” Laura J. Sim-Selley, National Library of Medicine,

6. “Effects of Cannabis on the Adolescent Brain,” Joanna Jacobus, National Center for Biotechnology Information,

7. “Marijuana Addiction Facts: Is Marijuana Physically Addictive?,” Scot Thomas M.D.,

8. “Effects of cannabinoids and cannabinoid-enriched Cannabis extracts on TRP channels and endocannabinoid metabolic enzymes,” Luciano De Petrocellis et al., British Journal of Pharmacology,

9. “Sativa vs. Indica: What to Expect Across Cannabis Types and Strains,” Kimberly Holland, Healthline,

10. “CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference Between the Two?” Livvy Ashton, The Center for Advancing Health,

11. “The 2021 guide to cannabis laws around the world,” Terry Hacienda, The Chicago Tribune,