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What is THCV & Is It Legal In The UK?

4 min read
THCV - a compound found in hemp plant

What is THCV & Is It Legal In The UK?

4 min read

Medically reviewed by

THCV is a cannabinoid, structurally similar to its more famous counterpart, THC. 

Sometimes referred to as “diet weed, THCV interacts with the body in a completely different way than THC. 

THCV has sparked the interest of many, as it offers pharmacological promise for the medical cannabis sector, due to its ability to provide similar benefits to THC, without some of the side effects. 

However, as it stands, more research is needed before we can learn the full potential of THCV. 

For now, let’s explore what we know about THCV, including:

  • What is THCV?
  • Is THCV legal in the UK?
  • What are the side effects of THCV?

In this guide:

What is THCV?

THCV is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis and hemp plant. 

Speaking scientifically, THCV is known as tetrahydrocannabivarin. It is a homologue of its more famous counterpart, THC, with a propyl side chain instead of a pentyl group.

Although THCV and THC have many similarities, their structural differences mean that they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in different ways. 

It is even thought that low doses of THCV can inhibit the effects of THC. 

The diverse and unique characteristics of THCV have sparked the interest of researchers exploring it for development into medicines for life-threatening diseases

One of these characteristics is its appetite suppressing and energy-boosting properties, earning it the nickname “diet weed”.

Now, that we know what THCV is, let’s take a deeper look at the benefits & side effects.

What is THCV? A compound found in hemp plants.
THCV, also known as 'diet weed', is a compound found in hemp plants.

What are the benefits of THCV?

Research into the benefits of THCV is ongoing, but early results look promising. 

From what we’ve seen so far, THCV could be helpful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It may help to regulate blood sugar levels and also reduce insulin sensitivity. 

THCV could also help with weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant in obese patients.

In addition, researchers are exploring how THCV could be used to influence anxiety and PTSD.

Other researchers are investigating how THCV could help tremors, motor control and brain lesions associated with Alzheimer’s. 

And lastly, studies have shown evidence that THCV can suppress seizure activity in rats, paving the way for more research into its role as a therapeutic anticonvulsant.

However, all of this research is in the early stages & nothing is confirmed.

Benefits of THCV

Support diabetes treatment

THCV may reduce glucose intolerance related to type-2 diabetes.

Acts as an appetite suppressant

THCV can be used as an appetite suppressant for obese people looking to lose weigth.

Influence anxiety & PTSD

THCV may reduce panic attacks in patients with PTSD.

Suppress seizure activity

THCV is being explored as a therapeutic anticonvulsant 

What are the side effects of THCV?

There hasn’t been extensive research into the side effects of THCV use, so our knowledge is limited.

The most commonly reported side effect is that it can reduce appetite, which makes it a popular choice for those trying to lose weight.

However, those who struggle to maintain weight or those at risk of an eating disorder may find this is a disadvantage and a negative side effect.

There is also the risk of interaction with other medications you might be taking. At present, THCV is still a controlled substance in the UK, but if this changes, users will need to be aware of potential interactions.

Is THCV intoxicating?

THCV is considered to be mildly intoxicating, but not as intoxicating as THC. This is one reason that THCV has earned the name “diet weed” in the United States.

In low doses, THCV is not considered to be psychoactive, but the threshold isn’t entirely clear just yet.

As countries relax cannabis laws, we could see a rise in “designer” drugs and the popularisation of alternative cannabinoids. THCV used recreationally could offer potential health benefits without some of the less desirable side effects.

Is THCV legal in the UK?

The legal status of THCV isn’t entirely clear. In territories where medical marijuana is legal, THCV also appears to be legal.

In the UK, it is considered to be a cannabis derivative, so is listed as a Class B drug and therefore it is illegal.

However, THCV may be present in very small, legal doses in many broad and full-spectrum CBD oils and tinctures.

Can I buy THCV in the UK?

THCV isn’t available in the UK as a standalone supplement yet, but some full-spectrum CBD products will include THCV as this occurs naturally in the production process. 

However, if the UK follows in the footsteps of the USA and other regions legalising cannabis, this could pave the way for more THCV research. 

There is a growing interest in specific cannabinoids and the benefits they offer, and we expect to see a production shift towards specific compounds. 

So, who knows? 

Maybe we will see specific cannabinoid products such as THCV on the market a few years from now.

Final words on THCV

While THCV isn’t yet available or legal in the UK, it could offer an interesting development in the recreational and medical cannabis sectors.

THCV could offer an alternative to THC, with all of the positive benefits without any of the negative side effects. In low doses, THCV is also thought to be non-psychoactive, so it could be added to CBD products to enhance the therapeutic benefits.

However, until we see changes to the law to make it possible to use THCV, this isn’t something that UK consumers will be able to explore.

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