The Other Cannabinoids: THC-V-, CBD-V-, and CBG-rich Cannabis
THC and CBD usually get all the glory, but breeders are now developing strains rich in other cannabinoids. Here’s a primer on three of them—THC-V, CBD-V, and CBG—and a look at why growers want to boost their levels.
Growers are constantly breeding new cannabis varieties, and some of these breeders are trying to create strains with high concentrations of unusual cannabinoids. Specifically, the breeding community is very close to releasing cannabis varieties rich in tetrahydrocannabivarin (THC-V), cannabidivarin (CBD-V), and cannabigerol (CBG). The first of these varieties is likely to be seen in 2017 or 2018, assuming the final breeding all goes to plan.
These new varieties with elevated levels of THC-V, CBD-V, and CBG are being created by selective breeding techniques in combination with extensive lab testing. This means parent plants with known cannabinoid levels are crossed together and the seeds are collected and grown. Normally, some of the offspring will show higher levels of the desired cannabinoid than the parents. These offspring are crossed and the process continues over many generations. It's a labor, and time, intensive process but it’s the only way to create elevated levels of the desired cannabinoids. It’s also the same process that was used several years ago to create the first CBD-rich varieties, which are those that contain four or more per cent CBD in the dried buds. At the moment, it still isn’t clear what the final levels of THC-V and CBD-V will be in these new strains, but it could be around two to seven per cent, with an upper target of 10 per cent. Cannabigerol levels are expected to be in the region of four per cent when stabilized.
As the name suggests, THC-V has a similar molecular structure to THC, with a few slight differences. Tetrahydrocannabivarin is psychoactive, and early indications suggest that THC-V may have the ability to enhance the euphoric effects of THC. So, this could be a cannabinoid that recreational users take great interest in. Of course, medical marijuana users could find great use of THC-V. In fact, GW Pharmaceuticals is investing heavily in research into THC-V as a possible oral medicine to treat diabetes.
Tetrahydrocannabivarin has a high boiling point, around 220˚C, so your vaporizer may need to be on a higher temperature setting to release it. For comparison, THC boils at about 160˚C.
Like other cannabinoids, THC-V has been the subject of little research due to cannabis prohibition. One of the most interesting queries still to be answered is how THC-V will modulate or affect the traditional THC high. Will elevated levels of THC-V provide a more enjoyable experience? If so, how will that happen? Will THC-V amplify the effects of THC or will it counteract them?
Another important question is “What will medical users get from the presence of high levels of THC-V?” Will THC-V improve the medical qualities of cannabis and if so, which conditions will benefit the most? Although there has been plenty of speculation about THC-V and some suggested benefits, breeders expect many of the answers will come within the first year or two of THC-V rich varieties being on sale.
Cannabidivarin is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, meaning that it will not get you high, and its chemical structure is very similar to CBD. It has been found in reasonably high levels naturally in some northern Indian indica varieties close to mountainous areas, and is also found in some Nepali varieties. Some of the highest CBD-V concentrations are found in Nepali hash. Old school readers will remember the legendary Nepalese Temple Balls, which was one of the most sought-after hash varieties in the past.
Today, CBD-V is already receiving lots of medical attention from GW Pharmaceuticals, which is impressed with its anti-convulsant properties. Longer-term medical research is focused on anti-epileptic medicines for both adults and children. Again, many questions about the function and effect of this cannabinoid remain unanswered. But with mainstream pharmaceutical companies already investing heavily in CBD-V, it seems quite likely that the medical evidence for CBD-V effectiveness is already accumulating.
Cannabigerol, which is thought to be non-psychoactive, is the non-acidic version of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). Cannabigerolic acid is often regarded as the “mother cannabinoid,” which is the starting point from which other cannabinoids are created.
In most cannabis varieties, much of the CBG is converted into other cannabinoids, usually THC or CBD. As a result, most cannabis strains have less than one per cent CBG in the plant at harvest. However, selective breeding has led to increased CBG levels of two to three per cent in research varieties, and this may be increased further before the first CBG variety is released. Many of the medical benefits of CBG will be confirmed by ongoing research, but it may have potential uses as a neuro-protectant, pain/anxiety reliever, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, etc.
Exciting Times for Cannabis
Nobody really knows the full range of medical benefits that could be offered by TCH-V, CBD-V, and CBG. Although there has been some research into these new cannabinoids, little is known about how, in high concentrations, they will interact with other cannabinoids. For example, will the new cannabinoids amplify the effects of other cannabinoids, or will they counteract the effects? Will the new cannabinoids be most appreciated by medical users, or will they allow recreational users new levels of satisfaction and enjoyment? Only time will tell.
CBD varieties were just the first wave of new cannabinoid-rich strains. Many were surprised at the impact that CBD varieties had, so it will be fascinating to see how the new cannabinoid varieties will eventually be received.