A list of the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis, as well as their effects.

A list of the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis, as well as their effects.


Cannabis produces a wide range of chemicals called plant cannabinoids, many of which have never been found in any other plant. How many are there in total? It’s difficult to say. People frequently claim that cannabis produces dozens, if not hundreds, of plant cannabinoids. However, knowing the exact figure is challenging. The majority of them are found in very low concentrations, especially in commercial cannabis products, making it impossible for scientists to detect them precisely. The crucial thing to remember is that there are a lot of them. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common cannabinoids found in marijuana.

Cannabis produces eight main cannabinoid acids.

THC and CBD, the two most well-known cannabinoids linked with cannabis, are not produced directly by the plant. Instead, it produces a number of cannabinoid acids (Figure 1). To produce the chemicals that most customers want, these cannabinoid acids must be “activated” (decarboxylated), which is commonly done with heat (THC or CBD).

However, cannabis can create a variety of related cannabinoid acids in addition to THCA and CBDA. These are the following:

CBGA is a non-profit organisation that promotes (Cannabigerolic acid)
9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)
CBDA is a kind of cannab (Cannabidiolic acid)
CBCA (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the (Cannabichromenenic acid)
CBGVA is a non-profit organisation that promotes (Cannabigerovarinic acid)
THCVA is an acronym for tetrahydro (Tetrahydrocanabivarinic acid)
CBDVA (Cannabidivarinic acid) CBCVA (Cannabidivarinic acid) (Cannabichromevarinic acid)


In most strains, the cannabinoids THCA and CBDA are the most plentiful. The others in Figure 1 are generally found at much lower concentrations. CBGA, THCA, CBDA, and CBCA are the four main cannabinoid acids. CBGA is the initial chemical from which the other three are made by plant enzymes. CBGVA, THCVA, CBDVA, and CBCVA are some of the equivalent “V” compounds with slightly shorter chemical structures.

What is THCA and what are the advantages of using it?

THC is recognised to have intoxication effects, whereas cannabinoid acids are not. They do, however, exhibit a number of intriguing features. Many cannabinoid acids, for example, have antibacterial or insecticidal effects. This is most likely related to the original reason Cannabis creates these compounds: to defend itself.

Cannabinoid acids are used to make plant cannabinoids.
When heat energy is applied to cannabinoid acids, the “A” component is lost, and the plant cannabinoids become neutral rather than acidic (Figure 2).

Examples of THCA to THC decarboxylation
Figure 2: Examples of decarboxylation, with THCA transformed to THC. Decarboxylation of the other cannabinoid acids into their cannabinoid equivalents is also possible. (Leafly/Amy Phung)

Each of the cannabinoid acids provides a corresponding cannabinoid molecule after decarboxylation:

CBG is a compound that is made up of (Cannabigerol)
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a psychoactive substance found in marijuana.
CBD is a cannabinoid (Cannabidiol)
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) (Cannabichromene)
THCV CBGV (Cannabigerivarin) (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)
CBCV (Cannabidivarin) CBDV (Cannabidivarin) CBDV (Cannabidivarin) CBDV (Cannabichromevarin)

What exactly is CBG (cannabigerol) and what does it do?

The majority of cannabinoids do not cause euphoria.
THC is the only cannabinoid found in plants that has been proven to have intoxicating effects on its own. There is some indication that THCV may have intoxicating properties, albeit this may vary depending on the dose. THCV, like most other plant cannabinoids, is rarely found in large amounts in commercial cannabis strains and products.

While most plant cannabinoids do not cause intoxication, their presence can alter how THC affects you. CBD is the most prominent example of this. Even while it doesn’t get you high on its own, it has an impact on how THC interacts with the CB1 receptors in your endocannabinoid system, and hence on how a cannabis product affects you.

THC’s effects may be influenced by THCV. THC’s potential to activate CB1 receptors, like CBD, appears to be reduced by THCV at low dosages. THCV, like THC, may start to activate CB1 receptors at quite high concentrations. The particular dose you take has a big impact on how a substance affects you. However, because THCV and other lesser-known cannabinoids are less plentiful in cannabis, they have received far less research. We still have a lot to understand about their effects on humans.

THC can metabolise into CBN.

Cannabinol is another plant cannabinoid you may have heard of (CBN). Another plant cannabinoid that is not directly generated by cannabis is this one. CBN, on the other hand, is a THC breakdown product. This is why CBN levels in older flower products tend to be higher, especially when they are not carefully preserved. THC degrades into CBN over time and with exposure to air.

What exactly is CBN (cannabinol) and what are its advantages?
When coupled with THC, CBN has been shown to increase sedation, and it may also have anticonvulsant (anti-seizure), anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. However, this is yet another understudied plant cannabinoid, and more research is needed before we can be certain of its exact effects.