8 Magic Basic Cannabinoids Explained: Types, Effects, Legality
September 28, 2021 by Giovani

8 Most Common Cannabinoids Explained: Types, Effects, Legality

Cannabis is a wonderful multifaceted plant with the potential to change the world radically. The basic cannabinoids it contains have impressive therapeutic and medicinal value. Cannabis has hundreds of these compounds that make it such a diverse plant with thousands of cultivars.

These compounds work effortlessly within the human body to help maintain homeostasis, heal and treat and support many areas of wellness. Read on to learn more about the nature of basic cannabinoids and how our bodies are designed to work in harmony with them.

Basic Cannabinoids: green palm tree during daytime

What are this basic cannabinoids?

Ever wonder why smoking pot makes you high? Why exactly does the herb cause this feeling? It is because of the chemical compounds in the cannabis plant known as cannabinoids. These naturally occurring chemicals interact with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate many important bodily functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, temperature, digestion, and more. ECS is an amazing network that helps the body maintain homeostasis, and all animals have one.

The human body produces its own endocannabinoids, but it also interacts with the phytocannabinoids in cannabis. The word "Phyto" means or is related to plants, but we will only refer to cannabis compounds as basic cannabinoids for that purpose. The cannabis plant is full of amazing nutrients like vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, proteins, and fibre. It also contains flavonoids, terpenes, and over 100 basic cannabinoids. And that's exactly what science has discovered so far.

Basic cannabinoids have distinct properties, from their molecular structure to how they affect our body and mind. Once consumed and processed within the body, basic cannabinoids interact with one of two receptors in the vast network of ECS.

Basic cannabinoids receptors: CB1 and CB2

Although scientists are still researching all the ways ECS works, they know it is made up of three main parts: endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors. While there may be more receptors yet to be discovered, there are two we know a lot about. CB1 receptors are found throughout the central nervous system, helping to regulate things in the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system is the network of nerves that extends from the spinal cord, and this is where you will find the CB2 receptors. These receptors are more concentrated in immune cells, hormones, muscles, and the gastrointestinal system.

The most abundant basic cannabinoids found in marijuana are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has a high binding affinity with CB1 receptors, which moderate the psychoactive properties of THC. This is why THC can alter mood, consciousness, motor control, memory, and behaviour as it interacts with receptors associated with the central nervous system.

There are no specific receptors for individual basic cannabinoids. Instead, cannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors and act as agonists or antagonists. Agonists mimic the body's natural endocannabinoids to activate receptors and stimulate a response, while antagonistic actions block cannabinoid receptors and reduce their activity levels. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive basic cannabinoids that has little affinity for CB1 or CB2 receptors but antagonizes the presence of THC. In fact, CBD is known to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC when consumed together.

How many cannabinoids are there?

Of the 545 compounds found in cannabis, 144 of them have been identified as phytocannabinoids. These basic cannabinoids were grouped into subcategories according to their molecular structure.

Most people are familiar with THC and CBD as the dominant basic cannabinoids. They are certainly the most prevalent in marijuana and hemp, but over the past decade, research has learned a lot about other smaller basic cannabinoids and their roles within ECS. In turn, cannabis growers have developed varieties rich in these other basic cannabinoids to provide more therapeutic value from this incredible plant.

Basic Cannabinoids, green and brown pine cone, CBD

There is a phenomenon that occurs when we consume cannabis in its entirety, without isolating and segregating basic cannabinoids from other natural plant materials. The resulting effect of consuming all these valuable compounds together is known as "the environment effect". Essentially, cannabis compounds work better together, resulting in a full spectrum of effects. The entourage effect unleashes the full potential of the plant, engaging the ECS to its fullest potential.

The 8 most common cannabinoids

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
THC is one of the most prominent basic cannabinoids found in cannabis. Its acronym is synonymous with getting high and has left its mark on pop culture for decades. Although delta-9 THC is one of the basic cannabinoids we are most familiar with, there are other THC analogues identified as delta-8 THC, THCA, THCP, and THCV.

Effects: THC is known to relieve pain and help with other physical conditions such as insomnia, nausea, anxiety, depression, glaucoma, cancer, muscle spasms, and more. While its medicinal value should be indisputable, THC also offers many recreational and fun benefits such as happiness, euphoria, thought creation, ecstasy, and increased sexual desire.

Legality: THC is an illegally federal Table 1 drug. However, THC and products containing THC are legal in countries with an approved and regulated medical marijuana or recreational marijuana program for adult use, around basic cannabinoids. Currently, more than 80% of the United States, for example, has some form of legal, medical, or decriminalized law in place.

Common products: Today, THC is found in almost everything you can consume. The most common are raw flowers or joints, edibles, topicals, beverages, capsules, tinctures and extracts. However, in some high-end dispensaries, you'll find sublingual strips with THC, transdermal patches, chewing gum, cooking oil, hot sauce, toothpaste, personal lubricant, and suppositories.

Basic Cannabinoids: cannabis leaves and stem

Cannabidiol (CBD)
The second of the most popular basic cannabinoids is CBD. Over the past decade, the CBD has grown in popularity, although it really took off with the passage of the 2018 Farm Act. This important legislation legalized the growth of industrial hemp in the United States, opening the market for hemp products grown and manufactured in the United States, such as fabrics, paper, food, and medicine. Hemp has the potential to be one of the most useful agricultural crops in the world.

Effects: CBD offers therapeutic benefits ranging from promoting deeper sleep to reducing inflammation. It is also a natural remedy to reduce anxiety and relieve symptoms of depression. CBD is not psychoactive and will not make you high, although a quality product should produce noticeable effects. This can include pain relief and mood swings.

Legality: CBD products are legal to use and sell nationwide. There is a caveat - all CBD products derived from hemp must contain less than 0.2% THC by total volume to maintain regulatory compliance. Any CBD product obtained from marijuana must comply with rules governing THC products within the state in which it was produced.

Common products: Most popularly, CBD-rich hemp products are found in body products, supplements, and edibles. There are many companies that sell and market marijuana joints to people who like to smoke without the effect. CBD dyes are widely marketed to a wide audience, including use for children and pets. Currently, it is not uncommon to find CBD in deodorants, skin care products, soaking salts, recovery drinks, and vapour cartridges.

Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA)
CBDA is found mainly in the live cannabis plant. When the plant is harvested, CBDA converts to CBD as it dries, cures, and is processed. In the process, CBDA transforms itself almost completely, leaving little behind. However, there are still traces found in crude oils and extracts.

Effects: Much like CBD, CBDA is not psychoactive and won't get you high. Some people prefer a raw form of CBD and choose CBDA because of its higher affinity rate. It is up to 1000 times more powerful than CBD. Typical effects include improved alertness, relief from anxiety, stress, insomnia, and pain.

Legality: CBDA falls under the same legality as CBD. As long as it is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.2% THC, it is legal in countries and states where CBD is permitted.

Common Products: Although CBD products are more widely available, you can find CBDA products in the form of oils, dyes, soft gels, topicals, and vapour cartridges.

Cannabinol (CBN)
When THC is exposed to light and heat, CBN is formed. Environmental factors oxidize the THC molecules, and they slowly degrade into CBN. If you have any old weeds around the house, it probably has a lot more CBN than when you got it. Fortunately, this means that making CBN is easy to do, which is convenient because the market doesn't yet offer many products with high CBN content.

Effects: CBN doesn't do much on its own. In order to feel its effects, it must be consumed in conjunction with THC. This is a great example of the entourage effect in action because CBN is responsible for about 10% of the high associated with THC.

Legality: If CBN is from oxidative stress to THC, then it legally falls into the same status as THC. However, if the CBN is from a hemp plant, it will fall under the same legal guidelines as the CBD. Currently, most of the CBN comes from marijuana, in which case it is only legal in states with a recreational or adult marijuana program.

Common Products: Pure or highly concentrated CBN products are hard to find. However, there are some brands that sell oil with high CBN content and soft gels. The easiest way to get the benefits of CBN is to expose the cannabis flower to sunlight and oxygen prior to consumption to increase natural levels.

Basic Cannabinoids: green and brown leaf plant

Cannabigerol (CBG)
CBG is often considered the "stem cell cannabinoid" because its acidic form, CBGA, is the mother of many other popular basic cannabinoids. When CBGA is heated, it splits into THC, CBD, CBC, and CBG. Because of this degradation process, it is very difficult to find a pure CBG product.

Effects: CBG is not psychoactive, but it relaxes the body and mind, and users report an increase in mood accompanied by a slight euphoria.

Legality: As long as the final CBG product contains no more than 0.2% THC (In Europe), it is considered legal under the Farm Bill.

Common Products: Although extremely rare, there are some mild gels and tinctures that contain moderate amounts of CBG. Smoking flowers with a high CBG content is also a good option.

Cannabichrome (CBC)
Although CBC is a lesser-known of the basic cannabinoids, it is actually the second most prevalent after THC. In some plants, CBC may account for up to 64% of the plant's total cannabinoid profile.

Effects: CBC is not intoxicating, although it has similar effects to CBD. It can promote happiness and improve mood while fighting inflammation and mild pain.

Legality: As with many basic cannabinoids, this depends on the source. If the CBC is derived from hemp, it will fall within the guidelines established by each state or country as determined by the Farm Bill. If the CBC is marijuana, it's illegal unless it's grown, mined, and sold in a state with a legal cannabis program.

Common Products: More and more CBC products are hitting the market in the form of soft gels, chocolate bars, extracts and tinctures.

Cannabicyclol (CBL)
Just as CBN is formed by exposing THC to light and heat, CBL is formed by exposing CBC to these same environmental factors. Although CBL is present in minimal amounts, it will be found in greater numbers in older weeds.

Effects: Very little is known about CBL because of its low percentages, so the effects are poorly studied. Researchers speculate that it may produce similar effects to CBC and CBD, but more research is needed for conclusive evidence.

Legality: Since there are currently no pure CBL products on the market, we can only assume that CBL would follow the lead of many other basic cannabinoids on this list in regards to where it comes from and where it is being sold, as well as the percentage of THC in the final product.

Common Products: Currently, there are no pure CBL products on the market, and the best way to experience this cannabinoid is by involving the entourage effect with a full spectrum cannabis product or smoking cannabis that has been exposed to light and heat.

Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV)
THCV is one of several THC analogues. Although it may not be as well known as THC or CBD, THCV is one of the widely studied basic cannabinoids that dates back to its discovery in the 1970s. Structurally, it is similar to THC, but it is only psychoactive at high doses.

Effects: At low doses, THCV does not have a very noticeable effect. However, if you smoke a strain that is high in THCV, the resulting high is energetic and lucid, but the effects don't last as long as THC. The effects are pleasant, although short-lived. Users report that THCV suppresses appetite, which tends to be the opposite of THC.

Legality: THCV is technically not a federally illegal drug, at least in the United States. However, it is safe to assume that if it comes from marijuana, it must follow state-by-state marijuana rules.

Common Products: There are several different varieties of high THCV cannabis, including Pineapple Purps, Ace of Spades, Jack the Ripper, Durban Poison, and Willie Nelson. THCV products are becoming more common and are found in the form of gums, tinctures, mints, steam pens, and sublingual strips.

Frequently Asked Questions about basic Cannabinoids from Hemp and Marijuana

Basic Cannabinoids: green palm tree during sunset

What is the difference between basic cannabinoids and cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol, more popularly known as CBD, is one of many different basic cannabinoids found in weeds. There are many different basic cannabinoids found in marijuana, and CBD is just one of more than 100, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBN), which are used primarily for therapeutic purposes such as pain and anxiety relief.

What cannabinoids are in CBD oil?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the main component of CBD oil, naturally. However, the presence of other basic cannabinoids depends on the type of oil you have. The full-spectrum oil utilizes all-natural basic cannabinoids in marijuana, including THC. Meanwhile, the broad spectrum features almost all basic cannabinoids but no THC. The CBD isolate has a narrow range of basic cannabinoids, mainly CBD in a carrier oil.

How many basic cannabinoids are there in a hemp plant?
Hemp and marijuana are classified as cannabis and have largely the same basic cannabinoids, with more than 100 basic cannabinoids found in hemp. The main difference between hemp and marijuana is that there is a much higher concentration of CBD and a minimum of THC in hemp, eliminating the psychoactive properties.


This plant is a complex one, with a whole mixture of essential compounds including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, and the ability to combat stress. As a result of the discovery of its compounds, another important neurotransmitter system has been named the endocannabinoid system, which plays a very important role in maintaining health. The brain and other parts of the body are widely distributed with this system and it is thought to be responsible for a number of valuable physiological functions. 

The potency of cannabis has been on the rise worldwide for quite a while now, and this has been accompanied by increasing health concerns. Researchers have been able to find a link between cannabis use and an increased risk of becoming afflicted with a psychotic disorder through a number of epidemiological projects. 

Despite this, it must also be acknowledged that not every cannabis user will undergo the same negative effects as mentioned above. However, there are some emerging vulnerability factors, which may vary from certain genetic characteristics to characteristics related to personality, that may make someone more susceptible. It is not fully known why some people are more susceptible to its harmful effects. 

In a cannabis plant, there are over 400 different chemical entities, sixty of which can be named cannabinoid compounds, which have different effects on the human body. The use of illicit drugs has been linked to various mental health problems, particularly in the younger generation, and cannabis use has been associated with a variety of mental health disorders as well. 

It is also well known that not everyone who uses this substance is subjected to the adverse effects it has on their mental health in the same way, despite the links made between its use and the development of mental health problems. As a part of this article, we will provide a brief overview of the different effects of the two main constituents. This article is composed of describing the effects of both compounds on different parts of the population. 

As a first step, we will review our current knowledge on the biochemistry of the cannabis plant and the endocannabinoid system before looking at the available evidence in the literature regarding the reasons for the varying effects of cannabis in different individuals.

Did you learn about these basic cannabinoids? You can learn some more here:

Happy woman stretching


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