If you’ve heard of THCV at all, it’s likely because of the cannabinoid’s reported ability to suppress the appetite. Munchie-less weed that curbs the appetite is buzzworthy, and cannabis companies have begun to capitalize on the appeal, releasing products such as Canna Slim THCV Gummies and Alpine Dispensary THCv Weight Control Softgels. But THCV’s potential appetite suppressing qualities are not necessarily the most interesting or useful aspects of this cannabinoid. Based on recent crowdsourced research, we’re just starting to learn about the other effects of THCV, which may include improved executive function for neurodivergent people, pain relief, and reduction in the severity and frequency of seizures.
Naturally occurring ranges of THCV are typically less than 1% of a cannabis plant’s total weight, making it a relatively rare cannabinoid. While most products on the market currently feature THCV as an isolate, it’s clearly worth exploring the difference between how THCV functions as an isolate versus within the entourage effect of whole plant formulas. So far there’s little formal research on THCV and the entourage effect, but some growers are stepping up and using crowd-sourcing to further our understanding of the potential benefits of this rare cannabinoid.
While searching for plants with a high THCV content to help treat seizures, California grower Jeff Nordhal of Jade Nectar realized that there was no information that was easily accessible to the public, and that companies with access to high content THCV strains were carefully guarding their proprietary genetics. Nordhal firmly believes that cannabis is medicine that everyone should have access to, so he decided to selectively breed on his own and eventually yielded a plant that reached 5-8% THCV, which is off the charts high.
His disgust with corporate interests that were gatekeeping potentially life changing medicine prompted him to go even further and establish Free The V, a public domain project that offers free seeds, information on best growing practices, and a crowdsourced survey of the effects and feel of the plant.
In 2021 friends of mine at Crone Grown obtained Free The V seeds and I was lucky enough to help grow the plants alongside their head grower Andi Novick, who notes:
“We feel so fortunate to have obtained these seeds, which responded to our well-loved regeneratively tended New York soil, producing over five percent THCV and ten percent THC–and more terpenes than any cannabis plant we’ve grown.”
Once the plants were harvested and cured, we began to experiment with the effects of THCV flower. Andi and her business partner Toni Perrone continued the public domain project by offering free samples to community members in exchange for feedback. The Crone Grown crowdsourcing project reached around 75 people from the 2022 harvest.
Crone Grown made two tinctures from whole plants: one a raw tincture in which the cannabis is not decarboxylated so the THC content is not activated, meaning it doesn’t produce psychoactive effects; and one where the cannabis was decarboxylated, activating the THC to produce mild psychoactive effects.
Andi Novick has become an avid supporter. “Personally, I have never found a cannabis strain that is so captivating and inspiring to experiment with,” she says.
Participants in the project seem to recognize one general effect of the strain: clear headedness and focus, regardless of any psychoactive effects. Other common effects noted were happy mood, more easily regulated mood, more motivation for daily tasks, and creative inspiration.
“I love the clear headedness even while I’m feeling elevated,” Andi reports. “One night, I took a full 1ml dose…I found myself inspired to write some thoughts that I’d been chasing in my mind. Normally that commitment to the writing process is excruciating (plus I never am able to write when I’m high), but that night the creative juices just flowed….The focusing aspect is lovely and we’re wondering what people who consider themselves ADHD will feel.”
I was also struck by the focus and clear headedness. I noticed that the effects seemed to be more powerful after taking the tincture consistently for a few days. With the tincture it was easier to get simple tasks done. I also used it to target a particularly painful bout of sciatica, and it seemed to address the nerve discomfort even more than high THC strains. Whereas high doses of THC dominant strains got me so high that I didn’t mind the pain as much, the THCV actually seemed to minimize the pain. Because it was just barely psychoactive, I was able to take larger doses for pain management without worrying about being too stoned or getting foggy.
Another anonymous experimenter who responded to the Crone Grown survey noticed similar effects and even compared them to microdosing psilocybin:
“Most notably it produced a very clear headed and focused feeling with none of the stoned blurriness with other varieties. I noticed that it helped a lot to ease my executive dysfunction, or inability to initiate and complete simple tasks, like chores or work from my to do list…I suspect THCV may become an important medicine for neurodivergent people, as psilocybin is proving to be.”
Crone Grown’s recent blog post about THCV compiles links to medical studies that show promising signs of THCV being used to treat everything from bone degeneration and muscle tremors and seizures associated with ALS, Epilepsy, and Parkinsons, to regulating blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, and neuropathic pain. The repeated crowdsourced feedback about focus and executive function is also promising, especially in today’s world of widespread adult diagnosed neurodivergence.
As more research is carried out, I expect there to be movement in both small-scale operations that continue the work and spirit of Free The V, as well as corporate interest in marketing a “skinny weed.” Our introduction to and understanding of this high potential cannabinoid is very much in its early days. THCV remains a fascinating and enigmatic compound, and our current limited understanding underscores the need for further research to uncover its full range of benefits and effects.