If the world of cannabis was the milky way, then every little star in the sky would be the tiny little compounds that make up this beautifully complex plant. They all twinkle with their own individuality and innate effects. However, to continue with this elaborate metaphor, some stars are known better than others. Or, perhaps it would be better to say, some burn brighter in the sky than others.
That’s not to say that these stars are intrinsically better or have more worth than the other stars, it just means we – as humans – can understand them with more clarity. This is the case with many cannabinoids within the cannabis plant. Whilst many think of THC, CBD, CBN and others when they think of cannabinoids, there are still some that are definitely less known about. Well, the star in the sky we’ll be analysing today, is CBT (Cannabitriol). What is it? What are its effects? And is it legal? Let’s dive into the world of CBT.
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Some would say that cannabis has been analysed and researched more in the last 50 years than perhaps its entire history. However, this, culturally, would be a completely incorrect statement. In fact, as you may well know, cannabis has been utilised and harnessed for centuries for religious ceremonies, materials, medical benefits and recreational effects. It’s hardly a stranger to the world. However, as more nations have legalised medical cannabis around the world in the last 20 years, scientific research has inevitably had to be done and improved on. Mainstream governments and doctors are now looking to cannabis for modern medical assistance. This has changed the way we, as a society, understand the cannabis plant and, in consequence, we now know a lot more about it in depth. The National Library of Medicine highlights the rise in cannabis research in the last 10 years:
“The spike in the number of scientific publications on medical cannabis since 2013 is encouraging. In light of this trend the authors expect an even greater increase in the number of publications in this area in coming years.”
So what do we know now that perhaps we didn’t know then? Well, cannabis has around 400 compounds in it. Within these there are around 100 terpenes, and 100 cannabinoids. However, more seem to be discovered and delved into all of the time. For instance, THCP was discovered to be supposedly 30 times more potent than THC in 2020. However, there are a lot of false claims around cannabinoids, fuelled perhaps by marketing and legal loophole potential. With THC being illegal in many states and countries, it’s always possible that a new psychoactive cannabinoid could have a chance at being legal. But, let’s take a step back. What is the difference between cannabinoids and terpenes? Definitions are key in any discussion on cannabis.
Cannabinoids & Terpenes
Cannabinoids and terpenes are like distant cousins. They might be slightly estranged, but when they come together, everyone has a great time. A cannabinoid is responsible for the effects of cannabis. As in, the effects it has on the human’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is in all living mammals’ and it is a molecular system that regulates many processes in the body. These include: pain, mood, memory, immunity, stress, anxiety, appetite and the senses. When psychoactive cannabinoids react with the endocannabinoid system, these processes can alter and change. It’s these reactions that cause both the well-known high effect of recreational cannabis, as well as the medicinal benefits of medicinal cannabis.
On the other hand, terpenes are the compounds that are responsible for the aromas and flavours of the specific cannabis strain. If you’ve ever been sold some ‘strawberry kush’ or ‘lemon haze’ then you’ll be happy to know that these names do originate from something genuinely scientific… you’d hope. Terpenes like myrcene, humulene and linalool all have their own original flavours and aromas that will change the taste and smell of the cannabis strain. Each strain will have a different combination of terpenes and cannabinoids.
Within the (around) 100 registered cannabinoids, only some of them are defined as psychoactive. Whilst all cannabinoids do have some effects – even if they’re miniscule – only the ones that react with the CB1 receptors are determined as psychoactive. The CB1 and CB2 receptors trigger slightly different things. When CB1 receptors are activated these can cause changes in dopamine levels, boost appetite and enhance the senses. Essentially, a psychoactive cannabinoid will alter the state of the mind in one way or another. Alternatively, CB2 receptors are more involved with the immune system, and will not cause any conscious change.
“CB1 receptors are located in the brain and throughout the body, while CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune and gastrointestinal system”
Whilst CBD is seeming to have pain reducing and therapeutic effects, it does not have major reactions with CB1 and thus is not defined as psychoactive. Whilst, THC, is of course the one of the most popular cannabinoids for its high effects and large reaction to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. This can manifest itself in feelings of euphoria, sensory enhancement and increased appetite.
But where does that leave the forgotten cannabinoid? Where does that leave CBT?
What is CBT?
When people speak about the most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, you hear mentions of THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, CBC, THCA, CBDA and others. Not often do you hear the name CBT. In fact, most people will think about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy when CBT is mentioned, not Cannabicitran.
CBT is definitely one of the lesser known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. In fact, it’s also quite a rarity in many strains, and when it is found, it’s often discovered in small percentages. There is very little research into the wonders of CBT, but what has been found shows signs of promise. Plus, due to its unknown aura, its legal status is somewhat ambiguous.
What do we know about CBT?
CBT is definitely a minor cannabinoid, but oddly enough, it was first discovered in 1966 by Ishikawa and Obata. Although it had been discovered then, it wasn’t until 10 years ago that the molecule structure was understood. CBT is also known as CBT-C, which was first synthesised in 1971. It had been isolated from Lebanese hash, and was then referred to as citrylidene-cannabis. People now know that CBT has a very similar structure to THC, but it’s still unknown whether the cannabinoid is psychoactive or not. There are beliefs that CBT originated from CBDa and has 9 different types – one of these being CBT-C. With CBT existing in such small levels, and in limited strains, it’s very difficult for researchers to understand it. Plus, the question remains right now, do they care?
Research into CBT
Whilst research is limited into CBT, one study in 2007 may be worth noting. The study was looking into the addictive effects of THC, and by accident they discovered something rather interesting about CBT. The study writes that CBT was:
“the major degradation product of this reaction, demonstrating the ability of an antibody to catalyse a complex chemical transformation with therapeutic implications for treating marijuana abuse.”
Whilst this quote is swimming in scientific jargon and complex sentence structures, what it’s essentially alluding to is that CBT limits the psychoactive effects of THC. This is an effect that has been known of CBD. If this is true, then we can make the assumption that CBT is not a psychoactive substance like THC, yet it has a similar molecular structure.
In addition, Extract Lab’s CBD vapes are supposedly CBT based. In fact, they claim that its because of CBT that their cartridges do not crystallise like some are prone to doing. CBD liquids can crystallise when the cannabinoids begin to separate from the liquid over time, and it causes a sort of unvape-able mushy mess. However, Extract Lab write:
“Despite not knowing much about its physiological benefits, CBT is an incredibly valuable ingredient in CBD products. All Extract Labs CBD vapes are made from 100 percent cannabis ingredients and do not crystalize–all thanks to CBT”
Is CBT Legal?
With each cannabinoid being treated differently in many legal systems, it’s hard to determine which are legal and which aren’t. It isn’t as easy to simply say: CBD is legal and THC isn’t. Unless of course you’re fortunate enough to be somewhere that accepts the entirety of the cannabis plant and has legalised it all.
CBT or CBT-C is not mentioned in the Controlled Substances Act. This can be taken how one wants it to be taken. There are many cannabinoids that are yet to be defined legally. The scientific research is done quicker, then the laws are forced to catch. Benzinga writes:
“Although some cannabinoids such as CBT, CBT-C, CBD, CBG, or CBN are not considered controlled substances, we can’t affirm that they are definitely legal substances because the laws regarding cannabis are usually ambiguous or have grey areas”.
Another issue that arises is this. Even if you did decide that CBT was legal, where would you get it from? How would you know which strains have more of it? The products are limited as well as the research. Having isolated CBT seems nearly impossible in this current time. So, whilst it may be legal or at least ambiguous, finding it could be a challenge. But maybe it’s a challenge you’re interested in.
The cannabis plant seems to surprise people every year, with new-found cannabinoids and new found benefits. No part of the plant should be ignored or discounted. CBT is no different. Whilst it may be a minor-cannabinoid, the limited research thus far suggests CBT could hold some surprises in itself. Keep an eye on this one.
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Disclaimer: Hi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.