THCM: What is it and where does it come from?

Tetrahydrocannabinol monomethyl ether, commonly abbreviated THCM, is a rare cannabinoid and an isomer of THC-H. The two compounds have an identical chemical formula (C22B32O2) and molecular weight. Traces of THCM have been found in marijuana smoke and possibly synthetic CBD e-liquid after decomposition.

The THCM cannabinoid should not be confused with a test called THCM that is used to detect cannabis exposure during pregnancy. This test analyzes the baby’s stool for the presence of the THC metabolite THC-COOH. The THCM cannabinoid is not associated with a test that uses this name.

It is currently very unclear whether the production of THCM cannabis products would even be possible, as the cannabinoid has not yet been isolated from hemp or marijuana due to chromatographic issues. In other words, chemists have not found a way to separate THCM from other cannabinoids or natural compounds in cannabis using current chromatography techniques. Isolation won’t happen until chemists develop a new method. As it stands, they hardly know where THCM comes from.

Unlike THCM, the monomethyl ether forms of CBG and CBD (CBGM and CBDM) have been successfully isolated.

What are the effects of THCM?

We don’t know anything about the effects of THCM when consumed. It has no known benefits and may or may not get users high. Side effects are also not documented.

Products that claim to contain THCM—which is controversial in itself—can still get you high, regardless. All that is required is the inclusion of other psychoactive cannabinoids. Whenever you buy vape carts, disposables, or edibles that contain multiple cannabinoids, be sure to research each compound individually.

Delta 9 THC and THCM are loosely related, but have very few characteristics in common.

The heat produced by vaping or smoking marijuana converts THC’s precursor, THCA, to delta 9 THC; the resulting smoke could then contain small amounts of THCM. However, it does not currently appear that THCM is a metabolite of THC.

THCM is the monomethyl ether of THC. They share some structural similarities and both are composed of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. The two are not isomers, so their formulas and weights differ. Delta 9 THC contains one less carbon and two less hydrogen than THCM. Both have two oxygen atoms.

And that’s the extent of what we know about THCM. Since it has never been isolated from cannabis or extracted for experimentation or consumption, we weren’t even sure if it was in the plant. It can only be identified as a by-product of the breakdown of THC.

On the other hand, THC is naturally found in cannabis and has been extensively studied. Its effects and benefits have been analyzed and discussed for decades.

Nothing is known about the safety of THCMs when consumed.

Although it is unlikely that actual THCM products even exist, be sure to check the Certificate of Analysis (COA) before purchasing a product that claims to contain THCM. You probably won’t get THCM, but third-party testing can at least confirm that the product is free of impurities.

In theory, THCM products could be legal to manufacture and sell in the US. As long as they are byproducts of direct extraction or conversion from natural hemp cannabinoids, they are protected by the 2018 Farm Bill as long as they contain less than 0.3% delta 9 THC by dry weight.

However, we are dealing with big ones. The cannabinoid THCM has never been successfully isolated from cannabis, and it is unclear how much, if any, is found in natural plant materials. As far as we can tell, it hasn’t been synthesized in a lab either.

THCM is not tested by third party labs. In fact, it does not appear that there is a way to accurately measure THCM content. Some products still claim to contain it. Most of these carts and disposables contain blends with other cannabinoids.

Since it cannot be tested and does not appear on the certificate of authenticity, there is no way to know how much THCM is in the product. Based on the limited research available, it is highly unlikely that commercial products contain genuine THCM.

I am a cannabis enthusiast and author living in Pennsylvania. As part of the Vaping360 team, I am passionate about helping cannabis consumers get to know vaping and get the most out of their experience. You can also find me @faeberrystudios on Instagram.

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