THC Vs TAC: An In-Depth Comparison


Posted on January 24th, 2021

In case you did not know, it’s good to look at the chemical profile of the cannabis product you are about to purchase. Going through the chemical profile of a strain of cannabis has become second nature for many cannabis enthusiasts. After all, it’s only natural to want to know more about something you are passionate about. Luckily for them, manufacturers routinely take their products to independent labs for testing as part of their standard procedures. As such, they make this information readily available on a per harvest batch basis.

Standard information provided on the label will include the following:

  • Product grower.
  • The strain of the product.
  • The Sativa/Indica class of the plant.
  • The independent lab tester.
  • Date of testing.
  • Legal information you should know based on the manufacturer’s state.
  • The chemical makeup of the product.

Of course, not everyone will intuitively understand or care about everything on the label. The main concern for many consumers is the percentage of THC and CBD in that particular product. Much less people are less concerned about the total active cannabinoids (also known as TAC). That’s unfortunate because, as enthusiasts know, these compounds influence your experience.

From here on out, we will delve into THC vs TAC, focusing on their similarities and differences. Next time you read a cannabis product’s label, you will be able to better understand what’s in it.

THC Vs TAC (Total Active Cannabinoids): What Are They?THC Vs TAC - THC-rich marijuana leaf

Total Active Cannabinoid, also known by the acronym TAC, is the total amount of active cannabinoids at the time of lab testing. Unlike pharmaceuticals that contain one active compound, marijuana contains a myriad of pharmacologically active molecules. They go under the categories of cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenoids, alkaloids, glycoproteins, and some others. Estimates indicate that marijuana has more than 400 compounds, from which over 100 are cannabinoids.

TAC is, thus, a measure of the percentage of active cannabinoids a cannabis product holds, with the major cannabinoids of interest being:

  1. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  2. Cannabidiol (CBD)
  3. Cannabinol (CBN)
  4. Cannabigerol (CBG)
  5. Cannabichromene (CBC)

THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol. In its active form, it is scientifically known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9-THC. This is the most abundant cannabinoid in marijuana plants. Additionally, it is the primary psychoactive compound and responsible for the “high” you get when after consuming marijuana. Generally speaking, abundant THC levels will yield a more intense high than when THC concentration is low.

The THC level denoted in most labels indicates the percentage of THC the product had during testing. In reality, however, the product’s potency may be different due to THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), a precursor to delta-9-THC. THCA is an inactive compound found aplenty within the trichomes of cannabis plants. This compound converts to THC, its active form, after undergoing the decarboxylation process.

Decarboxylation is when THCA loses the acidic part of the compound’s molecular structure under heat. Thus, when THCA heats up, it will end up becoming THC, the compound that gets you euphoric when ingesting cannabis.

THC Vs Tac: Their Differences

TAC speaks to the chemical makeup and profile of any cannabis or hemp plant by listing all of its active ingredients. The Total Active Cannabinoids include THC, CBD, CBC, CBG, and CBN. As such, TAC indicates the whole potency of the product. While THC is but one compound, TAC considers all of the active compounds that the product holds.

The main difference between THC and other TAC compounds is the different effects that those compounds individually yield. THC is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. The reason why it has those effects has to do with its binding to the CB1 receptor of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is abundant in the brain.

The percentage of THC as indicated in product labels indicates the amount of active THC in the product. But that is not the same as Total THC value. The Total THC indicates the product’s maximum potency taking into account other active cannabinoids. Total THC is, thus, a measure of the final potency of a product you get when you combine the active THC and the THCA.

The Relationship Between THC And TAC Compounds

The most significant relationship between THC and TAC compounds is CBD’s ability to counteract THC psychoactive effects. Several studies indicate that CBD has antipsychotic effects and can counteract the euphoric and anxiety feeling induced by THC. Thus, CBD might temper the effects of THC somewhat. Some studies suggest CBD is cannabis’s neuroprotective compound and helps counteract the adverse side effects of THC.

It is also important to note that some TAC compounds, such as CBG, are precursors to THC. CBG is sort of a “stem cell” type of molecule that develops in the stem of the plant. CBGA, the acidic form of CBG, can break down to form CBG, which itself later breaks down to form other cannabinoids, including THC.

How They Affect Each Other

As mentioned, CBD, one of the active cannabinoids, counteracts the effect of THC. While CBD does not affect the THC compound, it does soften THC’s effect when consumed in sufficient amounts.

The entourage effect is another way in which the active cannabinoid compounds interact with one another. The entourage effect is when the active cannabinoids interact with each other and affect one another to yield more potent results.

When consumed each on their own, every cannabinoid will yield a certain variety of effects. However, the presence of other compounds does ramp up the effect of the final product. Aside from interacting with other active cannabinoids, TAC compounds also interact with terpenes and flavonoids to further enhance the final effect it has on you.

Studies show that CBD and CBG can inhibit MRSA, a bacterial staph infection when used together. Alone, neither of these cannabinoids is enough to do so. To improve this synergistic effect, adding the terpene pinene will further enhance their ability to counter the bacterial infection. Thus, they are a great example of the entourage effect in action.

THC Vs Tac: Does One Benefit from The Other’s Presence?

We are yet to fully understand the synergistic interaction cannabinoids can have and the benefits they bring. There are many benefits to derive from taking full-spectrum products that contain most compounds from the cannabis plant. A better understanding of the synergistic interaction of the compounds helps consumers purchase products that deliver exactly what they look for.

For instance, if want you want is relaxation, you can choose a full spectrum product that provides the most stress relief.

Examples of TAC Uses

While we have a relatively good understanding of THC and CBD’s potential benefits, we still need research on most of the other cannabinoids. The research body and knowledge of most TAC compounds are limited at best.

That said, below are some examples of how to use some cannabinoid compounds to determine total active compounds in cannabis products.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Perhaps the most renowned and most sought-after cannabinoid after THC. CBD recently received a lot of interest in the media. It is the second most abundant active ingredient and, thus, makes up a large proportion of the TAC’s measures. Crucially, the compound is non-psychoactive, unlike THC. As such, it does not make you high but does still deliver its potentially therapeutic benefits.

Some of the notable, reported benefits of taking CBD include relieving PTSD and anxiety. Some say it also helps manage their depression, improve sleep, relieve pain, reduce acne, and much more.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

Although this compound first appeared 50 years ago, we are yet to fully understand its benefits. However, we know that, like THC and CBD, CBD derives from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA). CBGA converts to CBCA before finally converting into CBC. Some of its potential benefits include pain and inflammation relief alongside acne treatment.

Cannabinol (CBN)

CBN comes from the oxidation and decomposition of THC molecules. The concentration of CBN increases as the cannabis plant ages. This because of accumulative exposure to oxygen and heat from the environment. Studies show that CBN has potential as a sleep aid, bone healing, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and it’s an appetite stimulant, anti-convulsant, and pain reliever.

Cannabigerol (CBG)

CBG is non-psychoactive and can actually decrease the psychoactivity induced by THC, just as CBD does. This allows cannabis users to benefit from THC without experiencing intense highs that might impair them. Additionally, studies show CBG has the potential to relieve pain and inflammation, improve brain function, fight anxiety and depression, improve eye health, and combat psoriasis.

Cannabidivarin (CBDV)

This is another non-psychoactive molecule found in cannabis plants. When isolated, it does not cause the characteristic euphoric high associated with THC. Discovered some 50 years ago, we are yet to understand CBDV fully. Nonetheless, studies show that CBDV can help delay memory loss, combat inflammation and nausea, and treat epilepsy.

In addition to individual benefits, all the cannabinoids classified under TAC yield the entourage effect when used together. As such, they tend to be more effective in relieving pain and inflammation, improving brain function, combating depression, and boosting one’s overall health than THC or any other cannabinoid might be on their own.

THC Vs TAC – The Takeaway

When we talk about THC vs TAC, we are not talking about one compound versus the other and which is better. We are talking about the effectiveness of one compound on its own against a whole lot of compounds combined. The TAC measure provides a more insightful look into the potency of the cannabinoid product at hand. When it comes to THC specifically, it can point out the full extent of the strength the THC has on a particular product. All valuable info for cannabis enthusiasts.

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