Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a type of chemical compound found in cannabis plants. Unlike cannabidiol (CBD), THC interacts differently with your brain’s cannabinoid receptors, which impacts your cognitive function. Since medical cannabis was legalised in Australia in 2016, medicines containing THC have been used to help treat a variety of health conditions. 

What is THC?

THC is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, commonly known for its psychoactive effects. The cannabinoid exerts its effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system, binding to CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system. This interaction triggers a cascade of physiological and psychoactive responses, leading to altered perception, mood, and cognition. Chemically classified as a resinous compound, THC possesses a molecular structure that closely resembles the endocannabinoids produced naturally in the human body. Once introduced into the system, THC mimics these endocannabinoids, influencing neurotransmitter release and affecting the overall balance of neuronal activity. The potency of THC in cannabis can vary significantly among different strains, influencing the intensity of its psychoactive effects.

What is the difference between THC and CBD?

THC and CBD are two prominent cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. Each has distinct effects on the body. While both compounds interact with the endocannabinoid system, their impact differs significantly. THC is the primary psychoactive component, responsible for achieving a ‘high’ by binding to CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system. On the other hand, CBD does not produce the same psychoactive effect. It interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in a more indirect manner. CBD is often associated with a range of potential therapeutic benefits.

THC legality

In Australia, THC remains a controlled substance under federal law. The use, possession, sale, or cultivation of cannabis, including THC-based products, is generally prohibited. However, there are now exceptions for medical use. The legal landscape has been evolving, with many states and territories allowing patients to access certain THC products with prescriptions from authorised medical practitioners. Despite federal prohibition, several states have taken steps to decriminalise or legalise cannabis for personal use to varying extents. For example, the Australian Capital Territory passed legislation allowing adults to possess small amounts of cannabis for personal use and grow a limited number of plants for personal cultivation. Laws surrounding THC are subject to change with the times, so it’s important to speak to professionals about medicinal cannabis use to ensure you’re receiving high quality, reliable, legal THC products.

THC product types

There are many medicinal product types containing THC. This may include cannabis vaporisers, flowers, tinctures, and more. The kind of product you are prescribed depends on your doctor’s assessment. Some products may be easier to consume for some patients than others, and your doctor will talk through the options with you to find the right product. Products may contain both CBD and THC, whereas some may be pure CBD. It is important to note that many workplaces in Australia prohibit the use of THC during work hours, even if you have a prescription. Driving or operating heavy machinery with THC in your system is also illegal in Australia. Take this into account when discussing product types with your doctor so they can find a cannabis medicine that best suits your lifestyle.

THC oil

THC oil is a concentrated form of tetrahydrocannabinol extracted from cannabis flowers. THC oil carries potential therapeutic benefits for a range of medical conditions. Its potency varies, with careful attention needed for dosing. Patients typically consume THC oil through sublingual drops, edibles, or vaporisation. The oil’s psychoactive effects make it important for users to be mindful of local legal regulations.

Additional THC information

The legal specifics of THC medical cannabis vary based on many different aspects. We break it all down for you on this page.

THC Legality in Australia

We unpack the differences between CBD and THC medical cannabis products. Find out which is best suited to you.


Learn about what effects to expect when taking THC products.

THC Effects

THC comes in a range of different product types, this page unpacks all of them.

THC Products in Australia
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