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11-Hydroxy-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, abbreviated as 11-OH-THC, is the main active metabolite of THC which is formed in the body after cannabis consumption. 11-Hydroxy-THC has been shown to be active in its own right, but the effects produced are not necessarily identical to those of THC.[not in citation given (See discussion.)] This might partially explain the biphasic effects of cannabis, whereby some effects such as increased appetite tend to be delayed rather than occurring immediately when the drug is consumed. 11-OH-THC is more potent than THC and crosses the blood–brain barrier more easily.
Peak THC concentrations are lower after oral than smoked administration, but conversely, 11-OH-THC/THC ratios are higher after oral than smoked cannabis. After oral administration, approximately equal quantities of THC and 11-OH-THC are formed, whereas 11-OH-THC is a minor constituent after administration by intravenous or smoking routes. Because oral doses are processed by the liver before entering the bloodstream, oral THC produces high levels of 11-OH-THC, while smoked cannabis does not.
11-Hydroxy-THC is subsequently metabolised further to 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC, which is not psychoactive but might still play a role in the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis.
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