cannabinoids can be degraded by environmental factors like temperature, light or acid but also by several enzymes in our body.

Temperature

Plant cannabinoids in their natural state are typically acidic. For instance a plant that is reported to contain 20% THC actually contains up to 18% THC-acid or THCA and only ± 2% THC. When cannabis is heated to 100-130 °C most THCA will be converted to THC. This is important to remember as THC and THCA have different therapeutic properties.

When cannabis is heated further, for instance with smoking, up to 30% of cannabinoids can be lost due to combustion.

Light

Light can also degrade cannabinoids. Direct sunlight for instance can degrade THC to CBN although this process can take months or years.

Acid

Acid can degrade cannabinoids. Stomach acid for instance can degrade an estimated 50% of ingested cannabinoids.

Enzymes

Everything in our body is eventually degraded by enzymes. cannabinoids are no exception.

endocannabinoids are typically degraded by enzymes like FAAH or MAGL.

Plant cannabinoids are mostly degraded by Cytochrome P450 enzymes.

More specific information about Cannabinoid degradation can be found on the pages for THC, CBD and Cytochrome P450