Understanding THCA vs THC

Cannabis has an array of compounds that intrigue and benefit many, but understanding them can often be a bit like learning a new language. Today, we’re going to simplify and explore two significant components of the cannabis plant: THCA and THC. Grab a cup of tea, and let’s dive into the green depths of cannabis chemistry without getting lost in the jargon!

What is THCA?

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) is like the fresh-faced precursor to the more famous THC. It’s found in raw and unprocessed cannabis. When the plant grows, it produces THCA, which doesn’t affect your mind like THC does. Think of it as the non-psychoactive younger sibling in the cannabinoid family.

How does THCA interact with the human body?

THCA has its own unique interactions with the body, primarily through its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. It’s like a gentle guard, protecting your cells and reducing swelling without the buzz.

Does THCA get you high?

No, THCA does not produce a high. It must transform into THC (we’ll explain how shortly) to take you on that euphoric journey. So, if you’re eating raw cannabis leaves in a salad, don’t expect a psychedelic dessert.

What does it have to do with THC?

THCA is the chemical precursor to THC. When cannabis is dried and heated (a process known as decarboxylation), THCA loses a carboxyl group and becomes THC, the compound famous for its psychoactive effects. This happens during smoking, vaping, or cooking.

This relationship between THCA and THC places THCA in a legal grey area. Since THCA is not psychoactive, it can often be sold legally in places where THC is restricted. This has led to the online sale of THCA in forms that are easy to decarboxylate, such as flowers, crystals, and oils. These products can be legally purchased as THCA, but with the understanding that they can easily be converted into psychoactive THC through heating. This workaround allows consumers to access THC-like effects through legal means, exploiting the regulatory focus on psychoactive substances in their active form. 

Essentially, selling THCA online have become a legal method for distributing a product that can readily become THC, providing a practical option for consumers.

What is THC?

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. It’s the reason why cannabis is known for its mind-altering effects. THC is like the life of the party, changing perceptions, mood, and behavior.

How does THC interact with the human body?

THC binds with receptors in the brain and throughout the body, creating the sensation of being high. It’s like a key fitting into your brain’s lock, opening up a variety of sensory and psychological reactions.

Does THC get you high?

Absolutely, THC is the primary compound in cannabis that gets you high. It stimulates parts of your brain, resulting in altered mood, heightened senses, and, in some cases, a profound sense of relaxation or euphoria.

THCA vs THC: A chart

Psychoactive EffectsNoYes
Found inRaw cannabisDecarboxylated cannabis
InteractionNon-intoxicating, more physical reliefIntoxicating, affects mind and body
BenefitsAnti-inflammatory, neuroprotectivePain relief, euphoria, appetite boost

How to decarb THCA?

Decarboxylation might sound like a fancy chemical process, but it’s simply applying heat to cannabis to turn THCA into THC. Usually products you purchase online, you can smoke as you would any cannabis product and it will turn the THCA into THC.

Why can you buy THCA online?

THCA itself isn’t psychoactive, which often places it in a legal gray area. This allows us to sell it online.

What type of THCA products are out there?

  • THCA Flower: Typically starts as CBD-rich hemp flower sprayed or infused with THCA distillate to enhance its THCA content. When heated, it behaves like traditional cannabis, converting THCA into THC.
  • THCA Prerolls: Ready-to-smoke joints filled with THCA-rich flower, offering convenience and ease for both recreational and medicinal use. The THCA converts to THC when smoked.
  • THCA Badder: A creamy, frosting-like cannabis concentrate rich in THCA, perfect for dabbing. It delivers potent effects as the THCA is transformed into THC upon heating.
  • THCA Diamonds: Crystalline structures that are almost pure THCA, known for their potency and typically used for dabbing. They deliver powerful effects as the THCA is converted to THC.
  • THCA Vapes: Cartridges filled with THCA oil for vaping, providing a discreet and efficient way to consume cannabis. The oil is heated in the vape, converting THCA to THC.

These products offer a range of ways to experience the benefits of THCA, each requiring heat to transform THCA into the psychoactive THC for its effects.

How is THCA flower made? 

When it comes to producing THCA flower, there are a couple of methods. The first involves enhancing CBD hemp flower, by spraying or infusing it with THCA distillate or isolate. This boosts the THCA content, and when heated, such as through smoking or vaping, the THCA converts into psychoactive THC. This method allows for the sale of high-THCA products in regions with specific regulations on raw THC content.

However, there’s also a natural cultivation approach to producing THCA flower. To cultivate THCA content naturally, the cannabis plants are harvested a bit earlier than usual, typically about a week before the standard harvest time. This early harvest prevents the natural conversion of THCA into THC that occurs as the plant matures. Growing in colder climates can also be beneficial as it slows down the maturation process, further preserving the THCA content. This method results in flower that is naturally high in THCA without the need for additional chemical enhancements.

Both methods offer a legal workaround in areas where regulations are focused on the psychoactive component, THC, in its activated form. The naturally grown THCA flower provides an alternative for consumers looking for products that can be used directly in their natural form or converted into THC through decarboxylation, offering flexibility and maintaining compliance with local cannabis laws.

Both growing methods offer a legal workaround in areas where THC is heavily regulated. Whether it’s the tricked-out, enhanced CBD flower or the just-in-time harvested natural buds, each approach lets you enjoy THCA your way while keeping everything above board. 

What percent of THCA is high?

High potency for THCA in flower typically ranges from 15-20%. Concentrates like diamonds can go much higher, up to 90-100% THCA.

Other FAQ about THCA:

  • Is THCA as potent as THC? Not in terms of psychoactivity. THCA doesn’t affect the brain like THC does.
  • Can THCA cause a high? No, THCA needs to be converted to THC to have any psychoactive effects.
  • What is THCA and what does it do? It’s the non-intoxicating precursor to THC, offering potential therapeutic benefits without the high.

Hopefully, this clears up some of the fog surrounding THCA and THC! Whether you’re seeking relief or just curious about cannabis, understanding these compounds can help you choose the right product for your needs. Stay informed and enjoy your cannabis journey responsibly!