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THCA vs THC: What Is The Difference?

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THCA vs THC – the battle of cannabinoids. We will explore the world of cannabis elements and examine the differences between these two compounds in this extensive guide. What distinguishes THC from THCA, and what are the functions of each? 

Let us help you understand the differences.

Table of Contents:

Key Takeaways: THCA Vs. THC

Before we dive deeper into the topic, here are some key takeaways:

  • In addition to well-known cannabinoids like CBD and THC, the cannabis plant produces various other compounds, and one of them is THCA, commonly found in freshly harvested cannabis.
  • THCA represents the acidic and non-psychoactive form of THC, naturally occurring in raw, unheated cannabis. In contrast, THC emerges when cannabis ages or is exposed to heat.
  • THC is the primary contributor to the well-known “high” associated with marijuana usage, while THCA lacks any psychoactive properties.
  • THC is typically used through methods such as smoking or vaping, processes that convert THCA into its psychoactive counterpart. On the other hand, THCA can be obtained by using raw cannabis or juicing it, which will maximize its non-psychoactive effects.
  • It is important to note that THC and THCA have different legal statuses depending on where you live. Whereas THCA is typically acceptable for use and possession, THC is frequently categorized as a controlled substance in many areas. 
  • Diverse Cannabinoid Profiles: In addition to well-known compounds like CBD and THC, cannabis plants produce various cannabinoids, including THCA, which is found in freshly harvested, raw cannabis and transforms into THC when exposed to heat or over time.
  • Psychoactive Differences and Methods of Usage: THC, which is known for its buzz, is typically used by burning, converting THCA into THC. In contrast, THCA is non-psychoactive and can be used in its raw form.
  • Legal Status Variances: THCA and THC have differing legal statuses, with THCA typically being legal due to its non-psychoactive nature, while THC is often regulated or controlled in many jurisdictions.
  • Decarboxylation Process: THC is produced when THCA undergoes a decarboxylation process, which involves removing a carboxylic acid group from THCA during heating to form THC.

What Is THCA?

THCA, an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, represents a non-psychoactive cannabinoid naturally present in unprocessed cannabis plants. This signifies that even if you use THCA from freshly harvested, unheated cannabis, you will not experience its intoxicating effects.

THCA does not produce the same buzz “high” that is typically connected to marijuana use as THC does.

THCA exhibits distinctive differences from THC in terms of chemical structure and properties, primarily due to the presence of a carboxylic acid group within THCA molecules. Molecular interactions with different receptors in the body are influenced by this unique feature.

THCA is a precursor to THC, but it is converted into THC through a process called decarboxylation. This chemical reaction takes place when cannabis buds are heated, effectively removing the carboxylic acid group and yielding THC.

What Is THC?

THC, which stands for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, represents the primary psychoactive compound present in cannabis.

This chemical is responsible for inducing the well-known buzz “high” that is commonly associated with the marijuana plant.

THC interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system after usage, just like CBD and other cannabinoids do.

What sets THC apart is its capability to bind to cannabinoid receptors (specifically CB1 receptors) in both the brain and various other parts of the body. This binding process can lead to a multitude of effects.

Difference Between THC and THCA

Now, let us examine how THCA and THC differ from each other.

1. Chemical Composition and Characteristics

  • There are minor structural variations between THC and THCA.
  • Prior to THC, there is THCA.
  • An additional carboxylic acid group is present in THCA. 
  • Heat causes the detachment of this additional group in THCA.
  • This detachment transforms THCA into THC.
  • The presence of the carboxylic group significantly affects the psychoactive properties of these molecules.

2. Psychoactive Effects

  • THCA does not produce a high when used.
  • There is no doubt that THC has psychoactive effects.
  • THC is popular for its effects and recreational use.
  • THCA is more popular because of its potential effects.

3. Legal Status

  • The legal status of THC and THCA varies by state.
  • THC is classified as a controlled substance in many nations.
  • Certain states or nations allow the medical or recreational use of THC.
  • THCA is typically not regulated or controlled due to its non-psychoactive nature.
  • Hemp-derived THCA products often exist in a legal loophole.
  • THCA is legal for purchase as raw cannabis extract or hemp flower.
  • A lighter can be used to simply expose THCA to heat in order to convert it to THC.

How To Use THC and THCA

1. Inhalation

  •    Burning or vaporizing THC and THCA is the most popular way to use them.
  •    Although this method has a quick onset of action, it may not be suitable for people with respiratory problems due to its harsh effects on the lungs.
  •    Note that when burning THCA flower or concentrates, the application of heat triggers decarboxylation, converting them into THC with psychoactive properties.

2. Gummies

  •    THC and THCA can be incorporated into various items, including baked goods, gummies, and tinctures.
  •    THC edibles usually take 30 minutes to an hour to start showing effects, but they usually last longer.
  •    It can be difficult to measure gummies precisely, and excessive usage can have unexpected consequences.
  •    Be aware that THCA gummies and capsules, initially non-psychoactive, can become psychoactive if exposed to heat. Use the product unprocessed to preserve the acidic form of THCA. 

3. Topicals

  •    Both THCA and THC are available in topical forms like creams, balms, and lotions.
  •    This method is favored for focused areas without causing psychoactive effects.

4. Sublingual

  •    It is possible to ingest THC and THCA oil sublingually, which involves placing them under the tongue and allowing mucous membranes to absorb them into the bloodstream.
  •    Its advantages include rapid onset of effects and precise dosage.
  •    THCA remains in its acidic form when used this way, eliminating the risk of accidental conversion into THC.

Does THCA Have Any Potential Effects, According To Research?

Yes, research suggests that THCA may have potential effects. It is necessary to conduct further research in order to confirm this finding. The FDA has not approved THCA products, and its effects cannot be guaranteed.

How Does Research on THC Back Up Suggested Advantages?

THC’s effects on health have been well-researched, and they continue to do so. We at ATLRx do not claim any health effects that THC may or may not provide. THC products have not been approved by the FDA.

How Does THCA Work?

Although THCA is slightly thicker and bigger than THC, it does not fit CB1 receptors as well as THC does. CB1 receptors are known to bind to THC. As such, it does not have any kind of intoxicating effect, though it might have other physiological effects. We can not be certain that THCA offers any advantages until more research is conducted. Similar to other cannabinoids, THCA enters the body’s bloodstream and endocannabinoid system.

Strength & Potential Effects of THCA vs. THC

THC is much stronger than THCa; it is sometimes referred to as the “activated” version of THC. THCa does not produce a psychoactive high like THC. THCA is milder in terms of psychoactive effects compared to THC. It provides the potential effects without the intensity of a THC-induced high. Choosing between the two depends on personal preference and desired outcomes.

Legality of THCA vs. THC

The 2018 Farm Bill brought about federal legality for all cannabinoids derived from hemp. By dry weight, hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC, as defined by law.

State laws pertaining to delta 9 THC legality differ, though. As for the status of THCa, it’s not as explicitly defined, but if delta 9 THC is illegal in your state, it’s likely that THCa is as well, and vice versa if delta 9 THC is legal.

Delta 9 THC is legal in the following states, as well as illegal or regulated in the following:

States Where Delta-9 THC is Legal:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • Washington D.C.

States Where Delta-9 THC is Illegal or Subject to Dispute:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • North Dakota
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky (subject to dispute, still legal)
  • Pennsylvania (subject to dispute, still legal)
  • Vermont (subject to dispute, still legal)

How THCA Is Converted Into THC

In cannabis, THCA is the most abundant compound, and THC is the least abundant. However, THCA is converted into THC by a process called decarboxylation. When a cannabis plant is aged or exposed to heat, it goes through this transformation. 

1. The Process of Decarboxylation

  • When cannabis is harvested, it predominantly contains THCA, which lacks psychoactive effects.
  • To activate the psychoactive potential and increase bioavailability, the THCA molecule must undergo decarboxylation.
  • Through this process, THC is created when a carboxyl group from the THCA molecule is removed.
  • As a primary catalyst for decarboxylation, heat can be applied through methods such as burning, baking, or vaporizing.
  • The application of heat not only transforms THCA into THC but also enhances the potency of the compound.

2. Decarboxylation by Nature

  • Decarboxylation can also occur naturally as a cannabis plant ages and is exposed to sunlight.
  • There is a natural process by which some older cannabis products may contain higher levels of THC than freshly harvested cannabis plants.

3. Balancing the Process

  • It’s essential to strike the right balance when applying heat for decarboxylation.
  • When cannabis is burned or overheated, the THC is broken down into compounds that are less desirable.
  • On the other hand, underheating could cause THC levels to drop, producing ineffective products.

Understanding decarboxylation is fundamental for achieving the desired effects and potency in cannabis products, whether for recreational or medicinal use.

Which Is Better: THCA vs. THC?

The best cannabinoid is complex to say—THCA vs. THC—because it all depends on the user’s body chemistry and desired effects from cannabis. THC has received far more attention in terms of research than other cannabinoids, but it may not be suitable for everyone, especially for those who are sensitive to its psychoactive effects. Another important consideration is accessibility. THCA derived from hemp may be the only source of psychoactive THC products for many people in states where marijuana is still illegal. 

Where to Buy THCA and THC Products?

When you’re in the market for THCA and THC products, it’s crucial to choose reliable sources. Established local dispensaries and trusted brands offer quality assurance and a variety of choices tailored to your preferences.

For a convenient online option, ATLRx is an excellent choice to explore a wide range of hemp-derived THCA and THC products. Our THCA products, like our THCA flower and THCA pre-rolls, are great for those who love the use of flowers in a classic joint. Our THCA Diamonds are fantastic for dabbing if you want to take it to the next level. Their commitment to quality and reputation in the industry make them a reputable source for your cannabis needs.

Conclusion: THCA vs. THC

In conclusion, THCA vs THC emerge as distinct cannabinoids within the fascinating world of cannabis, each wielding its own unique properties and effects. In contrast to THC products, THCA products offer potential effects without the psychoactive effects commonly associated with THC. On the other hand, THC, with its well-known psychoactive attributes, delivers the cherished buzz experience frequently associated with cannabis use. Recognizing these disparities between THCA and THC is pivotal, as it empowers individuals to make informed and personalized decisions regarding their cannabis usage, aligning their choices with their specific needs and preferences.

For those interested in exploring the diverse realm of THCA and THC products, ATLRx stands as an excellent online destination. ATLRx’s unwavering commitment to quality and its reputable standing within the industry make it a trusted source for all your cannabis-related needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions: THC Vs THCA

What Is the Difference Between THC and THCA?

THCA is non-psychoactive and may have potential supportive effects, whereas THC is psychoactive and produces a “high.”

Can THCA Get You High?

No, THCA does not produce a high. It lacks the psychoactive properties of THC. Heat or decarboxylation of THCA converts it to THC, which then has the effects of THC.

Is THC Legal?

Yes, depending on where you live and the source of the THC. Based on the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and its derivatives, delta-9 THC products can be legally obtained from the federal government as long as the cannabinoid is derived from hemp and remains less than 0.3% by dried weight in the finished product. The laws of each individual state or nation determine whether THC is legal. THC is illegal in certain areas but legal in others for recreational or medical purposes.

Is THCA Legal?

Yes, most states allow the use of THCA as long as it is derived from industrial hemp plants. Before buying THCa, it is important to confirm your local laws, as some states have banned all forms of the drug. The “high” associated with marijuana is not produced by THCA because it is not psychoactive.