THC vs THCA: What Are Their Differences and Effects?


You won’t get high if you eat raw cannabis, even though you may have seen a few slapstick movies that tried to tell you otherwise. Raw cannabis has almost none of the cannabinoid Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives the plant its most known intoxicating effect.

What is present in freshly harvested cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid found in the trichomes of living cannabis plants. Many comparisons have been made between THCA and THC, but most people now call THCA the precursor to THC.

If you want to know why you get high on THC and not THCA, how cannabinoid acids turn into cannabinoids, and why some people think raw cannabis is a superfood, you have come to the right place.

What Makes THC Different From THCA Molecules?

THC and THCA are not the same things at all. In fact, the only thing that makes them different is that THCA is one letter longer than THC. THCA is a cannabinoid that is found in the trichomes of the live and freshly harvested cannabis plant. On the other hand, THC is the type of cannabinoid thought to be psychoactive or have an effect on the mind.

One of the most widespread but also most common myths about cannabis is that the plants store THC until they are harvested. In fact, though, all it does is make THCA. Freshly picked medical marijuana has almost no THC in it.

Even though it is easy to get the two cannabinoids mixed up, it is important to remember that they have very different effects when consumed. THCA will not make you high when consumed on its own.

Why does THC induce high, but THCA does not?

Both THC and THCa have very similar molecular structures, except that THCA has one more carboxyl group. THCA, unlike THC, can’t connect to the CB1 or CB2 receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system. Because it is so big and three-dimensional, it can’t fit properly into the CB1 receptors.

Most CB1 receptors are in the kidneys, liver, lungs, and central nervous system. For a cannabinoid to produce intoxicating effects, it needs to be able to bind to the CB1 receptor. Since THCA can’t do this, it does not make you feel high. The plant needs to convert THCA to THC to become intoxicating cannabis. So, how does THCA convert into THC?

How Does THCA Converts Into THC?

Decarboxylation is a chemical process that takes away one of the carboxyl groups from cannabinoids. It happens when you expose the cannabis plant to extreme heat via sunlight, increased room temperatures, or direct heat.

The chemical reaction set off by light or heat is how THCA turns into THC. Through that process, different cannabinoids can interact more effectively with the endocannabinoid receptors in your body.

Because of the change in its chemical structure after the decarboxylation process, THCA can now bind to CB1 receptors. This makes it possible for THC to become a psychotropic cannabinoid and induce the intoxicating and mind-altering effects we know and love.

Below we will further discuss how THCA is converted into THC or decarbed through various methods:


When dried and cured bud is smoked over an open flame, THCA quickly changes into THC. This is because the plant is exposed to a lot of heat in a short amount of time. But not all of the THCA will change.

Even though smoking is the most common way to feel the effects of THC, it is not the best. One of the most effective ways to decarboxylate cannabis is to use a vaporizer. When the cannabinoid acids are heated at a temperature that is just slightly above normal, they convert.

The best temperature for vaping THC is 315°F or 157°C. Vaping at higher temperatures may be good for only a few cannabinoids and terpenes. Keeping the heat high enough will make sure that as much THCA as possible turns into THC, but only to a certain point. You will lose more THC as the temperature rises further.


Using preloaded vape pens with already decarboxylated cannabis distillate is an even more effective way to use cannabis than vaporizing cannabis flowers. This is a good way to get the intoxicating effects of cannabis since most THCA has already been turned into THC. The rest of the conversion happens when the cannabis is vaporized.

It would be best if you only bought quality vape pens from licensed shops and brands to make sure that the cannabis oil inside does not contain any potentially dangerous ingredients. Try Runtz (Hybrid) 1ML Vape Cartridge by High Voltage Extracts, which is lab-tested and made with pure THC distillate.

Sunlight conversion

When THCA is exposed to heat or light, it goes through a change that leads to the production of THC. If a cannabis plant is left in the sun for a long time, the molecules of THCA in the plant will slowly convert into THC molecules.

Room temperature conversion

THCA will eventually turn into THC if it is kept at room temperature for a long time. For instance, when THCA is soaked in olive oil for ten days at a temperature of 77°F, it changes at a rate of 22%. When the same conditions are met, 67% of the material will convert when it is put in ethanol.

Over time, 20% of the THCA in cannabis that has been kept at room temperature and has been exposed to a small amount of light will change into THC. In short, THCA is a volatile chemical that can break down into THC given enough time and little external influence.


Dabbing turns THCA into active THC in a way that is similar to how vaporizing does it. Most cannabis extractions try to get rid of the terpenes and flavonoids in order to isolate the cannabinoids. This means that the end product does not have much taste or smell. But many manufacturers add terpene mixtures made from cannabis that was taken out of the concentrate.

The addition of terpenes not only makes the taste better, but these aromatic plant molecules also work with cannabinoids to create “entourage effects” that make cannabis provide more potential health benefits.


You can make more potent homemade edibles by putting the cannabis in a conventional oven to decarboxylate it. Just grind your cannabis buds, spread it out in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake it at 230°F or 110°C for 30 to 45 minutes. As a result of this process, most of the THCA will be changed into THC, which will then produce psychoactive effects and therapeutic potential.

Potential Therapeutic Benefits of THCA Crystalline

THCA research is still in its early stages, and there is still a lot that we don’t know about it. But based on anecdotal reports and recent studies, it looks like THCA might have a strong potential as a medicine. THCA might be good for your health in a number of ways, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Studies have shown that THCA has anti-inflammatory effects. It is possible that THCA can stop enzymes that cause chronic pain and inflammation.
  • Protection against neurodegenerative diseases: Neurodegenerative diseases can cause damage to the brain and nervous system. There is some evidence that THCA can protect against the damage that neurodegenerative disorders do to the brain.
  • Anti-nausea: A study done in 2020 found that THCA may be better than THC at making people less likely to throw up and feel sick.
  • Weight management: Using THCA may help people lose weight and lower their risk of diabetes and fatty liver disease linked to being overweight. In a study, cannabis treatment reduced insulin resistance and improved glucose intolerance. Both of these are important factors in the development of diabetes caused by being overweight.
Harvesting as the cannabis plant matures

How to Get the Benefits of THCA

If you smoke, vape, or eat cannabis-containing foods, there is probably not much THCA left since the non-psychoactive cannabinoid turns into THC when it comes in contact with heat. This is also true when you smoke, vape, or dab cannabis. So how can you maximize the benefit of THCA?

If you only want to consume THCA, a popular product you can consume is raw cannabis juice. These drinks are starting to show up on the menus of trendy cannabis wellness brands and cafes. Cannabis juice is easy to make. The process is almost the same as making any fresh juice, except cannabis leaves are used.

Juicing is a way to get THCA out of cannabis without changing too much of it into THC since the plant is not exposed to heat. Because of this change, people who use THCA for its potential benefits won’t get high like they do when they use cannabis. Raw cannabis can also be eaten in the form of edibles or tinctures. In addition to other raw cannabinoids, these products have a lot of THCA in them.

Ideal THC and THCA Products You Can Purchase Online

If you are looking to start your cannabis journey, check out these THC and THCA products that you can order online:

  • Budibles Cola Gummy: Contains potent THC-infused gummies with cola flavour. Each bag has a total of 200m mg THC and contains 6 to 10 gummies depending on the size of the candy.
  • Gelato 33 Vape Cartridge: Made by High Voltage Extracts, this cartridge contains the famous cross breed of Sunset Sherbet and Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. It can induce powerful effects and fruit and sweet flavours. The head high and body buzz from the Gelato 33 strain is ideal for those dealing with muscle spasms, inflammation, and headaches. The cartridge contains 55% to 60% THC concentration and is compatible with a 510-threaded battery.
  • Mary’s THC Cap: Mary’s Medibles contain 20mg of THC for each capsule. This is an accurate and convenient way to get your THC needs on the go. Each capsule has grape seed oil and THC Indica extract.
  • Mota Iced Tea Mix: This THC-infused iced tea blends citrus and tea flavours with an accurately measured dosage of THC. Simply add the mix to water and serve over ice. Other ingredients included sugar, citric acid, tricalcium phosphate, as well as natural and artificial flavours.
  • Salted Caramel Chocolate THC Sesh Bar: Satisfy your sweet cravings with the potential benefits of THC by eating Sesh Chocolate Bars. Aside from salted caramel, it comes in 4 very delicious flavours: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, cookies and cream, and dark chocolate raspberry. Each chocolate bar has 250 mg of THC. Other ingredients include milk powder, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural flavouring, and salt.
  • Purple Haze Shatter: Purple Haze is a Sativa hybrid that boasts a THC level ranging from 14% to 19% on average. It can produce an immediate high-energy cerebral stimulation with a mild body buzz that spreads from your head throughout the rest of your body. Due to its potent effects, this is an ideal strain for those who are suffering from conditions such as mild to moderate cases of depression and chronic stress or anxiety. This strain, in shatter form, can be used for dabbing, smoking, and vaping.

Frequently Asked Questions


No. THCA is a cannabinoid that is naturally found in cannabis plants and raw cannabis. It is the acid form of THC. It has been shown that this naturally occurring and easy-to-find cannabinoid can improve health and wellness in general with few negative effects.

THC, on the other hand, is a cannabinoid that makes people feel high. It can be made by decarbing THCA using heat and light. Through this process, an acid group is taken off of THCA. This changes the chemical makeup of the molecule, making it more likely to interact with CB1 cannabinoid receptors.

What is a good THCA percentage?

It is easy to get confused when trying to figure out how strong something is by looking at how much THCA it has. Since the cannabis industry has no standard way to show testing results to customers, the information on product labels and lab reports might be misleading to new cannabis users.

Liquid chromatography (LC) and gas chromatography (GC) are two different ways of figuring out how potent a substance is. The high temperatures needed for the GC method will decarboxylate most of the THCA. On the other hand, the LC method does not need to use high temperatures at any point in the process. Thus, the results for THCA and THC content will differ depending on which one you look at.

It is highly recommended that you research or talk to dispensary staff to learn more about how the level of potency of a certain product might change your overall experience with cannabis.

What is the difference between THCA and Delta 9 THC?

Delta 9 THC is the most common psychoactive component of cannabis, and THCA is its acidic form. THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that can be found in raw and live cannabis. Both cannabinoids have similar chemical structures, except that THCA has an extra carboxyl group. This extra carboxyl prevents the cannabis plant from inducing psychoactive effects.

Is Delta 8 THC the same as THCA?

Delta 8 THC is derived from THCA. Like Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 THC can induce psychoactive effects. On the other hand, THCA will not produce intoxication. Besides that, not much research has been done to determine how Delta 8 compares to THCA. 

Is THCA illegal?

As of 2021, the FDA still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I substance. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that this is because of its high potential for abuse due to THC’s psychoactive effects and because there is no accepted medical or therapeutic use of the plant at this time.

Will taking THCA make me fail a drug test?

Chemicals from cannabis use can be turned into THC, a metabolite checked for in most drug tests. If you are expecting a drug test and hoping not to test positive, it is best not to consume any cannabis product. THCA can be detected in urine for up to 5 days. But it can stay for 3 to 4 weeks if you are a heavy smoker.


Most people who use cannabis are familiar with the idea of THC. When choosing new cannabis strains and products, the amount of THC is often one of the most important things to think about.

By a huge margin, THC is the most well-known cannabinoid, even though cannabis has dozens of other cannabinoids and hundreds of other active chemicals. However, THC will not be present without THCA.

Whether cannabis is smoked, eaten, vaped, or juiced raw, it is important to understand the plant’s qualities and how they interact with our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems. Each of the molecules in cannabis has its own set of benefits, and much more research is needed to understand the range of benefits they may offer fully.

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