With CBD and other cannabis-related products swarming the market nowadays, more people want to know about the specific ingredients in these products. After all, the concentration of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids impacts the effects it produces.
One of these ingredients is THCA. This is one cannabinoid that more and more CBD products seem to be including in the mix.
So, why is this? What exactly is THCA? Keep reading to find out more about it.
What Is THCA?
THCA, as the name implies, is a type of THC. Specifically, it is the acidic form of THC, which is where the “A” in “THCA” comes from. Technically, THCA stands for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.
However, THCA stands apart from THC because it differs in its main function. Most people are familiar with THC because of the mental effect it produces. This is what causes the high from marijuana and other cannabis-based products. However, THCA doesn’t produce the sense of high that THC does. The chemicals in THCA do not react with the brain in the same way and, thus, lack this central feature.
However, there is still a way to get a high from THCA. In fact, the method to do so is relatively simple and just involves a little heat. When THCA is heated, like when it is vaped, smoked, or included in some sort of cooking, it transforms completely. It chemically changes from THCA to THC. So, THCA still doesn’t produce the high but turns into something that does produce it.
Is THCA Better than THC?
When picking out cannabis products, THCA and THC are two top considerations. However, since they are so similar to each other, many people compare and contrast them against each other. They wonder which one is better.
Well, THCA is generally better when it comes to providing the benefits of THC without producing intoxication. This means users can potentially treat conditions like nausea and inflammation without worrying about their mental state.
However, this intoxication is part of the benefit of THC. It is a big part of what makes THC great for treating anxiety and providing a good night’s sleep. Without it, these conditions are harder to treat with a cannabis-based product. So, when dealing with these conditions, THC has the advantage.
Ultimately, this means that neither is necessarily better than the other. Which one you want will depend on what you need it for.
Should You Look For THCA or THC in Cannabis Products?
As we just mentioned, the choice between THCA and THC will vary from person to person. However, there is one additional consideration to include when choosing cannabis products.
This is the fact that THCA when heated, turns into THC. This means purchasing a product with THCA and then smoking, vaping, or consuming it in some other method that uses heat provides you with THC anyway.
So, why does this matter? Why would you choose something with THCA rather than just going with THC? Buying a product with THC and then heating it may burn the THC and leave you with less THC than you think you are getting. So, including THCA in a product like this means that there may end up being more THC in the final product than there would be otherwise. Plus, THCA falls under fewer legal restrictions than THC. This means it is available for purchase in some places where purchasing larger quantities of THC is impossible.
In any of these situations, you may want to buy a product with high levels of THCA, even if you want THC. This is because it turns into THC anyway and may even leave you with more THC than a straight THC product would.
Keep in mind, though, this is only the case when the THCA is heated. With products like edibles, capsules, or oils taken sublingually, the THCA will stay as THCA. This is still good for some people but will not suit everyone’s needs.
THCA vs. Delta-9
If you’re well versed in cannabis products, you may notice some similarities between THCA and other cannabis products, specifically delta-8 and delta-9 THC. This is because they are very similar. THCA is actually a form of delta-9 THC.
So, the two have similar effects. The big difference is that delta-9 THC produces intoxication while THCA does not.
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Why Choose THCA?
All of these comparisons and contrasts boil down to a few questions. Why should you choose THCA? The answer comes from the two major benefits of THCA. These are the fact that it provides help without intoxication and the fact that it can turn into THC when heated.
The first benefit makes it unique among cannabis products. Many people want to take advantage of the numerous benefits provided by THC. However, some don’t want to feel the intoxicating effects. Still, others don’t mind the intoxicating effects but need to take advantage of the benefits in situations where intoxication can’t happen. In these cases, THCA comes through.
The other major benefit of THCA is that it turns into THC when exposed to heat. This may make it a better delivery agent for THC because less of it is wasted when it ignites.
Alongside all of this, THCA also has potential neuroprotective features. Some research has found that it may be helpful in slowing the progression of diseases like Huntington’s or other neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases.
How Do You Use THCA?
Using THCA isn’t as straightforward as using other cannabis products. This is because there are two main approaches for using it, and the one to go with varies depending on the desired effects.
Using Pure THCA
Actually using THCA and not converting it to THC means avoiding exposure to heat. This means you can’t smoke, vape, or heat the THCA in any way. If you do this, it will convert to THC and produce an intoxicating effect when consumed.
Luckily, this still leaves plenty of options out there. THCA tinctures are a great choice. With these, you simply place the liquid under your tongue and absorb it directly into your system. This method of taking the THCA is great because it will produce the effects of the THCA relatively quickly.
You can also choose to go with edible products. Vitamins and gummies with THCA in them are popular choices. You can even prepare your own edibles; just make sure to avoid exposing them to heat in the process. The downside is that edibles have to be absorbed through the digestive system, meaning they will take longer to kick in.
Converting THCA to THC
Converting THCA into THC is a simple matter of heating it up. This can also happen through any number of methods.
The most common and most obvious solution is to simply smoke the THCA. Doing so gets the THCA up to the right temperature without worry. Many companies sell THCA products specifically designed to be smoked or vaped. You can even find prerolls out there, like those available from Burman’s Health Shop, which make it even easier to pick up THCA and start converting it to THC.
However, smoking and vaping aren’t the only options out there. If you have access to THCA flowers, you can cook them in the oven to activate the THC. Simply preheat the oven to around 200-245ºF, then cook them for around 30-40 minutes. Remember that you shouldn’t raise the temperature too high, as temperatures above 300º will start to burn away the THC you are looking for.
Once the flowers are heated, you can do whatever you want with them. They can be included in an edible or consumed in some other way.
Related: THC vs THCA: What is the difference?
Legality of THCA
Like many cannabis products, the legality of THCA is a little tricky to understand. The federal government made many cannabis-derived products legal when the 2018 Farm Bill was passed. This is why CBD products suddenly became far more widely available than they were before.
This bill doesn’t completely legalize everything relating to cannabis, though. It specifically limits the amount of THC that can be included in these products to under 0.3% THC by dry weight. As long as a THCA product stays below this amount of THC, it is legal at the federal level.
However, laws relating to this vary from state to state. Many states have simply chosen to reflect the federal law and, thus, are alright with THCA as long as THC levels stay below 0.3%. Others have chosen to make their own laws regulating these products.
Most states that have legalized recreational marijuana don’t place any limit on the amount of THCA or THC that can be purchased. In these states, almost anything is fair game when it comes to cannabis products.
Meanwhile, some states have laws that are even more strict than the federal laws. For example, Idaho laws allow CBD but do not allow any percentage of THC to be present in cannabis products. In addition, some states, like Mississippi, ban any form of THC that exceeds 0.3%.
Altogether, this means that THCA is completely legal in many states where marijuana is legal, is legal with restrictions in a number of states that simply follow federal guidelines, and is illegal in a few states with specific restrictions. This degree of variability means that understanding the laws of your state is necessary when looking into THCA.
THCA and Drug Tests
While THCA may be legal in some areas, there are still times when people don’t want it or THC showing up on a drug test. Someone could live in a state where THCA is legal but have a job that tests for it and THC. In these cases, having it show up on a drug test could be a major issue.
This is unfortunate because these compounds do show up on drug tests. Smoking or otherwise consuming activated THCA will cause THC and THCA to show up on a drug test. Both show up, rather than just one, because most of the THCA converts to THC, but some of it will inevitably stay as THCA. This is true no matter what method you use to activate the THCA as long as it is activated.
So, if you are worried about THCA showing up on a drug test, you should avoid it until your circumstances change. Otherwise, your test will indicate you are taking it.
Curious about the variety of products you could use with THCA? Check out our wide variety ranging from vapes to oils to chocolate.
How to Buy THCA
In states where THCA is legal, you can buy it from a number of different places. Many in-person and online shops have started selling products with THCA, just like they started selling products with CBD.
These products are vast and cater to plenty of different needs. These include whether you want to heat the THCA or not and different methods of consumption.
On the smokable side of things, THCA products are plentiful. You can buy it as a prerolled cigarette, as the pure flower ready for rolling, or in many other forms that make it easy to simply light up and enjoy. Meanwhile, you can also buy vape cartridges filled with THCA or buy a vape that is loaded and ready to go.
On the side avoiding exposing THCA to heat, you can also find plenty of exciting products. Buying the pure flower and avoiding heat is a little cumbersome but is entirely possible. However, most people simply choose to go with a straightforward edible or tincture. In this category, many people go for gummies, but other options, like THCA chocolate, are available as well.
THCA is a cannabinoid with many unique benefits. Including it in the cannabis products that you buy can allow you to take advantage of these benefits and start treating any issues you have.
Just make sure to use this product correctly. Make sure it is legal in your state before you start seeking it out. Then, look for the form of THCA that will work for the goals you have for it. If you consider all of this information, then you’ll be well on your way to enjoying THCA.
Related: 5 Best THC-A Products for 2023
The information and content in this article are intended for informational purposes only. It should not be a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with a licensed professional before you follow anything you read online.
The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.