THC & THCA: What’s the Difference?

Hemp with sky in background

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is an enzyme that is formed in the resin glands of cannabis plants. It is a direct precursor to active D9 THC, when it is converted by UV light, heat, and exposure to oxygen. D9 THCA is non-psychoactive, but it does have a wide range of therapeutic applications just like its active form, D9 THC. These benefits revolve around it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-emetic properties. THCA is created from CBGA, the mother cannabinoid, when THCA synthase converts CBGA into THCA and other acidic cannabinoids. Most are familiar with the effects that active Delta 9 THC has on our CB1 receptors which is responsible for the traditional “high” we feel when consuming cannabis, but what benefits does the acid form have if any, and how do you use it? In this entry we’ll be covering its origins, applications, and how it stacks up to its active forms.

Table of Contents

Discovery of THCA
Is THCA psychoactive?
Difference between THC-O Acetate and THCA Acid
Difference between THCA Acid and THC
Can THCA Be Ingested?
Can you vape/dab THCA?

Discovery of THCA

THCA was first recorded in 1965 by Professor Friedhelm Korte from the University of Bonn as a component of hashish. Two different forms of THC acid were also identified by Raphael Mechoulm in 1969, THCA-A and THCA-B, which were also found in very low concentrations in hashish.

Is THCA psychoactive?

THCA is not psychoactive. It requires the process of decarboxylation to remove the carboxyl group which will then turn it into THC, which is psychoactive. UV light, heat, and oxygen exposure.

Difference between THC-O Acetate and THCA Acid

Difference between THCA Acid and THC-O Acetate – THCA does not have any psychoactive effects when ingested orally. THC-O is able to be ingested right out of the package and you will feel the effects once it has processed through your system.

Difference between THCA Acid and THC

THCA has an added carboxyl group that THC lacks giving it a different chemical structure. Decarboxylation is the process of applying enough heat to remove the carboxyl group from cannabinoids so they then convert to their active form, like THCA into THC. The most common method of decarbing is vaping, either vaporizing dry herb or vaporizing distillate in a cartridge.

Can THCA Be Ingested?

THCA can be ingested, however there will be no actual effects related to its activated form THC, you will get the effects of mostly inflammatory relief. 

Can you vape/dab THCA?

You can most definitely dab or vape THCA. It is a similar process to dabbing other Deltas. Since THCA is an isolate it does not have any kind of terpenes that come with it. THCA can be sold as the isolate or with a “Sauce” which is another Delta (Delta 8 or 9) with terpenes. The most common method is vaporizing the distillate by a process most call “dabbing”. Most methods of dabbing require a water pipe that actually holds the banger that the heat is being applied to. Dabbing can be done with an electric device like an enail, or by using a butane torch to apply enough heat to the banger to vaporize concentrates. The most common method for vaping THCA concentrate is via a 510 threaded cartridge and battery.

In Summary

Though THCA does not have a pronounced psychoactive effect, it can still be used as a therapeutic and beneficial cannabinoid to add to your regimen. The acid forms of these cannabinoids show that the raw plant matter contains a wide range of compounds with separate uses and benefits from their activated/decarbed versions.

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