What Is THCA?: The Cannabinoid No One Talks About

vape pen with THCA crystals
Shutterstock / Brandon Crawford

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a cannabinoid present in unprocessed hemp plants that by itself could have possible medicinal benefits. THCA is short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, and it is a chemical cousin to tetrahydrocannabinol. When natural, unprocessed cannabis flower is heated like when it is smoked or vaped, THCA becomes THC, which, in turn, creates the intoxicating effect associated with the cannabis plant. THCA alone, however, does not have any intoxicating reactions. Instead, studies have shown – albeit inconclusively – that the compound could have possible therapeutic effects for specific ailments. Although nothing has been proven, many scientists believe that its use can be as beneficial as CBD.

Table of Contents

  1. The Main Differences Between Them
  2. What does the Research say About?
  3. Types of Products
  4. FAQ
  5. Closing Thoughts

Table of Contents

  1. The Main Differences Between Them
  2. What does the Research say About?
  3. Types of Products
  4. FAQ
  5. Closing Thoughts

How to Tell the Difference Between

THCA occurs before THC. Heat is the main factor that converts the raw compound into its psychoactive cousin THC. But before the heat process – sometimes referred to as the decarboxylation process – occurs, it is possible to isolate the cannabinoid in unprocessed cannabis plants, much like CBD is isolated and separated from the rest of the compounds present in hemp plants.

The other main difference between the two cannabinoids is that one does not have the same intoxicating effects as the other. The first works in much the same way as CBD in that it contains therapeutic properties and does not cause any intoxication in the user. The second causes the intoxicating reactions commonly associated with cannabis plant use. These findings have only become possible thanks to the more relaxed attitudes toward hemp and cannabis, which have allowed scientists to study the potential of all cannabinoids more thoroughly.

THCA occurs before THC. Heat is the main factor that converts the raw compound into its psychoactive cousin THC. But before the heat process – sometimes referred to as the decarboxylation process – occurs, it is possible to isolate the cannabinoid in unprocessed cannabis plants, much like CBD is isolated and separated from the rest of the compounds present in hemp plants.

The other main difference between the two cannabinoids is that one does not have the same intoxicating effects as the other. The first works in much the same way as CBD in that it contains therapeutic properties and does not cause any intoxication in the user. The second causes the intoxicating reactions commonly associated with cannabis plant use. These findings have only become possible thanks to the more relaxed attitudes toward hemp and cannabis, which have allowed scientists to study the potential of all cannabinoids more thoroughly.

What the Science Says

The studies so far done on the potential benefits of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid have found that it is:

However, the unstable nature of the compound makes it challenging to study in laboratory settings. Although many people think that the “heat” that must be applied to convert it into THC is the flame from a lighter, the isolated chemical can turn it into something else at room temperature.

Famed cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam has written about how impossible it is to study because of the volatile nature of cannabis. The chemical wants to become THC, and it is difficult to prevent it from doing so. Scientists are still struggling to keep it in its unadulterated state, as these early studies have shown that there may be potential medicinal benefits.

The studies so far done on the potential benefits of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid have found that it is:

However, the unstable nature of the compound makes it challenging to study in laboratory settings. Although many people think that the “heat” that must be applied to convert it into THC is the flame from a lighter, the isolated chemical can turn it into something else at room temperature.

Famed cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam has written about how impossible it is to study because of the volatile nature of cannabis. The chemical wants to become THC, and it is difficult to prevent it from doing so. Scientists are still struggling to keep it in its unadulterated state, as these early studies have shown that there may be potential medicinal benefits.

THCA Products

THCA-crystals-inside-container
Shutterstock / Brandon Crawford

As this compound is still being researched, it is not as commercially widespread as CBD or THC. Still, there are a select amount of products out there based around this particular phytocannabinoid. These products usually come in such forms as capsules or patches that users can take the same way they would take hemp extract. But, given the chemical’s volatility and how easily it changes, it is uncertain whether these products genuinely contain the compound in its unaltered form.

THCA-crystals-inside-container
Shutterstock / Brandon Crawford

As this compound is still being researched, it is not as commercially widespread as CBD or THC. Still, there are a select amount of products out there based around this particular phytocannabinoid. These products usually come in such forms as capsules or patches that users can take the same way they would take hemp extract. But, given the chemical’s volatility and how easily it changes, it is uncertain whether these products genuinely contain the compound in its unaltered form.

Everything You Need to Know About

Why Choose THCA?

THCA could potentially have several medicinal properties, but it is still not known what they are precisely. The few studies that have come out point to several possibilities, but because the compound is difficult to keep in its natural state, more research is needed.

Is it psychoactive?

THCA is not psychoactive. It does become psychoactive when it turns into THC, but that is the nature of the compound.

Is THCA illegal?

THCA is not illegal, but again, it occupies a gray area for law enforcement with its close relationship to THC. As raw, unaltered THCA is still raw, it is hard to distinguish from THC, but in its natural form, THCA is not illegal to possess or consume, even though when consumed, it could become THC, so be aware if you are subject to any drug tests.

Does It Have Any Side Effects?

Taking it is not known to produce any known side effects, but, again, it is still too early to say what effects it has on the body, as it so easily becomes THC.

Why Choose THCA?

THCA could potentially have several medicinal properties, but it is still not known what they are precisely. The few studies that have come out point to several possibilities, but because the compound is difficult to keep in its natural state, more research is needed.

Is it psychoactive?

THCA is not psychoactive. It does become psychoactive when it turns into THC, but that is the nature of the compound.

Is THCA illegal?

THCA is not illegal, but again, it occupies a gray area for law enforcement with its close relationship to THC. As raw, unaltered THCA is still raw, it is hard to distinguish from THC, but in its natural form, THCA is not illegal to possess or consume, even though when consumed, it could become THC, so be aware if you are subject to any drug tests.

Does It Have Any Side Effects?

Taking it is not known to produce any known side effects, but, again, it is still too early to say what effects it has on the body, as it so easily becomes THC.

Conclusion: What Is THCA?: A Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever heard about this cannabinoid? Would you take these products? Let us know in the comments section below.

Scientists are discovering more about the complexities of cannabis every day. THCA is one of those fascinating discoveries that hold a lot of potential. It is still relatively new, and there needs to be more research on cannabis done before it can catch on, like CBD or even THC. The few studies that have been done show it could help treat some ailments as cannabidiol, but that is still a long way off.

Have you ever heard about this cannabinoid? Would you take these products? Let us know in the comments section below.

Scientists are discovering more about the complexities of cannabis every day. THCA is one of those fascinating discoveries that hold a lot of potential. It is still relatively new, and there needs to be more research on cannabis done before it can catch on, like CBD or even THC. The few studies that have been done show it could help treat some ailments as cannabidiol, but that is still a long way off.

Published: March 2, 2021 Updated: May 3, 2021


avatar

Comments

Leave a comment