If you don’t spend every day reading cannabis news, as we do at The Hemp Doctor, it can feel like every day has a new cannabinoid for us to play with. The trick to staying on top of cannabis news? Follow The Hemp Doctor blog or subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news on the greatest products.
Today, we’re talking about THCA, another cannabinoid that we think is going to become very important in our drive to overall wellness. These five facts and a few bonuses at the bottom will help you have a better understanding of THCA and why you should try it.
1. What is THCA?
THCA is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, the acidic version of THC, tetrahydrocannabinol. THCA exists naturally in cannabis and is the precursor to the THC we all know and love. Basically, all cannabinoids are born from a cannabolic acid and then become their individual cannabinoids.
THCA is where the THC cannabinoid is born from and this means that it has many of the same wellness properties of THC and a few of its own. THCA is known for providing a full body experience, encouraging you to your greatest relaxation point.
2. Can THCA become THC?
Even after it’s harvested and processed THCA can continue to convert to THC. This is a process called decarboxylation. To put it simply, carbolic acid, which is carbon dioxide, is released from the molecule and removes the acidic part of the THC.
THC is more bioavailable and psychoactive than THCA because of this process. And in fact, if you wanted to make your flower more potent you could decarboxylate it yourself.
Decarboxylation happens with heat and time, and in some ways, that’s what happens when you smoke hemp with THCA in it. The heat decarboxylates the hemp. If you want to cook with THCA-infused hemp, you’ll want to make sure you heat the hemp while doing so. So if you’re adding it to a salad dressing for example, bake it briefly in the oven first.
3. Where is THCA most commonly found?
THCA is most common in raw cannabis plants, particularly young ones. It’s extracted from live plants that have not yet been dried yet. THCA comes from CBGA, which we’ve discussed before as the “mother” or source of all cannabinoids.
Once it’s born from CBGA, THCA lives in the plant until it’s dried or heated, turning the molecule into THC. If you want to know more about CBGA, we’ve written about it extensively here.
4. Does THCA have health benefits?
So far, what we know is that THCA has the same health benefits as THC, however, if consumed before the decarboxylation processes, THCA is non-intoxicating. This is great for people who want to benefit from the health effects of THC without getting high.
For the average user looking for intoxication and health effects, decarboxylation, so smoking, vaping, heating, or drying the THCA will turn it into THC. This will give you that familiar high with all of the benefits of both worlds.
5. Will I test positive on a drug test?
We don’t like to say no when it comes to a drug test in case there’s a unique metabolic circumstance with an individual, but we can say definitively yes, with this one. If you consume THCA, you will test positive for THC on a drug test.
As mentioned above, the process of heating the hemp will decarboxylate the THCA into THC, introducing that into your system. It’s what is responsible for your high.
Bonus Facts: Is THCA Legal?
THCA is federally legal, which is different from the wide legalization that something like tobacco or alcohol receives. In 2018 the Farm Bill made all products from hemp legal as long as they contain less than 0.03% THC by weight. That means that as long as the THCA content is less than 0.03% of the overall weight, it’s federally legal.
However, some states have specific rules and laws. While we do our best to stay up-to-date on what’s legal or what’s not, we often recommend buyers beware. Check the hemp laws in your state for products such as THCA to make sure you’re compliant when ordering.
We also recommend that if you’re traveling check the laws of places you’ll transit through and your final destination to avoid any potential problems.
If you’re curious about the history of hemp and how it became legal, The Hemp Doctor has you covered with our blog.
What THCA products do we offer at The Hemp Doctor?
We’ve got a variety of THCA flower and prerolls including Buttermilk Cookies THCA, Gelato THCA, Italian Ice THCA, Lemon Punch THCA, Ice Cream Cookies THCA, and Pineapple Express THCA. See here for everything we have to offer!
While we primarily offer flower and pre-rolls at the moment, subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates on products we may roll out in the future.
Why order pre-rolls instead of flower?
Some people may be wanting to experiment with THCA and are not sure how to start. A pre-roll is a pre-measured joint that allows users to try a single strain or a blend. Some people who struggle to roll joints, due to mobility or dexterity issues, can utilize pre-rolls to enjoy THCA without the challenge of preparing it for consumption themselves.
It also allows you to start with a smaller sample or a unique blend you wouldn’t be able to create yourself at home. If you’re interested in learning how new blends are made, or how to make a weed salad for yourself at home, read more here.
Novel Cannabinoids at the Hemp Doctor
At The Hemp Doctor we’re extraordinarily proud of our selection of traditional and novel cannabinoids. Whether you want to use CBD as part of your wellness routine, experiment with THC for greater relaxation, or have fun with our HHC options, we have you covered at The Hemp Doctor.
The most important thing is keeping you safe, that’s why all of our products are tested and we make the lab results available on the website for all to see. Hemp is our passion, and it’s important to us that our clients use these products safely and that we provide the safest products.
While there are more than 100 known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, most of us are only familiar with two: THC and CBD. However, those eager to learn more about cannabis have also been curious about one of the lesser-known cannabinoids: THCA.
THCA might not yet be a familiar term, but that does not make it any less important regarding how we end up with THC. If you’ve been asking, ‘what is THCA? You can learn what it is, what it does, and how it compares to other cannabinoids below.
What Is THCA?
We know that THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, but you might not be aware that THCA is similar. It is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, the precursor to THC. As cannabis plants grow, they make cannabinoids as carboxylic acids. These undergo a decarboxylation process and convert into non-acidic compounds. THCA goes through this process, as do other cannabinoids.
This process is how we come to have THC. THCA is available in abundance in fresh cannabis plants but is unstable once a plant has been exposed to light and heat or stored in a controlled environment. Its instability causes it to decarboxylate into THC. It goes through this process under such a broad range of conditions that learning more about THCA through lab results is nothing short of challenging.
Does THCA Make You High?
If THCA is the precursor to THC, it would be easy to assume that THCA produces a high similar to THC. However, that is not the case. THCA is non-psychoactive because it does not bind to our CB1 receptors as THC does.
Our endocannabinoid system has two receptors: CB1 and CB2. Our CB1 receptor is in our nervous system, organs, glands, and connective tissues, with most receptors located in the parts of the brain responsible for our emotion, memory, and voluntary motor functions. We experience psychoactive effects from THC because it binds with our CB1 receptor. However, studies have confirmed that THCA has ‘little affinity or efficacy at CB1 or CB2.’
THCA Vs THC – What Is the Difference?
Learning about all the different cannabinoids in cannabis plants can be overwhelming, and THCA is no different. Its similarities to THC might have you questioning whether the two cannabinoids are all that different.
The most significant difference between THC and THCA is the psychoactive effect. You cannot have the psychoactive effects of THC without the non-psychoactive effects of THCA. To create THC, THCA must be heated, which typically happens through cooking edibles, smoking, dabbing, or vaping.
These various heat processes modify THCA’s molecular structure and help the resultant THC bind to our CB1 receptors. As we know, THCA cannot bind to our receptors without this heating process first.
What Are the Benefits and Effects of THCA?
We often hear about the many potential benefits of CBD and THC, but rarely do we hear about the possible benefits associated with THCA. Its instability sometimes makes it challenging to study, but there might be some benefits associated with consuming THCA before it becomes THC.
In one study, researchers looked at the effects of six phytocannabinoids. During their research, they found that THCA showed ‘potent neuroprotective activity.’ THCA treatment improved motor deficits in mice and prevented striatal degeneration – an autosomal-dominant movement disorder characterized by symptoms like muscle rigidity. This means there is potential for it to prove helpful for treating neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases, such as Huntington’s disease.
The cannabis plant has been studied at great length for its effects on inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. With many hundreds of compounds in the cannabis plant, discovering the most effective ones has not been easy.
However, researchers now believe THCA in cannabis extracts significantly reduced anti-inflammatory activity compared to other compounds like CBD. The study concluded with the recommendation that non-psychoactive THCA should be used for inflammatory diseases rather than CBD.
Epidiolex was the first drug made with CBD to receive FDA approval for treating seizures relating to Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. However, studies now show that CBD is not the only cannabis compound capable of alleviating convulsions.
In preliminary preclinical investigations, THCA was found to possess anticonvulsant activity without adverse psychoactive effects. It is already sometimes used for anti-seizure purposes in the United States and is believed to be more affordable and more readily available than CBD. However, there are some concerns that accidental heat exposure might result in partial conversion to THC.
Antiemetic and Anti-Nausea Properties
Many cannabis users turn to THC to treat nausea and vomiting relating to illnesses and cancer treatments like chemotherapy. However, studies now show that its precursor, THCA, might also prove helpful for these purposes.
According to an animal study, THCA potentially reduced conditioned gaping in rats and vomiting in Asian house shrews. Data suggests that THCA might be a more potent alternative to THC when treating nausea and vomiting.
How to Take THCA
Knowing that the heating process through cooking, vaping, dabbing, and smoking turns THCA into THC, you might wonder how to consume THCA to experience its potential benefits before it becomes the psychoactive compound THC.
Two potential options exist: purchasing a fresh THCA extract or ingesting raw cannabis. While you can buy concentrates for dabbing advertised with ‘high THCA content,’ these can convert into THC over time when stored in light and exposed to room temperature heat.
Fresh bud from a cannabis plant can often be the most effective way to enjoy THCA. Rather than eating the fresh bud in its whole form, some users grind it into a coarse crumb and add it to smoothies and juices.
Is THCA Legal?
The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp and its derivatives legal in the United States. However, THCA might fall into a gray area considering its instability can cause it to convert into THC when exposed to consistent heat and light. THC is only legal in cannabis products when its dry weight is less than 0.3%.
Its legality can ultimately depend on local and state laws. THCA is not a scheduled substance, but legal action might be taken against you if you’re caught possessing products with high volumes of THCA where cannabis and THC products are not legalized for recreational use.
Cannabis plants are complex, and it can take some time to learn just a few of the 100-plus cannabinoids within. Now that you understand what THCA is, what it can become, and its benefits, you can make an informed choice about buying THCA products for yourself.