THCA Side Effects: A Probe Into Effects, Usage, and Products

THCA side effects thought bubbles

The cannabis plant is a complex botanical powerhouse containing over 100 known cannabinoids. While many are familiar with well-known cannabinoids like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), the cannabis plant offers lesser-known compounds that have just as much to offer. 

In this blog, we’ll explore one of these unsung compounds: THCA. We’ll discuss what it is, the potential THCA side effects, the various THCA products available to you, and more.

  • Despite being the THC precursor, THCA, without any heat application, doesn’t cause a high.
  • THCA’s side effects are a combination of good and unwanted. Some highlighted side effects are neuroprotection, sleepiness, a positive drug test, and increased appetite. 
  • Smoking THCA unlocks its psychoactivity, which may yield euphoric and relaxing effects.

What Is THCA?

THCA molecular structure is magnified by a magnifying glass

The acronym THCA stands for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, which, as the name suggests, is closely related to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Although they share similarities, it’s important to note that THCA and THC are distinct compounds.

THCA, found abundantly in raw and unprocessed cannabis, serves as the precursor to THC. It becomes THC through a process known as decarboxylation, where cannabis plants convert acidic compounds into their neutral counterparts. Essentially, THCA undergoes a chemical change to become THC. 


THCA and THC may be related, but they’re fundamentally different in one major aspect: their effects on the mind. 

THC is well-known for its psychoactive properties, causing the “high” sensation that may include feelings of euphoria and relaxation. On the other hand, THCA, despite being a precursor to THC, typically lacks these psychoactive effects.

The transformation of THCA into THC isn’t automatic, though. It requires the application of heat, a process often achieved through methods like smoking, dabbing, or vaping. 

Heat changes the molecular structure of THCA, enabling the newly formed THC to interact with CB1 receptors in the brain. This interaction is what triggers the potential for psychoactive effects associated with THC.

Does THCA Cause a High?

You might be wondering: Does THCA get you high? Despite being the precursor to THC, THCA on its own typically doesn’t cause psychoactive effects. But why?

To understand this, we need to look at the endocannabinoid system. This system plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological and cognitive functions. 

Your body naturally produces endocannabinoids, which then bind to specific receptors found throughout the body, known as CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and are abundant in brain areas associated with emotional processing, memory, motor coordination, etc. They play a key role in maintaining the central nervous system’s balance or homeostasis.

CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are more involved in the peripheral nervous system, regulating immune responses and more. 

THC’s psychoactive effects are the result of its ability to bind effectively to CB1 receptors, influencing the cognitive and physiological processes these receptors regulate. In contrast, THCA does not bind to CB1 (nor CB2) receptors.

THCA vs. THC with a depiction of how THCA is converted into THC.

For THCA to induce a psychoactive effect, it needs to be transformed into THC through heat exposure. Without heat, THCA remains in its original state and doesn’t interact with CB1 receptors or CB2 receptors, so it doesn’t produce any psychoactive effect. This is why consuming raw cannabis doesn’t result in a high — heat is an essential factor in activating THC’s psychoactive properties.

Ultimately, your chosen method of consumption will affect the “high” it produces. For example, if you choose THCA vapes over THCA capsules, the effects may be more psychoactive. 

Does THCA Show Up on Drug Tests?

The short answer is maybe. 

While standard drug tests are designed to detect THC metabolites rather than THCA directly, the way THCA is consumed plays a crucial role. If you smoke, vape, or dab THCA, it converts to THC, which is then metabolized by the liver into detectable metabolites.

As tests become more sensitive, they may be able to detect a wider range of cannabinoids, including THCA itself. It’s also possible that some people’s individual metabolisms may process THCA in a way that leads to detectable metabolites.

Given these variables and the potential risk of THCA leading to a positive drug test result, many people choose to avoid consuming THCA before undergoing a drug test.

Potential THCA Side Effects

The non-psychoactive nature of THCA leads to an intriguing question: Are there any THCA side effects?

In its unaltered state, THCA doesn’t produce the psychoactive effects associated with THC. However, it may still have some side effects: positive, negative, or a combination of both

Let’s start with the positive. 

Disclaimer: The information presented here is not a substitute for the healthcare professionals’ advice. Consult your healthcare provider about THCA and cannabis use. 

Positive Side Effects

Some of the possible positive effects of THCA may include inhibiting responses, neuroprotective activity, and protection over the strong side effects of other potent medications. 

To harness these potential benefits without experiencing the mind-altering effects of THC, many people are creatively incorporating THCA into their routines.

What Does THCA Do to the Brain and Body?

Despite its lack of psychoactive effect, emerging research and anecdotal evidence indicate that raw THCA may hold its own array of benefits. 

While many studies are still in their early stages, exploring the effects in mice or rat models, the findings so far have been compelling, suggesting that there’s more to uncover about THCA’s impact. 

That said, here is what the research looks like so far:

Evaluation of the Cyclooxygenase Inhibiting Effects of Six Major Cannabinoids Isolated from Cannabis sativaA study in 2011 shed light on THCA’s potential to ease the discomfort associated with inflammation. It found that THCA may inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which are key compounds in the body’s inflammatory response. 
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a potent PPARγ agonist with neuroprotective activityA 2017 study conducted on mice observed that THCA might prevent degeneration in specific brain regions when these mice were exposed to toxins. 
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid reduces nausea-induced conditioned gaping in rats and vomiting in Suncus murinusA 2013 study revealed that THCA significantly alleviated nausea and vomiting in rats treated with lithium chloride, a drug commonly used in cancer and bipolar treatments known to cause nausea. 

Negative Side Effects

Although THCA demonstrates several benefits in animal test settings, there are also downsides to it, especially in larger doses. Evidence suggests unaltered THCA may contribute to anxiety, sleepiness, increase in appetite, and might lead to a positive drug test. 

While anxiety and failing a drug test are unwanted effects, sleepiness and increased appetite may still be favorable side effects for some. 

To curb the negative side effects of THCA, one has to simply know the tolerable dosage of the product, which can be achieved by the “start low and go slow” dosing rule. 

Smoking THCA Effects

Smoking or vaping THCA converts it to THC, potentially triggering psychoactive effects. Compared to edibles or gummies, this method of consumption may result in a faster or more potent onset of effects.

Whether smoking or vaping THCA, effects include:

May Cause Feelings of Euphoria

THC is thought to mimic anandamide, a naturally occurring endocannabinoid in our bodies known as the ‘bliss molecule’, which induces feelings of euphoria.

May Promote Relaxation

Many report that THC helps them feel more relaxed, with some studies backing up this correlation. 

May Support Deep Rest 

There’s anecdotal evidence that some people use cannabis before bedtime. This potential is believed to be due to its ability to increase adenosine production, a chemical that promotes rest, and reduces brain alertness.

THCA Legality and Availability

In the US, the legal status of hemp-derived products hinges on their THC content. Federally, these products are legal if they contain less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC by weight and are produced within the United States. 

THCA products, typically classified as hemp-derived and containing under 0.3% THC in dry weight, generally fall into this legal category. As a result, you can often find THCA products available for purchase both online and in physical stores from reputable suppliers.

However, it’s important to note that state laws can vary. Some states, like California, have implemented more restrictive regulations on THCA. These restrictions often involve defining hemp-derived products based on total THC levels, which include both THCA and THC. 

Consequently, a product with less than 0.3% THC might exceed this threshold when THCA is considered, rendering it illegal under state law.

Given these variations in state laws, it’s best to look up your state’s regulations on THCA before making any purchases. Learn more about THCA legality.

Types of THCA Products

If you’re in a state where this THCA is legal, you’ll find it available in several forms of THCA products, each offering unique ways to enjoy its benefits. 

THCA Flower

THCA flowers are incredibly versatile, and you can enjoy them in edibles, joints, bowls, and more. On top of their range of uses, THCA flowers are known for their aromatic qualities and visual interest. Each strain has distinctive flavors, adding to its overall appeal.

THCA Pre-Rolls

For those who find rolling joints challenging, pre-rolled THCA joints offer a convenient alternative. Packed with THCA flower, pre-rolled joints are expertly formed and carefully packaged, so they’re ready to go whenever you want one. 

THCA Vapes

Vaping THCA is a popular choice for its convenience and discretion. THCA vapes lack the negative associations with traditional smoking methods. Additionally, THCA vapes are known for their flavorful profiles.

THCA Gummies

Available in various flavors and blends, THCA gummies cater to different taste preferences while offering a controlled, discreet, and convenient method of exploring THCA.

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Will THCA Edibles Get You High?

The Hemp Doctor Difference

As interest in THCA grows, it’s important for those curious about its effects to stay informed. Learning about THCA side effects, understanding the specific legislation in your state, and ensuring that you source THCA products from trustworthy suppliers are key steps in exploring this unique cannabinoid. 

The Hemp Doctor’s selection of premium quality THCA products uses 100% organic farming and US-grown hemp plants. All of our products are third-party tested to ensure their quality and purity, so you can have confidence in their effectiveness. 

Explore our collection of THCA products to fully experience the hemp plant’s diverse offerings.


Is THCA a toxin?

While unheated THCA doesn’t display toxic effects, the safety of the flower depends on its manufacturing and brand source. Moreover, smoking or vaping large doses your body can’t handle, predisposes you to some unwanted effects like dry mouth or red eyes. 

Is THCA safe to smoke?

THCA, on its own, is well-tolerated. On the other hand, smoking any flower or substance in general, especially in a frequent and heavy style, can’t positively contribute to the overall wellness of the lungs as you age. 

Is THCA natural?

Yes. THCA is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in raw cannabis flowers.