THCA & THC, What is The Difference?


Oh man, you are back for more! Well, who would not come back! We have studied and learned a lot, flower vs. concentrates, potency, and pre-rolls. And now…a big one.

Guess what?! You are not going to get high by eating freshly picked weed, no matter how funny it is via a comedic timing tv show or movie. When it’s raw, no matter how much potential resides within it, there’s none of the marijuana’s famous intoxicating cannabinoid THC. However, there is a wealth of THCA. 

So what is the difference?

First, you need to know what THCA is and what THC is. They are both quite different yet the same. 

One of the most abundant and therapeutic compounds produced by a living, green cannabis plant is the non-psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabis in its raw state.

THC or CBD, as we know it, is just the cannabis from THCA that converts to THC when it’s dried, and heat is applied. Therefore, you need to decarboxylate; aka heat your weed to make edibles. Ooh, lots of science right there. 

Now that we know what THCA and THC are…what are the significant differences? 

THCA does not get one high, but THC does. That is the most significant relation; THCA is the parent to psychoactive THC results. When vaped, the THCA converts to THC, creating a transparent and highly cerebral effect. THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the “high” sensation. THCA levels are exceptionally high in live or freshly harvested plants. Raw cannabis is a known superfood, and juicing parts can offer a higher amount of THCA.

Why does THC get us high and THCA does not?

Why don’t you get high off THCA but can off THC? It is still all in the science. The shape of the THCA molecule is larger and does not fit into particular cannabinoids, specifically CB1 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in the brain, central nervous system, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Cannabinoids need to fit into the CB1 receptor. 

Only a few cannabinoids do contribute to the euphoric high, which is why the most sought-after research is the THC. THC is what gets you high, but the primary cannabinoid being produced is THCA. 

How does the process work?

The process begins to take place when fresh flowers are evaporated and preserved. A large amount of the THCA converts to THC when exposed to heat.

However, THCA crystalline is known as the purest isolate on the market for consumers who are looking for more energy, testing around 99-100%. THCA is found in concentrates, and when crystalline, THCA can be extracted and consumed in its purest form. There is little aroma and flavor because the main aim is that the cannabis extracts eliminate the terpenes and flavonoids to isolate the cannabinoids.

Now that we know what THCA vs. THC is…heated or not, where can you find it? How can you take it? What are the benefits?

There are various health benefits that many patients benefit from when they include raw cannabis in their treatments. Full-spectrum cannabis oils are based on raw plants, and most users or patients can obtain their daily THCA dosage by adding cannabis to their diets. 

  • Juices
  • Smoothies
  • Salad dressings
  • Raw salads
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Raw side dishes
  • Raw sauces

An additional note is that heating THCA is going to transform it into a potent form of THC. You can smoke it by dabbing it, loading it in a bowl, or rolling a joint to increase potency. Like other superfoods, including avocados, kale, Greek yogurt, green tea, and garlic, raw cannabis has the potential to ease arthritis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and other ailments. 

During testing, smokers’ response to THCA has been “Woah.” It provides a clean hit and the taste, as described, is “like cannabis.” The potency is strong, and you should know your tolerance. 

Common ways that weed can be heated:

Sunlight conversion: THCA converts to THC to varying degrees when exposed to heat or light. If it’s in the sun for an extended period, the THCA molecules will slowly convert to THC. Another common one that has a slow conversion is room temperature conversion.

Popular choices include smoking and vaping. When a flame is used to smoke dry, cured bud, heat is applied quickly and results in rapid conversion. Vaping is when you heat ground nugs; continuous heat helps with the conversion, and when you inhale (continuing heat), that makes sure the right amount of THCA is converted into THC. 

Vape pens are also common, and they use flower already headed, distilled, and preloaded. THCA is mainly converted to THC, and when vaped, pulls in an efficient method of taking in intoxicating cannabis. 

And like we have talked about in previous articles, concentrates have high THC levels because the heat breaks down the THCA. 

A conventional oven is also another way to convert THCA into THC. When you make edibles, you will “activate” (heat) the plant/THCA. You can add butter, oil, or any other medium of your choice. The weed gets ground up, and it’s spread evenly across a baking sheet and baked at 230 degrees for 30-90 minutes, and is converted from THCA into THC. 

Now, there are a variety of potential benefits, like anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for treating inflammatory diseases. Treatment of neurodegenerative diseases has been noted with Antiproliferative properties of prostate cancer. 

If you are sensitive to THC, it can be hard to ingest enough of the cannabinoid to relieve symptoms. Regular users or patients can still find equal or more significant relief without the psychoactive side effects. 

Depending on your preference, either smoked, ingested, vaped, or mixed with juice, understanding the properties of the cannabis plant and how it interacts with your body is crucial to achieving the desired effects you want. Every cannabis molecule has its own properties, and raw cannabis is continuously studied; we can rest easy knowing that it is safe to include it in a healthy diet.

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