THCA molecule in front of red bubbles

What is THCA, The Parent to THC?

THC is THC, right? Not exactly. There are different forms of THC, and one of them is called tetrahydrocannabinolic acid or THCA. In this guide, we’ll explain:

  • What is THCA?
  • How Does THCA Work?
  • What's the Difference Between THC and THCA?
  • Does THCA Show Up on a Drug Test?
  • Where Can You Find THCA?

What is THCA?

If THC is the child, THCA is the parent. THCA itself is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana plants. When the plant is heated, the THCA is converted into THC—the psychoactive cannabinoid most cannabis consumers are familiar with. This process is called decarboxylation, and it’s the scientific way of describing what happens when cannabis is “activated,” through heat. (Either by smoking or vaping, or heating ahead of time for homemade edibles.)

Ready to delve into decarboxylation? Read our guide to decarbing.  

How Does THCA Work?

THCA is unique because it’s big. The size of this molecule means that it can’t interact with the endocannabinoid system’s CB1 receptors in the body. Because of this, THCA does not have psychoactive properties without decarboxylation. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important cannabinoid with the potential for therapeutic qualities.  

What’s the Difference Between THC and THCA?

The main difference between THC and THCA is simply that without THCA, THC can’t exist. THCA is converted to THC when cannabis flower or other marijuana products are decarboxylated. Beyond that, THCA itself is not intoxicating, and it has the potential for unique benefits that continue to be studied.

So does THCA show up on a drug test? The answer is yes. There are a variety of drug tests that look for THCA as a target analyte. This means that if you know you’re going to be taking a drug test, or that a drug test is possible through your employer, you should absolutely avoid THCA.  

Where Can You Find THCA?

Most strains of cannabis, before they’ve been consumed, contain THCA. There are some strains that contain higher amounts of THCA than others, including Banana OG. If you’re interested in THCA’s non-intoxicating effects, then you should look for a product that is pure THCA. These products are sometimes referred to as “diamonds.” There are also full-spectrum products available that include THCA in their ingredient list. This is another possibility for trying THCA, but it is likely that you will also experience the entourage effect of multiple cannabinoids working together.

If you’re interested in cannabis products containing THCA, why not visit one of our Verilife dispensary locations? Our cannabis experts can walk you through a variety of marijuana products and the tools to enjoy them.

Recreational Cannabis is not available in all states. Cannabis is for medical use only and may only be used by certified patients in Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. State laws impact what dispensaries can and can’t sell to recreational customers and medical marijuana patients. Not every type of product, consumption method, dosage form, or potency mentioned on this blog will be permitted in all locations.