THCA molecule in front of red bubbles

THCA: What Is It & How Is It Different From THC?

There are over a hundred cannabinoids in the marijuana plant, and they all have their own unique origin story. THC’s origin story is hinged on the decarboxylation of THCA. So what is THCA? In this guide, we’re going to answer that question, as well as the following:

  • What is THCA?
  • How Does THCA Work?
  • How Do You Use THCA?
  • THC vs THCA: What’s the Difference?
  • THCA vs Delta-9: What’s the Difference?
  • THCA vs Delta-8: What’s the Difference?
  • THCA vs THCV: What’s the Difference?
  • FAQs About THCA

What is THCA?

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinol acid, is the acid form of THC. This may seem like an insignificant point until you realize that without THCA, THC wouldn’t exist. THCA is the reason we heat cannabis products by various means—that decarboxylation process turns THCA into THC.

While THCA creates THC, it does not have the psychoactive properties prior to becoming THC. Because of this, some cannabis enthusiasts like to consume THCA and avoid any intoxicating effects.

How Does THCA Work?

THCA works much the same way other cannabinoids do—it’s consumed in one way or another and pushed into the body’s bloodstream and endocannabinoid system. While THC loves to bind with CB1 receptors, THCA is a little bigger, a little thicker, and doesn’t fit those receptors as well as THC. Because of this, it doesn’t cause any kind of intoxicating effects, but it is possible that it could have other effects on the body. More work needs to be done before we can know for certain if THCA has any benefits.  

How Do You Use THCA?

There are a variety of ways to consume THCA, including eating raw cannabis and dabbing a product called diamonds, which is basically a pure THCA extract. That said, THCA is found in flower that has not been decarboxylated, so as long as you don’t heat your marijuana or expose it to light, it will contain THCA. If you prefer not to consume flower or dab diamonds, you can also find THCA pills, patches, topicals, and more. Your best bet to find THCA products is to ask your budtender what they have available.

THC vs THCA: What’s the Difference?

There is one major difference between THCA and THC—you cannot have THC without first having THCA. This is because THCA, when heated or exposed to light, converts into THC. In addition to this difference, THCA cannot cause any kind of intoxicating effects.

THCA vs Delta-9: What’s the Difference?

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is a fancy name for the THC we are commonly talking about when referring to one of the most popular cannabinoids. Because of this, the same differences between THCA and THC apply to THCA and Delta-9. Delta-9 is intoxicating, while THCA is not, and you cannot have Delta-9 without first decarboxylating THCA.

THCA vs Delta-8: What’s the Difference?

Delta-8 is a form of THC that’s only slightly different in chemical structure than Delta-9. Because Delta-8 is a form of THC, it has similar differences as Delta-9 when compared to THCA. The two most obvious differences are that Delta-8 is one of the results of decarboxylating THCA. Additionally, while Delta-8 is slightly less intoxicating than Delta-9, it still has some intoxicating effects. THCA does not.

THCA vs THCV: What’s the Difference?

We know that THCA is the precursor to THC, so you might think that THCV is the precursor to another popular cannabinoid. The truth is, THCV is different from THCA because it is its own cannabinoid entirely—THCV does not come from THCA. Additionally, while THCA is not intoxicating, THCV does cause psychoactive effects.

Answering FAQs About THCA

THCA creates one of the most popular cannabinoids on the market today, so of course, we answer plenty of questions about it. Here are just a few:

Does THCA get you “high”?
No, THCA will not give you the intoxicating effects - the “high” - unless it is decarboxylated. This process will turn your THCA into THC.

Is Delta 8 the same as THCA?
No, Delta 8 is not the same as THCA. Delta 8 is a form of THC, and like Delta 9, it comes from THCA.

Is THCA the same as CBD?
No, THCA is not the same as CBD. THCA is the precursor to THC. CBD is its own cannabinoid that comes from CBDA.

Purchasing THCA

While THCA may not have any psychoactive effects, it can be converted into THC through decarboxylation. That said, many cannabis enthusiasts enjoy exploring the effects of different cannabinoids on their endocannabinoid system. If this sounds like you, head down to your local dispensary and talk to your budtender. They can help you find the THCA products they have available.

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