Cannabis smokers likely notice the acronym THCa on the label of the products they purchase at their local or online dispensary, but they give it little thought. History tells us Delta 9 THC or CBD levels matter in cannabis plants, nothing else. Forget everything you think you know about THC and CBD and get to know more about THCa. The more you know about THCa, the more likely your cannabis habits will change.

What you should know about THCA

Whether you consume cannabis for its anticipated health benefits or for the euphoric feeling it gives, THCa is very important. THCa is the precursor of Delta 9 THC. It won’t get you high nor do you feel any intoxicating effects from consumption unless it’s heated first.

Heating THCa activates the cannabinoid, which converts it into the beloved Delta 9 THC consumers often want. While most people pay attention to THC levels on their cannabis, the THCa levels actually make a huge difference in its overall effects to the user.

The heating process is called decarboxylation, or decarb for short. THCa needs this extra process because while it’s only one of the 100 plus cannabinoids found in cannabis, it is oddly shaped and larger than the rest, preventing it from fitting inside cannabinoid receptors, specifically CB1 receptors found in the brain. Since it does not fit inside the molecule until heated, users don’t feel high.

Some people swear they get high by eating raw cannabis. Since raw cannabis plants do not contain activated THCa, getting high from eating the plant is scientifically impossible.

Don’t waste your cannabis by eating it raw unless you juice the fresh leaves off a live plant. You will get some very special benefits, but it still won’t get you high. If your preferred method of consumption is edibles, then just be sure to decarb the flower first and make canna butter or oil. You can then cook with it for the experience you are looking for!

Many people eat raw cannabis anticipating spectacular health benefits. A growing number of consumers consider raw cannabis to be a superfood, ranking up there with foods like quinoa, kale, and spinach.

To get high, don’t eat your cannabis raw: heat your cannabis through the decarboxylation process. This simple process converts THCa to Delta 9 THC so users experience the out-of-this-world euphoria they desire.

Heating cannabis, or decarbing, can be done in a few different ways. Most cannabis consumers perform the decarb process by heating THCa through smoking cannabis. Each type of decarb process converts THCa to Delta 9 THC differently, thus giving a higher or lower conversion rate – and an intoxicating feeling after use.

Some of the most common and effective heating techniques:

  1. Room-temperature conversion: Cannabis stored at room temperature for several days slowly converts THCa to Delta 9 THC through a natural decarboxylation process. This type of conversion works great on cannabis used in drinks, edibles, and tinctures. Over time, cannabis stored at room temperature with a little light exposure will convert 20% of its THCA into Delta 9 THC.
  2. Sunlight conversion: Cannabis producers use this conversion method during the growing process. Sunlight conversion works when the cannabis plant is exposed to direct or indirect sunlight over an extended period of time. Sunlight conversion takes more time than other methods but converts maximum amounts of THCa to THC through the process.
  3. Smoke Conversion: A rapid method of decarboxylation, smoking cannabis through a joint, blunt, bong, bowl, or other smoking apparatus converts THCa to THC quickly. This method of decarbing is popular with cannabis enthusiasts who want the euphoric effects. Not all THCa converts, but users experience enjoyable THC effects very quickly when they heat dried, cured bud.
  4. Vaporizing:  An efficient and popular decarb method, vaping converts cannabinoid acids at low heat levels. This allows more THCa molecules to convert to THC. The disadvantage of vaping is the temperature. Most vapes heat to a temperature of 315 degrees F, much hotter than the recommended decarb temperatures. Despite this tiny flaw, cannabis enthusiasts often prefer the convenience vaping provides, as well as the great high. Now we know why the high is so awesome!
  5. Dabbing: Cannabis consumers know they can dab using a few different methods. Each dabbing style involves concentrated cannabis, oftentimes called wax, sugar, or shatter. The extraction process is necessary to convert cannabis buds to concentrate strips terpenes. Producers reintroduce terpene blends to give cannabis its great flavor and the psychoactive benefits it is known for. 
  6. Baking: If edibles are your preferred cannabis ingestion method, learn more about how to decarb THCa through the baking method. Grabbing a brownie, cookie, or other treats to get a dose of THC is a great way to discreetly ingest cannabis. Edibles taste yummy, and they’re perfect for travel and on-the-go. Since THCa is legal, you can take edibles with you most anywhere you go. To convert THCa to THC, bake cannabis on parchment paper at 230 degrees F for 30- 45 minutes.

Delta 9 THC vs. THCa: Percentages Matter

Every purchase made at a cannabis dispensary includes a label indicating the percentage of Delta 9 THC, THCa, and other cannabis ingredients as measured by an independent, third-party laboratory. The numbers written on the package matter, but if you are like most people, you’re looking at that label wrong.

Cannabis consumers often focus attention on the Delta 9 THC levels in their cannabis product, assuming it is the only number that affects the potency of the product. Delta 9 THC levels are important, so don’t neglect learning the THCA %. The levels of THCa contained in a product make a difference in its effects, psychoactive and otherwise.

Delta 9 THC levels matter, but since heating cannabis can burn away some of its cannabinoid content, those numbers do not always indicate potency. While you should grab a product that contains high levels of Delta 9 THC, do not forget the THCa levels.

Products with high levels of both Delta 9 THC and THCa provide users with maximum benefits. Even when THC is lost through heating, THCa is still there to convert to THC.

The Legality of THCa in Federal Law

The question everyone wants and needs to know, is THCa legal under federal law? Most people find laws surrounding the legality of cannabis confusing because they differ significantly from state to state and sometimes, from county to county. Possessing Delta 9 THC products in non-legal states can land you a ticket, or worse, in jail with a criminal record. You certainly do not want this to happen. We are here to protect you by providing the answers you need surrounding the legality of Delta 9 THC and THCa.

Recreational marijuana (THC) is legal in 19 states. Medical marijuana is legal in 37 states. Possession of products containing D9THC concentrations of 0.3% or higher is illegal in the remaining states. On the other hand, edibles with less than .3% of Delta 9 THC on a dry weight basis is federally legal, and these products are considered hemp products in the terms of the law. They are quite potent and enjoyable as well!

THCa, on the other hand, is completely legal in all 50 U.S. states. Since it is not classified as a psychoactive and not listed as a scheduled substance, anyone, anywhere, can legally possess and consume THCa as often and in any form they wish.

A few extra tips you should know concerning the legality of THCa:

  • Ocoee Botanicals Hemp products all contain less than .3% delta-9 THC concentrations and are not controlled substances, regardless of the amount of THCa they contain.
  • There are dozens of forms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) molecule. These various forms are called isomers. THCa is one of the more common isomers.
  • Delta-9 THC is a second well-known isomer
  • THCa or Delta-9 THC are both found in the hemp plant
  • Under federal law, isomers are legal if they contain 0.3% or less Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC.)
  • The DEA has twice stated cannabis products containing 0.3% or less concentration of Delta-9 THC are considered hemp and are not controlled substances

THCa Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the side effects of consuming THCa?

THCa side effects are nearly non-existent but mimic the effects of CBD when users do experience them. Sleepiness and/or anxiety are the two most common side effects of THCa.  Most people experience side effects only in rare cases when ingesting THCa in large quantities.

How long do THCa effects take to feel?

When heated, the effects of converted THCa are almost immediate. In raw form, the effects of THCa can take up to a couple of hours to peak. This differs for each person based on the method, quantity, and quality of the THCa consumed.

How long do THCa effects last?

This differs from each user, the consumption method, quantity and type of THCa used, and other factors such as your personal tolerance level. For example, a THCa concentrate can provide users with effects lasting four to five hours. A THCa edible can provide all day effects depending on the number of milligrams the edibles are that you are consuming. Edibles also take 1-3 hours to kick in so don’t make the mistake of thinking the edibles are weak and eat more to get your desired effects. This will result in a less than positive experience. You can find some of the best edibles here.

Will THCa show up on a drug test?

Consuming raw cannabis containing THCa will not cause a negative drug test. Heating THCa in any capacity changes things since you will absorb THC no matter how much cannabis is decarboxylated. THCa can show up on a drug test in its activated form.

At what degree does THCa activate to THC?

The THCa decarb process removes the extra carboxyl molecule that prevents it from fitting inside the CB1 receptor and blocks the psychoactive effect. Transforming THCa into THC requires extended exposure to heat at a temperature of 220 – 240 degrees F.

Is THCa the same thing as CBD?

THCa is a cannabinoid acid, CBD is a cannabinoid, and the two are not the same. Both compounds are structurally different but may offer some of the same benefits. CBD provides no intoxicating effects and may provide health benefits to the user.


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