Even if you don’t know very much about cannabis, you probably have some knowledge about THC. But have you heard of THCA? By definition, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical compound responsible for the intoxicating effects caused by cannabis use and is most abundantly found in cannabis plants. But what the heck is THCA, where does it come from and how can it be used?
Believe it or not – if you were to chew on the leaves of some freshly picked high-THC cannabis leaves or flowers, it won’t make you feel anything pleasant. Why? Much to your dismay or surprise, there is almost no THC present in raw cannabis plant material. Again, we ask ‘why’? To properly answer these questions we have composed a THCA vs THC guide.
What is THCA?
THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinol Acid) is the non-psychoactive precursor to THC. When dried and/or heated, THCA decarboxylates and turns into THC. In other words, all THC was once THCA. You will most likely find higher levels of THCA in fresh flowers and from the living plant itself.
There is something notable to report in terms of THCA concerning the treatment of seizures, in particular. To date, we carry the knowledge of one pediatric patient whose seizures did not respond at all to CBD but were completely resolved with the consistent use of THCA. This leads us to seriously consider the health benefits of THCA, on top of CBD and THC itself.
We will get to the health benefits in greater detail a little later on in this article on THCA vs THC. But first, lets cover the differences between THCA vs THC.
THCA vs THC – What Is The Difference?
THCA is different from THC in both its chemical makeup and how it interacts with the human body. THCA physically becomes THC during the drying process – a process that is accelerated when heat is added to the equation, such as when vaping, smoking or cooking for a while before ingesting.
Heat and light – when combined – lead to a chemical reaction called decarboxylation, which results in a molecule that more readily interacts with the body. THCA molecules are larger than THC molecules and do not bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system.
Because of the above stated, it doesn’t mean there are no benefits to THCA or raw cannabis. On the contrary, there are quite a few, and more are being discovered and studied. Let’s review some of the health benefits of THCA below in more detail.
What Are The Health Benefits of THCA?
Although it is true that more studies are needed to confirm all the benefits of THCA before we can fully understand it, we may concede that it has already shown to have some of the following positive effects on the human body.
As a matter of fact, some preliminary research and anecdotal evidence suggest that THCA will play a great role in cannabis medicine as the industry moves forward.
Reported benefits include the following;
- Anti-inflammatory properties for the effective treatment of arthritis and lupus disease
- Neuroprotective properties for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases
- Anti-emetic properties for treatment of nausea and appetite loss
- Anti-proliferative properties have been noted in studies of prostate cancer
- Other medicinal benefits reported by patients include relief from insomnia, muscle spasms, and pain
- Anti-anxiety properties for the treatment of anxiety and stress
How to Consume and How to Dab THCA
The best way to smoke THCA is to dab or vape THCA Crystalline. The dabbing process simply requires specific equipment, including a dab rig – ensuring you get the most efficient use out of your THCA crystals.
Although you can probably smoke THCA products in your bong with some tweaking, a dab rig is a much better option.
In addition to using a dab rig to dab THCA, you can also use a vape box or box mod vaporizer. Working similar to traditional vaporizers, the coil inside is heated by a battery. Once you heat the coil, the vapor will start to build, and then you’re ready to inhale it.
To do this, add your THCA crystals to the special loading compartment on your box, activate the temperature control, and be enlightened. Since there is almost 100% THC in THCA, it makes it easy for you to measure how much you consume.
How to Make THCA Isolate and/or Crystalline
The process of creating THCA crystalline and live resin is quite complicated in terms of chemistry, but it’s not rocket science to execute if you’re really interested in the process. First, your high-quality product should be treated with methanol, and then pexane. Doing this will ensure the separation of the dissolved plant matter from acidic cannabinoids.
After an hour or so, the mixture will settle and must then be filtered. The acetic acid and hexane are evaporated off – where the resulting concentrate is mostly THCA. After this step, chromatography methods are used to purify the concentrate even further. Once the chromatography process is finished, it’s time for chemical washes, a filter, and a round of roto-vapes.
Finally, after one last round of roto-vape, your result is THCA diamonds with greater than 99.97% of pure THC content. Now that the point of purity diamonds has been reached, how do you end up with both live resin and THCA crystals? Please note that artful techniques take a while, and so you're out of luck if you want to make live resin in a rush.
The best way to achieve the above said, is to create butane hash oil (BHO), and then purge it at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing the above will evaporate most of the butane. Once that's done, be sure to seal the concentrate in a container for three weeks. During this time, the THCA naturally crystallizes at the bottom of the container, and what you are left with is live resin.
After the crystals form, it’s time to separate them from the live resin. It should be a manageable task, as the live resin will pour off by itself. Ideally, live resin and crystals are purged at different times, after which, both the crystals and the live resin are now ready to use. You can either recombine them for a flavorful concentrate, or use them separately for various other products.
Will THCA Make You Fail a Drug Test? Is It Legal?
Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA) is not a banned substance as of yet. With that said, currently, THCA could likely be considered an equivalent of THC and possession of it could therefore be prosecuted under the Federal Analogue Act.
With that being said, no sample of THCA is completely free of THC. THCA can be found in blood and urine samples. And where standard hair tests will not detect THCA, forensic hair analysis is capable of measuring THCA in hair samples.
THCA Product Selection
Living THCA Tincture is made with fresh-frozen cannabis and MCT oil. Raw THCA tincture promotes overall wellness with a full spectrum of cannabinoids and a full terpene profile. THCA Acid tinctures are non-psychoactive and has a very high terpene and antioxidant content.
THCA has its own unique properties that are quite different from the more commonly known THC properties. THCA has been found to have powerful anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain reliever), neuroprotectant, and antispasmodic properties. THCA tincture made with specially formulated full-plant extract combined with MCT oil is most recommended. ‘
As a note of interest, MCT oil has nutritional benefits, is easy to digest, and is rapidly absorbed by the bloodstream – so it makes for a good blending source. Blending MCT with extract also produces a very even THCA tincture thanks to the compatible molecule size. THCA Tincture is highly recommended and all the more praised for its health benefits.
A Definition of THC Sand
If you’ve never heard of live resin beach sand before, you’re not the only one. THCA sand is live resin beach sand on steroids, might we say. More precisely, THCA sand is a more concentrated product (95%+ purity) referred to as sand, due to its fine crystalline texture.
Since THCA is the acidic version of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a non-intoxicating precursor that isn’t converted into THC until decarboxylation — the chemical process of removing a carboxyl group and neutralizing THCA is very important.
This pivotal part of the process takes place when heat is applied, for example upon combustion. When the crystalline concentrate is then finally derived from the live resin, it is then referred to as live resin beach sand. Now that we’ve covered another obscure term in the world of THCA, let’s take a look at some other relatively new industry terms that need clarification, FYI.
What is DTHC Weed?
DTHC Weed is the amount of activated THC present in fresh flowers, meaning no chemical reaction is necessary for the psychoactive effects of THC to take place. This number is usually <0.00%, which is why you can't get high from simply ingesting bud. It has to be properly dried and cured, for starters.
THCA vs THC Wrap-up
However way you choose to consume your cannabis – smoke, eat, vape or juiced – understanding its powerful properties and how and why they interact with your body the way they do is essential in gaining the desired effects and avoiding possible adverse side effects.
Cannabis molecules each have their own benefits and as raw cannabis is further studied; we can rest easy knowing that it’s safe to integrate it into a healthy diet and accompanying lifestyle. When it comes to THCA vs THC, there is no definitive winner – they are equally intriguing and enticing, in our books. And the best is yet to come…
Research and testing are becoming more readily available to the interested public, with THCA-focused products hitting store shelves in all of their glory and masses. As we learn more about the benefits of THCA, we can only anticipate further revelations and potential celebrations in the blooming (medicinal) cannabis industry.