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THCa vs. THC: Everything You Need To Know!

December 1, 2022
THCa vs. THC - BiowellnessX

You probably heard of THCA, the latest cannabinoid from the THC family, and wondered what the difference between them is. And which one is better? We’re here with all the details, and you be the judge of the THCA vs. THC battle!

Main Keypoints

  • THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid.
  • THCA doesn’t produce intoxicating effects, unlike THC, the main intoxicating cannabis compound.
  • THCA converts to THC when exposed to heat.
  • The best way to extract THCA is by extracting THCA isolate from raw cannabis plants.
  • Studies show that THCA has many potential benefits.

Tell me the difference between THC and THCa

While both chemical compounds share similar benefits, such as pain relief and controlling nausea, there are significant differences between them.

The most significant difference is that THCA molecules are larger than THC molecules! Yea, so what! Well, it dramatically affects how THC and THCA interact with our bodies.

Only a few cannabinoids have small enough molecules to bind and activate our cannabinoid receptors. “What the heck is that?” you might be thinking.

Cannabinoid receptors are part of a larger system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), connected to our primary systems and organs.

Active THC, with its small molecules, binds and activates the CB1 cannabinoid receptors, which are connected to our central nervous system, hence making us feel high and giving us various THC benefits.

On the other hand, THCA, with its big molecules, can’t activate those receptors, so it doesn’t cause a euphoric feeling.

What is THCa?

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or (THCa), is THC in the acid form! But what does that mean?

A young cannabis plant develops cannabinoid acids to help it grow and protect it from the elements, which gives the cannabis plant its medicinal properties.

With continuous sun and heat exposure, these cannabinoid acids start to break down and turn from the acidic form into the cannabinoid form.

But to convert THCA into THC, you need even more heat; that’s why you usually get dried cannabis and not raw cannabis.

Learn more about this amazing cannabinoid with our full THCA guide.

What other cannabinoid acids are there?

There are many cannabinoid acids in cannabis plants that turn to other cannabinoids; the most famous ones are:

  • The mother of all cannabinoids: CBGA (an acidic form of CBG). CBGA is the primary cannabinoid acid that the cannabis plant produces, and then it breaks down to other cannabinoid acids, hence the name.
  • CBDA: the acidic form of CBD, similar to other cannabinoid acids, heat breaks down CBDA into CBD.

How Does THCa Become THC?

How Does THCa Become THC - BiowellnessX

During the growth of cannabis plants, THCA turns into THC by sunlight conversion. A chemical reaction occurs in the cannabis plant where sunlight and heat exposure removes the extra carboxyl group from THCA and converts THCA into THC.

Another method is room temperature conversion; it’s a fancy term for drying your raw cannabis so that THCA can slowly convert to THC because of the continuous heat.

And then there’s the fan-favorite way, which is, of course, smoking THCA or dabbing THCA Diamonds.

Dabbing THCA Diamonds allows users to get the benefits of THCA while also gaining access to pure THC.

THCa Benefits

For a millennium, raw cannabis and freshly harvested cannabis leaves were primary ingredients for medicinal remedies, thanks to their THCA content. And now, Research shows that THCA has some amazing therapeutic potential thanks to its remarkable properties.

Some of THCA’s health benefits that we know so far:

  • THCA’s anti-Inflammatory properties could help manage chronic pain.
  • THCA’s anti-emetic (anti-nausea) properties may help control vomiting, nausea, and appetite loss.
  • THCA could act as a neuroprotectant.
  • THCA May help suppress muscle spasms and seizures resulting from epilepsy.

NOTE: The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements, nor is THCA intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

Read more about the benefits of THCA.

Does THCa get you high - BiowellnessX

Does THCa Get You High?

THCA is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid; consuming THCa by itself won’t cause intoxicating effects, unlike THC, the prominent psychoactive cannabinoid in the marijuana plant.

However, it converts to THC if you heat THCA or smoke it. Most cannabis consumers prefer THCA for that exact reason! They can get pure THC by heating THCA.

Learn more about the THCA high in our guide here.

Will I Fail a Drug Test If I Consume THCA?

THCA and THC share a lot of similarities in their chemical structures. So, unfortunately, a drug test that is designed to detect THC will most likely pick up THCA in your system as well.

Can I Safely Buy THCA? Is THCA Illegal?

It mainly depends on your THCA source! THCA sourced from hemp is federally legal, while a marijuana plant-derived THCA is still federally illegal.

In 2018 the president signed the Farm Bill, which legalized hemp-sourced cannabinoids with less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC content (on total dry weight).

But, some states don’t necessarily agree with the federal government on that front. Check your local THC and hemp laws before buying.

Always check the label of your product and the cannabis strain to ensure you comply with your local laws.

Where to Buy THCA?

You can find THCA products in dispensaries and CBD shops, but the best place to shop is always online!

Aside from the amazing online prices and incredible deals, you can find all the brand info, check product ingredients, and read customer reviews.

Not all THCA products are safe to consume! A quality THCA product will come with a certificate of analysis that confirms the product doesn’t have any harmful ingredients. See the certificate example here.

THCa Diamonds – The Closest You Get To The Real Deal!

THCA Diamonds are all the rave right now in the cannabis scene, and for a good reason. Imagine getting a THCA product that contains 99% pure THCA! Yea, read that percentage again.

THCA Diamonds are THCA crystalline extracted from raw cannabis and refined from all other cannabinoids and terpenes, just straight-up THCA.

THCA Diamonds don’t have psychoactive if you ingest them, but if you dab them…Oh, man! Get ready for an ultra-refined pure THC experience.

Most cannabis consumers enjoy the mix between THCA and pure THC in one product.

Want more information about what THCA Diamonds is? Read our breakdown here.

In the meanwhile, if you want some THC, check out our best sellers:

Final Thoughts – THCa vs. THC

Both THC and THCA are potent cannabinoids with many potential health benefits. Without THCA, we wouldn’t have our beloved THC. The major difference between THC and THCA is that THC is pretty intoxicating, while THCA is not!

If you want some of THC’s benefits without the high, then THCA in its raw form is right for you.

If you’re into THC, try some of our top-sellers, and if you still want a more refined experience, then dabbing some THCA Diamonds will surely deliver! See our THCA diamond options here.

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Other topics that might interest you:


  1. (THCA-A) reduces adiposity and prevents metabolic disease 
  2. THC is a potent PPARγ agonist with neuroprotective properties that may help with neurodegenerative diseases
  3. Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid potential as a treatment for fatty liver disease 
  4. THCa inhibits prostate cancer tumor growth

FAQs on THCa vs. THC Differences

How much THC is THCA?

THCA is the mother compound; without THCA, they’ll be no THC.

Is THCA psychoactive?

Nope! THCA is non-intoxicating. However, if heated, it turns into the intoxicating THC.

Will THCA show up on a drug test?

Most likely, it will. It’s a THC compound, after all.

Is THCA legal?

Hemp-sourced THCA products containing less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC are federally legal.
Always check your local laws and the cannabis strain to ensure you stay legal.

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