What is THCA?

What is THCA

THCA isn’t the name of a Grateful Dead Record

THCA or r tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis. As marijuana dries or is heated the THCA slowly converts to THC—the main psychoactive constituent in cannabis. Decarboxylation or the process of applying heat expedites the conversion of THCA to THA. This process happens when weed is smoked or vaporized or even heated in the oven for use in cannabutter or edibles like marijuana brownies.

THC-A is what people in white coats call an acidic precursor to THC—meaning it exists before THC is formed. And you know what THC is right? It’s that stuff in weed that gets you high, man. However, like all cannabinoids in a living cannabis plant, Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid isn’t psychoactive, but it is the most abundant cannabinoid and terpenoid found in marijuana—potentially reaching over 30% of its dry weight. But to really get at its benefits

THCA vs THC
The THC-A in marijuana slowly begins to convert into THC as soon as it’s harvested. The process is sped up by exposure to light. Over time THCA will also convert to THC. The THCA to THC conversion also occurs when marijuana is burned, vaporized or heated. This is what’s happening to your weed as you fire up a joint. Decarboxylation is the name of the resulting chemical reaction of this process.

THCA vs THC
Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid or THC-A, the main component of living or freshly harvested marijuana plants

The Benefits of THC-A
THCA and other acidic cannabinoids have their own unique medical benefits. However THCA is responsible for delivering much of marijuana’s anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties that work to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and other tumors. It’s also responsible for weed’s ability to suppresses muscle-spasms as well as modulate the immune system—either enhancing or suppressing it.

Because they have different physiological and psychological properties knowing the ratio of THC to THCA in a particular strain is very important. Not only does this information allow dispensaries to determine the quality of their cannabis but also the effects it’ll have on users. Just imagine how important this information can be when it comes to edibles? Determining these acidic cannabinoid levels is easily accomplished in a lab.

Speaking of labs. So far there haven’t been a whole hell of a lot of studies specifically aimed at THCA just yet. But the ones that have been published sound pretty promising. So as the trend towards legalization continues this’ll allow greater access to cannabis and much greater research opportunities.



5 Responses to “What is THCA?”

  1. Mat Lee

    great article, people in the newer markets see this all the time and I don’t think many of them know the difference.

  2. Steve

    THCA is great for inflammation and auto-immune disorders. This article has some great information on THCA and CBDA……..
    http://www.catscientific.com/dissolving-acidic-cannabinoids-for-a-thca-cbda-solution/

  3. Marc

    Thank you for publishing this article I am in my 9th year as California cannabis medical patient card carrier I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis and Peripheral Neuropathy I take Methotrexate 20 MG once a week for RA which requires blood test every 8 weeks to monitor Liver, Kidney functions due to Methotrexate toxicity, a chemo drug. I was advised to go on additional biologic DMARD medication for RA and refused it in favor of Cannabis. I take Gabapentin 300 MG (an anti seizure drug used to control Epileptic seizures and nerve pain caused by Peripheral Neuropathy it is also known to be toxic to Kidneys. Neither of these drugs help the way cannabis does to control 24 X 7 RA autoimmune inflammation pain and Neuropathy nerve pain I am very grateful for the medical legalization of cannabis in California!

  4. Boh_Nellis

    What a great study Steve! Thank you so much. And I agree, THCA IS great for inflammation and auto-immune disorders, though I’m more familiar with the former myself, I’m sure any inflammation caused by these disorders is greatly relieved! When I’m not using it for pain or hemorrhoids 😉 thanks to Soothing Sue’s infused coconut oil (in CA) Even when I’m just feeling a little achy from getting older and having a hard day, I can rub some on my back to help it feel less tired, and then eat some in a capsule, or on ice cream to help my joints feel less painful. I even use the Sue’s to reduce my sinus inflammation! It’s incredible.

  5. franklyn

    Thank you for this information on this wonderful plant. My question is, is the decarboxylation process a reversible action i.e can you convert THC back to THCA, either through soaking the plant in water or some other method. I decarb mine using steam heat(which does the job perfect I must say) but every once in a while some water manages to find its way inside and just to be safe I redry the stash and decarb it again. Is this necessary, even when the weed got soaked after decarbing for the appropriate amount of time?

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