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What Is THCA? Differences, Benefits, Side Effects, Products, Legality & More

‍THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw and living cannabis. It’s the precursor to THC, the compound that gives cannabis its infamous “high”. 

As cannabis science progresses, we’re uncovering more about the potential benefits of THCA. This guide provides an in-depth overview of what THCA is, how it works, and its possible uses.

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What Is THCA?

THCA is an acronym for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. It’s one of the primary compounds found in fresh cannabis. 

Unlike its notorious counterpart, THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), THCA does not possess any psychoactive properties. This means that it won’t cause a “high” when consumed in its raw form.

THCA is abundant in raw or living cannabis plants, and its concentration is usually higher in fresh, undried buds. However, upon heating or exposure to light — a process known as decarboxylation — THCA undergoes a chemical transformation to become THC, the compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of weed strains.

How Does THCA Work?

The human body has a complex network called the endocannabinoid system, which regulates various biological processes like mood, sleep, appetite, and immunity. 

This system interacts with cannabinoids like THC and CBD, which bind to specific receptors in the body called CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Unlike THC, THCA doesn’t bind well with these receptors due to its larger and bulkier structure. This makes THCA non-intoxicating. However, research suggests that THCA might have other effects on the body, possibly interacting with other biological pathways and systems. [1]

The Benefits of THCA

While concrete evidence of THCA’s benefits is still being explored, preliminary research, anecdotal reports, and traditional use suggest several potential benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties: THCA has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, which may provide relief for conditions such as arthritis and autoimmune disorders.
  • Neuroprotective properties: Research suggests that THCA may help protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
  • Nausea and vomiting relief: THCA has shown promise in reducing nausea and vomiting, making it potentially beneficial for individuals undergoing chemotherapy or experiencing other forms of nausea

THC vs THCA: What’s the Difference?

The most significant difference between THC and THCA lies in their psychoactive properties. While THC causes the classic cannabis “high,” THCA does not. This is because THCA needs to be decarboxylated — heated or exposed to light — to transform into THC used in THC carts.

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

Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is essentially the full name of THC. Hence, the differences between THCA and Delta-9 are identical to those between THCA and THC. Delta-9 is psychoactive, while THCA is not, and Delta-9 is the result of decarboxylating THCA.

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

Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-8-THC) is another form of THC that is chemically similar to Delta-9-THC but with slight structural differences. Similar to Delta-9-THC, Delta-8-THC is derived from THCA through decarboxylation and has intoxicating effects.

THCA vs THCV: What’s the Difference?

THCV, or tetrahydrocannabivarin, is a unique cannabinoid that differs from both THC and THCA. Unlike THCA, THCV does not come from THCA. THCV is known to have psychoactive effects, although it is less intoxicating than THC.

The Potential Medical Uses of THCA

  • Pain management: THCA’s anti-inflammatory properties may make it a potential option for managing chronic pain conditions.
  • Neurological disorders: The neuroprotective properties of THCA may have therapeutic applications in treating neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Nausea and vomiting: THCA’s ability to reduce nausea and vomiting could be beneficial for individuals undergoing chemotherapy or experiencing other forms of nausea.
  • Muscle spasms: THCA may help alleviate muscle spasms associated with conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

How To Consume THCA

There are various methods of consuming THCA, including:

  • Raw cannabis: Consuming raw cannabis seeds or leaves without decarboxylating them allows for the intake of THCA in its unprocessed form. This can be done by adding ground buds to smoothies or incorporating them into dishes.
  • THCA concentrates: Some concentrates, such as diamonds, are advertised as high in THCA. However, these products may convert to THC over time, depending on exposure to light and heat.

The Legality of THCA

On a federal level, THCA is legal as long as the delta-9 THC content remains below 0.3%. However, state laws may vary regarding the legality of THCA products. It is important to check local regulations and restrictions before purchasing or consuming THCA.

Potential Side Effects of THCA

  • Nausea and digestive issues: Consuming raw THCA or products made from it may cause nausea, indigestion, or upset stomach.
  • Allergic reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions such as skin rashes, itching, or respiratory symptoms when exposed to THCA.
  • Drug interactions: THCA may interact with certain prescription medications, so it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before use.

FAQs: What Is THCA?

We’ll cover some other frequently asked questions about THCA in this section.

Can THCA Cause a High?

No, THCA does not cause intoxicating effects on its own. It is only after the decarboxylation process which converts THCA into THC, usually found in THC carts. 

What Is THCA and What Does It Do for You?

THCA is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in raw strains like Biscotti Strains. While it does not produce intoxicating effects, it may have potential anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and antiemetic properties.

What Percent of THCA Is High?

THCA itself does not produce a high. It is only after the conversion to THC that the psychoactive effects are present. The percentage of THC in a cannabis product will determine its potency and potential to produce intoxicating effects.

Is THCA Better Than Delta 8?

THCA and Delta-8-THC are distinct compounds with different effects. THCA does not produce intoxicating effects on its own, while Delta-8-THC has mild intoxicating properties.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

THCA, the precursor to THC, offers potential therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive effects associated with THC. Its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and antiemetic properties make it an intriguing area of research. 

However, it is important to consider the legal and regulatory aspects of THCA products and consult with healthcare professionals before use. 

As more scientific studies are conducted, we will gain a better understanding of the full potential of THCA and its role in medical treatments.


  1. Palomares, B., Ruiz-Pino, F., Garrido-Rodriguez, M., Eugenia Prados, M., Sánchez-Garrido, M. A., Velasco, I., Vazquez, M. J., Nadal, X., Ferreiro-Vera, C., Morrugares, R., Appendino, G., Calzado, M. A., Tena-Sempere, M., & Muñoz, E. (2020). Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A) reduces adiposity and prevents metabolic disease caused by diet-induced obesity. Biochemical pharmacology, 171, 113693. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2019.113693

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Ifiokobong Ibanga

Ifiokobong Ibanga is the founder of InfoGuideNIgeria.com. You can get in touch with him on Instagram @ifiokobong. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly send a message. Much Love!

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