By J Gordon Curtis
If you are keeping up with all the trends in cannabis, you’ve likely already heard people talking about THCa. Another way to have heard of it is to have had experience in making “magic brownies,” and needed to decarboxylate — or gently heat — the flower.
Keeping up with the innovations of cannabis is hard so nobody would blame you if the concept is new to you, however. THCa is one of the latest alternative forms of THC that is rocking the cannabis market and shaking things up in restrictive states — and it’s one the most exciting ones.
If you’re considering using THCa, it’s important to make sure that you understand this cannabinoid and how to use it responsibly. In this article, we’ll discuss THCa, the legality of THCa, how it’s made, and where to find it.
What is THCa?
Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid — or, THCa — is the acidic form of THC and is also the most abundant cannabinoid within the plant. When people discuss Delta-9 THC, they are actually discussing THCa after the introduction of heat.
Forming early on in the plant, this cannabinoid is a precursor to the regular form of THC we all know and love.
So what’s the difference between the two?
How is THCa Different from THC?
Within the tiny, frosty trichomes on your cannabis plant are the vast majority of the cannabinoids and terpenes present. The cannabis plant first creates CBGa — colloquially called “The Mother of all Cannabinoids” — which converts over time to THCa and CBDa.
From this acidic form, THCa slowly transforms into THC through the introduction of heat and oxygen. The vast majority of conversions happen at the hand of heat — a lighter to smokable flower, decarboxylated bud for edibles, etc.
Does THCa Get You High?
This is the major difference between THC and THCa: THCa will not get you high —- unless you introduce it to heat. In fact, a recent study recorded initial findings of slight affinity for THCa to endocannabinoid receptors only to find out they were incorrect.
They concluded their paper with the following:
We therefore suspect some of our THCA-A binding curve was artifact—from its inevitable decarboxylation into THC—and the binding affinity of THCA-A is even weaker than our estimated values. We conclude that THCA-A has little affinity or efficacy at CB1 or CB2.
This changes with the introduction of heat, converting THCa into THC. If you were to take the THCa flower and smoke it, that would result in it converting to THC and having an intoxicating effect.
If you do intend to use THCa in this way, make sure that you aren’t operating any heavy machinery or driving while intoxicated.
Is THCa Legal?
Yes! Since the 2018 Farm Bill only criminalizes Delta-9 THC — and defines marijuana as anything over .3% Delta-9 THC — THCa is a legal hemp product.
While this is true at a federal level, it’s important to check with your state's laws as well. For our fellow Tennesseeans, this is a legal product that you can pick up in hemp shops like ours.
Will THCa Show up on a Drug Test?
THCa converts through heat to Delta-9 THC and would undergo the normal metabolization process for such. That means that it would pick up in the same urine tests that would be searching for the metabolites from any other source of Delta-9 THC.
If you were to use the THCa on its own — without introducing it to a decarboxylation process — it is less known whether it would show up. Since it has had so little research, it is likely best to err on the side of caution and avoid it if possible.
Where to Find the Best THCa Online
Since THCa is technically a hemp product, there are very few restrictions placed on providers by the government. In fact, the only thing they have to show with reporting is the level of Delta-9 THC.
As a result, it’s important to make sure that you’re double-checking what’s printed on the label alongside the reporting. If there isn’t any reporting — or if it’s not a significant level of reporting — it would be better to avoid the product altogether.
This makes it crucial to go with a provider like Perfect Plant Hemp Co. that is willing to go above and beyond the required level of reporting. Every product on our shelves goes through a rigorous third-party inspection.
We test for the levels of all applicable cannabinoids along with the assurance that there are no harmful chemicals. Without a full-panel test like ours, you cannot trust the product that you are ingesting.
If you’re looking to buy some THCa flower from us, you can stop into either of our locations in Nashville and speak with one of our cannabis experts on duty. Please note that, while we put THCa flower up on the website when we can, several hurdles often prevent us from doing so.
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