What Is THCA? Plus, How It’s Different From THCA

What Is THCA? Plus, How It’s Different From THCA

So,what is THCA? One of the lesser-known compounds in the cannabis plant, THCA is slowly gaining recognition — and for a good reason. It’s more than just another cannabinoid; it's the precursor to the famous THC.

In this article, we’ll do a deep discussion of the nature of THCA and find out how it’s different from THC, and why it’s attracting much more attention in the cannabis industry. Let’s start!

What is THCA?

THCA — short fortetrahydrocannabinolic acid — is a non-psychoactive compound found in the raw, untreated cannabis plant. It's a precursor to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the most well-known and researched cannabinoid due to its psychoactive effects.

THCA becomes THC through a process called decarboxylation, which happens when cannabis is dried, cured, or heated. In its unaltered form, THCA has unique properties and potential health benefits that differ a lot from THC’s. It’s not just a minor shift either; it's a chemical change that alters the compound's impact on the body and mind.

What does THCA do?

Since it’s a non-psychoactive compound, THCA doesn’t produce a “high” similar to THC. However, a lot of cannabis users turn to THCA for its potential therapeutic benefits without the mind-altering effects.

Studies show that THCA may have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and anti-nausea properties. Some research also suggests that THCA can potentially aid in treating conditions such as arthritis, epilepsy, and even cancer.

How to take THCA

Unlike THC, incorporating THCA into your routine requires a different approach.

Since THCA is found in unprocessed cannabis, you’ll need to consume it raw or find a way to extract it without drying, curing, or heating the plant. A popular method is to juice fresh cannabis leaves — preserving the raw cannabinoids — and mix the extract into a drink.

THCA can also be found in tinctures, which provide a controlled and precise dosage. However, the tinctures must be properly stored since THCA converts to THC depending on the heat and lighting of the room.

THCA side effects

As of this writing, there’s limited research on the specific side effects of THCA. However, previous studies suggest that taking THCA may or may not induce these side effects:

  • Sleepiness
  • Change in appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth or “cotton mouth”


Although both are found in the cannabis plant, THCA and THC each have their own set of characteristics and effects. Here’s a table comparing the two:




Psychoactive Effects


Psychoactive, causing the "high" associated with cannabis


Generally legal, as it's non-psychoactive

Legal status varies by region and is often more restricted


Found in raw, unprocessed cannabis

Widely available in various forms, including smoked, vaped, and edibles


Converts to THC when heated (decarboxylation)

Stable under normal conditions

Research and Understanding


Extensively researched


To sum it up

While both originate from the same plant, THCA is the non-psychoactive precursor to THC. And although it doesn’t provide the “high” feeling as THC does, THCA is still sought after for its potential health and therapeutic benefits. There’s still limited research on this cannabinoid, so it’s important to stay up to date with the latest research as well as news regarding its legal standings.

FAQs about THCA

How powerful is THCA?

In terms of psychoactive effects, not at all. However, it’s powerful in its own right due to its potential health benefits, such as having anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and anti-nausea effects. However, there’s still limited research and more extensive studies are needed to understand its effects fully.

Is THCA legal?

Since THCA is non-psychoactive, it's often considered legal, especially in areas where cannabis is legal. However, since it’s considered to be the precursor to THC, its legality can vary depending on local laws. Check the specific regional laws to determine the legal status of THCA where you live.

Does THCA test positive?

Yes, THCA can result in a positive drug test since standard cannabis drug tests can detect THC and its metabolites. Since THCA is a precursor to THC, it can convert to THC in the body, leading to a positive result.

Is THCA psychoactive?

No, THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, so it can’t produce the "high" commonly associated with cannabis. The psychoactive effects are triggered only after THCA is converted to THC through a process called decarboxylation.

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