If you are a frequent cannabis user, you are likely familiar with THC. However, even the most seasoned smokers may be unfamiliar with THCa, which is another compound in the same family as THC. So what is the difference between THC and THCa?
THC is the abbreviation for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, a cannabinoid found in marijuana, and is responsible for the “high” you get when using cannabis. THC is not found in raw cannabis, but instead must be extracted from the plant through the process of decarboxylation.
THCa is the abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, which is a dormant cannabinoid found in freshly-harvested cannabis. THCa is pretty much identical in makeup to THC except for one key difference. THCa has an additional carboxyl group, and this additional carboxyl completely changes the compound so that you cannot get “high” from the use of THCa.
Decarboxylation is an essential part of the cannabis cultivation process, as it is the name given to the procedure that turns THCa into THC. Decarboxylation uses intense light and heat to induce a chemical reaction that removes the extra carboxyl group from THCa and transforms it into THC. This transformation allows you to experience the psychotropic properties that make marijuana so attractive to many users.
If you purchase cannabis from a dispensary and it has a small THCa percentage on the label, what does that mean? All that means is that during the decarboxylation process, not all of the THCa was transformed into THC, leaving some tetrahydrocannabinolic acid behind. THCa will not lead to a more extreme high or any noticeable change in your cannabis experience, so a small THCa percentage is nothing to worry about. In fact, THCa has a number of exciting potential benefits!
Labs are still in the early stages of researching the possible benefits of THCa, but below you can find some of the potential benefits of THCa:
Some studies suggest that THCa may be even more effective in treating nausea and preventing vomiting than THC.
THCa may help reduce the risk of obesity, so while it is not a “weight-loss supplement”, it can’t hurt! THCa also has been shown to have some potency in fighting obesity-related diseases and insulin resistance.
Research has found some evidence of THCa inhibiting the enzymes that directly cause inflammation and discomfort. THCa seems to have a lot of potential as an anti-inflammatory agent.
THCa may help the body fight off neurodegenerative diseases and possibly prevent the early onset of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or other neurodegenerative diseases.
If you are still unsure of the difference between THCa and THC, stop by Off The Charts dispensary in Vista, Palm Springs, or Sherman Oaks. At each of our California locations, we train our budtenders to be experts in all things cannabis, and they are ready to answer any and all questions you may have.