The Difference between THC and THCa

Chances are, your product contains some THC. THC is one of the most prolific cannabinoids found in cannabis. However, medical marijuana products are comprised from a range of plant compounds. In addition to THC, patients will find their product contains cannabinoids in lesser amounts. One cannabinoid, THCa, has a similar appearance to THC but isn’t quite the same. So what is the difference between these cannabinoids?

THC and THCa appear to be very similar, but are actually not the same thing. That’s because THCa, or tetrahydrocannabinol acid, is the acidic precursor to THC. It will transform into THC with heat.

THC, otherwise known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana. It is also the most abundant phytochemical in cannabis. It was through studying THC and its effect on the brain that researchers were able to identify the endocannabinoid system in the human body. This important regulatory system interacts directly with cannabinoids through receptors. There are cannabinoid receptors located all over the body, including in the brain, skin, and intestines. THCa, will be found in live plants and plant matter before it is heated for consumption. Applying heat will degrade THCa into THC, so if you want to experience the benefits of this cannabinoid, you’ll need to juice raw cannabis to produce a bitter, chlorophyll dense beverage. Many of the medical benefits of THCa and THC are the same, but THCa is non-psychoactive. In comparison to THC, THCa contains an extra carboxyl group on its molecular structure. Due to this, THCa holds more mass than THC. Most consumers end up decarboxylating their THCa to transform it into THC. Decarboxylation is a method by which heat is applied to the THCa, effectively removing the carboxyl group. This transforms the THCa into THC. This decarboxylation process does take place when products are vaped.