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Medically Reviewed By:

Nidra Sidhu, M.D. Integrative Medicine

THC vs. THCA — What’s The Difference?

THC Vs. THCA illustration

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you ate a bunch of raw cannabis? Maybe you envision it like the movies, where you get high from eating the plant in its natural form. You may be surprised to know that the raw plant isn’t going to get you high. Why is that? Because there is a difference between THC vs. THCA. We’ll talk more about the difference between THC and THCA in this article. 

Many cannabis consumers haven’t heard of THCA, only the more widely known THC that offers a psychoactive experience. What is THCA? It’s an inactive plant compound found in the trichomes of a live cannabis or hemp plant. THCA stands for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, and it’s non-intoxicating yet has many benefits. THCA will not product intoxicating effects.

THCA is a precursor to THC, which means THCA converts into THC as the plant starts to dry and even more so when it’s heated — a process called decarboxylation. We’ll talk about delta 9 THC vs. THCA more in the next section. 

What is THCA and THC from cannabis plants? Most cannabis consumers know of THC because it’s the most publicized of the raw cannabis plant. You’ll see classic movies showcasing people getting high, and you’ll also see laws and harsh penalties in some states for the same thing. At its most basic level, THC is a major phytocannabinoid found in the hemp plant. It’s psychoactive and has plenty of health benefits and good times attached to it.

While THCA and THC are different on many levels, they’re both an example of how all components of the cannabis plants can have health benefits on the human body. Now let’s take a look at those differences more in-depth.

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What’s the difference between THC and THCA?

The more you learn about THC vs. THCA, the more you’ll understand how the hemp plant works. And the more you understand how the plant works within your body, the better you’ll be able to use it to maximize its benefits. 

Does THCA get you high? No, it doesn’t. So how come THCA is non-psychoactive while THC is? It all comes down to the shape of the THCA molecule. THCA is larger than THC and, therefore, doesn’t fit into the CB1 cannabinoid receptor in the body. This receptor is responsible for things like regulating the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, along with processes like mood, perception of pain, appetite, and more. 

Since THCA doesn’t fit into the CB1 receptor, it doesn’t offer those same psychoactive experiences. More research is still needed to understand its benefits, but what has been conducted so far is promising. 

What The Research Says About Delta 9 THC vs. THCA

One study showed that THCA has some powerful neuroprotective properties. Because of these properties, researchers suggest it could be helpful for neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Another study showed the potential benefits of tetrahydrocannabinolic acid towards epilepsy because of its anticonvulsant properties within the plant compound. 

While the hemp plant can produce hundreds of cannabinoids and other beneficial plant compounds with possible therapeutic and psychoactive effects, THC is definitely the most well-known, well-studied, and sought-after of the bunch. 

When learning about raw cannabis, you often hear people talk about high THC, high CBD strains, and Indica vs. Sativa strains. In reality, the THC and CBD come afterward. During the growing process, what they really mean is that the plant has high THCA and high CBDA, which will later be converted to THC or cannabidiol through the process of curing, heating, and decarboxylating.

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The Difference Between THC And THCA — Consumption Methods

Consuming THC is a favorite pastime for many. Experiencing the high may offer some much-needed support with maintaining a wellness routine. There are plenty of different consumption methods for both THC and THCA but first, let’s look at another type of THC — delta 8 THC vs. delta 9 THC. 

Delta 8 THC is a type of THC that also gets you high, but it has a couple of advantages over its delta 9 counterpart. Delta 8 is legal in most states, both federally and on a state level. There are a handful of states where it has been banned, but the majority are adhering to the federal verbiage in the 2018 Farm Bill, which keeps delta 8 legal as long as it’s below 0.3% delta 9 THC. 

The primary benefit of delta 8 strains over delta 9 is the quality of the high. The delta 8 high is powerful yet gentle. You won’t have to worry so much about going on the roller coaster of intensity that often accompanies delta 9. 

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Products

If you’re looking for different ways to consume THC and THCA, we’ve got you covered. You can buy delta 8 gummies 1000 mg right here on our website. These edibles produce a smooth high in a playful, bite-sized treat that’s been extensively taste-tested and third-party lab testing to ensure compliance and quality. In the delta 8 THC vs. delta 9 THC consumption methods, they’re both similar. 

You can find tinctures, capsules, and edibles like delta 8 gummies. Each of these has been converted from its original carboxylic acid forms, whether in the lab or through the natural drying process for delta 9. 

If you want to consume THC or THCA, you can often find this in small amounts in the above products, but you’ll need to look for ones that have been third-party lab tested so you can verify the quantity. Likely it will only be a small amount because heating methods convert most of the THCA into THC. 

The good news is that technology continues to advance, which means you can find THCA in the form of topicals, extracts, patches, and more. Get adventurous by juicing raw cannabis leaves to reap more than just the benefits of THCA. You’ll get many of the chemical compounds that make up this plant which is well over 400 known entities

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THC vs. THCA Lab Testing And Legality

It requires a specific formula to determine the amount of THC in a product that hasn’t been converted from THCA yet. That’s because some of the product will later turn into THC when it’s heated. To avoid this concern, you can always purchase products that have already been converted — like delta 8 gummies 100 mg and tinctures. 

Another aspect of lab testing is drug testing. Would THCA show up on a drug test as THC does? It’s possible. The THCA can leave behind the metabolite that drug tests are looking for — THC-COOH. The same is true with any type of THC, including delta 8 online. While they can trigger a positive test, that doesn’t mean it is a true positive. It would be a false positive because drug tests are only supposed to determine whether a person is consuming delta 9, which is illegal on a federal level above 0.3%. 

When it comes to the consumption of THCA vs. Delta 8 THC vs. Delta 9 THC, it’s always wise to do your research. Determine the risks at your workplace if you’re worried about being drug tested and learn more about the products you’re purchasing. This isn’t a regulated market at this time, so always check third-party lab results to ensure you’re getting what the product says you’re getting. 

As unfortunate as it is, plenty of companies will claim a certain percentage of THCA or delta 8 in their products when in reality, there isn’t any at all. A Certificate of Analysis will eliminate these worries, and you can take your health and wellness into your own hands. 

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THC vs. THCA Legality

Is there a difference in legality between delta 9 THC vs. THCA? Currently, THCA isn’t scheduled as a banned substance on a federal level. Some states could claim it’s an analog of THC and then regulate or ban it, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue. Does THCA get you high? No, it doesn’t. And its legality is likely because THCA molecules aren't psychoactive, so you don’t have to worry so much about getting high like you would with delta 9 THC.

The legality of delta 9 THC is more straightforward. Federally, it’s illegal if it’s over 0.3% delta 9 on a dry weight basis. While this is the case, states and cities can still make up their own laws. In some states, recreational marijuana and delta 9 are legally sold in dispensaries, while other states have harsh penalties against any type of consumption of the compound. 

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THC Vs. THCA - The Takeaway

If you’re looking for a federally legal high, delta 8 is definitely the way to go. What is delta 8? One of only a few cannabinoids that isn’t federally banned also offers a super smooth experience. Knowing the differences between THC vs. THCA will help you make purchasing decisions or if you are interested in delta 8 gummies bulk, and it also expands a person’s horizons about what kind of support the hemp plant can offer.

Legal Disclaimer: You should still consult an attorney for the best legal advice regarding Delta 8 & the raw cannabis plant in your state, as the material shared here is for informational purposes only. Please speak with your medical doctor if you have fatty liver disease, are looking for help with your central nervous system, or if you have questions about potential benefits.

author avatar
Clayton McCall

Clayton is a Senior Content Specialist, researcher, and holistic healthcare practitioner. Having been in the supplement industry for more than 15 years, Clayton brings a wealth of experience to the delta 8 space. His publications include alternative therapy, stress and coping, and alternative health.

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