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What is THCA? What it is and how it differs from THC

THCA or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a chemical compound found in a cannabis plant and is often mixed up with THC – another compound in hemp plants which produces psychoactive effects. Despite the similar names, they have different characteristics and have different effects on the mind and body. In this article, we will explore what is THCA, its potential benefits and the differences between THC and THCA.

THCA or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a chemical compound found in a cannabis plant and is often mixed up with THC – another compound in hemp plants which produces psychoactive effects. Despite the similar names, they have different characteristics and have different effects on the mind and body. In this article, we will explore what is THCA, its potential benefits and the differences between THC and THCA.

What is THCA?

Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in raw cannabis plants. THCA has a range of potential health benefits when used in its raw form. It is the precursor to THC, which is well known for its psychoactive effects in marijuana products. THCA becomes THC during the process of decarboxylation (the process of heating THCA) when the carboxylic acid is removed from the molecule.

 

What’s the difference between THC and THCA?

THC and THCA are two different chemical compounds that are found in the cannabis plants. As mentioned above, THCA is the precursor of THC and has very different effects from THC. THC is the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant that produces psychoactive effects when consumed. Unlike THC, the acidic form of THCA will not provide that euphoric ‘high’ feeling. This is because the THCA molecule is bigger than the THC molecule and does not fit into certain cannabinoid receptors therefore does not produce psychoactive effects that lead to the ‘high’ feeling.

 

What are the potential health benefits of using THCA?

The research is still in its early stages as THCA only recently started getting popular. However, preliminary research shows that even though the are no psychoactive properties, THCA can offer a range of therapeutic properties.

Some studies suggest that THCA has anti-inflammatory properties which is a common property in most cannabinoids. It also showed potential in neuroprotective effects and supporting the central nervous system, however, more research should be done to confirm these benefits. Some people report that THCA stimulates appetite and reduces nausea.

 

Side effects of THCA

THCA in its raw form is generally safe and some people even add raw cannabis extracts to morning smoothies for its potential benefits. However, as mentioned above, more research is needed as side effects are not well-researched yet. Some people report that they may feel drowsy and tired after consuming it, but more side effects arise when THCA is heated up and converted into THC. That can happen if cannabis consumers smoke raw cannabis flowers. The side effects may include dizziness, fatigue and red eyes.

 

Is THCA legal?

Since THCA does not have psychoactive properties, it is not illegal. The United States Federal Bill in 2018 legalised cannabis and their derivatives like the use of cannabis flower or acidic form cannabinoid THCA if they do not have more than 0.3% THC. However, individual states might ban the use of THCA, so check your local laws before purchasing any THCA products. 

The United States Farm Bill in 2018 legalised cultivating cannabis plants and its derivatives like hemp-derived CBD, as long as the hemp products have > 0.3% THC. HHC products like gummies or vapes meet this requirement, however, individual states might ban the use of HHC, so check your local laws before purchasing any THC or HHC products.   

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