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THCa vs. THC: What They Are and How They Differ

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Understandably, THC is the most famous and vastly researched cannabinoid globally. It is popular for its psychoactive properties and continues to attract new users every day. However, very few people are aware of THCa and its function within cannabis. So what is THCa? How does it differ from THC?

What is THC?

THC is an acronym for tetrahydrocannabinol. It is the cannabinoid associated with “giving a high” when users use cannabis. While it’s true that there are dozens of other cannabinoids and hundreds of other active substances in cannabis, THC remains the most popular and effective for that matter. When purchasing cannabis products, users concentrate on their THC levels.

What is THCa?

Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCa) is the non-psychotropic cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis. All the major cannabinoids come from cannabigerol acid (CBGA), which is basically the “mother of all cannabinoids.” As the cannabis plant grows, it produces enzymes responsible for converting the CBGA into other cannabinoids such as:

  • Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA)
  • Cannabichromenic acid (CBCA)

By exposing cannabis plants with THCa to heat (including thermal decarboxylation), we generate THC.  Therefore, it is fair to say that there would be no THC without THCa. Interestingly enough, this explains why you won’t feel psychoactive effects by chewing on the cannabis leaves.

Decarboxylation can occur through exposing raw cannabis to direct sunlight, increasing room temperatures, or directly exposing the plants to heat by smoking or vaping.

How Does THC Differ from THCa?

The major difference between the two is that THC causes psychoactive effects,  but THCa doesn’t —adding a carboxyl group in THCa makes all the difference. Aside from the difference in chemical makeup, the two vary in how they interact with the user’s body. The other key differences include:

  • THCa molecules have larger molecules than THC.
  • THCa molecules cannot bind with the user’s cannabinoid receptors, which is why you don’t feel the psychoactive effects.

THCa vs. THC: Which One is Better?

Whether you opt for THCa or THC cannabinoids depends on what you want to achieve — they cause varying effects. For instance, due to its non-intoxicating nature, THCA may be used to treat arthritis and lupus due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It may result in recovery or regeneration of the nervous system. It has also been known to aid with vomiting and nausea, and it may also slow the growth and spread of malignant cells.

On the other hand, THC also has the same effects as THCa but with other unique ones. For instance, some users have experienced that THC might have helped regulate their blood pressure, and deal with anxiety issues by potentially boosting the amount of anandamide in the user’s body.

What is the Right THCa Percentage?

Determining the right THCa percentage can be a little bit confusing, but you can count on your local Las Vegas Dispensaries like Thrive to have the correct labeling of each product.  You have to keep in mind that THCa affects the overall THC percentage.  According to the Nevada Revised Statutes for Cannabis Testing, “Potential Total THC” is represented by the following formula: 

THCtotal = (%THCA) x 0.877 + (%THC)

This formula helps understand that the right percentage of THCa is very personalized to the consumer’s desired experience and overall THC percentage.

Where to Get Your Cannabinoids Products 

Thrive Cannabis Marketplace is your ultimate go-to for all your cannabis needs. We have five convenient locations near Las Vegas where you can choose from! You can shop in-store with our friendly budtenders’ suggestions, pick up your order or have it delivered to you. We have carefully sourced high-quality cannabis products with a large variety ranging anywhere from pre-rolls, fresh flower, to edibles, and more!

Don’t miss out on our Thrive Rewards program. You can start earning points every time you make a purchase, get access to special deals and giveaways for member eyes only, and so much more.