WHAT IS THCA?
Cannabis plants contain hundreds of cannabinoids which affect user experience. This applies to practically all cannabis products – from the flowers you smoke to the vape carts you vape, even the various edibles you ingest.
THCa or Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is one of these cannabinoids. THCa is the acidic form of THC, one of the more popular cannabinoids found in marijuana plants.
Cannabis plants begin to develop cannabinoids and terpenes when they begin to produce flowers. Initially, marijuana plants produce CBGA. According to some experts, CBGA is the precursor of other cannabinoids. Later on, as a marijuana plant matures, CBGA is broken down so that the plant can produce other cannabinoids, including THCa.
CONVERTING THCA TO THC
Some cannabinoids are classified as precursors to other cannabinoids. THCa is one of those cannabinoids. Specifically, THCa is the precursor to THC. Initially, a cannabis plant produces THCa.
Later on, through the process known as decarboxylation, THCa is converted into THC. Decarboxylation can happen naturally as the marijuana plant consumes heat and oxygen. Both heat and oxygen remove THCa’s carboxyl groups, transforming it into THC.
It should be noted that the THC content in marijuana is low. To convert more THCa into THC, full decarboxylation is required. This can only happen when heat is applied to the marijuana plant and the products derived from it. Full decarboxylation can occur when you smoke cannabis flower, vape, or during processing in a laboratory.
CONVERTING THC-A INTO THC
Decarboxylation can occur naturally in cannabis plants. However, there are a variety of ways people can facilitate this process.
The most convenient and fuss-free way to convert THCa into THC is to expose cannabis plants to heat and light. You do not need to use specialized equipment for that task. All you have to do is expose your raw cannabis plants to sunlight and the sun will take care of everything for you.
Store your cannabis plants at room temperature
You can also convert THCa into THC by leaving your marijuana plants in a room with a temperature of about 25 C.
But if you wish to convert more THCa into THC, you can submerge your plants in olive oil or ethanol.
Applying direct heat
Exposing raw cannabis plants or leaving them in a room at room temperature can take days. If you want to enjoy THC immediately, you will need to apply direct heat.
For cannabis buds, the easiest way to do that is to smoke joints. Heat will take care of converting the THCa from the THCa hemp flower into THC. However, the drawback of this method is that it isn’t as efficient as other methods like vaping. When it comes to efficiency in converting THCa into THC, vaping has the upper hand. Plus, the effects you get are more intense.8
Dabbing is the ideal method of converting THCa into THC if you are using THCa crystals. However, it does have a few notable disadvantages, starting with the loss of flavor and aroma. THCa crystals have little to no terpenes and flavonoids. To counter this, you can add terpenes.
WHAT IS THCA FLOWER?
Isn’t THCa flower the same as regular marijuana bud? Is it just regular marijuana flower marketed as something new?
Although the two may share some similarities, the two are entirely different things. The term THCa flower refers to hemp flowers that naturally contain a huge amount of THCa.
One important thing to note about THCa hemp flower is that the buds must have a THCa level of 0.3% or less in order to satisfy the requirements set forth in the 2018 Farm Bill.
THCa flowers are rich in THCa but contain smaller amounts of Delta 9 THC. This means that THCa hemp flowers on their own cannot make you high unless they undergo decarboxylation. If you eat them raw, you won’t experience the psychoactive effects typically associated with THC. The main reason behind that is that THCa has an extra carboxyl ring, making it impossible for this cannabinoid to bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in your body.
However, when heat is applied to THCa flowers, whether by smoking, dabbing, vaporization, or cooking, their THCa content is converted to THC.
BENEFITS OF THCA FLOWER
Currently, there has been a small amount of research done on THCa and THCa hemp flowers. But surveying the existing body of research, THCa has shown some promise in managing the symptoms of a variety of conditions. However, further studies need to be done to validate these theories.
Here is a brief look at the potential benefits of THCa flowers.
Protection of the nervous system
In one study conducted in mice, it was revealed that THCa has the potential to fend off brain degeneration.
With this in mind, experts are hoping that the cannabinoid may help protect the brain against degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Some scientists are exploring the possibility of using THCa for helping people lose excess weight. Excess weight has been associated with a variety of lifestyle diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
According to the current body of research, THCa may be able to help in tackling both insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in diabetics.
Prevention of nausea and vomiting
A research paper published in 2020 outlines the potential antiemetic properties of two relatively new cannabinoids: THCa and CBDa. In clinical trials conducted with mice as research subjects, it was discovered that the two cannabinoids were more effective in this area compared to CBD and THC.
According to anecdotes of people who have used THCa, the cannabinoid has the potential to help in managing both joint pain and inflammation. With daily consumption of THCa products like THCa hemp flower, patients saw a marked improvement in their conditions.
Some studies highlight THCa’s ability to regulate the production of prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is one of the main culprits in many types of inflammations. Some scientists are also exploring the possibility of using THCa to reduce liver inflammation which is one of the signs of fatty liver.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS OF THCA FLOWER
Not much is known about THCa, especially when you compare this cannabinoid to THC and CBD. However, people who are sensitive to THC are cautioned against using THCa hemp flower because both THC and THCa have the same side effects. However, if you are not sensitive to THC, you can try using THCa hemp flower.
Among the common signs of THC and THCa sensitivity are dizziness, increased heart rate, dry mouth, fatigue, and red eyes.
THCA IN THE BODY
What happens when you smoke THCa flower?
According to scientists, THCa binds to a single cannabinoid receptor in your body – TRPM8. This receptor is associated with the cold feeling that results from consuming something minty.
Aside from that, when you consume a high dose of this cannabinoid, your heat-sensing receptors are activated. Curiously, these receptors are the same ones that are activated by spicy food.
Some scientists theorize that THCa can also inhibit MAGL. When MAGL is inhibited, the 2 AG levels in your body increase, and with that, the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors can be activated easily.
Finally, experts are optimistic that THCa may be able to manage a diverse array of conditions and even protect the body against different diseases. But to date, the efficacy of THCa remains to be proven, especially against the more well-known cannabinoids like Delta 9 THC and CBD.
DOES THCA HAVE THE SAME POTENCY AS REGULAR CANNABIS BUDS?
As previously mentioned, THCa hemp flower is different from conventional marijuana buds. In terms of potency, the similarities between the two cannabis buds remain murky.
THCa hemp flower contains THCA. THCA is non-psychoactive unless it is converted into THC. Once converted to THC, THCa can produce the familiar effects of THC.
However, it is worth mentioning that the flavor and potency of a THCa flower are dictated by factors like strain type, personal tolerance, dosage, and potency. As with normal cannabis buds, it is a good idea to start with a low dose when trying THCa hemp flower for the first time. This can help keep unwanted side effects at bay.
Subjecting THCa flower to heat converts THCa to THC. However, you do not have to smoke or vape THCa to enjoy its benefits. One of the advantages of THCa hemp flower over regular cannabis buds is that it is quite versatile.
Instead of smoking THCa flower, you can eat it. However, if you do not like the taste and texture of THCa hemp flower, you can add it to your juices or smoothies. With these ingestion methods, you aren’t converting THCa into THC which means you won’t experience any psychoactive effect.
WHAT IS A HIGH THCA HEMP FLOWER PERCENTAGE?
If you are browsing the different types of THCa hemp flowers offered in brick-and-mortar stores or online, you might notice different pieces of information on the product labels, including THCa percentages.
If you are new to this type of product, you might be wondering what is a high THCa flower percentage that is ideal for beginners.
On average, cannabis strains have a THC percentage hovering around 15%. However, it is not unusual for some of the stronger strains to have higher THC percentages. These high THC strains contain higher levels of THCa prior to decarboxylation.
The label of cannabis products will often list percentages for both THC and THCa. The THCa indicates the potential amount of THC that you can get from it.
But take note that the actual THC level that you will get may be influenced by different factors, including the method of consumption and product type.
Additionally, the THC percentage on a product label indicates the amount of this cannabinoid that you will actually get after ingestion and not in its raw form.
THCa products, including THCa hemp flower, contain THCa in different levels. It should be noted that what is considered by some as a high THCa hemp flower percentage may be low or just enough for others. But broadly speaking, a THC percentage of 15% is high for most people.
IS THCA FLOWER LEGAL?
That depends largely on where you live and what are the existing laws on cannabis there.
In the United States, THCa is legal with a few important caveats. For starters, the cannabinoid must come from industrial hemp with a THC level of 0.3% or below. Take note that some states and cities consider THCa products, including THCa flower to be illegal.
THCa is federally legal due to the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018. Additionally, the cannabinoid is not included in the Agricultural Improvement Act’s list of federally banned substances.
This means that you should learn the existing laws in your area before you purchase THCa hemp flower or other THCa products.
It is also worth mentioning that existing laws are in a state of flux and may change. Again, be mindful of this and check the laws in your area.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Does a THCa hemp flower make you high?
That depends on how you use it. If you smoke, dab, vape, or bake a THCa flower, you are converting THCa into THC. After that conversion, you can experience psychoactive effects.
Does THCa flower expire?
Like other organic substances, THCa flower expires. Cannabis products have different shelf lives, depending largely on the ingredients used in making them.
Factors like exposure to light, air, and heat can hasten a product’s degradation. And when a product is already lapsed, it is better to throw it away.