While Delta-9 THC is historically the most well-known cannabis compound that’s loved and celebrated for its psychoactive properties, THCA is starting to garner attention among cannabis consumers who are in the know.
So what is THCA and what effect does it have? Think of THCA as a caterpillar and Delta-9 THC as a butterfly. THCA is the precursor to Delta-9 THC. During the growing process, time and sunlight converts THCA into Delta-9 THC. If a plant is high in THCA that did not convert to Delta-9 THC during the growing process, the THCA can convert into head-changing Delta-9 THC if it’s heated up for consumption.
The Effect of the Decarb Process on THCA:
Raw THCA is not intoxicating. That’s because the THCA compound is shaped differently than other cannabis compounds, aka cannabinoids, and it doesn’t fit inside of the cannabinoid receptors found in the brain.
Studies have shown that raw THCA can combat inflammation and nausea and protect the central nervous system. If you’re interested in exploring those effects without any psycho-activity, go ahead and grind some raw THCA flower into your smoothie!
If you’re interested in psychoactive effects, you’ll want to decarb the flower. Once THCA goes through a decarb process, which is a fancy term for heating it up, it turns into regular Delta-9 THC; it then fits nicely into the brain’s cannabinoid receptors and elicits all of the fun and fuzzy feelings that most consumers are after!
There are multiple ways to decarb flower that’s high in THCA, including smoking, vaping, baking, and dabbing. The simplest way is to get some dried, cured flower and use a flame to decarb it and then smoke it. A more efficient way that converts more THCA molecules into Delta-9 THC is to put the dry, cured flower into a vaporizer and smoke it that way. Think of your rolling papers, your bowl, or your vaporizer as a nice cocoon for the THCA caterpillar to turn into a beautiful Delta-9 THC butterfly!
The Federal Legality of THCA:
In states like Tennessee where recreational and medical marijuana is still waiting on legalization, hemp flower that’s high in THCA is a new-fashioned option for the informed consumer.
The 2018 Hemp Farm Bill defines hemp as cannabis with a Delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. By this definition, cannabis that is high in THCA and low in Delta-9 THC is considered fully legal to possess and consume anywhere in the United States. Since the passing of the Hemp Farm Bill, the DEA has twice confirmed that cannabis products containing 0.3% or less concentration of Delta-9 THC are considered hemp and are not controlled substances.
Please note that while our lawyers have provided us with trusted information explaining the legality of selling, possessing and consuming THCA, this blog is not intended to be legal advice. You should always speak to a lawyer if you have questions or concerns about THCA legality in your state.