What is the Cannabinoid THCa?

Cannabis plants produce a variety of compounds called cannabinoids. THCa is one of these cannabinoids, and it's also the precursor to THC. While THCa isn't psychoactive itself, it can be converted to THC through decarboxylation (a process that's often accomplished by heating or smoking cannabis). So what is this mysterious compound, and what does it do? Let's take a closer look at THCa.

What is THCa?

Is THCa different from THC?


THCa, formally known as tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a cannabinoid found in mature, raw cannabis plants. As the plants grow, the “mother of all cannabinoids” CBGA converts to the acidic form of THC, THCa. And while the THC and THCa molecules may look very similar, ingesting THCa will not produce psychoactive side effects.


The difference between THC and THCa is the addition of an extra carboxyl ring on the molecule. This addition does not allow THCa to bind to CB1 receptors, stopping the production of intoxicating effects. However, consumers should be aware THCa can easily convert to THC when exposed to light or heat when in storage conditions. Even products stored well below room temperature have been known to convert to THC, from fresh flower to pure extracts.

THCa Benefits

THCa is certainly a substance worth exploring. It holds great promise due to its many potential medicinal benefits. As its name suggests, it is particularly useful in relieving pain. But the full range of its BFFs - benefits, features, and functions - goes beyond this single area. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties as well as an ability to reduce nausea and vomiting. And don't forget about appetite stimulation - THCa can help us out when we're feeling hungry but not motivated enough to go get food. Of course, more research is needed before we can make any claims or predictions about THCa's future use for medicinal purposes, but the current possibilities seem abundant.

Different Ways to Consume THCa

When looking for ways to consume THCa, users have a few different options.

Fresh Flower

THCa found in raw weed

The easiest way is to use fresh cannabis flower. We recommend grinding up the raw weed and mixing it into your next meal or delicious sweet treat. When using flower make sure not to apply heat, as this will turn the THCa into THC.

Cannabis Leaves

For those who have a trusted, non-pesticide using cannabis farmer, the leaves are a great source for THCa. Simply juicing the fresh leaves will create a material that can be thrown into a smoothie or consumed on its own.



Using THCa in a tincture

Consumers looking to ingest pure THCa will need to find a freshly made extract. This form is best taken in tincture form as long as the product is stored correctly. Users should avoid wax and other concentrates that claim to be high in THCa, as these cannabinoids will convert to THC once the product is heated up to be inhaled.

Start Slow, With a Low Dose

If you're new to using the cannabinoid THCa, it’s best to start slow. Even though THCa is a non psychoactive compound, the cannabinoid is no joke depending on how it is consumed. Those using properly stored tinctures or ground up flower in their food will not experience any adverse intoxicating side effects. However, those smoking flower or dabbing concentrates high in THCa should be cautious as all the THCa will turn into THC once heat is applied.

Since it's not yet been studied as extensively as other cannabis compounds, it's best to err on the side of caution when introducing THCa into your consumption routine. Start with a small dose and work your way up from there if desired.

THC Alternative

THCa is a powerful cannabinoid with many potential medicinal benefits. If you are looking for an alternative to THC, or are interested in the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects, THca may be right for you. 

There are several ways to consume this special cannabinoid, but be sure to start with a low dose, as it can be more potent than users assume. By following these pieces of advice, you can be a confident and competent THCa consumer.