You've probably heard of phytocannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBN, and CBG. However, there are many other phytocannabinoids—nearly 120 of them, to be exact. One of the cannabinoids that you might not be familiar with is known as THCA.
THCA can be found in hemp and cannabis, and often in fairly high quantities. However, this is a fairly new cannabinoid, one that most people don't know very much about. This lack of knowledge about THCA is exactly what we are here to combat today. What is THCA, you may ask? Does THCA get you high?
We are here to answer both questions today, along with a few others. We will also be doing a general comparison of THCA vs THC. Then we will finish things off by taking a look at some of the best THCA weed strains out there.
- THCA is the precursor to THC.
- THCA on its own will not get you high.
- THCA is converted to THC through decarboxylation, which will then intoxicate you.
- At this time, THCA does appear to be legal.
- Raw THCA appears to have many of the same benefits as CBD.
What is THCA?
THCA is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in hemp and cannabis. It exists within the glandular trichomes of these plants. THCA, combined with CBDA, is responsible for inducing what is known as necrosis within the hemp and cannabis plants, which is a process that is required to help keep the plant alive and healthy by taking care of dying, dead, or damaged cells. Simply put, these compounds are like the immune system of hemp and cannabis plants.
Now, THCA is not the same thing as THC, particularly not Delta-9 THC. On its own, in its unprocessed form, THCA (unlike Delta-9 THC) will not get you high. Therefore, in its raw and unprocessed form, THCA seems to have more similarities with CBD than with regular THC. Furthermore, THCA is the acidic precursor of Delta-9 THC.
In other words, if cannabis and hemp plants did not contain THCA, they would also not be able to contain any THC. This is because THCA turns into Delta-9 THC through a process known as decarboxylation. So, although THCA in itself might not get you high, it does have to be present in a cannabis plant if you expect to get high at some point. We're going to explain this further below.
Is THCA Psychoactive?
THCA itself is not psychoactive, especially if it has not been processed. In this sense, if it is in its raw form, it seems to share more similarities with CBD than THC.
In other words, THCA will not get you high in any way and should not alter your state of mind. It's not going to impair your judgment or alter your cognitive abilities. It is not like Delta-9 THC, at least not yet, so until it is decarboxylated, it won't get you high.
What is the Difference between THC and THCA?
One of the biggest differences has to do with their molecular structure or composition. These are two molecules that look different from each other. THCA is an acidic compound. THC, on the other hand, is a major cannabinoid.
Now, these two share a very interesting relationship. The reason for this is that THC cannot exist without THCA. THCA is the precursor to THC. If a hemp or cannabis plant did not contain any THCA, it would therefore never be able to contain any THC.
THC is created through the decarboxylation of THCA, which means that THCA has to be heated up to a certain temperature for a specific amount of time. Through decarboxylation, THCA turns into THC. However, THCA in its raw state will not get you high. Only when THCA is decarboxylated and turned into THC, will it get you high.
What are the Potential Benefits of THCA?
As we said above, THCA appears to be very similar to CBD in terms of its potential benefits, especially if consumed raw. If THCA is burned or heated up, it will turn into THC, which means that it will get you high and intoxicated. This is one of the big benefits of THCA flower.
According to the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabinoids that are hemp-derived and contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC are considered legal on a federal level. This means that, for the most part, regular people cannot buy Delta-9 THC, which is the most common cannabinoid known to get us high. Delta-9 THC is what most people want. THCA strains of hemp technically do not contain any Delta-9 THC, not usually.
For this reason, THCA flower can be marketed as hemp flower or sometimes even as a CBD flower. It is totally legal to purchase and sell at the federal level. This would appear to be a legal loophole, because, after all, THCA turns into THC once decarboxylated. Therefore, this appears to be a very easy way to get high off of Delta-9 without actually technically purchasing Delta-9 cannabis.
Note: THCA has not been thoroughly researched at this time, especially in terms of its benefits in its raw form, particularly when compared to CBD. Therefore, any findings so far are largely preliminary.
Potential Neuroprotective Properties
Although there is still more research required on this front, it is thought that THCA may have possible neuroprotective properties. It is thought that THCA may have a role as a reuptake inhibitor of anandamide, which is a natural endocannabinoid found in our bodies.
Simply put, THC may be able to increase the levels of anandamide in the brain, which can therefore help protect your nervous system and brain from various forms of damage.
Potential Antiemetic Properties
Some preliminary studies show that THCA may have a beneficial effect in terms of reducing or eliminating nausea. Therefore, THCA may be able to help increase a person's appetite, which could be useful in certain cases, such as for people who are on certain medications or going through treatments that make them nauseous and unable to eat.
Possible Anti-inflammatory Properties
The other possible benefit that THCA might have is as an anti-inflammatory. THCA would also appear to act as an adenosine inhibitor, which could help boost its levels in the brain, therefore helping to improve oxygen consumption and blood flow to the brain. THCA might be able to reduce inflammation in the human body, therefore reducing overall discomfort and pain.
What is the Difference Between CBD and THCA?
Perhaps the biggest difference between these two cannabinoids is that THCA is a minor cannabinoid, acidic, and a chemical precursor to THC. However, CBD is a major cannabinoid, and its precursor is CBDA. This is perhaps the biggest major difference between the two. With that being said, in their raw forms, neither CBD nor THCA will get you high.
According to current research, it is also safe to assume that CBD also has more benefits for the human mind than THCA, especially when it comes to mood regulation in relation to serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol. Although research into THCA at this time is not very thorough, it may very well also have benefits on this front that have not been discovered yet.
What is a High THCA Percentage for a Hemp Strain?
Most people would say that anywhere between 10% and 15% of THCA is fairly high, with anything over 15%, or even 20%, being very high. Let's move on and now take a look at some THCA strains that you might enjoy.
High THCA Hemp Strains
Let's get right to it and take a look at some of the best THCA hemp and THCA cannabis strains out there.
Harlequin is a Sativa dominant strain that contains a good deal of THCA. It also contains roughly 9% CBD. This is a strain that will help clear your head and allow you to relax, without intoxicating you or making you feel sedated.
This is a mix of a Nepali Indica, Colombian Gold, a Swiss landrace strain, and a Thai landrace strain. People also note that it is an excellent option for treating pain and anxiety. It features quite a herbal and spicy flavor.
ACDC is a hybrid strain of cannabis that contains high levels of THCA, along with around 13% CBD. The main terpene here is myrcene and it has a very woody aroma.
This is a heavily CBD-dominant strain that was developed from a phenotype of Cannatonic. This is a strain that barely produces any intoxicating effects whatsoever, yet appears to be a good option for treating anxiety, pain, and more.
Suver Haze strain
Here we have a cross between Early Resin Berry and Suver #8. This strain contains a good deal of THCA, and a whole lot more CBD, 18% in fact. It is one of the most CBD-heavy strains out there. This strain features aromas of wood, sweet fruits, and black pepper. People tend to enjoy it in terms of pain and anxiety relief.
MK Ultra and G13 Haze are crossed to create the Cannatonic strain. This strain contains a variety of cannabinoids including THCA, THC, and CBD. It will therefore get you very mildly high, but it is a very short-lived and mellow high.
That said, thanks to the addition of nearly 10% CBD, it is very relaxing and should help you get a good night's sleep. This is a good option to treat migraines, muscle spasms, anxiety, and general pain. Here, you will taste wood, earth, and sweet citrus fruits.
Sour Tsunami Strain
Here we have a hybrid strain that is well known for its high CBD content, 13%. However, it does also contain a great deal of THCA. Sour Tsunami is a cross between NYC Diesel and Sour Diesel, and it is Sativa dominant.
As you can probably tell, this strain is going to taste heavily like musky diesel. Although, it does also have sweet notes underneath. People are very fond of this strain for treating inflammation and pain.
Hawaiian Haze strain
A mix of Hawaiian and Haze is a THCA and CBD-heavy strain that tastes like pineapple, other tropical fruits, and flowers. This is the kind of strain that should help greatly relax you, potentially reduce anxious thoughts, and help you get a good night's sleep.
Sour Space Candy strain
Sour Space Candy is another CBD-heavy strain that contains up to 15% CBD. It does also contain a good deal of THCA. This is a cross between Early Resin Berry and Sour Tsunami.
One of the most noticeable flavors here is tobacco, along with hints of diesel. This is definitely one of the tastiest strains on the list today, one that should help you feel a bit happier and more uplifted.
Special Sauce strain
Here we have another strain that contains high levels of THCA as well as CBD. It is an ideal strain for promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation. In terms of relaxation, it's one of the best possible options around. It also tends to have a very tobacco-like flavor.
Ringo’s Gift strain
Here we have a mix between ACDC and Harle-Tsu. This strain is named after Lawrence Ringo, a CBD pioneer and cannabis activist. What is pretty cool is that this strain comes in various forms, with one being very CBD heavy and containing up to 24% CBD, with others having equal ratios of CBD and THC.
If you are looking for some full-body relaxation along with an earthy aroma, then this is a good strain to check out.
Sweet and Sour Widow strain
Here we have an Indica dominant cannabis strain that generally features a one-to-one CBD to THC ratio, and may contain up to 10% CBD. An unnamed Sativa hybrid was mixed with White Widow to create this high CBD strain. It features flavors reminiscent of sweet onion, herbs, and spices. It should be all you need to help you relax.
Harle-Tsu is an interesting cross between Harlequin and Sour Tsunami, hence its name. This strain also features high THCA levels, combined with up to 11% CBD. It has a spicy and herbal flavor and is ideal for treating inflammation, pain, and anxious thoughts.
Charlotte’s Web strain
Here we have a Sativa strain that is nonintoxicating and contains over 12% CBD. It features an aroma reminiscent of pine. This is a very popular strain due to the coverage that it received in the news, particularly concerning its potential benefits in relation to seizure disorders.
However, this is not to say that cannabis or hemp in any way are effective treatments for seizure disorders, and you should always consult medical professionals first.
Canna-Tsu is a cross between Cannatonic and Sour Tsunami. This strain contains a decent amount of THCA along with over 10% CBD. It has a citrusy aroma complemented by a sweet and earthy flavor. If you have anxious thoughts, inflammation, or pain, then this is a good strain to consider.
The bottom line is that THCA is becoming popular quickly. The reason for this is most likely because it turns into THC when decarboxylated, and therefore can still get you high, all without the legal ramifications of being marketed as Delta-9 THC cannabis.