THCA: definition, differences with THC and effects

Have you ever wondered if chewing pure cannabis would get you high? Well the answer is no. The reason is simple, and surprising to say the least: the raw cannabis plant simply does not contain THC. This is information that we are not used to reading, is it? In fact, cannabis produces another molecule, the THCA, which will later and under certain conditions transform into THC. What if we also told you that THCA is not a narcotic and has virtuous effects, the news would undoubtedly be a little more intriguing. Come on, no more suspense, explains everything! Definition of THCA.

What is THCA? Definition

What is THCA?

In the wild, cannabis is loaded with THCA, but has little or no THC yet.

THCA, or Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a component of cannabis found in living plants. More simply, he is the acid form (hence the "A") THC. It is produced naturally and is present in varying amounts in “fresh” cannabis, that is, live or freshly harvested and not yet dried. When the plant dries up, for example after being cut, THCA slowly transforms in THC. The heat accelerates this process, which is called decarboxylation. This is particularly what happens when a cannabis bud is smoked or vaporized.

To simplify the definition of THCA, it is therefore the preliminary form of THC, produced naturally by the plant. Unlike THC, however, THCA does not provide no hovering effect (The high or stone attributed to cannabis use). No fleeting euphoria to notice after taking THCA. This does not mean that the cannabinoid has no effect at all, however. Far from there !

What effects can you expect from THCA?

There is little research to really establish the effects of THCA and the ailments it could potentially help treat. However, some benefits already seem to stand out from existing studies.

The THCA would be like this:

  • Anti-inflammatory: it could in particular contribute to the treatment ofarthritis or lupus.
  • neuroprotective: its action on neurodegenerative diseases is one of the aspects to be studied.
  • Antiemetic: it could contribute to the treatment of nausea and thus contribute to the renewed appetite of its consumers.
  • Antiproliferative: a first study devoted to the fight against prostate cancer showed a potential action against the proliferation of cancer cells.

Apart from these potential effects on the human body, above all enabled by the interaction between the components of cannabis and our own endocannabinoid system, THCA has above all direct effects on the plant which produces it. In its natural state, THCA would thus protect the cannabis plant in particular from the sun's rays (the famous UV rays). It would also cause leaf necrosis, at the same time encouraging the renewal of the plant and better development of its flowers, producing cannabinoids, but also allowing it to reproduce.

Heat from the sun can cause THCA to turn into THC

Heat from the sun can cause THCA to turn into THC

Where can I find THCA?

As we have mentioned, THCA is found above all in the raw form of the plant, that is to say either standing or freshly cut. Therefore, consumers seeking THCA tend to eat the fresh plant, before the acid form has had time to decarboxylate and therefore become THC. The most popular use then is toextract the juice of the fresh plant, concentrated in THCA. It is then consumed as is or incorporated into a smoothie.

In addition, the more a cannabis plant grows, the more the amount of THCA it contains increases. The total quantity depends, in addition to the maturity of the plant, on the variety concerned as well as on its growing environment.

Is it legal to consume THCA?

As usual with cannabis products, it depends very much on where you are in the world. Thus, in the United States, where many states have already legalized the consumption of cannabis, including for recreational use, it is already possible to find products specially developed for their high THCA content. Most of the time, they manifest themselves in the form of patches to be placed directly on the skin, like the nicotine patches commonly found in Europe. The THCA then passes directly into the blood system, without risk of transformation of THCA into THC, and therefore without risk of suffering psychoactive effects.

In France, as in most other European countries, cannabis with a high THC content (or rather THCA, you have now understood the difference), is illegal. This is valid for its culture, but also its marketing and its consumption, even on a personal basis. It is therefore not possible to get cannabis rich in THCA. However, what happens in the acid form THCA until its transformation into THC is also true for other cannabinoids, such as CBDA, which becomes the well-known and perfectly legal CBD. He too also trains virtuous effects that can be enjoyed legally. A track to dig then!

Smoking cannabis and therefore causing the transformation of THCA into THC remains prohibited in the European Union (EU)

Smoking cannabis and therefore causing the transformation of THCA into THC remains prohibited in the European Union (EU)

In summary: what are the differences between THCA and THC?



Not psychoactive psychoactive
Found in raw cannabis Created after harvest by decarboxylation / temperature rise (combustion, vaporization or cooking)
Variable rate depending on the variety of cannabis 87,7% of the amount of THCA
No high or addictive effect, appetite gain, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective in particular. Planing, addictive effects, appetite gain, reduction of certain pains in particular.
Potentially detected by testing Wanted in control tests


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