THCA vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

In the world of cannabis, cannabinoids play a significant role in defining the plant’s properties. The most well-known cannabinoid in cannabis is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), but another compound often unnoticed is THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid). Learn about the differences between THC and THCA, the latest research studies, what lab testing involves, and how to obtain this unique cannabinoid in this article.


There are two cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, THCA and THC, but their effects and properties differ. In contrast, THCA, a raw form of THC that is non-psychoactive, can be found in freshly picked cannabis.

There is a key difference in the molecular structure between the two. THCA has an additional carboxyl group, which makes it non-psychoactive. When exposed to heat through decarboxylation, THCA loses the carboxyl group and converts it into THC, becoming psychoactive.

Research Studies with THCA

While THC has been extensively studied for its psychoactive effects, THCA has gained attention for its potential perks. The initial findings of THCA research are promising, but they are still in the early stages.

Lab Testing Methods

Lab testing is essential to accurately determining the cannabinoid profile of cannabis products, including THCA content. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography (GC) are frequently used to analyze cannabinoids.

HPLC allows for separating and quantifying individual cannabinoids in a sample, providing accurate results. GC, on the other hand, requires decarboxylation before analysis, which converts THCA to THC. As a result, HPLC is the preferred method for measuring THCA levels in raw cannabis products.

How to Get THCA?

Obtaining THCA-rich products can be a bit different from standard THC products. Since THCA is the raw form of THC, it can be found in fresh or raw cannabis, such as freshly harvested buds or leaves.

However, it’s essential to understand that most cannabis products available in dispensaries have undergone decarboxylation, converting THCA into THC. If you’re looking for products specifically high in THCA, you may find raw cannabis juice or unheated tinctures as options. If you want to buy THCA in bulk, you can easily find it online.


The lesser-known cannabinoid THCA, found in raw cannabis, has great potential as a non-psychoactive compound. As research on THCA progresses, you may unlock new insights into the diverse properties of this fascinating cannabinoid. THCA offers an exciting avenue for exploring the untapped potential of the cannabis plant.

Whether you’re a cannabis enthusiast or seeking alternative remedies, THCA opens doors to new possibilities in cannabinoids. So, next time you come across the term THCA, remember there’s more to cannabis than just getting high.” It’s a journey of discovery and exploration into the vast world of cannabinoids.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What makes THC-A the superior form of THC? 

THC-A (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and Delta 9-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are both forms of THC, but they have distinct properties. THC-A is the raw, non-psychoactive form of THC found in the cannabis plant. However, research on THC-A is still in its early stages, and more studies are needed to fully understand its potential advantages over Delta 9-THC.

  • What is the difference between THC-A and Delta 9-THC? 

The main difference lies in their chemical structures and effects. THC-A is the acidic precursor of Delta 9-THC, and it converts to Delta 9-THC through decarboxylation, which occurs when the plant material is exposed to heat. 

  • How is THC-A legal to produce and sell in the USA?

As of the last update in September 2021, THC-A was not specifically regulated under federal law in the United States, meaning it was not listed as a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, individual states may have their own regulations regarding THC-A. Additionally, it’s essential to note that laws can change over time, so it’s crucial to check the most current state and federal laws to determine THC-A’s legal status.

  • Is THCa illegal or legal? 

THC-A, or THCa, is typically considered legal in its raw and unprocessed form because it is not psychoactive without decarboxylation. However, it’s important to remember that the legality of cannabis and its compounds can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. Always check your local and federal laws to understand the current legal status of THC-A in your area.

As regulations and laws surrounding cannabis and its compounds can change, it’s essential to consult up-to-date sources and legal professionals for the most accurate and current information.

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