Does THCA Get You High?

Black and white side portrait of a person smoking.

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is often overshadowed by its well-known relative, THC. While both share similar chemical structures, they have distinct effects on the body. This raises an intriguing question: does consuming THCA result in the same high as THC? In this article, we’ll explore the unique properties of THCA, how it differs from THC, and what happens when you consume it.

To read more about THCA, click here. 

Key Takeaways

  • THCA is the precursor to THC, naturally found in hemp and cannabis plants. 
  • When exposed to heat and light, THCA converts to THC through a process called decarboxylation. 
  • Raw THCA is non-psychoactive and doesn’t produce a high on its own. However, when THCA-rich flower and prerolls are burned, they can produce effects similar to a high due to the conversion to THC.

Does THCA Get You High?

In its raw form, THCA does not get you high. However, when exposed to heat, it transforms, and you will experience the traditional cannabis THC high. Through a process called decarboxylation, THCA’s chemical structure changes, converting it into the classic cannabis THC.

If you want to experience a psychoactive effect, your THCA must first be converted to THC through processes like:

  • Heating
  • Smoking
  • Vaporizing
  • Dabbing

Potential Effects and Benefits of Raw THCA

Many users prefer the medicinal properties of raw THCA in products like lotions, tinctures, or oils. Raw THCA doesn’t produce a psychoactive “high,” but anecdotal evidence and studies suggest it offers potential benefits such as pain relief, anti-inflammatory properties, appetite stimulation, and nausea reduction.

The effects of THCA can vary significantly depending on several factors, including:

  • Individual’s Unique Biochemistry – Different people can react differently to the same dose of THCA due to variations in their metabolism, genetic makeup, and overall health.
  • Method of Consumption – Consuming raw cannabis (which contains THCA) can have different effects compared to inhaling or ingesting decarboxylated cannabis.
  • Quantity Consumed – The effects of THCA are dose-dependent, meaning they can vary depending on the amount consumed.
  • Strain of Cannabis – Different cannabis strains have varying levels of THCA, which can influence the effects experienced.
  • Presence of Other Cannabinoids – The effects of THCA can also be influenced by the presence of other cannabinoids, such as CBD or CBG.

Potential Effects and Benefits of Heated THCA

When ignited or exposed to heat, THCA converts to Delta-9 THC, which produces intoxicating effects and may offer effects such as:

  • Appetite Loss and Nausea Relief – THCA may help individuals battling eating disorders by reducing nausea and stimulating appetite.
  • Pain and Inflammation Reduction – THCA has been suggested to reduce pain and inflammation. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it might be effective in alleviating symptoms of inflammatory diseases.
  • Relaxation and Sleep Aid – The compound could potentially aid in relaxation and promote better sleep.

What is the Difference Between THC and THCA?

THC, short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, is the active psychotropic cannabinoid found specifically in marijuana plants. In contrast, THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid present in the cannabis plant. Though both share similar chemical compositions, THCA has an additional carboxyl group that alters its characteristics.

While THC binds directly to the CB1 or CB2 receptors in our body’s endocannabinoid system, THCA cannot bind to these receptors due to its three-dimensional shape and larger size. THCA must be heated, altering its chemical structure and converting it into THC to produce similar “high” effects. This is additionally why raw THCA has been widely adopted as a medicinal product in various products.

Person igniting a joint with a lighter.

Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

While THCA itself is non-psychoactive in its raw form, its potential to deliver potent effects upon decarboxylation makes it a versatile option for cannabis enthusiasts. However, THCA products’ legality hinges on federal and state regulations. The 2018 Farm Bill permits hemp-derived products with up to 0.3% THC, but state laws vary, with some states imposing stricter controls. Always check local regulations to ensure compliance before purchasing or consuming THCA products.

Additionally, consuming THCA can lead to positive drug tests for THC, as most screenings are designed to detect THC metabolites. This is a crucial consideration for individuals subject to routine drug testing.

For a safe and enjoyable experience, prioritize high-quality products from reputable sources, verify lab testing for purity and potency, and stay informed about the legal landscape in your area. By doing so, you can responsibly explore the benefits and effects of THCA.

(Disclaimer reminder: This article is not medical advice. It is based on anecdotal user experience alone. If you are thinking about incorporating cannabis (delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, CBD, etc) into your medicinal routine, please consult a healthcare professional. Do not stop taking any prescribed medications without first consulting your doctor.)

Disclaimer: This article reflects the laws of the United States at the time it was written. Because cannabis laws in the United States laws are subject to change at any time, please make sure that you are always staying up to date on your federal, state, and local county’s cannabis laws. Additionally, we are NOT encouraging anyone to break the law––we are simply showing people ways to legally and discreetly bring their cannabis products along with them on their travels so that they may have access to those products when they reach their intended destination.

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