Does THCA Make You High?

A black and white photo, side profile of a person with a smoke cloud

If you’ve been on the cannabis scene for a while, you probably already know that the two most common cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, there is an arguably more important cannabinoid that always manages to fly under the radar — THCA.

Interestingly, without THCA, there will be no THC. Yes, THCA is the relatively unknown cousin of THC with very similar chemical makeups and characteristics. But does THCA make you high when you consume it?

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Key Takeaways

  • THCA is the acidic precursor of THC and occurs naturally in hemp and cannabis plants.
  • Exposing THCA to heat and light will trigger the conversion of THCA to THC through a process known as decarboxylation.
  • Unlike THC, THCA does not make you high as it is non-psychoactive.
  • While THCA doesn’t get you high, flower and prerolls made of THCA will give high-like effects when burned.

What is THCA?

THCA is short for tetrahydrocannabinol acid, which is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Even more, it is one of the over 100 different cannabinoids that have been identified in the marijuana plant.

The most interesting thing about THCA is that it is the acidic precursor to THC. So, unlike THC, it won’t produce a high if consumed directly. However, it can be converted into THC through heat exposure via smoking, dabbing, or vaping weed.

So, will THCA get you high? No, it won’t…unless you smoke dab or vape it which turns it into THC.

The theory is that marijuana plants developed THCA as a means to defend themselves from predators and pests, as they would be driven away from the acidic substance.

What is the Difference Between THC and THCA Anyway?

The main and most observable difference between THC and THCA is that THCA does not have the same psychoactive effects as THC does.

THC, short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol: The active psychotropic cannabinoid found in marijuana
THCA, tetrahydrocannabinolic acid: The non-psychotropic cannabinoid.

Although both are found in the marijuana plant and share very similar chemical compositions, THCA has an additional carboxyl group that defines its characteristics.

For THCA to produce that intoxicating effect that’s desired, it must bind directly to either the CB1 or CB2 receptors in our body’s endocannabinoid system.

It, however, does not, due to its 3-dimensional shape and larger size, making it impossible to bind to these receptors, as THC would.

However, you can still get that exhilarating experience from THCA once it is heated. The heating converts it into THC through a process called decarboxylation.

The decarboxylation process can happen in many ways:

  • Exposure to sunlight
  • Exposure to higher-than-room-temperatures
  • Exposure to high heat through methods like vaping or smoking can trigger decarboxylation.

This is the only way for THCA to get you high.

An assortment of Imperial Extraction THCA Vape

Does THCA Get You High?

Can THCA get you high? The answer to this is no. Not if the compound is not heated.

THCA does not get you high because it is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Therefore, consuming it in its raw form will not get you high.

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

  • Heating
  • Smoking
  • Vaporizing
  • Dabbing

Can You Smoke THCA?

Yes, you can smoke THCA. While consuming THCA in its raw form does not give you the same intoxicating effects as THC, you can smoke it to get the same results. This process is called decarboxylation, where heat is applied to THCA to convert it to THC.

When you smoke THCA-containing cannabis, the heat from the smoking turns THCA into THC, and you will then experience the typical psychoactive effect associated with THC.

So, if your question is: does smoking THCA get you high? Your answer is yes, it does.

Is THCA Legal?

The legislation around is a bit unclear at the moment. On one hand, it is not psychoactive, which makes it totally legal. On the other hand, it is derived from marijuana and will convert to THC when heated.

So, is it legal?

Well, as of 2021, the FDA still lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug. According to the FDA, this scheduling is “due to its high potential for abuse, which is attributable in large part to the psychoactive effects of THC and the absence of a currently accepted medical use of the plant in the United States.”

However, the 2018 Farm Bill states that hemp and hemp-derived products are legal as long as they do not contain more than 0.3% THC. So, technically, any THCA product can be legal as long as you follow these guidelines.

While the FDA does not mention THCA by name, at the end of the day, the legality of use will be dependent on the regulations in your state. Some states do not allow the use of THC in any product, while others have restrictions and regulations on the use of certain cannabinoids.

So, it is advisable to check on the legalities of cannabinoids in your state before making any purchase.

Will THCA Show up on a Drug Test?

If you have consumed THCA in any form, it will likely show up in any routine drug screenings.

This is because when THCA is heated for consumption, it converts to THC.

So, since most drug tests check for THC, it is almost certain that THCA will show up on a routine drug test.

Final Thoughts: Will THCA Get You High?

If you just happen to breeze through this article till this point, here’s the summary of what we have discussed.

Can THCA get you high? The simple answer is no.

Does smoking THCA get you high? The answer is yes.

THCA, due to its chemical composition, cannot get the user high, as it is unable to bind itself to the cannabinoid receptors in our brains. The only way to get high on THCA is to smoke it, which converts the THCA to THC due to decarboxylation — a process triggered by exposure to heat.

Where to Get THCA Products Online

One of the best places where you can buy THCA products online is on the Imperial website. At Imperial, we take special care to source only the best raw materials to create top-notch THCA products. Even more, we boast an impressive variety of THCA products — from THCA pre-rolls to vapes and more — in diverse flavors.

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