What is THCA?

THCA, or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is a non-psychoactive compound found in both cannabis and hemp. It can be considered the “raw” form of THC. Unlike Delta-9 THC, THCA doesn’t effectively bind with the proteins in our endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors, namely CB1 and CB2, due to its unique 3D shape. As a result, it doesn’t act as a psychoactive compound in our cannabinoid system.

However, research suggests that THCA may inhibit enzymes like COX-1 and COX-2, potentially offering pain relief and reducing fever and inflammation for users.

It’s crucial to understand that THCA is entirely non-psychoactive in its raw form. Its molecular structure makes it too large to bind effectively with CB1 receptors, thus unable to induce a high. However, when heated, through a process called decarboxylation, THCA converts into Delta-9 THC, providing that familiar cannabis high.

Yes, THCA is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, provided that THCA products comply with the requirement of containing no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC and being derived from hemp.

All Imperial THCA Products comply with the Farm Bill, which defines legal limit as “no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis.” However, state laws may vary, so it’s essential to check state-level regulations regarding the cultivation, sale, and use of THCa hemp products.

While some individuals seek the converted form of THCA for its psychoactive effects, others appreciate the advantages of its non-psychoactive properties. As research into lesser-known cannabinoids continues to evolve, the raw form of this compound is unveiling numerous potential benefits.

As mentioned above, the effects of THCA vary depending on whether it has been heated or left in its raw form. Many users prefer to utilize raw THCA in products like lotions, tinctures, or oils. While raw THCA doesn’t induce a psychoactive “high,” anecdotal evidence and studies suggest it offers benefits such as pain relief, anti-inflammatory properties, appetite stimulation, and nausea alleviation.

However, upon being ignited or exposed to heat, THCA transforms into traditional Delta-9 THC that produces intoxicating effects, potentially offering benefits such as:

  • Relaxation
  • Increased Creativity
  • Feelings of Euphoria 

While it’s been discovered that you can actually make THCA at home, the production of THCA is a complex process that typically requires advanced equipment, in-depth knowledge, and a considerable amount of time. 

Here’s an overview of how THCA crystals are typically formed:

  • Cannabis extract is combined with natural solvents like hexane, which effectively dissolve organic plant compounds.
  • Once fats, terpenes, and other cannabinoids are dissolved, only THCA remains in the solution.
  • The solution is then placed into a rotary vessel, where solvents are allowed to evaporate, leaving behind pure THCA.
  • Chromatography serves as the final and crucial step, involving another round in the rotary vessel to separate any residual solvents from the THCA.
  • Finally, THCA molecules begin to bond together, gradually forming a crystalline structure.

THCA is a naturally occurring cannabinoid present in both cannabis and hemp plants. In contrast to synthetic counterparts engineered in labs, THCA is an organic compound naturally synthesized by cannabis and hemp plants. While some growers have found ways to increase the amount of THCA in plants, it is completely natural and does not require human intervention in order for it to be found in plants. 

THCa, making up to 90% of a cannabis plant’s THC, collects in tiny structures on the flowers and leaves. It starts a process called necrosis, where plant cells die. This is important for the plant’s health, as it helps get rid of cells that are damaged or dying.