There have been many instances where popular culture shows people eating a raw weed bud and getting extremely high. However, it is important to know that raw weed contains absolutely no delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There is, however a lot of something called tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), which is an inactive compound found within the plants of a living cannabis plant and is prevalent in freshly harvested cannabis only. As the cannabis plant sits, the level of THCA decreases.
THCA and THC are sometimes confused because of how similar they look, but they aren’t the same things. There are some pretty significant differences between the two, including the chemical compounds responsible for the psychoactive effects, therapeutic potential, and anti-inflammatory properties.
THC vs THCA: What’s the Difference?
THCA is the non-psychotropic cannabinoid that you’d find in raw, live cannabis out in the fields. THC is the active psychotropic cannabinoid. The two are similar in chemical composition but the difference is that THCA has something called the carboxyl group.
THCa does not bind to the CB1 or CB2 receptors in our endocannabinoid system, due in part to its shape. It is a 3D shape and larger than our cannabinoid receptors. While unproven, many scientists suspect that THCa, when combined with some other acid forms, can actually inhibit the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. This is why it is helpful for inflammation and pain reduction without resulting in that “high” feeling associated with THC.
How Does THCA Convert to THC?
Taking raw cannabis and converting it to THC is done through the process of decarboxylation. There are a few different ways for this to happen:
- Exposure to sunlight
- Sitting at room temperature
- Heat exposure
The process is carried out by companies and people all over the world to make the process shorter and easier. However, there are still natural ways to dry raw weed so that it can be used to get high.
When we think of medical marijuana, we think of the benefits you can get from it. Most people prefer to get their products from people who can tell them what the specific benefits are. THCA has potential benefits for a wide range of people, including those who suffer from:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Appetite Loss
- Cancer (helps with a variety of types, including prostate cancer cells)
- Muscle spasms
- Chronic Pain Disorders
- Central Nervous System Disorders
The possibilities are nearly endless and the results have been proven time and time again that there are benefits for some people. Often, people will have to try different forms to determine what provides the best results.
Other than eliciting the “high” feeling, THC has other benefits as well. They include:
- Addiction treatment for opioids, alcohol, and other “hard” drugs
- Weight loss
- Eye pain and pressure
Once again, everyone will have to try different strains and formats to get the best results.
THCA vs THC: Availablity
THC is available in nearly every product related to cannabis. You can get it as a topical treatment, tincture, smokable products, capsules, cannabis juice, edibles, and more. THCa is typically only available as a raw juice, capsule, tincture, or topical ointment product. It is often combined with green tea products and other “natural” products where adding raw cannabis won’t impact the integrity of the original product, such as body care products. Juicing cannabis is another popular option.
Preparation is important for THC and THCA as well because heating something can reduce the effectiveness of the product. This is why you need to trust the source of your cannabis products.
Gas chromatography (GC) extracts cannabinoids that are then converted into a gaseous mixture at extremely high temperatures. They are then put through filters that exactly measure the cannabinoid levels. There are some issues with this type of extraction because the level of potency can be underestimated, it is useless for use in edibles (one of the most popular products), and it requires a lot of testing. However, this burden falls on manufacturers and not on consumers. There is why there are only a few cannabinoids available on the market: they are so difficult to produce. However, as cannabis extractions get better, there are more products available.
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We ensure that every one of our products adheres to federal law and can be used as a nutritional supplement.