THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid): Effects, Benefits & More

THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) Header

This post is part of a series on cannabis compounds. For more information and a listing of all other cannabinoids, see our Cannabis Compounds overview.

Before there was THC, there was THCA! Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid is the acid-form precursor to the well-known psychoactive compound Delta-9 THC. Despite being a direct parent of THC, this molecule is actually classified as non-psychoactive and offers some unique benefits to those who consume it.

THCA is a direct descendant of CBGA, the 'stem cell' cannabinoid which is the starting point for all the major cannabinoids. As the cannabis plant grows, a portion of CBGA is biosynthesized into THCA. The quantity will vary depending on the purpose that the plant is grown for. Marijuana that is grown for medicinal or recreational use often contains 10-20% THCA by dry weight, while hemp grown for non-psychoactive CBD use will contain less than 0.3% by the legal definition of industrial hemp.

Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid Molecule

Activity: Non-psychoactive
Formula: C22H30O4 
Molecular Mass: 358.473 g/mol 
Boiling Point: 105 °C (220 °F) 


THCA is known as a 'raw' cannabinoid because the compound naturally occurs on the plant. Not until the plant is dried and heated through decarboxylation is the acid form of this molecule converted to the 'active' THC compound. If consumed directly, without heating, very little will be converted to THC in the body.

What Are the Effects & Benefits of THCA?

Research on THCA is in its infancy, but progressing along due to the fact that the compound is displaying some encouraging preliminary results. THCA has been shown to provide the following benefits to the user:

In addition to these studies, there is a range of anecdotal cases where THCA was effective in the treatment of seizures, Tourette syndrome and more.

Where Can You Find THCA?

THCA's classification as a 'raw' cannabinoid means that you'll find it in both hemp or marijuana that has not been heated. In the medical marijuana space, this means this raw compound is readily available in cannabis flower. When shopping for medical marijuana, take a look at the lab tests, you'll see that THC content is represented primarily by THCA. As long as the plant is not heated, but rather juiced or eaten directly you'll enjoy the benefits of this acid-form cannabinoid.

In the CBD industry, THCA is harder to come by simply because most products have undergone the decarboxylation process to activate the cannabinoids, transforming them from their acid form to the activated non-acid form. Some full spectrum CBD products are available in raw form or a blended form. These products are cold-extracted or juiced from hemp to be rich in raw cannabinoids.

The THCA content of a raw hemp-extracted CBD product will be much lower than what can be found in a marijuana-based product, but these products are easier to purchase for those that do not have access to medical or recreational marijuana.

Originally Published: September 10, 2018 | Last Updated: September 27, 2018

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