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What is THCA, the parent of THC?

THC is THC, right? Not exactly. There are different forms of THC, and one of them is called Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid, or THCA. In this guide, we explain:

  • What is THCA?
  • How does THCA work?
  • What's the difference between THC and THCA?
  • Will THCA show up on a drug test?
  • Where can you find THCA?

What is THCA?

If THC is the child, THCA is the parent. THCA itself is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that occurs in marijuana plants. When the plant is heated, the THCA converts into THC - the psychoactive cannabinoid most cannabis consumers are familiar with. This process is known as decarboxylation and is the scientific way of describing what happens when cannabis is "activated" by heat. (Either through smoking or vaporizing, or through timely heating.)

How does THCA work?

What is THCA?

THCA is unique because it's large. The size of this molecule means that it cannot interact with the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the body. This is why THCA without decarboxylation has no psychoactive properties. But that doesn't mean it's not an important cannabinoid with the potential for therapeutic properties.

So, does THCA show up on a drug test?

The answer is yes. There are a variety of drug tests that look for THCA as a target analyte. That is, if you have to undergo a drug test or if a drug test is impending, THCA will also be analyzed.

Where can you find THCA?

Most cannabis strains contain THCA before they're consumed. There are some strains that contain higher amounts of THCA than others, including Novarine THCV:THC. If you're interested in the non-intoxicating effect of THCA, you should look for a product that is pure THCA. These products are sometimes referred to as "diamonds". There are also full-spectrum products available that include THCA in their ingredient list. This is another way to try THCA, but it's likely you will also experience the entourage effect of multiple cannabinoids working together. THCA-containing products are not legal in most EU countries, hence there are hardly any legal products available on the European market.