Explaining The Difference Between THC and THCa

As cannabis becomes more widely accepted and legalized, it’s good to have a thorough understanding of its composition. While THC is a well-known component of cannabis, fewer people are aware of THCa, a cannabinoid found in cannabis.

PotCo is Greater Denver’s leading dispensary for premium and medical cannabis products. Read on as we explore THCa vs. THC, potential benefits, and how they are different.

What is THCa?

THCa (tetrahydrocannabinol acid) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in raw or freshly harvested cannabis plants. It is the acidic precursor of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the well-known psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana use.THCa and THC have a similar structure, but since THCa has an extra molecular carboxyl ring, it can’t bind to the brain receptors to create the euphoric high that THC produces.

How is THCa converted into THC?

THCa is converted into THC through a process called decarboxylation, which involves the application of heat. When THCa is heated, it loses a carbon dioxide (CO2) molecule and is transformed into THC, the active and psychoactive form of the compound. Decarboxylation occurs naturally over time as THCa-rich cannabis dries and ages, but this process is much slower than applying direct heat.

THCa vs. THC

THCa and THC are two different forms of the same compound, with distinct chemical and physical properties and other effects on the body. Let’s examine the critical differences between these two cannabinoid compounds.


THCa itself isn’t believed to be potent at all. However, through decarboxylation, the potency of the product increases. This depends on several factors, including the decarboxylation’s temperature and duration and the starting material’s quality.

Potential Benefits

THCa is believed to have a wide range of potential benefits, including:

  • Reduced upset stomach symptoms
  • Reduced stress
  • Appetite suppression

The potential benefits of THC may include:

  • Pain discomfort relief
  • Stress relief
  • Increased appetite
  • Improved sleep quality


THCa and THC differ in their consumption methods. THC is commonly consumed through smoking, vaping, or edibles, while THCa is not psychoactive in its raw form and must be decarboxylated, typically through heat exposure, to convert it into THC. THCa can also be consumed as a supplement in its raw form for potential therapeutic benefits.


While THC is a controlled substance on a federal level, THCa isn’t classed as a banned substance. However, since it can easily be turned into THC, most people use it for this purpose. It’s always advisable to check your state laws before purchasing THCa or other cannabis products to avoid getting into trouble.

THCa vs. THC: How to Read a Lab Result

When looking at a lab result, it’s important to consider the ratio of THCa to THC. A high THCa to THC ratio indicates that the sample has not been exposed to heat or has been minimally heated, while a lower ratio suggests that the sample has undergone more heating or processing.

Shop Colorado’s Best Selection of Cannabis Products at PotCo

If you’re looking for a great selection of recreational and medical THC and CBD products, visit PotCo Dispensary in the greater Denver Metro. We are a renowned marijuana dispensary committed to making health and wellness affordable. We offer a wide selection of high-quality cannabis flower strains that will exceed your expectations.

Contact us today to learn more, or ask our knowledgeable budtenders for in-person assistance, and they’ll be happy to help.

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