What Is THCA: Is THCA Different From THC?

THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid and the acidic form of THC. 

That’s the nice, neat, simple answer. But that’s only the tip of this cannabis-shaped iceberg. THCA has quickly become a go-to cannabinoid for brands and customers alike, offering a diverse range of benefits and effects that other cannabinoids can’t quite match. And now, with the budding hemp market nearing full bloom, companies are quickly trying to capitalize on this growing trend, creating a range of THCA-infused options. 

In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind THCA and how it relates to more well-known cannabinoids (THC and CBD.) We’ll show you how brands are beginning to find creative ways to bring this cannabinoid to market, and we’ll introduce you to an exciting collaboration between two cannabis titans that have put THCA in the spotlight. 

But first, let’s define our terms. 

So, What Is THCA?

THCA stands for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid. Notice anything familiar in that chemical name? Do you see “tetrahydrocannabinol” buried in there? Tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical name for fan-favorite THC. So, how are these two cannabinoids related? THCA is the precursor to THC. THCA is non-psychoactive until it converts to THC through non-enzymatic processes called decarboxylation. 

I know that’s a lot of science. But this is the exciting process that happens every time you spark up or heat cannabis buds in the oven. 

Did that confuse you even more? 

Let’s explain.

THCA’s Basic Form

As a cannabis plant grows, little bushels of spiky green flower bud out from its stem. During this time, terpene and cannabinoid content begin developing, starting with the cannabinoid CBGA: the mother of all cannabinoids. During the plant’s maturation stages, CBGA naturally breaks down, splitting into THCA and CBDA—yes, CBD also begins with an acidic form. These are the cannabinoids you’d find if you put raw hemp flower under a microscope—the acidic forms of cannabis’ two most abundant cannabinoids. 

In this raw cannabis state, THCA is non-psychoactive. Instead, THCA offers wellness benefits comparable to CBD, which help soothe and relax mind-body tension. These therapeutic benefits are thought to be caused by THCA’s unique atomic structure. Juxtaposed to THC, THCA has an additional carboxyl ring, which is thought to prevent it from binding with the brain’s CB1 receptors—the receptors that elicit THC’s psychoactive effects. But, when THCA loses that carboxyl group (and that little A at the end of its name), it gains the ability to bind with the necessary cannabinoid receptors to incite a classic cannabis experience. 


This process of decarboxylation occurs when intense heat and pressure strip away a cannabinoid’s carboxyl ring—the little chain of molecules that differentiates THCA from THC. This process converts THCA to THC, unlocking the latter’s psychoactive properties. 

Now, THC is free to bind with the cerebral receptors responsible for THC’s psychoactive effects. Many companies decarboxylate THCA molecules by baking them in an oven. But that’s only one way to convert THCA to THC. These hemp companies also pack prerolls with THCA-rich flower. 

Once lit with a lighter, the flower in these THCA prerolls converts into THC-rich smoke right before your eyes, letting you enjoy all the euphoric feels associated with cannabis. 

How Do You Use THCA?

Brands use THCA in a number of different ways, from infusing it into hemp flower and vape juice to formulating it alongside intoxicating cannabinoids to make delicious gummies. Before your first rendezvous with THCA, it might be helpful to see how each of these products compare—and how to use them.

THCA Prerolls

Prerolls let you see THCA’s transformation up close. THCA prerolls typically come in packs of three or five and carry hemp-derived THCA flower, tightly wrapped in ready-to-smoke joints. Once lit, the THCA molecules in this flower convert instantly into THC, which you then inhale, and well, enjoy the intoxicating effects of THC. 

How to Use: Prerolls are the easiest way to enjoy the smoky experience and elevating effects of THC. Rolling your own preroll takes little practice, and a whole lot of patience. Opting for a preroll lets you skip the hassle of rolling your own joint and get to the fun faster. All you have to do is take a THCA preroll out from the pack, park the filtered end between your lips, and light the twisted side with a lighter. Obviously, this is a pretty smoky experience. So, make sure you’re in a smoke-friendly, well-ventilated space. 

THCA Vapes

THCA vapes work similarly to THCA prerolls; the THCA molecules convert to THC when exposed to heat. But this process creates a discreet vapor rather than a loud cloud of smoke. Plus, many brands enhance their THCA vapes’ intoxicating effects by formulating their vape juice with complementary psychoactive cannabinoids. 

How to Use: Most THCA vapes come in disposable vape pens or replaceable vape cartridges. When using a vape pen, just take a small puff off the mouthpiece and wait for the effects to set in. With a THCA vape cartridge, screw the glass tube on any 510-threaded vape battery and make sure the connection is secure before using. THCA vapes elicit effects quickly, much like THCA prerolls. So, expect to feel THC’s intoxicating effects in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. 

THCA Gummies

Compared to the other two types of THCA products, THCA gummies are a little different. These are the only THCA products that let you enjoy the therapeutic, non-intoxicating benefits of THCA. In many of these THCA gummies, cannabis brands add various psychoactive cannabinoids to raise the gummies’ effects on the mind and body, giving users a potent, though relaxing, elevated experience. 

How to Use: If it’s your first time using a THC edible like THCA gummies, start off with half a gummy. These multi-faceted formulas tend to be pretty intense, especially for those with weaker tolerances. Effects from THCA edibles take longer to set in than vapes and prerolls. So, take a desired dose and wait. It can generally take 30 minutes to two hours to feel the effects from THCA gummies, depending on personal bioavailability, like your height, weight, and body composition. Once these intoxicating effects set in, they can generally last around six to eight hours. 

When you’re looking for the right THCA products, particularly THCA gummies, you’ll see they may contain a number of different cannabinoids. Each of these hemp-derived compounds brings unique benefits and effects—ones that complement THCA’s therapeutic properties.

THCA vs. Delta 9

Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9 THC) is the most abundant form of THC. When you imagine the classic cannabis experience (munchies, giggles, and waves of euphoria), you’re picturing delta-9 THC’s effects on the mind and body. Delta 9 THC is one of the THC molecules THCA converts into when you smoke a THCA preroll or puff a THCA vape. 

THCA vs. Delta 8

Delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 8 THC) is a naturally occurring minor cannabinoid. In the last few years, hemp-derived delta 8 products have quickly become some of the best-selling cannabis products nationwide. Delta 8 THC is popular for its milder intoxicating effects; many adults agree that these effects feel less overpowering than delta 9 THC. You can find delta 8 THC alongside THCA in a number of THCA edibles and gummies. 


Like tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid. THCV provides minimal psychoactive effects and is mostly popular for its energizing benefits. 

All-New THCA Products from ItsPurpl & TRĒ House

Two wonderful, new products from TRĒ House and ItsPurpl—two of the most iconic cannabis brands on the market—are at the forefront of this spike in THCA’s popularity. 

Purple Punch THCA Gummies

Purple Punch THCA Gummies from TRĒ House & ItsPurpl are pretty potent—seriously. Each gummy comes packed with a carefully crafted formula of THCA, delta 9 THC, delta 8 THC, and THC-P, totaling 155mg of cannabinoids per piece. Plus, these THCA gummies pop with a sweetly delicious fruit flavor. What more could you ask for?!

Granddaddy Purple THCA Prerolls

Infused with terpenes from the classic strain, the Granddaddy Purple THCA Prerolls from TRĒ House & ItsPurpl are each packed tightly with half a gram of THCA-heavy hemp flower. Once you light this THCA flower, it immediately converts to THC, giving you a potent head and body buzz. 

A common question surrounding these hemp-derived THC-A products has to do with legality. Are these THCA products legal? As with all of the cannabis products we offer, these THCA products are federally legal hemp products, made with 2018 Farm Bill-compliant hemp.

The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for federally legal hemp cultivation and manufacturing, giving us a hustling, bustling hemp-based market. This federal Farm Bill defined the difference between low-THC hemp plants and high-THC marijuana plants—the two most common forms of cannabis. But, in recent years, some states have passed their own laws regarding hemp cultivation and use. So, to make sure these hemp-derived products are legal in your area, confirm with your local and state municipalities.

Is THCA Right for You?

So, with all this in mind, is THCA right for you?

Compared to all the other popular hemp-based cannabinoids, THCA is one of the most versatile. In its base form, THCA delivers subtle relaxation and therapeutic benefits, while keeping the mind firmly planted. Then, when heated, THCA pops with all the classic psychoactive, euphoric effects we’ve come to love about THC, making it right for a majority of cannabis users. 

THCA lets you enjoy a well-rounded cannabis experience, giving you the choice between the plant’s wellness properties and psychoactive effects—a feat no other cannabinoid can offer.