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THCA (Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid) Cannabinoid Guide

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.

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.

Where Can You Find THCA?

If you're searching the CBD industry for THCA, you're in the wrong place. Since hemp-derived CBD oil contains only trace amounts of THCA due to the legal definition, this cannabinoid is not present at any significant level. It is also the case that in a full-spectrum product, THCA will have undergone the decarboxylation process to activate the cannabinoid, meaning most will have been converted to THCA.

THCA's classification as a 'raw' cannabinoid means that you'll find it in cannabis 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 - though this isn't a common practice.

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