Does Smoking THCA Get You High?

A woman holding a rolled piece of paper, appearing focused on making a smoking joint

The world of cannabis is continually evolving, with new compounds and products emerging regularly. One such compound that has gained attention in recent years is THCA, short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid.

But what effects does THCA have on the body? And will smoking THCA get you high?

Come find out as we explore the intriguing world of THCA, examining its properties, effects, and the factors that influence whether smoking THCA can truly get you high.

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Key Takeaways

  • THCA is the acidic precursor to the more famous THC and is non-psychoactive in its original form.
  • Exposing THCA to heat will trigger a decarboxylation process, which converts THCA into the psychoactive THC.
  • Smoking THCA may get you high as the heat from the fire decarboxylates the THCA and unlocks its psychoactive potential.


What is THCA?

THCA is the short form of tetrahydrocannabinol acid, a non-psychoactive acid found in raw cannabis flowers. THCA is found in raw cannabis and hemp plants that have not been heated or cured. The nature of THCA being non-psychoactive means it naturally doesn’t have the effect of making you high on consumption.

THCA is often referred to as a precursor or predecessor to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This means that without THCA, THC will not exist. THC, which is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that can get you high, is derived from THCA.

In simpler words, THCA cannot get you high because it is non-psychoactive. For you to get high on THCA, you have to convert it to THC.


Is THCA Psychoactive?

Generally, THCA products are not psychoactive. However, this depends on the method of consumption. Unlike THC, if you consume THCA by ingestion, it won’t have the psychoactive effect of making you high.

However, if you consume it by smoking, it becomes psychoactive because the heat and light you introduce to your THCA triggers decarboxylation, converting it to THC and activating its psychoactive effect.


Can THCA Get You High?

One common question people taking THCA ask is, “Can THCA get you high?” Technically, the answer is no. THCA itself cannot get you high. This also means it is non-addictive.

This is because THCA is a cannabinoid acid with unactivated psychoactive components. On its own, it cannot make you high.

The difference between THCA and THC is that while THC possesses psychoactive properties that can bind with the cannabinoid receptors in the body, THCA does not. THCA has a unique molecular structure that doesn’t bind to the cannabinoid receptors the way THC does.

However, THCA can become THC when exposed to light and heat. Once this happens and decarboxylation occurs (conversion of THCA to THC), then consuming THCA may get you high.


Will Smoking THCA Get You High?

Many people will argue that there’s no better way to get high on THCA than smoking. While there’s a bias there, smoking THCA is undoubtedly one of the best ways to unlock the psychoactive potential of the cannabinoid.

When you expose your THCA to heat by smoking, it converts to the intoxicating THC, which will get you high.


How Does Smoking THCA Get You High?

The heat from the smoke converts the THCA into THC components, which your body absorbs into your bloodstream, giving you that high feeling. When smoked and inhaled, it reaches peak level within 6 to 10 minutes, reaching the brain and other organs through the bloodstream.

The proportion of THC that enters the body ranges from 10 to 35 percent, while the rest dissipates into the atmosphere. It is this portion that enters the bloodstream and merges with the cannabinoid receptors in the human body.

When the THC compound merges with the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, the brain automatically gets the memo to stop sending neurotransmitters.

This alters the communication process of the nervous system, produces a relaxing feeling of euphoria, and results in a high. This high time, however, depends on the quantity of THC that is introduced into the body but generally lasts a few hours.


How Does THCA Turn to Delta 9 When Smoked?

Heat is the most important factor that’s needed to convert THCA to delta 9 THC. One of the best ways of introducing heat to THCA is by smoking.

THCA, in its raw form, contains an extra carboxyl ring, making it impossible to bind with the body’s cannabinoid receptors. However, when heat is introduced to THCA  by smoking, it alters the chemical component of the THCA by removing these extra carboxyl rings that make intoxication impossible and actively turns it into Delta 9 THC.


Do THCA Edibles Get You High?

The answer to this depends on the processes involved in making the edibles. As a rule of thumb, THCA edibles cannot get you high unless the process used to make them involves heating.

Eating raw THCA cannot get you high because there is no THC in the mix. However, if you use THCA as an additive in making edibles that involve heating, such as cakes or brownies, it’ll get you high!


Understanding Decarboxylation

Curious about what decarboxylation is? Let’s see what it’s all about.

What Does Decarboxylation Mean?

Decarboxylation is the process of exposing raw cannabis flowers to heat to turn them to THC. It’s the process of making your non-psychoactive THCA psychoactive by activating its THC compound through heating. Decarboxylation can be done by smoking, vaping, boiling, ovening, etc.

How Does Decarboxylation Work?

When raw cannabis comes into contact with heat through smoking or vaporizing, it begins to lose the extra carboxyl rings that make it impossible to bind with the body’s cannabinoid receptors.

The heat introduced to a THCA compound during decarboxylation makes it lose carbon dioxide (CO2) and extra carboxyl rings, turning it into a delta 9 THC.

How to Decarboxylate THCA?

You can decarboxylate your THCA by exposing it to a heat temperature of between 200⁰ – 245⁰ Fahrenheit. The oven method is the most common decarboxylation method, especially for THCA in large quantities.

So, if you are using an oven or microwave, you can put your raw cannabis in a tray and heat it for between 30 – 40 minutes at a temperature of 220⁰ Fahrenheit.

However, you should also note that heating for too long or with a high temperature burns off cannabinoids and makes them ineffective.


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Final Thoughts

On its own, THCA is non-psychoactive. However, smoking THCA will get you high because the heat decarboxylates the THCA and converts it to THC. Even more, smoking THCA is one of the fastest and most effective ways to harness the psychoactive potential of THCA.



Does Decarboxylation Kill Mold?

Decarboxylation does not kill mold in weed as molds can withstand heat. Your best bet is to destroy parts of your cannabis that have become moldy.

Does Decarboxylated Weed Smell?

Yes, depending on the method you adopt, decarboxylated weed smells. The oven method releases the most smell. So if you want to reduce the smell you should decarb in an instant pot or pressure cooker.

Can You Decarboxylate Directly in Butter when Making Edibles?

Yes, you can decarboxylate directly in butter while making edibles since the heat will break down the THCA to THC. However, to achieve maximum potency for your edibles, your best option is to decarb before adding directly to butter.

How Long Does it Take to Decarboxylate THCA Flower?

This largely depends on the quantity of flowers and the degree of heat. However, whether you are making use of a pressure cooker or an oven it will take your weed between 30 – 40 minutes to decarboxylate well.

Should I Grind Before Decarboxylation?

You don’t have to grind your THCA flowers before decarboxylation. However, grinding the flowers can improve the efficiency of the decarboxylation process as more surface area of the flowers is exposed to the heat.