Is THCA Psychoactive?

A woman holds goggles over her eyes amidst marijuana leaves on a vibrant yellow background

While not all cannabinoids derived from the hemp plant are psychoactive, quite a number are. So, it is understandable if you’re wondering if THCA is psychoactive or not. Besides, we always recommend researching new cannabinoids before trying them.

So, we know THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid. But, will THCA get you high?

You’ll discover the answer in this blog post.

In the following paragraphs, we introduce you to THCA and help you understand everything you can about this cannabinoid. We’ll share insight into whether THCA is a psychoactive compound or not, its potential benefits, and what to know before trying it.

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Key Takeaways

  • On its own, THCA is not a psychoactive compound.
  • In the presence of heat and light, THCA will convert to THC (a psychoactive cannabinoid) due to decarboxylation.
  • Decarboxylation is the chemical process that reduces the number of carboxyl rings in THCA, thereby converting it to THC.
  • Smoking THCA will likely produce psychoactive effects.


What is THCA?

THCA is a new arrival on the hemp-derived products scene. However, like THCV, it is already making waves and has been central to many cannabinoid-related conversations.

But here’s the million-dollar question — what is all the fuss about THCA?

THCA (or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, for the science folks) is the precursor to THC (again, tetrahydrocannabinol), and it occurs naturally in hemp and cannabis plants. As the cannabis plant grows, it produces carboxylic acids that almost always convert into non-acidic compounds called decarboxylation.

Most cannabinoids start off in acid forms before converting to their non-acidic forms. However, both versions have different chemical structures and effects.

For the most part, heat and light are the agents necessary for the decarboxylation of THCA to THC. This makes THCA unstable even in controlled storage. According to a study, THCA will decarboxylate even in storage conditions between 4 and 18ºC.

But does THCA flower get you high?

Unlike THC, THCA has no intoxicating or psychoactive properties when consumed. This is because of the extra carboxyl ring in its molecule structure, which prevents it from binding with the chemical receptors in the brain.



The most effective way to end a THC vs. THCA debate is to point out that THCA does not produce the psychoactive effects that you’ll typically get from THC.

No doubt, that’s the biggest difference between THCA and THC — the absence of intoxicating effects in THCA. However, once decarboxylation has occurred and THCA has lost one carboxyl ring, it becomes psychoactive and can bind to the CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid.

However, this is not to say that THCA and THC do not have any similarities.

For instance, both THCA and THC share the potential to help with my health or wellness conditions, such as nausea, pain, and inflammation. In addition, consuming either THCA or THC should help you sleep better if you’re struggling with sleeping disorders.

In many ways, THCA may compare to CBD. For instance, is THCA psychoactive? The answer’s no, like CBD.


How Does THCA Work?

THCA molecules are larger than THC molecules. While this does not sound so consequential, it also means they can’t bind to the body’s endocannabinoid system’s receptors due to the difference in size.

Thankfully, decarboxylation clears all these up.

As decarboxylation occurs in THCA due to light and heat, the THCA loses a carboxyl ring, which reduces its size and makes it a fit for the body’s endocannabinoid receptors. As a result of its decrease in size and conversion to THC, cannabinoids can now activate their psychoactive and therapeutic effects in the body.


What are the Effects of THCA?

On its own, THCA does not have so many significant effects due to its inability to bind to the body’s endocannabinoid system’s receptors. However, some people report feelings of heightened relaxation when they consume THCA.


Does THCA Get You High?

No, consuming THCA on its own will not get you high. THCA is not a psychoactive compound and will not deliver any intoxicating effects when you consume it as it is.


Does Smoking THCA Get You High?

This is where it may get a bit confusing. But we’ll walk you through it.

Depending on how you consume it, THCA can technically get you high. For instance, smoking THCA diamonds will get you high as the heat from the fire will cause decarboxylation, thereby converting the THCA to THC, a psychoactive compound.

So, yes, smoking THCA will get you high due to decarboxylation.


Does THCA Turn into Delta 9 When Smoked?

Delta 9 THC (or simply delta 9) is the product of the decarboxylation that occurs when THCA is exposed to light and heat. Since smoke is a product of fire (heat), smoking THCA will ultimately convert all or most of the THCA into delta 9 THC.

Delta 9 THC vs. THCA: What’s the Difference?

The most notable difference between THCA and delta 9 THC is the extra carboxyl ring in the chemical makeup. But you can’t see this by merely looking.

So, the next key difference is the intoxicating effect that delta 9 THC will give. While THC is psychoactive, THCA is not.


What are the Potential Benefits of THCA?

There’s still not a whole lot of information on how THCA affects the human body. However, some studies have shown that THCA may have some potential positive effects on the body:

  • THCA may have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties which may help people dealing with chronic pain.
  • THCA can help with appetite stimulation for people who are not eating well.
  • Experts also believe THCA may have relaxing properties to help people with stress or sleep disorders.
  • Some studies show that THCA may be able to slow down weight gain.

You should note that despite these potential benefits, more research is still necessary to confirm the extent of the effects of consuming THCA.


What are the Potential THCA Side Effects?

If you’re very sensitive to THC, chances are you may exhibit some side effects of THCA too. However, the good news is that there generally are no extreme side effects and they usually have no negative impact.

That said, here are some potential side effects of consuming THCA:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Red eyes
  • Cottonmouth


How Strong is THCA?

THCA does not have any psychoactive or discernible effects, for that matter. Therefore, it may be impossible to give it a rank in terms of its strength.


Is THCA Legal?

The legality of THCA is still a much-debated subject. Although THCA itself is not a psychoactive compound, it has the potential to become the psychoactive THC, which is considered a controlled substance in many states. Besides, many states also consider THCA a cannabis-derived product, which may mean issues with its legality.

Either way, it is usually best to research the legislature in your state before acquiring or consuming THCA.


Is THCA Safe?

While research is still ongoing to uncover more information about THCA, the general consensus is that the cannabinoid is mostly safe.


Conclusion — Is THCA Psychoactive?

The answer is no. THCA itself is not psychoactive. However, if you expose it to light and heat, THCA will undergo decarboxylation and convert it to THC, which is a psychoactive compound. So, bearing this in mind when buying or consuming THCA.


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