The cannabis landscape has changed a lot in recent years. The 2018 Farm Bill became law, creating a framework that classifies cannabis into two distinct groups—legal and illegal.
The Farm Bill legalized hemp-derived products with no more than 0.3% THC concentration. Hemp contains other compounds, most notably cannabinoids, currently the subject of many scientific studies.
One of the rising cannabinoid stars derived from hemp is tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA). This compound is consumed in many forms, with THCA dabs becoming increasingly popular. So, why is this cannabinoid unique? And why is it getting so much attention from cannabis enthusiasts? What are THCA dabs?
Get the answers to these, and many more, in this article.
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- THCA dabs are ultra-concentrated forms of cannabis made by extracting the bioactive compounds in cannabis flower.
- THCA is federally legal per the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp.
- THCA dabs can be smoked, vaped, or dabbed. Dabbing arguably gives the best cannabis experience.
- THCA dabs are generally safe and well-tolerated when taken in raw form. However, when heated, THCA turns into THC and produces similar effects.
Understanding Cannabis Concentrates
Let’s admit it; cannabis has come a long way. From the days when flower was the only way to consume cannabis, there are several ways to do so now. One of these is concentrates.
As the name suggests, concentrates are cannabis products with unusually high cannabinoid levels. These products are way more potent by volume than cannabis flower and can contain anywhere from 60% to 99% THC. In comparison, flower has roughly 10-30% THC.
Generally, concentrates retain the compound profile of the strain source. That’s to say, a concentrate derived from the 2018 Farm Bill will have the same proportions of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc., as the OG Kush flower.
In some instances, other terpenes and cannabinoids may be added during manufacturing to create different aromas, flavors, or consumption experiences. (Check out the best dab cart flavors here).
The Basics of Cannabis Concentrates
Basically, concentrates are made by isolating ‘dead weight’ from an extract, leaving only the bioactive ingredients intact. Depending on the level of purification, concentrates come in many forms, with different textures, colors, and consistencies.
There are many types of concentrates: budder, shatter, wax, crumble, oils, etc. Their names normally reflect a key feature. For instance, shatter is dry and fragile, while crumble is, well, crumbly. Budder has a thick consistency, like peanut butter, with a waxy texture.
Regardless of their characteristics, concentrates have one goal: to deliver a lot of cannabinoids with just a little product.
The Role of THCA in Cannabis
THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid predominant in young cannabis plants. It is the precursor of THC, the main psychotropic compound in cannabis.
THCA is one of the four precursor compounds in cannabis; the others are CBDA (which creates CBD), CBGA (from which CBG comes), and CBG.
When THCA is exposed to heat and light, it converts into THC. This usually happens during drying and curing, although the conversion rate is low. Higher conversion rates are achievable via smoking, vaping, or dabbing.
The Birth of THCA Dabs
THCA dabs are novel products that are fast becoming popular among cannabis users. But how are they created? Here’s an in-depth look into how these in-demand products are made.
The Process of Creating THCA Dabs
There are two ways of making THCA dabs—using the solvent-evaporation technique or the closed-loop system. Both methods require professional expertise and specialized equipment, so it’s not advisable to try to make these at home.
The Close-Loop System: This method uses a solvent (Butane or propane) to extract cannabis compounds from cannabis material (flower and buds). However, food-grade ethanol has emerged as a safer option, especially for human consumables.
Once the valuable ingredients are isolated, the solvent is purged. In the case of THCA diamonds, the solvent is removed very slowly to give the THCA molecules a foundation to form crystals.
One of the advantages of this method is that it happens within a closed system. So the solvent doesn’t come into contact with the external environment. This makes the Close-Loop efficient, cost-effective, and safe. Moreover, the resulting product is of high quality because pressure and temperature are well controlled.
Solvent-Evaporation technique: This method uses similar principles to the Close-Loop method. The only difference is that heat and pressure are applied to help remove the solvent.
The remaining THCA molecules crystallize and sink to the bottom of the solution, where they form bigger THCA structures. At the end of both processes, hard, crystal-like substances called diamonds are formed. These can be enriched with terpene sauce to increase their potency.
The Unique Characteristics of THCA Dabs
One of the standout features of THCA dabs is their exceptionally high THC concentration. Since they are highly refined, their THC levels can range between 60% and 99%. In fact, a grain of THCA diamond, for example, contains more THCA than a gram of flower.
Visually, pure THCA appears as white crystals or white powder. When terpenes (“marijuana sauce”) are added, it adopts an amber or brown coloring and can be confused with traditional marijuana dabs. However, THCA is 100% legal per the 2018 Farm Bill. This partly explains its soaring popularity, as it offers THC-like effects without the legal headaches.
The main difference between THCA dabs and other concentrates is that the former contains more cannabinoids. As a result, it produces more potent effects due to the entourage effect. So, with concentrates, a little goes a long way.
Consuming THCA Dabs
There are several ways to consume THCA dabs. The most common and popular options are explained below.
Methods of Consuming THCA Dabs
- A dab rig: This is the conventional way of consuming concentrated extracts. A dab rig consists of a pipe, typically made of glass or silicone, fitted with a nail. The nail is heated with a blowtorch, and a small THCA dab is placed in it. It vaporizes quickly, and you inhale the vapor.
- Dab pen: This is a more portable version of the dab rig. Unlike vape pens, a dab pen is specifically designed for consuming concentrates.
- Dry vape pen: Also known as a dry herb vaporizer, this tool applies heat to ground cannabis flower rather than burning it. This unlocks all the flavorful but delicate compounds without the harsh taste of smoke.
Even though THCA dabs present cannabis users with more ways of enjoying cannabis and cannabis products, there are necessary precautions to observe.
For instance, THCA dabs are highly potent. So, it’s always advisable to start with smaller portions as you assess your response. When heated, THCA turns into THC and produces similar effects. For reference, remember that a single hit from a standard rig can equal taking an entire blunt in one go!
Also, if you don’t understand how to dab THCA, it’s best to get help from someone who does (like your budtender). Moreover, some equipment, like blowtorches, are potential health hazards if used carelessly.
And since THCA dabs can give potent hits, it’s common for users to ‘blackout’ after taking a hit. So, make sure you’re seated before indulging.
The Effects of THCA Dabs
For cannabis users averse to the psychotropic effects of THC, knowing that THCA doesn’t induce a high is certainly welcome news. However, this is only true if you don’t combust it.
THCA dabs are mostly smoked, vaped, or dabbed, meaning heat is involved. So, it turns into THC and produces THC-like effects. The high THC levels make the effects more intense and last longer than other cannabis forms.
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How Potent is THCA?
In raw form, THCA is not potent at all. However, the magic happens when it’s heated, e.g., via cooking, smoking, dabbing, or vaping. It turns into THC, and what follows is pretty clear.
The potency of effects typically depends on the THCA levels of a particular strain. For more on this, read our article on what is a high THCA percentage.
What is the Difference Between THCA and Diamonds?
THCA is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid obtained from freshly harvested cannabis material. Cannabis diamonds, on the other hand, are processed cannabis concentrates with exceptionally high concentrations of THCA. Pure THCA is white and powder-like.
As the name suggests, diamonds generally resemble those in jewelry shops. However, their physical appearance can differ depending on the compound profile. Pure diamonds are clear and crystalline.
However, when mixed with terpenes and other cannabinoids, diamonds can resemble coarse sugar. Sometimes they can look like rock candy. Ultimately, the final appearance of diamonds depends on the strain and crystallization processes.
The Legal and Health Aspects of THCA Dabs
THCA is legal per the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp and all hemp derivatives. Hemp is a cannabis type that contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight. So, as long as THCA is derived from compliant hemp, it’s legal.
The Legality of THCA Dabs
To our knowledge, no states have prohibited THCA or THCA products. Also, THCA has no official legal limit, perhaps explaining why THCA dabs are legal.
However, cannabis laws vary from one place to another. Some states, like Idaho, have yet to ratify the 2018 Farm Bill, so hemp remains technically illegal. Idaho’s hemp laws stipulate that manufactured hemp products must be 100% THC-free.
Can THCA products contain 0.0% THC? It’s hard to say, given that light and air can also aid the conversion of THCA into THC.
Health Benefits and Risks of THCA Dabs
Admittedly, research on THCA is quite young, but the preliminary findings are promising. Studies suggest THCA might have the following health benefits:
Of course, more work is needed to validate these findings, but so far so good.
As a relatively new cannabinoid, THCA’s toxicology profile isn’t well established. It’s generally well-tolerated in its natural form and appears to be safe. But since it turns into THC when heated, it may have the same side effects as THC.
THCA may also produce a positive drug test. So, if you use THCA products, this is a risk worth noting.
Where to Buy THCA Dabs Online
We recommend buying THCA dabs online from reputable, trustworthy brands like ours. Delta Munchies is 100% legit and offers the highest quality hemp products backed by science. With over 15 years of experience in the cannabis industry, this brand is a bona fide cannabis aficionado.
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THCA seems to have everything going for it: it’s safe, legal, and boasts a host of potential therapeutic benefits. However, manufacturing standards differ, so it’s not easy to say that all THCA products are okay.
Always research the company you buy hemp products from. Gather as much information as possible to determine whether its products are what it claims. The Hemp industry is largely unregulated, and malpractices are rife, so be vigilant.
THCA Dabs: Frequently Asked Questions
What are THCA Dabs, and How are they Different from Other Cannabis Concentrates?
THCA dabs are ultra-concentrated cannabis products made by separating resin from the flower. The final product contains the maximum amount of compounds possible. This makes them more potent than other cannabis concentrates.
How are THCA Dabs Made, and What Makes them Unique?
THCA dabs are made by processing fresh-frozen cannabis to extract the live resin. There are several methods of doing this, e.g., the closed-Loop system and solvent evaporation. The intermediate product then crystallizes to form THCA dabs.
THCA dabs are unique because how you consume them determines the experience. If you heat them, they form THC and produce psychotropic effects. Otherwise, they don’t induce a high.
What are the Effects of Consuming THCA Dabs, and How do they Compare to Other Forms of Cannabis?
Generally, THCA is non-psychoactive, so consuming THCA dabs in their raw form produces no mental effects. However, when vaped, dabbed, or smoked, the THCA changes into THC, making you high.
What is the Current Legal Status of THCA Dabs?
THCA dabs are federally legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. However, states develop their own laws to govern hemp production and processing, and they have subtle differences. So, research what is or isn’t legal in your state before buying hemp products.
What are the Potential Health Benefits and Risks of THCA Dabs?
While THCA research is limited, it suggests THCA dabs might have anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-emetic, and neuroprotective properties. There are claims that they could also help with insomnia and appetite loss.